Kate Mitchell, assistant general manager of the Overwatch League’s Washington Justice, has announced her intention to retire from professional Overwatch at the end of Stage 2. Mitchell announced her retirement on Twitter today, providing a link to her full statement via a blog post.
I'm going home to Seattle after Stage 2 to take better care of my mental health. I'm so proud of the staff and players of Justice and know we'll keep getting stronger every day. https://t.co/wTQ3C18chI
— Justice Kate Mitchell (@KateMitchellOW) April 10, 2019
Mitchell joined the Washing Justice in September, and spent seven months in her role as assistant general manager. She was viewed by many as a trail blazer for women and the LGBT community in both professional Overwatch and esports. Prior to joining the Justice she spent time as the manager for the Overwatch Contenders teams Kungarna and Last Night’s Leftovers.
As with many players and coaches before her, Mitchell has struggled with the stress and mental health challenges that come with competing in Overwatch League, “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.”
Throughout her time on the professional scene Mitchell faced immense amounts of criticism and toxicity, most notably from the Reddit community, “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.”
Her retirement joins a long (and growing) list of recent retirees from Overwatch League. Atlanta Reign’s DPS player and popular streamer Daniel “Dafran” Francesca being the first big name to depart, followed shortly thereafter by Toronto Defiant DPS player Lee “Stellar” Do-hyung, and Dallas Fuel’s assistant coach Christian “Cocco” Johnson.
Your last day to see Kate Mitchell in action with the Washington Justice is Sunday May 5 4:45pm EST against the Boston Uprising.
“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.” said Mitchell in her closing statement. Mitchell has a number of opportunities available to her in the creative space, and has said that she is looking forward to writing and directing game projects and webcomics.
The Washington Justice released a statement on Twitter on Mitchell’s department, “We thank
@KateMitchellOW for all her amazing work in launching the team and wish her the absolute best in the future. We also look forward to her continued leadership through the rest of stage 2.”
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