It’s been about six months since Matt “Nadeshot” Haag, Call of Duty’s most famous player, decided to take a break from competitive gaming.
In a poignant confession he broadcast on YouTube back in April, Nadeshot, 23, said he wasn’t playing to win anymore, he was playing not to lose.
“I felt like, in a sense, I was holding my team back,” he said.
It had gotten to the point where Nadeshot felt like a scapegoat every time OpTic Gaming lost. “I am tired of hitting the back button on the scoreboard and me being at the bottom, and if we are not winning, I know that everyone is coming after me,” he said.
Rather than abandon his team, however, Nadeshot took an ownership stake. “I want to see this team be successful,” he said, even if it meant replacing himself with someone else with a deeper drive to win and perhaps, as he put it, more talent.
Haag promised he would stay active on social media. “This is all I have,” he said. “This is all I do. I am going to be uploading more videos and streaming more than you guys have ever witnessed on my YouTube channel.”
One thing that wasn’t a problem was money. Haag has made as much as a million dollars playing Call of Duty, according to a long profile written about him last year and published in the New York Times.
In Haag’s “retirement video,” however, OpTic’s co-owner, Hector Rodriguez, alluded to another issue. When Haag left Twitch to go play on MLG.tv, many of his fans did not follow him. “This guy’s vision, my vision as to where this can go if all things line up appropriately and correctly—this [decision] will be good not only for OpTic but for Call of Duty e-sports as a whole,” Rodriguez said. “Right now, it is more important than ever that we continue to grow the audience within Call of Duty to get to the place where we need to be.”
In a Q&A that Nadeshot recorded this week, he expanded on the consequences of leaving Twitch and called it his “biggest regret.”
“It basically alienated competitive Call of Duty away from all the other e-sports when we were trying to climb out of that hole in the first place,” he said. The decision hurt the community “that I loved and still do love,” he said. “Hopefully, in the next couple of years we can get competitive Call of Duty back on the right track and, you know, just get this e-sport, this game I love, back in the place it needs to be.”