Former Overwatch pro, Jay ‘Sinatraa’ Won, has delved into the economics of his switch over to Valorant — and it’s proving to be a much more lucrative endeavor than many first thought.
Valorant as both a game and esport is still in its infancy. But with Riot putting competitive integrity at the forefront of their priorities, players are flocking from all corners of the esports world to compete at the highest level.
Plenty of big names have already found their home, with some switching from long-term careers in other titles — such as 100 Thieves captain, Spencer ‘Hiko’ Martin, who jumped ship over to Valorant after years of competing at the highest level in CS:GO.
But perhaps the most notable transfer from the early stages of the game, was last season’s Overwatch League MVP, Sinatraa, joining Sentinels as one-fifth of their star-studded lineup.
Money’s no object
Despite being at the very top of the game, Won left competitive Overwatch on a high and decided to invest all of his time into Valorant — and it’s appearing to be a more fruitful venture than may have been expected, as he revealed in an interview with Forbes.
After leaving the structure and safety that comes with playing in a franchised league, many assumed that Won would struggle to break even. But even during the early stages of Valorant, there’s enough interest from potential sponsors to even out the score.
“I’ll say the salary is lower in Valorant, but it evens out with the amazing sponsors I get, that I couldn’t get in OWL due to restrictions,” the 20-year-old explained. Given that Sinatraa signed to San Francisco Shock in 2017 with a contract reportedly worth $150,000 per year (despite being unable to play for a good chunk of the season due to age restrictions), you’ll be able to estimate just how much Sentinels have forked out for the FPS hotshot.
Will Valorant be the next big esport?
So what happened? Why was Won so eager to jump ship – while Valorant was still in its beta – when he was widely considered to be the best player in Overwatch at the time?
“I retired because I didn’t really have fun playing the game anymore,” said Won. “Basically, I just lost passion. My heart is with Valorant as of right now. I know I can always go back to OWL in an instant if I wanted, but I wanna see what I can do in Valorant.”
While there’s a good possibility that Riot Games may decide to pursue a similar route with Valorant’s esports ecosystem as they have League of Legends, there are no guarantees… Something that Sinatraa is all too familiar with.
“I think Valorant can be one of the biggest esports if they do things right with keeping the game fresh and attracting people globally… “I think an open ecosystem is really good in the beginning of games, but hopefully in a year or two there will be an established league.”
Given that Riot have kickstarted the Ignition Series with over 20 esports event organizers around the world, their intentions are clear. But whether Valorant will flourish under the spotlight remains to be seen.