Only a few hours before the Countdown Cup, the Overwatch League announced their MVP nominations. Of course, everyone on the list deserves their spot there. Despite that, some voices on the internet, including popular casters Harry “Legday” Pollitt and Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson noted their surprise that Eui-Seok “Fearless” Lee was not among the nominations. This article’s point is not to change the nominations, but simply to honor Fearless and his accomplishments, even though he was not nominated.
The Journey of Fearless
Fearless was the captain of Element Mystic when they won Apex Challenger Season 5. He joined Shanghai only in Stage 2 of 2018, and while the team improved, the results remained bad. After going 0-40, the team decided to release a majority of their players from their contracts. Fearless had to take a step back and play for Team CC, Shanghai´s Chinese Contenders Team.
Fearless spent an entire year in the second tier of Overwatch. Other players might have retired. He could have tried to go back to his home country Korea and try to play for a Contenders team there. But Fearless did not take the easy path. It is reasonable to believe that the organization had some level of trust in him when they kept him on their sphere of influence and he decided to prove himself, not just to them, but to the world. During the tank-focused meta of 2019, his play was essential to push Team CC to become the second-best team in China in 2019.
In the off-season between the 2019 and 2020 season, Shanghai Dragons made big investments, most famously trading for star damage player Byungsun “Fleta” Kim, but they only had one unknown main tank on their roster. Seo “Stand1” Ji-won was an experienced second-tier main-tank but had no major accomplishments under his belt. Many analysts predicted the essential main tank role to become Shanghia´s Achilles heel. And then they promoted Fearless back into the main roster.
The Value of Fearless
It is difficult to assess the true impact of a single player in a team-based game. With Fearless as the starter throughout most of the season, Shanghai crushed the competition. However, they dominated most of their games with Stand1 as well. In order to understand the value of Fearless it essential to look deeper.
Going simply by the numbers of this season, Fearless is one of the greatest main tanks of the Overwatch League. On his main character Winston, his Eliminations/10 minutes are currently at 20.9, higher than many damage dealers in the league. Even counting in his Orisa and Reinhardt, with who he is currently just above 15 Eliminations/10min, his total is on par with other main tanks during their primes like Jae-hee “Gesture” Hong in 2018 and Matthew “Super” Delisi in 2019. While Stand1 also has strong numbers to show, Fearless even beats him on Deaths & Assists per 10 minutes on Stand1´s main hero Orisa. The StatsLab for this season still has data to collect, but Fearless has quietly been on a statistical super-star pace.
A Rock in a time of Need
Statistics are a valid way to judge a player, but the ingredient that differentiates a good player from a star is their ability to turn around a game and lead the team to victory. Fearless has proven this ability this season when he was subbed in against Seoul Dynasty in the May Melee final. After fielding Stand1 and Diem for 3 games, Fearless and Jae-won “LIP” Lee were subbed in and began to turn the series. In interviews from his time in Element Mystic, his coaches praised his ability to lift up the spirits of his team and push them to not give up. Years later, with Shanghai, he led his team’s cheers at the beginning of a map to continue to fight. Not only was he a calm leader and intelligent strategist, but he also followed up his words with excellent plays. Shanghai ended up winning the series 4-3.
Fearless: The Overlooked MVP
Fearless might not have been nominated as MVP this season, but his strength was felt nonetheless. Whoever ends up winning the title will surely deserve it. However, after years of commitment to his career, Fearless has returned as one of the best in the game.
Featured image provided courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment
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