ESPN Streak shuts down abruptly after 14 years

After 14 years, the ESPN Streak fantasy game shut down abruptly on Sept. 30.

The dawn of a new month might not mean much for most people.

It is, after all, just another day. Not for a dedicated group of sports fans who have been playing ESPN Streak—a Fantasy staple for the last 14 years—though.

The new month meant a chance to reset and refocus on multiple prizes offered by ESPN to anyone willing to dedicate themselves to a one-of-a-kind picking competition. It became a cult of sorts, colloquially known as Streak for the Cash, its former name.

It is now simply a thing of the past, as its final day was September 30, 2022, ending the 14-year run with only one week’s notice from ESPN.

Disney, ESPN’s parent company, has not announced a reason for the game’s end. It was a shock to many dedicated players, as the company had just upped the prize money in August. The longest streak prize had been upped from $15,000 to $20,000, while the most monthly wins had been upped from $5,000 to $10,000.

“No organization is going to end a profitable venture. So the only assumption one can make is that it was not profitable,” Ian Winograd, who won the monthly wins competition in Nov. 2018, said. “And sponsors are not easy to come by. With the recent forming of ESPN+, one would think Streak would promote that channel. But for whatever reason, that was clearly not the case.”

ESPN assured everyone that the game was “not going anywhere” in August of 2020, along with a promise in 2019 that the game was being left in capable hands following the retirement of one of the “StreakMasters.” Something changed.

There are plenty of Fantasy sports competitions on the market, but Streak was unique. Not only did it encompass props ranging from cricket to anything aired on ABC/ESPN, but it also made people wait until one pick was finished before making another pick. This created a somewhat-forced obsession for monthly wins players, as they had to be prepared to make picks throughout the day.

One missed window could be the difference between winning and losing the month. I gave it my best shot in high school and college, making picks in the locker room of basketball games at halftime and (don’t tell anyone) in class. It took an extreme level of dedication to have a shot at winning a month, and there’s a reason I never contended.

I quit playing Streak several years ago, but it has still made a positive impact on my life. I got into the sports betting space because of this game, learning about probability, odds, vig and the betting market from the Streak message boards early in high school.

More significantly, I made some lifelong friends on those message boards, as we sweated out the over/under for how many hot dogs Joey Chestnut was going to eat on the Fourth of July or tried to follow a soccer match taking place in Africa with no TV feed. I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of a friend I met on those message boards earlier this year, so I feel honored to bid this game goodbye.

But I’d rather let some of the legends of the game do the talking, as they made picks daily until the very end.

Here’s a Q+A with Jon Piken (Felixgodnandez) and Chris Beck (Groovy UV), who were two of the top monthly wins’ competitors in the 14 years of the game, along with Irish Will Return, who had the second-longest streak in the game’s history (48) in January.

Piken finished fourth on the all-time wins list, winning $15,000 from three monthly titles. He created a website (27inarow.com) dedicated to the game in 2011, getting up to 30,000 page views per day at its peak.

Beck won two monthly titles amounting to $10,000 in his 13 years playing, finishing inside the top five in yearly wins eight straight years.

How do you feel about the game ending?

Beck: I was pretty shocked to hear the game was ending so quickly and unceremoniously and would have liked to see an end of the year finish where the best monthly pickers in the game could have fought it out for one last title but that wasn’t in the cards. After 13 years, the game is so ingrained in my life that I’m not sure what I’ll do moving forward.

Piken: The end of the contest has brought upon mixed emotions that I am still trying to process.  While I have always understood that in the grand scheme of life, this contest is inconsequential, that doesn’t take away the fact that it was still a part of my everyday life… Needless to say, I will not miss the daily grind, tough reads, and other frustrations that the game brought. What I will miss is the competition, the successful moves and reads that boost you up the leaderboard, and especially winning a month.  The high that you get from winning a month is hard to match and I’ve been fortunate enough to do that 3 times, though it feels like I should have won 6-7 times as I’ve lost on the final pick a handful of times and have 30+ top 10 finishes.  I shouldn’t complain though as most people that have played for years and years and years never won a penny, so I am thrilled I was able to cash in on the time I spent playing this crazy game.

Irish: I’m actually somewhat relieved that Streak has finally ended. It was fun, but it also became a lot like a chore or a daily task where u had to ALWAYS be paying attention. It often got in the way of far more important things like family, friends, work, etc. I haven’t missed it these first 2 days (Although it does feel strange), and I doubt I will miss it at all. I’ll be more productive at work & in life.

Where was the craziest place you made a pick?

Beck: I’ve made picks at weddings, funerals, high school and college graduations, wedding anniversaries (my wife is very understanding) in hospital rooms, business meetings, on airplanes and boats, playing golf, and on and on but the craziest place I’ve picked to avoid missing a window was flat on my back having physical therapy on a broken shoulder.

The craziest panic location I’ve made a pick was many years ago, driving I-77 North, from South Carolina to Ohio on a family trip; no cell service so had to make an emergency detour at an extremely isolated exit in the mountains of WV which happened to have a Days Inn with free Wi-fi. I raced the minivan (with family of six in tow) into the entryway of the hotel, connected with their Wi-fi and got the pick in with less than a minute to spare. I was in contention that month near the top of the leaderboard and it was towards the end of the month, so my heart was racing the whole time 

Piken: I dealt with countless situations that made it tough to not miss a pick.  I would say the toughest times to make picks were when I traveled overseas to Israel a few times.  There was a 7-hour time difference, so picks were at strange times, and it made it much more difficult to follow what was going on.  Of course, there were other times I simply had to pull over to the side of the road to make a pick, but that’s a pretty common one I’d assume.

How did your longest streak come to an end (Irish)?

Irish: I picked (Tallon) Griekspoor & he picked (Alexander) Bublik in the critical ATP tennis prop. In a nail biter, Bublik won 7-6, 7-6 – but that’s just the beginning of the story (actually, it’s the END – the bitter end!).

Griekspoor (my guy) got an early break in EACH of the 2 sets & was Heavily favored (Live odds) when UP a break. He “gave back” the break both times, and each set went to a TB. Griekspoor got UP a mini-break in EACH set – again, becoming a BIG Live odds fave, but eventually lost BOTH TB’s for a 7-6, 7-6 final score. When that match/prop ended, my streak ended at W48, and I was eliminated, finishing with the 2nd longest streak of all time. Many people know that I finished in 2nd place (that month & all-time), but No one really knows how agonizingly CLOSE I came to winning first place in BOTH!

Final thoughts?

Beck: What I’ll easily miss the most is the camaraderie and support of my private group chats full of like-minded monthly Streakers as we became much more than competitors. I truly believe that lifelong friendships have been formed which in reality is so much more important than The Game.  It certainly will be nice to not have to set 6 or 7 phone alarms a day to get picks in, and I definitely won’t miss the stress of missed windows and horrible beats. All in all it’s been an amazing ride, and I have to thank ESPN / Disney and all of my fellow competitors for making it the greatest fantasy game that has ever existed.

Piken: Overall, I still am not sure if the contest existing in the first place was a good or bad thing for me.  I met a lot of people over the years that I have become true friends with and for that I am thankful.  I learned so much about international sports, obscure domestic sports, sports betting, and even life lessons dealing with stressful situations.  Looking back, I suppose it was a fun, yet difficult ride.  Just writing this, I am realizing that the game was starting to pass me by even though I was still active and dedicated to the very end.  It’s time for a new chapter.  

Goodbye Streak! You may be missed???

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