Last week, Jeff Kaplan announced his retirement from Blizzard Entertainment, ending a tenure at the developer that lasted for almost 20 years. Kaplan played an important role in developing Overwatch Esports, including the Overwatch World Cup and the Overwatch League. This weekend, the Overwatch League team paid homage to Kaplan with a musical tribute.
It’s not a new song, but rather a Jeff Kaplan meme that made a comeback this weekend. During seasons one and two, the Overwatch League production package included the track in the video above, which would play during game breaks. Keen-eared fans heard the song and interpreted its musical phrase as just the name “Jeff” repeated over and over again.
The song became a meme for the Overwatch League community. Whenever it played, viewers would flood the stream chat with messages of “Jeff Jeff Jeff.” When games were still held at the Blizzard Arena, fans would show up with homemade signs that said “Jeff Jeff Jeff,” which they would hold up whenever the song played.
The song fell out of normal rotation as the League updated its graphical and musical packages. But during the weekend’s matches, after the news came down that Kaplan was leaving Blizzard, the “Jeff” song made a comeback. Fans reacted accordingly.
When asked for comment, Overwatch League public relations pointed to a tweet from a League employee confirming the song would be added to the day’s broadcast. As the game director for Overwatch, Kaplan became the face of the game, starring in the shooter’s many developer updates with his quirky “Jeff from the Overwatch Team” introduction. The song’s re-emergence is a subtle but notable tribute to the man the Overwatch League community has affectionately dubbed “Papa Jeff.”