Which players could keep up with the volatile changes in the meta to become a rolestar?
Overwatch is a game with distinct three roles and six subroles requiring very different skillsets which prove challenging to compare. Therefore, the Rolestars award was created, in an effort to honour the most deserving player of each individual role.
The criteria GGRecon used for our selection was to nominate one player for each subrole when possible (the DPS subroles are blurry). Similar to the MVP and Rookie award, we looked at the whole performance of each player, weighing their consistency and peaks in tournament situations against each other.
Rolestar - Main Tank
Myeong-hwan "smurf" Yoo chosen by Sebastian "Seb" Romero
Myeong-hwan "smurf" Yoo – Smurf may have missed out on a piece of the awards cake in 2019, but it was clear that his Orisa was one of the biggest keys to the Shock’s success in their legendary championship run. Now in 2020, when good Orisa players are few and far between and great Orisa’s are even rarer, smurf is the main tank of choice for Crusty and the Shock. But beyond the Orisa, this season, smurf is showing he is more than just a specialist, he’s a full-fledged star.
Statistically, smurf is number one in hero damage, eliminations, and final bows on Winston, and top three in the same stats for Orisa. Smurf is killing it as one of the best main tanks in the league, adapting to whatever his team requires. Whether it’s his ability to almost never die (he has the lowest death ratio on Winston and one of the lowest on Orisa), or his ability to completely stifle the enemy with a Halt or Primal Rage environmental kill (second-highest and highest environmental kill stats respectively), smurf is a big reason as to why the Shock are almost unstoppable. To see a competitor like smurf get the space to perform, even when not too long ago they were a player who was cast aside and forgotten, is inspirational. It’s clear to me that smurf is a standout player and well-deserving of a Tank Role Star Award.
Kim "SADO" Su-min chosen by Joseph "Volamel" Franco
From a massive critical point for the Philadelphia Fusion to becoming one of the most talented main tanks in the world, Kim "SADO" Su-min has finally arrived. Throughout three seasons, the Philadelphia Fusion have assured us that SADO is the real deal, that biting a massive suspension was worth it and that all is well even though 2019 didn’t go as planned. SADO is that pay-off. Few main tanks can boast having more than a pocket of strong picks, it’s a role that for the longest time, only required you to play a specific hero for long stretches of time. SADO has taken Reinhardt, Winston, and Orisa to the top of the Overwatch League and is looking phenomenal this season. Most recently, SADO has been a real threat to teams with Winston as he constantly finds picks or creates them through his Primal Rage mechanics. Quite literally a zero to hero story culminating this season, SADO deserves the world with the performances he has put up this season and someone that is nearly irreplaceable.
Su-min "SADO" Kim chosen by Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch
Main tank appears to be the least stacked role in Overwatch League across all teams, but has a handful of top performers that could feasibly be chosen for this award. Much like the other roles, season 3 posed a different question to its top performers, asking if they were able to play multiple tank roles from Reinhardt, Winston, Orisa and even the occasional Wrecking Ball. Many teams split main tank duties between two players, allowing each to specialise in one or two heroes.
For example a player like Eui-Seok "Fearless" Lee has played most of the season, though Ji-won "Stand1" Seo still appears on Orisa for the Dragons and has had more play time at the start of the year. By comparison, a player like Su-min "SADO" Kim has played through the entire season without backup, freeing his team up to have more options elsewhere. That additional responsibility of having to play a wide range of heroes needs to be weighed into the decision. While I believe that Fearless showed slightly higher quality of play on average, he also had to carry less of a burden in terms of the heroes he had to cover, playing almost eight hours less than SADO. On top of that, SADO has been a consistent rock for the Fusion, with regular peak performances, leaving other main tanks with a similar burden in the dust.
Rolestar - Off Tank
Han-been "Hanbin" Choi chosen by Sebastian "Seb" Romero
Hanbin is a sleeper hit amongst the incoming rookies. Everyone knew he was going to be good and a good pick up for the Paris Eternal, but not many had any clue that he was going to be this ridiculously good. Hanbin’s play has been so game-changing that not only is he a role star, but a serious contender for the MVP award. Hanbin has a very small handful of rivals on the off-tank position and even fewer who outperform him on the statistical measurements for all the major off-tanks.
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What’s even more impressive about Hanbin, was that he just did not stop performing. Even when Paris were having their slumps, and when they had a less than stellar performance at the May Melee, Hanbin did not stop giving it his all and played at a level that topped the league statistically. If Hanbin isn’t a definite role star, I don't know who else would be, as his consistent play on any given match, on any given hero, and on any given meta makes him a powerhouse performer for the Paris Eternal. Hanbin - a clear standout amongst all other players in the Overwatch League, and an exceptional Tank Role Star.
