Some careers were brought back from the brink and they deserve to be recognised
In competition, and no less in Overwatch esports, we have a tendency to only look at the absolute best players at the top who dominated their field before their career started to fizzle out. Rarely do we give credit to those that struggled in their career, fought their inner demons and played the hand they were dealt. As Overwatch League is about to conclude its third seasons, ebbs and flows in the career of veteran players begin to crystalize, and given the highly volatile and thus stressful nature of the job, those that fought through the hardship deserve the praise.
For the most improved player, the criteria that we chose was that the player had to have played in season 2 of the Overwatch League for a representative amount of games to set a baseline performance that their season 3 performance could be contrasted against. In other words, we each chose a player who had shown the greatest improvement between their average level of play between Overwatch League season 2 and season 3. Here are GGRecon’s picks for most improved player in Overwatch League season 3!
Jae-hyeok "Carpe" Lee chosen by Sebastian "Seb" Romero
Let’s face it, in the 2019 season, Carpe was not reaching the heights we expected him to. In 2018, he was one of the best damage players in the league, and a hotly considered candidate for that year’s MVP. But throughout the GOATS meta, Carpe started slipping amongst his other counterparts, being left out of the conversation of the best DPS several times throughout the year. He just did not adapt to what the role had become as well as he could’ve, a fact he admitted to very early on in this season.
But now, in 2020, the Carpe we know and love is back. From that first overtime Widowmaker swap against the Washington Justice early this season, we knew that Carpe had returned to Philadelphia’s starting lineup as the damage-dealing powerhouse he was always capable of being.
Not only has Carpe kept up with the competition, he’s performed better than it, putting himself ahead and on the same level as some of the newer talents that have made explosive statements this season. He hasn’t been able to clinch a title just yet, but if he keeps playing to the level he is now, it’s very possible we can see Carpe lead his team to a tournament win.
Benjamin "BenBest" Dieulafait chosen by Joseph "Volamel" Franco
From his middling performance on the 2019 Paris Eternal lineup, Benjamin "BenBest" Dieulafait has not only become a consistent performer for the Eternal, but a strong main tank when compared to his peers. Entering the 2020 season, he was viewed as less than a piece that should have been easily replaced and someone who was going to hold the Eternal back from their deserved success. With the context of his individual performance in 2019 combined with the team’s showing overall, it wasn’t too terribly farfetched.
It is still difficult to imagine the same main tank who was juggled into infinity during the GOATS metagame is now not only holding his own, but performing well in high-pressure grand finals like the Summer Showdown. Now, BenBest stands as a pillar of hope, someone whose story we can call upon to show that with enough grit and determination - anything can happen. As cliche as it sounds, his story is one that truly exemplifies growth. BenBest has evolved from a Reinhardt specialist, to a fully-fledged main tank, capable of taking any hero and leading the Eternal into victory.
Andrej "babybay" Francisty chosen by Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch
Going into season 3, I thought Andrej "babybay" Francisty was completely washed. In the season prior, he became an unorthodox plug for holes in the Reign’s team fabric, feeding lots, yeeting Gravs cross-map and even occasionally making it work, acting as more of a curveball solution than as a foundational piece in the make-up of his team. At 25, he was old, surely soon to be replaced by the top tier calibre rookies on his team in Tae-hoon "Edison" Kim and Hugo "SharP" Sahlberg.
Instead, babybay arrived in this season as a changed player, not because the meta fell into his lap but because he willed it into existence. His mechanics still weren’t the best, but were enough to allow him to do what needed to be done. Constantly thinking, squeezing so much value out of every decision, seeing the bigger picture and moving with the team, opening up space through pressure or taking advantage with space that was given to him. It’s as if he sat down and reimagined the player he wanted to be, from someone that tried to take high risks and overpower with raw aim that was matched by many, to a player that studied his craft and forged himself to be a cerebral player who thinks through every play, well-deserving of his starting spot. Andrej "babybay" Francisty played the best Overwatch of his career just before he retired, a decision of grand character that few will be able to say about themselves when it’s all said and done.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment