One of “Call of Duty’s” top professional players, Matthew “NaDeSHoT” Haag, is taking a temporary step away from the world of competitive video games. Haag, who has more than one million followers on Twitter and 1.7 million subscribers on YouTube, posted a video to the YouTube on Saturday, informing fans of his departure.
“If you asked me two months ago if I was going to be making a video like this, I’d have told you you were absolutely crazy. Things change, people change, situations change,” Haag, 22, said in the video. “I’m going to be taking a break from ‘Call of Duty,’ a leave of absence if you will.”
Haag is currently a member of “Call of Duty” team OpTic gaming.
"I felt my passion to win wasn't high enough to compete at this level," he added. "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."
In November, Haag was featured in a New York Times cover story that placed his salary at nearly seven figures per year. But this past week, Haag took seventh place at the “Call of Duty” championships, taking home just $8,750.
“I’m confident I will be revisiting my competitive roots … I just need some time to step back and pursue other things I’m passionate about,” Haag said.
Just one year removed from being able to drink legally, Haag has been playing video games professionally for six years and became team captain last year. He was also named eSports player of the year in December. While Haag insists that he’ll one day return, he admitted the negativity surrounding competitive playing affected him.
“I have really thick skin. I deal with criticism pretty well because I’ve been dealing with it for a very long time, but I’m pretty tired of being the scapegoat of the team," he said. "…if we’re not winning, I know everyone’s coming after me."
Haag said he was “excited” to have more free time to create daily video blogs for his fans, and that he will continue playing games like “Minecraft” and zombie survival game “H1Z1” on his channel.