Sinatraa’s Return to Pro Valorant: A Timeline of Events
Former Overwatch pro and current Valorant player Jay “sinatraa” Won revealed that he was looking to return to compete in Valorant professionally very soon. On 12th April, Won tweeted that he will begin tryouts with esports organizations this week. His announcement has become the center of debates and discussions with many recalling the sexual assault allegations that led to his suspension from competitive play. The response to his return has cropped up concerns about the safety and treatment of women in the esports industry.
Sinatraa is yet to officially sign a contract with any esports team at the time of writing, however, the nature of his departure from Valorant esports requires us to revisit the circumstances surrounding his suspension. To that end, here’s a brief timeline of the events that lead to sinatraa’s suspension from Valorant esports.
Ex-girlfriend cle0h accuses sinatraa of sexual abuse
On 9th March 2021, sinatraa was accused of sexual abuse by his ex-girlfriend Cleo “cle0h” Hernandez. She took to Twitter to post a , alleging that the pro player would “leave [her] crying in the bathroom” after being intimate and would ignore her saying no “countless times” during their nine-month relationship. She also stated that she “lived in constant fear” during their time together and accused sinatraa of lying, manipulation, and mental abuse.
The document she shared included screenshots of text messages and Discord chats that were allegedly exchanged between sinatraa and herself. She also stated that he would not stop when she asked him to during sex and that he would claim he was “so close” each time. She also shared an (SA trigger warning) of sinatraa allegedly forcing himself on cle0h.
Sinatraa suspended from pro play and from Sentinels
On 10th March 2021, Riot Games and that sinatraa would be suspended from pro play for that week after the allegations. Very shortly, North American Valorant powerhouse Sentinels suspended sinatraa from the organization after cle0h’s statement detailing instances of sexual assault. It released a : “We are aware of the current situation regarding Jay “Sinatraa” Won and have launched an investigation internally. While the investigation is pending, he is suspended from the team. We will provide a further update once the investigation has concluded.”
Overwatch League refunds Sinatraa's Skins
The Overwatch League released a statement saying that it was aware of the allegations leveled against sinatraa. It added that it takes any allegations of such nature seriously and supports victims of abuse. Sinatraa received his own “Alien” skin in the game and anyone who requested a refund for the skin was credited 200 League Tokens. Additionally, the league said that the skin will be removed.
Sinatraa breaks his silence
A day after cle0h’s allegations, sinatraa responded by stating that he “never assaulted her in any way.” In a , he wrote, “It is clear from Cleo’s recent post that she recalls our relationship differently than I do. What we do agree on is that it was unhealthy for the both of us.” Additionally, he stated that he was fully cooperating with investigations and providing full audio and video clips that were brought up in the Google document.
In response to this, . She added, “Of course, we "recall the relationship differently." One of us was incredibly cruel and one of us was scared. This does lead to different experiences in a relationship, shockingly."
Riot suspends sinatraa for failing to cooperate with the sexual assault investigation
On 17th May 2021, Riot Games released a stating it was suspending him for six months for violating Rule 8.1 of the VALORANT Global Competition Policy by failing to fully cooperate with the Tournament Operator’s investigation. Additionally, it stated that he would be required to complete professional conduct training.
Riot said that the investigation against sinatraa did not come to a definitive conclusion but the Competitive Operations team had serious concerns about sinatraa’s conduct. On this, Riot wrote, “It was determined that on at least two occasions Sinatraa misrepresented certain facts, made false statements, and did not cooperate with the investigation in a way expected of a professional VALORANT esports player. Of note, Sinatraa’s public commitment on social media to provide the full audio and video clip referenced in the original post was never fulfilled.” Riot also deferred the matter to law enforcement authorities.
Sinatraa’s response regarding the investigation
Sinatraa claimed that he had been reflecting during the downtime and that he was truly sorry for hurting cle0h. Regarding Riot’s investigation, he wrote that he did not have the video/audio that she used in her statement despite claiming to do so in his previous statement. “After our relationship ended she had asked me to delete the video and I honored that,” he claimed.
He added that he had no clue what to do when this transpired and sought legal help. Sinatraa further said, “As we were drafting up an update with the legal PR team we had added that I would provide the video because we genuinely thought that the video would have to be shared in full since it’s a key part of the investigation. However, that did not happen and I should not have promised something I could not personally deliver.”
Cle0h claims that she did not drop charges
In May 2021, sinatraa was suspended for six months till 10th September 2021 for being uncooperative during the Riot investigation. After his ban was over, it was rumored that many teams were looking to sign the former Overwatch League pro.
Following this, cle0h had claimed in a since-deleted Tweet that she did not pursue the investigation anymore. Esports Talk read out her deleted tweet which said: “Didn't pursue the investigation crap anymore after like April because focusing on all of it put me in a place where I tried to end my own life, and I didn't think it was worth the amount of pain it was causing me."
Referencing this, sinatraa’s friend and Twitch streamer Daniel “Dafran” Francesca , “I am incredibly disappointed by all the streamers/organizations who immediat[e]ly judged him as guilty. We will never know what happen[e]d, it’s annoying as f*** but nothing was proven.”
In response, cle0h . She said, “didn’t drop the charges btw LOL. Dafran is so off his rocker.”
With his suspension having concluded, there has been no advancement in the sexual assault investigation and sinatraa is eligible to compete in the Valorant Champions Tour. Even amidst the investigations back in May 2021, sinatraa shared his intentions to return to competitive Valorant, in a Twitch stream on 20th May 2021.
The 22-year-old has been regularly streaming under the banner of Sentinels and creating content for the organization. Soon after he posted his tweet stating his intention to return to pro play, he was met with immense support from pro players and his fans. However, many in the esports community also raised concerns about his return to competitive Valorant, stating that it was dangerous and sets a bad precedent.
Many including G4 host Indiana “Froskurinn” Black have that people have forgotten the fact that he was suspended for not cooperating with Riot’s investigation and also the fact that his ex-girlfriend had solid evidence backing her claims.
Meanwhile, a stated that Sentinels has practiced without its Valorant player Jared “zombs” Gitlin and added that sinatraa, its former player, may be one of the potential candidates to join the roster.
Sinatraa’s return to professional Valorant, without any real consequences, is another grim indication that esports is currently an unsafe space and an unwelcoming environment for women. It does not help that the big-name companies in the industry including Riot Games and Activision Blizzard are mired in sexual harassment suits.