Overwatch League analyst Jonathan ‘Reinforce’ Larsson gave a very honest answer about his retirement from competition in a recent AMA.
Prior to joining the Overwatch League talent team, Reinforce was a professional player himself. He originally made his name as the main tank for Rogue, who were for a time considered the best team in the world, before moving to an all-Swedish Misfits.
The new Misfits squad never reached the heights that Rogue had managed, and eventually Reinforce stepped down from the team. Misfits eventually became the Florida Mayhem, but after it became clear that Reinforce wouldn’t be able to find a place on an Overwatch League team he instead joined the broadcast as an analyst.
In a recent AMA, Reinforce opened up about what it was like to make the decision to step away from competition to take the position as an analyst, and whether he would consider returning as a player.
In response to a question about whether he would compete again, Reinforce is very candid about his struggles coming to terms with no longer competing, going into detail about his thoughts on the matter and the difficulties of trying to accept giving up on it.
A lot of my co-workers would say this is an easy "no", but there's a lot more to it than that honestly.
I listed in some comment below that there was never really a moment in time where I made the conclusive decision to retire from pro play. What I have told myself is that I will never play for a Contenders or open division team, because that would be retracing in my career path, but I have not yet been able to put the pro player life behind me.
It's a mental struggle and honestly, I've been quite depressed the last few months about facing the decision to stop playing Overwatch competitively and not being able to tell myself that it's over.
From a bigger picture, playing Overwatch is the best skillset I have in life. I'm the 1%, probably even the 0.1% or even 0.01% of Overwatch players, I am a hell of a good Overwatch player. Facing the thought of me telling myself to simply stop doing what I am the best at in life so far, to pursue other interest I don't ever know I'll be as good at is scary as fuck. There's a large risk I won't be as good as I am at Overwatch at ANYTHING ELSE in life, EVER, and I have a long life yet to live.
Do I think I have it in me to play for an Overwatch League team? Absolutely. Do I miss playing on stage, and most importantly the biggest stage of them all? Yes. And so this decision is haunting me every day I wake up, because I am dealing with removing myself from my dreams when I am so laughably close to fulfilling them. It's not me as a 14-year-old in the playground saying "I want to be this when I grow up", it's me going to work every day seeing the Overwatch League stage I dreamt of playing on for years, and telling myself I'm better off sitting on the desk analyzing because "job security" or "some more spare time to play Overwatch with".
Realistically, I should get a new hobby, but I'll probably never ever be as good as any hobby in the world as I am at Overwatch, so as the incredibly competitive person I am, what's the point if I can't be the best at it?
Do I have any intentions of getting back into the pro scene as a player? I mean, no, but I guess? Because improving and getting better at Overwatch is the main thing I am working on towards right now every day, because I'm too mentally weak of a person and scared to give up on my ambitions of playing in the Overwatch League and being the best at something in my life. It would kill me and I would feel lost without it.
I think it's hard to understand this answer unless you reflect on it from a personal standpoint, for example, if Uber were forced to stop casting Overwatch tomorrow, or Sideshow could never analyze a video game again, they'd have to deal with the difficulties of moving on with their life the same way, and it applies to you reading this comment and what you're very passionate about yourself. One could say I am still very good at analyzing Overwatch, and "hey it's the same thing", but it's really not the same, and the emotional peaks of competing and being the best in the world at something, is not the same as walking into the office every day to talk about video games, and trying to "become the best broadcaster" is nothing compared to the thrill of "being the best player".