Jay “Sinatraa” Won, a professional VALORANT player for Sentinels and former Overwatch League MVP, is at the core of a controversy after his former girlfriend Cleo Hernandez accused him of sexual assault on March 9. This controversy sparked reactions across the esports community because of his influence in the industry. At 20, Won has become one of the most-popular representatives of the United States in the industry as the face of both VALORANT and Overwatch competitive scenes. Following Hernandez’s allegations, Riot Games suspended him from competing in the VCT NA Masters One and his team launched an internal investigation. If you struggle to keep track of the story, here’s a full timeline of the events.
Overwatch champion and superstar
tw for sexual abuse // my last relationship https://t.co/V4PUMZeNrW
— cleooo 🇲🇽 (@cIe0h) March 10, 2021
Direct link to cIe0h’s Google Doc.
Won was one of the first American figures of the Overwatch competitive scene. He began playing the game as soon as it was released in 2016 and reached the top of the ladder in the first ranked season of the game. Six months later, he was signed by Selfless Gaming and qualified for the Season Zero of NA Contenders in 2017, which was the major official league of the region before the Overwatch League was created.
At 17, Won had become one of the most promising rookies in the Overwatch scene. He was scouted before he reached the legal age required to play in the Overwatch League when San Francisco Shock signed him before his 18th birthday. Before he stepped onto the Overwatch League stage in 2018, he also represented the United States in the Overwatch World Cup and regularly streamed ranked games for a constantly growing number of viewers. As of today, he has over 500,000 followers on Twitch.
His career peaked in 2019 when he lifted the Overwatch League trophy with his team San Francisco Shock in front of thousands of fans. On top of earning the highest title in the game, he was voted MVP of the season, which awarded him an exclusive skin to put his mark in the game, Alien Zarya.
He even appeared in the Tonight Show by Jimmy Fallon with his teammate Matthew “Super” DeLisi following his victory and was the focus of a feature on The Verge. He had been reportedly dating Hernandez for months at that time.
Starting the VALORANT exodus
Several months after Riot revealed its upcoming FPS competitive title during its 10-year anniversary but before the game was officially released, Won was the first Overwatch League player to announce he was leaving the scene to compete professionally in VALORANT. Many other players followed suit over the subsequent months. He didn’t leave without a plan, though. A few hours after his announcement, Sentinels revealed they signed him with other former Overwatch player zombs. Although he didn’t earn as many titles in VALORANT at first, he still pursued a successful career in the new esport. Sentinels finished in the top four of the First Strike North America tournament last December and qualified for the VALORANT Champions Tour. They won the first Challenger tournament, finished the second in second place, and are competing in the Masters Tour this weekend.
Hernandez comes forward
On March 9, Hernandez posted a lengthy document where she detailed her and Won’s nine-month relationship in 2019. She claimed he perpetrated multiple sexual assaults and misconduct. Following her statement, numerous personalities from the scene and from the broader esports community voiced their support for her. Some others stirred controversy by publicly backing Won, such as former Overwatch player Dafran.
Riot Games and Sentinels take measures
In the same day, Riot and Sentinels suspended him from competing for the length of an investigation. He was supposed to compete in a major VALORANT tournament, VCT NA Masters One, the following weekend. After Riot made the announcement, Hernandez asked to be part of the internal investigation, saying she hadn’t been contacted by the publisher yet. Overwatch publisher Blizzard Entertainment also reacted by informing players it would hand out refunds for the exclusive skin created for Won as the MVP of 2019 season, Alien Zarya. The developer said it took “any allegations of this nature seriously and unequivocally support victims of abuse.”
Won denies allegations
One day after Blizzard and Riot reacted to the controversy, Won posted a twitlonger where he denied any sexual assault allegation, saying he “recalls [their] relationship differently” and that he “never assaulted her in any way,” but will fully cooperate with the investigations.
After the accusations, Sentinels revealed “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.”
Dafran responded to the situation saying “We have to wait for Sinatraa’s side of the story. E-girls can be fucking scary as a twitch streamer. They will try to jebait or photoshop evidence and then fuck you. Im not saying she is one, but she could be. People have been waiting for something to cancel Sinatraa over”
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