The Atlanta Reign announced today that Daniel "dafran" Francesca is retiring from Overwatch League competitive play, just six months after signing with the team. He's not going away completely, however, but will instead become a part of the Reign's "stream team."
"Dafran informed us of his pending retirement a week prior to Stage 1 playoffs. In doing so, Dafran wanted to be respectful of Reign, his teammates, and our fans. With his focus set on 'popping off, one last time!' Dafran truly wanted to give it his all during playoffs and didn't desire to draw attention to himself while we were still playing," the team said.
"We will forever be grateful that we were able to have Daniel as a member of the Reign family. He is a mechanically gifted talent but that is just the start. Daniel is intelligent, funny, and endearingly self-depracating, all in one package. He was an exception in-game leader, teammates, and friend to the whole org. We will miss Daniel's presence in the team house and will continue to support him in all of his future endeavors."
Atlanta Reign Announce the Retirement of Daniel “Dafran” Francesca from the @overwatchleague. pic.twitter.com/FEkR8cNyvwMarch 28, 2019
Despite his short tenure in the Overwatch League, he was one of its most popular players: Licensed merchandise retailer Fanatics said earlier this month that his was the top-selling OWL jersey. But his history as a pro player has not gone especially smoothly. He was suspended from his former org, Selfless Gaming, and Overwatch Contenders competition in 2017 for griefing (including streaming anime porn during matches) and throwing matches.
He later claimed that his behavior was an effort to get away from competitive Overwatch, which was "simply not something I enjoy." He did like "streaming and enjoying the fame," however, something he alluded to in his own statement on the retirement.
"I want to say big thank you to the Atlanta Reign for giving me an opportunity in the OWL. Professional gaming was always the biggest dream of mine since I was very young and you gave me a shot. Sadly it is not anymore. I would rather be a streamer at this point in life and chill," he wrote.
He also acknowledged his previous, less pleasant retirement from the pro scene, saying, "Hey, at least we are leaving maturely and gracefully after finishing stage 1, unlike the throw4dafran nekopara selfless incident."
Given the looming arrival of April, I contacted the Reign to confirm that Francesca's retirement announcement is legitimate and not the start of some elaborate prank. The team assured me that it is.