It’s an end of an era for Fuel fans. One that had only just begun.
Brandon “Seagull” Larned announced his retirement via Twitter on Tuesday, and broke this author’s heart in the process. His tenure on the starting lineup in Dallas was heart-wrenchingly short. After a season of chaos and struggle, Seagull helped the Dallas Fuel restabilize when they needed it most, and was part of a fantastic Stage 4 playoff push. Now, he’s gone.
A Seagull-Shaped Hole in My Heart
It’s not like he’s dead or anything, I know. The thing is, Seagull was THE reason I got into Overwatch. The reason I pushed myself in this scene. The reason I still will. His drive, his passion, the standards he set for himself – that’s a big deal to me.
Meeting EnVyUs at the Contenders Season 0 finals made me realize that I wanted to work for the Overwatch League, to shape my life around it. Since then, I’ve interviewed dozens of players, been interviewed in front of 400,000 people in Week 1, and become a (now outdated) meme. A hell of a ride is putting it lightly.
Will he stay out of the competitive scene? Who knows. After leaving NRG in the earlier days of Overwatch’s budding competitive scene, Seagull always maintained that he would only join an operation like the Overwatch League if it could be as fun – and as lucrative – as streaming full time. Clearly, it wasn’t.
And that’s okay! The thing we need to understand is that esports careers will be much shorter in general than, say, sports careers. There won’t be players pushing 40 like Tom Brady. It’s just not gonna happen.
Remembering the Gull
Seagull has had an illustrious competitive career. One of the biggest names in the Team Fortress 2 scene, he transferred to Overwatch almost immediately. Luminosity signed his “Mixup” roster in March 2016 – the game didn’t even release until May, mind you. When signed, Seagull released a statement:
“We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to represent Luminosity. We’re a team with a long history in a small game and consider ourselves lucky to have found an organization with a close-knit atmosphere and proven track record, to match our own. We hope to do Luminosity proud.”
Luminosity went on to be a decent, but not great Overwatch team – most notably losing first place to Seagull’s future teammates on Team EnVyUs in the OG Invitational in June 2016.
Teams with close-knit atmospheres and proven track records were always a priority for Seagull, evidenced by his transfer to NRG in August 2016. There, he joined his old Mixup friend Anthony “Harbleu” Ballo alongside his LG teammates milo, Pookz, enigma, and Gods. A wide variety of future OWL talent passed through NRG’s doors, including SF Shock player André “iddqd” Dahlström and Matthew “CLOCKWORK” Dias, who went on to sign with the Houston Outlaws.
Despite the deluge of talent NRG had access to, the pre-OWL scene was an unforgiving one. After a slow start for a supposed “dream team”, Seagull stepped down from the starting roster to stream full time, stating that the balancing act of running a successful stream and playing Overwatch competitively was too much to juggle at one time – a refrain that sounds hauntingly familiar now.
Thank you, Seagull
At the end of the day, Seagull has always had one goal – to entertain as many people as possible. Most often, that’s through streaming. A direct line to over 15,000 of your most hardcore fans cheering for you at the same time is quite the rush, I’d imagine – one that rivals the stage lights at Blizzard Arena. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that he’d go back to what got him here in the first place. It’s poetic, in its own way.
Ultimately, I’d say this is a good thing. With the rigors of a ridiculous OWL schedule and the obligations and restrictions imposed on you as a player, I doubt Seagull will be the last to take an early bow from competition. It gives him space to breathe, time to think and be with his family, and a chance to center himself. A chance to push forward even harder. A chance to grow.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment