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Call of Duty's top pro player is stepping away from the game

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Following a disappointing finish at last week's Call of Duty Championships, Matthew "NaDeSHoT" Haag, one of the most recognizable individual eSports stars, is stepping down from his captaincy of top Call of Duty team OpTic gaming and leaving competitive video gaming, but only temporarily, he says.

"I felt my passion to win wasn't high enough to compete at this level," Haag says in this video. "I felt like I was playing to not lose. I wasn't playing to win, so I wouldn't hear the repercussions of it on my Twitter and YouTube channel for the next week."

Haag and OpTic finished seventh at the Call of Duty Championships, pocketing just $8,750 for their troubles. Haag also is a part-owner of his team, and so he couched his departure as a managerial decision as well. "If we were to pursue another player who has more drive to win, and maybe even more talent, they [OpTic] would have a better chance to win.

Further, as such a visible performer, he felt even more accountable for the team's shortcomings. "If we're not winning, I know that everyone's coming after me," he said. "I felt my attitude and drive to win was holding back the team."

Haag has been a professional gamer for six years and became OpTic's captain in 2014. He was named eSports player of the year at the inaugural Game Awards back in December. A New York Times profile last year estimated his annual earnings, through prizes and sponsorships, at $1 million.

"If you had asked me two months ago if I would be making a video like this, I would have told you you were crazy," Haag said. However, he remains "very confident I will be revisiting my competitive roots and competing for a Call of Duty title" soon, possibly even within Advanced Warfare, meaning this hiatus may not last long.

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