As the second season of the Overwatch League comes to a close, I can’t help but see the glaring differences from the inaugural season to that of this one—more teams, more competition, but most importantly, many new faces.
Many of the most iconic plays this season have been executed by the rookies of the league, and some of these players have even dead-lifted the rest of their entire teams to victories and stage championships. I was inspired by the XXL franchise’s Freshman series (and Becky @gatamchun on Twitter) to elaborate upon some of the most impactful Overwatch League rookie players in the 2019 season.
This mini-series will highlight five players that stepped in to an inaugural season team and left a mark. This is the OWL Freshman Class of 2019.
A Bolstered Dynasty
Min-Hyuk “Michelle” Choi was quietly announced for the Seoul Dynasty prior to the start of the 2019 Overwatch League season. His addition to the team was overshadowed by the additional pickups of Min-Seo “Marve1” Hwang and the then-hyped Seung-Soo “Jecse” Lee. However, it was Michelle that would shine the most out of the three this season.
🐯 ANNOUNCEMENT 🐯
We're excited to announce 4 new additions to the #SeoulDynasty family!
Coach LEE 'WHYNOT' JUHYEOP (@WhyNot93996152)
Off Tank CHOI 'MICHELLE' MIN HYUK (@M1chelle_ow)
Main Tank HWANG 'MARVE1' MIN SEO (@uja102678)
Main Healer LEE 'JECSE' SEUNG SOO pic.twitter.com/MC2kbmZj2E
— Seoul Dynasty 🐯 (@SeoulDynasty) October 19, 2018
Many fans weren’t very familiar with Michelle’s name – and to be quite honest, they still aren’t. But the young star’s pro Overwatch career spans over multiple regions and even boasts a pair of championship wins. The flex-tank player was formerly on Lucky Future Zenith, a Chinese powerhouse roster that included names such as Min-Sung “Diem” Bae (currently playing for the Shanghai Dragons) and Ho-Jin “iDK” Park (currently playing for the Hangzhou Spark). With Lucky Future Zenith, Michelle won both seasons 1 and 2 of the 2018 Contenders: China season. His displayed prowess caught the Seoul Dynasty’s attention and Michelle was eventually signed for the 2019 Overwatch League season.
Michelle has become the best flex-tank player that the Seoul Dynasty has ever had. As of writing, he boasts the most playtime on his team, with 96 maps played. He also ranks 6th place in the entire league in least deaths (averaging 3.24 per 10 minutes) and 12th in eliminations (averaging a whopping 18.93 per 10 minutes). And on top of it all, Michelle leads the Seoul Dynasty with 3 MOTM awards – including a stellar performance in the Stage 1 quarterfinals against the NYXL.
The best part about Michelle’s standout performances are that he’s not just dominating on typical flex-tank Heroes – he also wields a surprisingly powerful Sombra. Throughout the season, Michelle’s proficiency on Sombra has often carried the Seoul Dynasty to many teamfight victories. Just take a look at the aforementioned set against the NYXL in Stage 1 – Michelle’s performance on his pocket pick simply suppressed the rest of the Excelsior squad (let’s try to forget about the infamous “Nenne grav” that ended the set).
As Sombra, Michelle gets the important hacks, creates space for his team and best of all – he gets out alive. And even though the Hero has slipped out of favor in the current 2-2-2 metagame, Michelle is statistically one of the best Sombra players in the league. With only one week of the regular season left, Michelle continues to lead all Sombra players in eliminations (averaging a staggering 22.25 per 10 minutes) and least deaths (averaging 2.45 per 10 minutes). His ability to flex onto the hacking Hero has given another strategy to the Seoul Dynasty’s playbook – and Michelle has often been the strongest card in his team’s hand.
With the recent 2-2-2 role lock in Stage 4, Michelle has carried fights with his surprising proficiency on Roadhog, often producing multiple kills off of his Whole Hog ultimates. He’s consistent in teamfights, plays a decent variety of Heroes well, and reliably pulls off clutch plays when his team needs it. Additionally, he tends to die much less often than most flex-tank players due to his intelligent positioning and usage of self-sustaining abilities. As a result, the Seoul Dynasty healers are able to invest their resources into other players. Although the team finished with a lukewarm 3-4 record in the final stage of the 2019 regular season, the Seoul Dynasty now prepare for a tough arena in the form of play-ins.
While his efforts may not always be recognized due to the mediocre results of the Seoul Dynasty this season, Michelle has definitely cemented himself as a staple and a star for the much-improved team. Hopefully, his said ‘stage nerves’ will have been long gone heading into the playoffs (Michelle has often been made fun of by his teammates for breathing heavily when nervous) and fans can continue to see his superstar career blossom in the Overwatch League.
Feature image courtesy of Ben Pursell for the Overwatch League.
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