The challenges of 2020 revealed the finest of Overwatch League's leaders
The Dennis Hawelka award, named after the late Overwatch esports legend Dennis “INTERNETHULK” Hawelka, honours the player with the most positive cultural impact both in their teams and the community at large. Leaving giant footsteps with his larger than life character, INTERNETHULK embodied the best qualities the Overwatch scene has to offer, touching innumerable lives and careers.
A nominee for the Dennis Hawelka award has to have displayed leadership in challenging times, compassion for his fellow man, the ability to stand against injustice, and has to have improved the lives of those immediately around him, showing a kind heart and strength in the face of adversity.
Jong-Ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park chosen by Sebastian "Seb" Romero
In reviewing the players to nominate for the Dennis Hawelka Award, it’s difficult to narrow down who fully encapsulates the true essence of this recognition. It’s hard when there are so many players who dedicate themselves to speaking out against injustice, raising money for charity, or who are just genuine and positive role models in the Overwatch League community. The Dennis Hawelka Award, unlike the other honorary titles of the season, can’t be measured by statistics or comparative lists. It’s emotional, it’s personal, and it’s based on who you feel had the most positive impact in the Overwatch community. With that, my pick would the NYXL’s Jong-Ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park.
Saebyeolbe has long been known as the heart and soul of the NYXL; its captain, its emotional superstar leader. He’s been the player the NYXL and its fans have known to lead by example. We all remember that tender moment last year of SBB holding Flow3r’s hand on that final map before going down to the San Francisco Shock in the lower bracket finals. He hasn’t changed a bit. With the introduction of the SBB Collection, Saebyeolbe’s trademark positivity and selflessness has expanded to charity and has been brought to life through a clothing brand with all the net-proceeds being given to NYC Mesh, a non-profit that is dedicated to bringing high-speed internet to low income areas in the XL’s hometown. Saebyeolbe is one of the best role models we have in the esport, whose generosity and friendliness is a trademark staple of what makes him one of the most positive players in the community.
Caleb “McGravy” McGravey CHOSEN BY JOSEPH "VOLAMEL" FRANCO
While many candidates have shown extremely positive traits over the course of the Overwatch League’s life cycle and have assisted in building up the community in a positive light, Los Angeles Valiant’s flex tank Caleb "McGravy" McGarvey has been a force for good nearly all of the 2020 season. From his lighthearted antics as D.Va on Twitter to raising money for charity, McGravy shares tangible traits that reflect not only past winners but the spirit of the award. The Dennis Hawelka Award is set to be given to the sole person to have the most positive impact on the community at large.
Past recipients have been emotional cores and leadership figures that share similar traits to McGravy as well. However, he does all of that and then some. Not only has he been a direct and vocal leader for the Valiant throughout their 2020 push, but he also spoke out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Positivity can come in many shapes and sizes, for some, it’s more the idea of good thoughts, good deeds, and good words. He is someone who not only would represent the league well publicly but has done so throughout his time in Overwatch. With that said, McGravy checks all the boxes and would honour the award well.
Caleb “McGravy” McGravey CHOSEN BY Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch
The Dennis Hawelka award is a recognition of great character, named after one of the finest individuals the Overwatch scene has ever seen. There are no objective metrics to this award other than to follow one’s own heart and morals. Despite this subjectivity, it’s an award of the utmost importance that steps away from the game and humanises the individual player beyond their contributions on the server, a clear view on our players as people and not merely viewed through the prism of competition. In that, some individuals have stepped in front of the crowd and have boldly confessed their pure convictions and have stepped back to pick up their teammate while they were struggling. Now more than ever, during a global pandemic, the quality of the character of those individuals has shined bright and has guided us and others through challenging times.
Caleb “McGravy” McGravey has displayed a wide range of attributes associated with the Dennis Hawelka award and there’s no doubt in my heart and mind that he’s a fine choice for this achievement. For his team, McGravy became an emotional leader, helping his teammates when they struggled - such as when he contributed to paying Lastro’s fine and supporting his teammate both internally and publicly when they went through a period of hardship. McGravy has stood up for values that he believes in, supporting BlackLivesMatter, speaking out against misogynistic behaviour and raised money for charity during pride month.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment