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The Role Star Awards, what’s the point?

NYXL vs London Spitfire

The Role Star awards were announced on Sunday, highlighting several standout players from each of the three roles in the OWL. 

The award seems useless given the overlap with MVP candidates and puts a further spotlight on a select few players. These are players that already highlighted by the league and by their team’s success, while other’s remain unpraised.

All but one of the MVP candidates also won a Role Star award. While Hyeon-Woo “Jjanu” Choi of the Vancouver Titans did not receive a Role Star award, he received an honorable mention.

Other players like Hyo-Bin “Choihyobin” Choi of the Shock or Dong-Gyu “Mano” Kim of NYXL are important contributors to their team’s continued success. 

An Alternate Role Star Awards

The league should instead use these awards to highlight players who have had continued success on struggling teams. While many of these players are on teams that have made playoffs, they did not receive the same accolades as other players.

DPS

For damage dealer, the League’s choice of Corey “Corey” Nigra was a good one.

Role Star Awards
Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Corey stood out as one of the best players in the league as soon as 2-2-2 was implemented. The Washington Justice’s surge from the bottom of the league to a top-four team in Stage Four was due to his impeccable hitscan play, and remarkable flexibility. He could play Symmetra, Hanzo, Doomfist, and Reaper all in one map, and play them all to a very high level.

Kelsey “Colourhex” Birse is a very impressive hitscan player on the chronically struggling Boston Uprising. While his Zarya went through significant improvement during GOATs’ reign, Colourhex made some seriously impressive plays while the Uprising struggled to find their footing post-GOATs. Multiple times throughout Stage Four, the Uprising were only making matches close due to the individual play of Colourhex on Widowmaker hitting insane shots and delaying their opponent’s pushes.

Charlie “nero” Zwarg took the world by storm with his dominant play ever since aging into the Guangzhou’s starting six. The young star’s Contenders run saw significant success, with Toronto Esports picking up a first-place victory in the BEAT Invitational and some narrow losses to Fusion University. Since moving to the Charge’s main roster, his Pharah has often been touted as one of the best in the league. His flexibility within the DPS role has lent the Charge strategic slack to experiment and outplay the competition.

Role Star Awards
Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Tank

The tank duo Min Hyuk “Michelle” Choi and Min Seo “Marve1” Hwang have both been consistently shifting teamfights in the Seoul Dynasty’s favor. Marve1’s unseating of Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek for the starting spot put him on the map. Michelle might be most well-known for his Sombra play. Against NYXL, he famously baited out a Graviton Surge from Yeon-kwan “Nenne” Jeong’s Zarya during the Stage One Playoffs.

Lucas “NotE” Meissner is a phenomenal talent wasting away on the Dallas Fuel. His D.va was a staple for the Boston Uprising. He has yet to see success with the Fuel after their contentious trade with Richard “rCk” Kanerva. NotE’s play hasn’t worsened significantly, but his more passive, quiet style means he cannot carry the struggling squad.

Support

Florida’s HyeonWoo “Hagopeun” Jo has received very little fanfare since his move to the Mayhem organization. Hagopeun’s relatively quiet style has been overshadowed by damage player Jung-woo “Sayaplayer” Ha, in spite of his quality support play. Hagopeun’s quieter style means he doesn’t have the flashy plays that make the highlight reel. His veteran experience has been a great asset during Florida’s rebuilding season.

On the other side of the flex support spectrum is the remarkable Jin Seo “shu” Kim. His flex support play has been just as deadly as the likes of Sung-hyeon “JJoNak” Bang or Seung-tae “Bdosin” Choi despite his team’s lower ranking. He has been integral to Guangzhou’s success, yet he only received an honorable mention in the Role Star Awards.

Awards are useful in many ways. They can direct the overall narrative of the Overwatch League. They also help raise a player’s stock to assist in contract negotiations or arranging trades or transfers.

It would help these talented players from struggling or undervalued teams if the League would craft future awards to highlight them, rather than giving the Role Star award to the same handful of Vancouver or San Francisco players they’ve repeatedly shown off.


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