Blizzard has announced that it will no longer be making MVP special skins following the removal of previous MVP Sinatraa’s skin from the game.
Following the recent events and controversy surrounding the professional esports player, Jay “Sinatraa” Won, Blizzard has made the executive decision that Overwatch League MVPs will no longer receive special skins. This decision comes after Overwatch issued a refund for players who had purchased the skin that Sinatraa helped design following his MVP award in 2019: an alien-themed skin for Zarya.
The Overwatch League still ran in 2020, despite the issues surrounding live events and broadcasting due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which limited the size of crowds and caused numerous cities to ban events completely over the year. The season ran from February until August; typically, the playoffs would be played during Blizzcon in November, but this event was cancelled and held digitally in February in 2021. Instead, the playoffs and Grand Finals were held in October and broadcast online.
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The announcement was made earlier today after the Overwatch team (via Kotaku) revealed two new skins for Overwatch to celebrate the San Francisco Shock’s second championship win and the MVP recipient Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim back in 2020. While the two new skins were the main point of the announcement today, in the middle of the press release was the following sentence: “Don’t miss out, as this is the last time a skin will be made for the Overwatch League MVP.”
The official reasoning behind why Blizzard will be ending the practice of allowing each year’s Overwatch League MVP to help design a skin for their favorite character in the game is unknown, although one could probably guess. The MVP skins represent these players, even long after they have left the Overwatch League, which can carry both positive and negative connotations for the game depending on that player’s actions after they leave the league. Blizzard removing this tradition may be the company safeguarding itself from future incidents such as the one surrounding the professional esports player Sinatraa and Blizzard’s wishes to separate itself from him.
After the allegations of sexual and emotional assault were made against Sinatraa by his ex-girlfriend online, Blizzard began offering refunds on the MVP alien skin for any player who wished to distance themselves from the controversy. The company also removed the skin from the game entirely. The announcement video for Sinatraa’s Zarya skin has been made private on YouTube, the Tweets have been deleted, and all other references to the skin on official Blizzard websites have been removed. It seems that Blizzard is keen to separate itself from Sinatraa as much as possible.
With Overwatch 2 still on the horizon, it’s still unclear just how much of the base game of Overwatch will be carried over to the sequel. Whether or not Blizzard will be using this opportunity to rebrand the game or keep as much as possible from the original is unclear as of yet. But a move like this indicates, if nothing else, that Blizzard is keen to have a transition which is as free of controversy as possible.
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Overwatch is available now on Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Source: Overwatch (via Kotaku)
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