Overwatch League awards season is upon us once again, and this year, the level of competition has been higher than ever. But as the end of the season draws near, some players have risen to the very top. Luckily for Upcomer, the league was kind enough to give us a media awards ballot, so we put it to good use. Below are Upcomer’s official picks for the 2021 Overwatch League awards.
MVP: HUANG “LEAVE” XIN
The definition of “Most Valuable Player” has always been a bit nebulous, but on a very basic level, we think of it as the player who’s been the most consistent high performer and has had the biggest impact on their team all season. With that in mind, the Chengdu Hunters’ damage dealer Leave was a no-brainer.
Leave has been touted as a potential MVP candidate from the start of the season, but he really came to the fore during the Summer Showdown. The Hunters have steadily been getting better all season, with marked improvement in every role – yet Leave still stands out as their undisputed star player. It’s difficult to capture in words just how immense his impact has been all season. He’s been an integral part of the Hunters’ rise to greatness, and it’s safe to say the team wouldn’t be anything like it is now without him.
ROOKIE: OH “PELICAN” SE-HYUN
2021’s Rookie of the Year category isn’t as stacked as it was last year, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still a tough decision. We went back and forth between the Atlanta Reign’s Pelican and the Los Angeles Gladiators’ Kim “skewed” Min-seok. Pelican won out in the end based on his season-long performance.
It takes a special kind of player to be able to come into an already-established roster and immediately cement themselves as a core part of the team. Pelican has proven time and time again that he’s a critical part of the Reign’s success this season – so much so that they found themselves floundering without him in the Countdown Cup. He’s been good all season long, which is tough for a rookie player. There’s no telling how much further he can climb. For now, he’s our Rookie of the Year.
COACH: YUN “RUSH” HEE-WON
From an outside perspective, the exact impact of a coach can be difficult to discern. The top coach is someone who manages to get the best out of their players, and we don’t often get to see the process behind that. From what we can tell, though, this accolade should go to the Dallas Fuel’s head coach Rush this year.
Rush admittedly had a slightly easier job than other coaches coming into the season. He’d worked with all of the Fuel’s current players before, after all. But regardless of the advantage this gave him, all the Fuel players have seemed at their very best this season. Even team leader Lee “Fearless” Eui-seok, who enjoyed massive success with the Shanghai Dragons last year, somehow got even better this year. The squad had low expectations around them initially and have sometimes faltered, but with Rush at the helm, they always show up when it matters the most.
ROLE STARS – DAMAGE
- Kim “SP9RK1E” Yeong-han (Dallas Fuel)
SP9RK1E is one of the most electric players in the league, and has been since he joined it. His aggressive, unrelenting play led the charge for the Fuel all season and cemented him as a bona fide star player.
- Leave (Chengdu Hunters)
We would be remiss if we didn’t select our MVP for the Role Star award as well. Leave’s mechanical skill and astounding clutch potential make him one of the most fearsome damage dealers around.
- Park “Profit” Jun-young (Seoul Dynasty)
Profit is one of the all-time greats, and his long experience as a pro player has been apparent all season. Even with Seoul experiencing their typical ups and downs, Profit has always been good, and is pretty much always deserving of recognition.
- Jeong “Heesu” Hee-su (Toronto Defiant)
The Defiant are a team that sometimes fades into the background, but Heesu is one big reason to take note of them. Oftentimes he’s far and away the team’s best player, and is a core part of all their success so far.
ROLE STARS – TANK
- Fearless (Dallas Fuel)
Fearless has had one of the most compelling journeys through the Overwatch pro scene so far, and his protagonist arc has basically hit its climax this season. His enormous impact has been undeniable all season long, which is rare for a main tank player.
- Qiu “GA9A” Jiaxin (Chengdu Hunters)
The Hunters’ liberal use of Wrecking Ball has always been one of their defining features, and GA9A is one of the best Wrecking Ball players there is. He manages to be an anchor for his team while also somehow being everywhere on the map at once.
- Choi “ChoiHyoBin” Hyo-bin (San Francisco Shock)
2019 Grand Finals MVP ChoiHyoBin has had another banner year, often surpassing all the other Shock players to be the standout. Though the Shock have struggled a bit more this season, you can always count on ChoiHyoBin to be performing well.
- Kim “Fury” Jun-ho (Washington Justice)
The Justice came into this season with one of the most hyped tanklines in the league, and though the team overall has failed to meet expectations, Fury has more than proven why he’s still one of the best flex tank players in the world. His D.Va play remains unmatched and is something the Justice have relied on heavily all season.
ROLE STARS – SUPPORT
- Lee “LeeJaeGon” Jae-gon (Shanghai Dragons)
It’s very difficult to stand out as a main support, but LeeJaeGon’s flashy, aggressive playstyle makes him one of the most entertaining main supports in the league. He’s also one of the only Lúcio and Brigitte players you need to genuinely fear for your life against.
- Zhou “Mmonk” Xiang (Chengdu Hunters)
Mmonk sort of flew under the radar during the first half of the season, but he rose to prominence during the Hunters’ Summer Showdown run. He’s a flex support with an uncanny ability to secure clutch kills on enemy damage heroes, which is important when you’re consistently being dove by the best Tracers in the world.
- Kim “Shu” Jin-seo (Los Angeles Gladiators)
MVP candidate Shu has been a standout player for the Gladiators all season, but especially so during the Countdown Cup, where he made a title-winning play. Whenever the Gladiators are doing well, Shu is one of their best performers.
- Emir “Kaan” Okumus (Paris Eternal)
The Eternal have had an up and down season, but whenever they’re up, Kaan is a big reason why. His intelligent, consistent Ana play has been one of the Eternal’s strengths this season, and they’ve looked at their best when playing around that.