Every year, Overwatch pundits, pros, and writers vote to determine the standout stars of the year. Who was the rookie of the year? Which player had the biggest impact? These are subjective and opaque questions, and there are usually multiple contenders for the “right” answer.
This year, the San Francisco Shock’s Jay “Sinatraa” Won took home the MVP award, and Hyo-Jong “Haksal” Kim won the title of Rookie of the Year.
Now that the votes are in and the winners have celebrated their achievement, it’s time to take a look at the Overwatch scene. There were many great players who helped cinch close matches, turned around doomed games, and pulled off fantastic plays. 2019 was an exciting year for the Overwatch League, and these players helped define the scene.
Tank and thank
Tanks are both the hardest role to judge, but also the most important. Due to their powerful abilities and high health pools, tanks set the pace for their team and control the flow of the game.
I’ve been thoroughly impressed with how Xu “guxue” Qiulin has adapted to the Hangzhou Spark. He has shown impressive growth within a mixed roster, and still has the ability to maintain some of the world’s best tank play.
Matthew “super” DeLisi also had a fantastic season with the San Francisco Shock. His Reinhardt play was the offensive line for the Shock for nearly three stages, and they might not have won the Stage 2 title if not for his perfectly timed Earthshatters, his amazing coordination, and his in-game leadership.
Following Super in each and every fight is flex tank and D.Va specialist, Choi “ChoiHyoBin” Hyo-bin. His constant pressure from odd angles was crucial in the Shock taking home the Stage 2 title. ChoiHyoBin has been a consistent threat all season and even though he is an aggressive flex tank, he knows his limits extremely well. This allows him to follow the fast pace the Shock played at for most of the season.
And even in the darkest of times, the London Spitfire can rely on Kim “Fury” Jun-ho to have a solid performance. With how well he times his Defense Matrix on D.Va, and with how flexible he has shown himself to be, Fury is easily within the world’s best flex tanks.
Damage per second
Damage is a trickier code to decipher, especially since this year’s GOATS meta means that many damage players were playing tank or support characters. While traditional DPS heroes became common place at the end of the season, I had to give the benefit of the doubt to players who were caught on heroes they wouldn’t normally play.
Jay “sinatraa” Won was an obvious choice for MVP, with how impactful he was with Zarya for the first three stages. He hasn’t seen as much play time as of late, but he remains a powerful tool the Shock can pull off the bench when needed for a tough match.
Kim “Haksal” Hyojong had a fantastic season, and was easily the best Brigitte in the Overwatch League. He served as a permanent thorn in the side of his opponents, and adapted to be just as tough in the role queue metagame. Haksal is quickly adapting to the Mei heavy ecosystem we’re currently in, but he’s also been able to bust out his signature Genji pick from time to time.
Yang “DDing” Jin-hyeok has come in like a bat out of hell with his amazing Pharah play, but his Sombra picks during the height of GOATS will define his legacy this season. DDing has less hero diversity than other players, but he’s strong enough on his core picks that he Shanghai Dragons can build the team around him. It’s a strategy that won them the Stage 3 championship, and DDing shows no signs of slowing down.
Finally, let’s face it — Park “Profit” Joon-yeong is likely the best player in the world right now. After London Spitfire’s season one championship victory, it was clear he could not be ignored. His flexibility and skill allows him to bail the London Spitfire out of seemingly unwinnable situations, and he means the Spitfire will always be a threat.
Supporting the supports
Lest we forget those who keep us alive through both dives and damage, we have to mention the supports. Who better to start the list then the Vancouver Titans main support, Kim “SLIME” Sung-jun? As the main facilitator to the Titans’ bold and aggressive style, SLIME has been imperative the Titans’ dominant run through this season.
Grant “moth” Espe is the brains of the whole San Francisco Shock operation. However, he is not only the general on the field, but he’s been an absolute workhorse this season on main support. He’s always rock solid, and capable of carrying a fight to victory on his shoulders.
The Titans’ Lee “Twilight” Jooseok stands as a pillar of consistency. All season long, he has been a quiet focal point of the Vancouver Titans success on multiple heroes. He not only has led the league in terms of Zenyatta performance, but has adapted to the Ana metagame quite capably as well.
Finally, a controversial pick for one of the strongest supports is Kim “Shu” Jin-seo, of the Guangzhou Charge. His team has been inconsistent, but Shu has been one of the roster’s bright spots. He’s also on a mixed language roster, and when you combine different cultures with a team that has suffered tough losses, many players would falter. Despite these issues, Shu has had a fantastic season, and he edges out the usual suspects despite his team not being at the top of the rankings.
Rookie of the Year
Lee “Twilight” Jooseok of the Vancouver Titans stands out as my personal rookie of the year. His consistency on RunAway has translated into a strong performance on the Overwatch League stage, and he has been both their backbone and their brightest star in times of need.
Of course, there’s also the official winner, another Vancouver Titans star. DPS player Kim “Haksal” Hyojong had an incredible performance through the first three stages on Brigitte and ended the season as the offensive lynchpin for the Vancouver Titan’s success. Haksal took a hero and role in the 3-3 metagame that many people overlooked, but found ways to impose his will on the game and make even a mechanically simple hero like Brigitte look flashy.
Our third rookie is another Titans star, the silent assassin and king of positioning from the Titans support line, Kim “SLIME” Sung-jun. Throughout the 2019 season, SLIME has been integral in numerous Vancouver comebacks with his stellar understanding of positioning. Whether he’s skating around the point and knocking people off the map, saving his teammates with Baptiste, or dodging Earthshatters and EMPs, SLIME consistently is a threat no matter the hero he’s playing.
Meeting the MVP
While all of the nominees for MVP are incredibly talented, including the eventual winner of the title, from my perspective, there has been one player that stands out among the rest: Lee “Twilight” Jooseok.
He’s a player that has found consistent success all season long on a number of different heroes. Twilight has been crucial to the Titans success this season, but is easily the most underappreciated. He’s been competing with the best flex supports in the world and, at the absolute minimum,, is going even with them in terms of statistics and overall performance. Compared to the other nominees, Twilight edges out the competition in terms of stability and consistency in performance across the season with arguably similar peaks. Twilight checks all the boxes for what I consider an MVP and a star player.
He’s consistent, he’s flexible, he’s a leader, he’s intelligent, and he’s incredibly good. What more could you want? Twilight, in my opinion, is the Rookie of the Year and the regular season MVP.