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The Leave OWL MVP Hype

If one had been keeping an eye on the MVP votes, one would see an astounding following around the Chengdu Hunter’s DPS Huang ‘Leave’ Xin. For those who haven’t seen the APAC region games, it might be confusing why. Yes, the Hunters have been in the regional tournaments twice, but haven’t won either of them though having a good showing both times. This season has been a perfect storm for Leave to attain the MVP award as many factors seemingly have fallen into place for him. Here is how Leave captivated the hearts of so many in the community.

Time to Represent China

Overall Past OWL Awards

In the Overwatch League, the end-of-season awards are always a highly anticipated moment for the fans and players. In the four seasons, there has rarely been any Chinese player representation. To be fair, there has been little representation other than the Korean players for most of the awards. For example, the Grand Final MVP has been all Korean players though all three years have been won by EU/NA teams, the three years with London Spitfire Junyoung ‘Profit’ Park in 2018, San Francisco Shock’s Hyobin ‘Choihyobin’ Choi (2019), and Namjoo ‘Striker’ Kwon (2020). Though this is common across all the awards, that it is Korean-dominated. The only exception is the  Dennis ‘Internethulk’ Hawelka award which no Korean or Chinese player has ever won.

Role Stars

The role star awards started in 2019, as it wasn’t in the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. In 2019, 7 of the 12 candidates for role stars were Korean. The only Chinese player to get an award was Qiulin ‘Guxue’ Xu, from the Hangzhou Spark. In 2020 it was even more saturated than the year before. 12 of the 13 candidates that got the role star award for DPS, Tank, or Support were Korean. There was no Chinese representation at all. Of all the awards given out during all the seasons, Guxue stays the only Chinese player to get an award. That is not to say players from  Chinese Teams haven’t gotten awards, but many times those players that were highlighted were Korean.

MVP Candidates

In the Past OWL MVP

The MVP award for 2020 is one that the Chinese fans could take pride in. It came in the form of Byungsun ‘Fleta’ Kim, the newly transferred Seoul Dynasty DPS player to the Shanghai Dragons. His performance helped the Dragons be dominant for most of the 2020 season. Fleta is a highly beloved player within China. So though Fleta was not Chinese, he was a player who represented a Chinese team getting one of the highest awards of the Overwatch League.

2021 OWL MVP

Courtesy of the Overwatch League

The 2021 MVP list had 10 players announced as potentially the next MVP to join the ranks. Of the 10 candidates, 9 of them are Korean. There is a much higher percentage with 40% of the MVP candidates coming from a Chinese team, though the other three are Korean players on the Shanghai Dragons. If a fan wanted to vote for a Chinese player, the votes wouldn’t be split as there is only one option, which can’t be said for the Korean players up for this honor. Leave being the sole representative for Chinese players puts a lot of weight behind his nomination.

Of course, fan votes are only a part of the MVP process as other voices as well as input. Many of the talents have been quite vocal as well in their potential support of Leave becoming MVP and potentially putting their vote towards him. Which bodes well for Leave to attain the overall MVP award for this season.

National Pride

This year one of the bigger controversies that popped up was when a Korean player who represented the South Korean Overwatch League team made a comment about the One China Policy that offended many Chinese fans and players. This caused the Chinese teams to boycott the Seoul Dynasty for a moment before it got sorted out.

The Impact

This brought a wave of national pride from many of the Chinese fans. Ultimately this could be seen in the official Overwatch League stream chat, social media, signs at the Chinese homestands, and many other places. The fact that there is only one Chinese player in Leave that is in contention for the MVP slot many fans have been voting for him. As seen above when peaking at some of the WeChat numbers, as of Aug 21 he had over 48,000 votes. That doesn’t count the Overwatch League website votes or the #OWLMVP social media votes.

Leave

All of that aside, the reason anyone would vote for Leave is for his amazing skills that have been highlighted this season. The Chengdu Hunters went from an unconventional team that struggled to find wins in the first couple of seasons to now a dominant force in the APAC region who has secured the #2 spot going into the playoffs.

His Skills

He is a super flexible player that can go onto almost any DPS hero and be impactful. He has been compared to Fleta and Profit in the way that he is able to master heroes and fit what the team needs from him. This was seen in the final of the Countdown Cup where he would be on Tracer then Hanzo and a little bit of Widow as well as Sombra if needed. He makes impossible shots seem possible when he is in the lobby. He has out Tracer-ed Profit and some of the other well-known names in the industry.

Courtesy of the Overwatch League Stat Page

Leave is the only Chinese DPS player in the top ten rankings of both NA and APAC. Throughout the whole season, he has played 16 of the 17 DPS characters. Fleta has played less than that in Season 4. Leave has shown great proficiency

OWL MVP?

It seems like the combination of all these factors has hyped Leave up as one of the forerunners of the Overwatch League MVP for Season 4. Recency bias with his performance in the Countdown Cup will help his numbers as well as convince those undecided few to vote for him. He is not one of the huge personalities like Matthew ‘Super’ DeLisi is, but his quiet, some may lovingly say awkward, personality makes him endearing. He allows his abilities to speak for him. Leave is supported by his teammates as seen when Ma ‘LateYoung’ Tianbin asked players in each of his ranked games to vote for Leave for four hours straight. Beloved by fans and his peers Leave has shown up to catch the eye of NA as well as the talent to maybe be the first Chinese MVP recipient.

If you haven’t voted already you can vote for your 2021 MVP here: https://overwatchleague.com/en-us/mvp

 

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