Going Home

I’m retiring from Overwatch League at the end of Stage 2

Kate Mitchell
Apr 10, 2019 · Unlisted
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Photo: Ian Cunningham, Washington Justice

Esports has always been my passion, and I’d spent years before Overwatch launched in front of CRTs playing Smash, casting and organizing tournaments. Coming to Overwatch was a tough decision but one that’s rewarded me many times over. However, I am unable to continue in my current role and have made the decision to retire from Overwatch League at the end of this stage. My last day as Assistant General Manager of Washington Esports Ventures will be on May 13.

From working with incredible personalities like Apply, Chayne and Harbleu in Trials, being a part of the Last Night’s Leftovers family with Sephy, and finally stepping up to the world stage to launch a new Overwatch League franchise from scratch, I’ve had irreplaceable experiences in this community and made friends that will last a lifetime.

It’s impossible to ignore, though, that I’ve also been confronted with toxicity and casual cruelty from strangers that outpaced anything I saw in years in gaming and politics, especially from people on Reddit. I’ve been on Reddit for over ten years, and have seen both its strength as a tool for community building and solidarity and its dark side, empowering false rumors, giving attention and ad revenue to muckrakers and liars, and fostering a culture where fans delight in the pain and ‘juice’ from voyeuristically watching for negative moments in the professional careers of players and staff.

I wanted nothing more than to ‘power through’ and succeed in the face of adversity and blaze a trail for other LGBT women to follow me in this space. There was never any doubt in any of our minds at Justice that building an expansion Overwatch League team was going to be the biggest challenge of our careers. But facing this away from my family and my home turned out to be bigger challenge than I was able to take on — I saw myself, like many in this league, facing frequent panic attacks and needing to see a therapist for anxiety for the first time in five years. It’s not pretty, but most mornings before our matches I’d throw up from the stress.

There are so many people in this industry suffering alone, as we’ve seen from recent retirements and challenges players have faced. Not everyone is as lucky as I’ve been to have an organization that understands mental health issues and works to support its employees on that front. If you’re at a professional esports team and hurting from stress and anxiety, don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need. If your team can’t provide it, you deserve a better team. Period.

The reason I made it as long as I did is simple: The people here at Justice are some of the best folks I’ve ever worked with. I know it’s easy for fans to assume the worst of coaches and players on teams with losing records, so let me be clear about this: Wizardhyeong is motivated, professional, and a figure that has never once dodged responsibility for the challenges we face, instead choosing to face them head-on and work to correct them with all of his might and all of his time. We haven’t always agreed, but I believe in him and can’t wait to see what he and my successor do with this team moving forward.

I wouldn’t be leaving if I didn’t believe in the system we’ve created here and the culture I’m leaving behind. Aaron, Mason, Wizard, Avalla, mkL and Shrugger are making this team stronger every single day. I’ll be in the crowd at the first Justice home game in 2020, cheering for the team that will always mean so much to me.

I also wanted to thank the folks from other teams who have provided support and advice in difficult times. There’s nothing more powerful than solidarity, and I’m so proud to have been a part of your Overwatch League family.

What will I do next? I’ve got a number of opportunities in the creative space I’m looking forward to pursuing, including continuing my experience writing and directing game projects and webcomics. I can’t wait to spend more time with my partners and discussing Foucault with my lovely bird. I’ll also pop up here and there to comment on global Overwatch, which I can’t wait to get back into following as a fan. Maybe I’ll even return to casting? Hit me up, Broadcast.gg.

My sincerest thanks go to the owners of Washington Justice for believing in me, our fans (including the amazing folks at Washington Justice League) for supporting all of us, and the players, coaches and staff at this organization for all of the incredible memories.

Interested in more? Follow Kate Mitchell on Twitter or support her on Patreon.

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