Now just under a week into the 2020 OWL season, some have already begun to look ahead to see which players are anticipated to make the biggest splash this year. With some stellar opening performances, it’s not out of the question to imagine that even the players themselves have started thinking about the OWL’s coveted postseason awards.
The 2019 OWL award season was one that featured some new awards like Role Stars and Rookie of the Year, as well as some questionable voting processes for MVP. There were also some quintessential postseason awards that were missing from the list, including some that are central parts of most other competitive sports/esports leagues. Using traditional sports as a starting point, here are five awards that the league should seriously consider adding/altering in 2020.
7th Man/Best off the Bench
This award is typical of most traditional sports and is a great way of highlighting a player that may have been missed by some throughout the season. In OWL especially, every player counts and players with certain specialties can be clutch on certain maps for their teams. Sure, some teams don’t have a clear starting six, but any player not consistently in the lineup could have been qualified for this award, maybe with a minimum of a certain number of maps played. In a year where depth should prove very important, this is an award that could reward a player who did a great deal for their team in a short amount of time.
Most Improved Player/Biggest Comeback
This one is especially baffling because of the narrative power an award like this has. Not to mention the 2019 season had some great comeback stories. Players like Russell “FCTFCTN” Campbell and Andreas “Logix” Berghmans had monumental impacts on their new teams after being shown the boot in the Inaugural Season. Highlighting the stories of players like this in an award is good for fans, good for the league and good for the players working their way back to the top. In 2020, there’s already looking to be several players looking to make their mark after failing to make an impact in 2019.
Everyone loves a comeback story, after all.
Top Play/Moment of the Year
This, again, is another easy way for the league to continue to drive more narratives and celebrate its most exciting moments. This award could serve as a reminder to fans that the OWL truly can be exciting and adrenaline-filled, something that many fans forgot during the height of the GOATS meta.
Or, if the league decided to go for a moment outside of the game itself, the Shanghai redemption moment from 2019 would be a great choice as well as the OWL’s first-ever homestand in Dallas. Again, lots of great narrative potential here and one that wouldn’t be difficult to do for the league.
Coaching Staff/Head Coach/Front Office of the Year
Of everything listed so far, this one actually might be the most surprising. There is not a single award that highlights a non-player member on any of the teams. With an organization like Shanghai that completely rebuilt, those behind the scenes deserve every bit as much credit as the players do. It’s been clear from the league’s first two seasons that coaching has a monumental impact, so why not give credit where credit is due?
Instead of Role Stars: All-Rookie 1st & 2ndTeam, All-Pro 1st & 2nd Team, etc.
This last one might be splitting hairs, but the Role Stars just doesn’t seem all that interesting. Instead, why not break it up into more concrete and familiar categories. Especially as the league moves further and further on, seeing which rookies made the all-rookie team or seeing which tanks made the all-tank team (six top tanks) would be more interesting than just calling it Role Stars. Again, of the awards broken down so far, this one is likely the pickiest, but it is still something that seems like it could be reimagined in future seasons to make it more interesting.
Some Questionable Choices Were Made
The choice of awards for 2019 combined with the questionable MVP voting process gave fans a lot to gripe about during last year’s OWL award season. But, despite some suggested alterations, awards season will likely prove to be just as exciting in 2020 as it has been in year’s past. It’s always great to see players get recognition for working hard and honing their craft. In 2020, it will be exciting to see who takes home the hardware.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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