Choi "ChoiHyoBin" Hyo-bin chosen by Joseph "Volamel" Franco
Your 2019 Finals MVP Award winner is back with a vengeance. Choi "ChoiHyoBin" Hyo-bin has continued his impressive run alongside the San Francisco Shock. Not only has he been a rock for San Francisco in their 2019 title run, but ChoiHyoBin has also been bulletproof in their win at the May Melee and their strong showing during the Summer Showdown. Statistically speaking, ChoiHyoBin is still impressive. He ranks as fourth across the league in final blows per ten minutes, second in eliminations per ten minutes on Sigma. Oh, but that’s not all, he also ranks third in final blows per ten minutes, second in eliminations per ten minutes and fourth in solo kills per ten minutes on D.Va. Two heroes that he, for multiple seasons, has been statistically impressive with, not to mention the changing roster dynamic that Shock has faced this season on top of Hero Pools. ChoiHyoBin is in the running and easily could be argued as one of the best flex tanks in the league at the moment and if that isn’t a cause for a Role Star nod then it’s difficult to tell what is.
Jun-woo "Void" Kang chosen by Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch
Off tank is a notoriously hard to evaluate role as it works in multiple dimensions, having to consider the push and pull off each situation and reading the flow of the fight - factors which often escape the viewer. Moreover, the perception of the role is that it’s fairly stacked, offering up multiple fine choices. This season, Sigma became a much more important hero for off tanks to perform on, with double shield rising to prominence. Nevertheless, due to frequent bans and meta adaptations, off tanks couldn’t let their D.Va mech rust away but had to frequently bring it to the server. On top of that, some were even asked to play Zarya and Orisa for their teams.
The decision for me turned out to be extremely close between several performers, but I ultimately had to give the edge to Jun-woo "Void" Kang, who was also close to becoming my MVP. The spread of monstrous performances over several heroes in a region that has been highly competitive for most of the season has been outstanding, and the only other off tank in the region that can hold a candle to him is Ki-cheol "Cr0ng" Nam, who would be another fine choice. Void has optimised the balance between playing on the edge but never falling off. The most unfortunate aspect of his career is that Void never made it to Overwatch League season 1 or we would have to talk about him as a potential G.O.A.T. candidate.
Rolestar - DPS
Jae-won "LIP" Lee chosen by Sebastian "Seb" Romero
LIP is a break-out star in the Overwatch League. Many consider him to be the clear front runner for Rookie of the Year, but while I don’t think he’s the player to take that recognition, I do agree that he’s one of the best damage dealers in the league. His place on the roster has given the Dragons an incredible amount of variety to play with. As the rookie with the highest map win rate (78.9%), LIP is just an absolute beast, who was showing signs of promise as early as the Overwatch Shanghai Masters Invitational.
LIP’s biggest threat is his Sombra, which depending on the map looks almost unbeatable at times. The way he plays - it seems like he can get away with bloody murder with no one having a clue he committed the crime. While he may overcommit sometimes, LIP is just an oppressive force in-game. As if it weren’t bad enough, not only is he not just a Sombra one-trick, but his Ashe is at the very least top three in the entire league. Paired with the heavyweight champion himself, Fleta, and you have a crazy strong Damage duo that can adapt to almost any lineup. LIP is truly one of the standout players of 2020 and a clear Damage Role Star.
Kai “KSP” Collins chosen by Sebastian "Seb" Romero
Alright, alright, we can talk all day about our Fletas and our Sp9rk1es being the best in the league, but where’s the love for some of our western players? If Role Star is the award to recognise pure ability and prowess for each role, then KSP is one of those players who should be listed as a candidate for the damage category, as his incredible mechanical skill as a hitscan player makes him truly a threat amongst the many talents we have.
“The U.K’s answer to Corey” as ZP once put it. From the moment he played in his first match against the Dallas Fuel, there was only one resounding reaction to KSP’s debut in the Overwatch League. “Oh, my lord this guy is crazy”. With first place statistics on Ashe, McCree, and not far from the top on Widowmaker, KSP has proven to have that X-factor, that allows him to just completely take over team fights on any hitscan hero. He’s a charming rookie that’s been a staple of the Valiant’s season, a real star for the Overwatch League, and one of the best western hitscan players we have.
Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun chosen by Joseph "Volamel" Franco
One of the first true flex DPS players, Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun has been due for his time in the sun and with how consistent and strong he has looked all season long, he is a shoo-in for Role Stars. His Mei throughout the entire season has been stellar and showcased a more supportive and reserved style of play. Contrast that to Fleta’s 16.3% first elimination rate on Tracer and earning top marks in categories like final blows, eliminations, and solo kills, and you almost see another player entirely. Fleta has had impressive performances on Tracer across the entire season, and that is just what the metagames have asked of him. With impressive Genji performances and the knowledge that he can pilot nearly anything asked of him, from Pharah to Widowmaker, Fleta is the package deal. Fleta has been one of the pillars of success for the Shanghai Dragons across the 2020 Overwatch League season and the team would be hard-pressed to find anyone that touts a similar set of skills.
Jung "Xzi" Ki-hyo chosen by Joseph "Volamel" Franco
The Paris Eternal have a number of talented players that currently put them in striking distance of the 2020 title, but throughout the entire season, it’s difficult to find areas where Jung "Xzi" Ki-hyo hasn’t been a standout player, not only within the Eternal but throughout the league. As McCree Xzi has earned shocking placements considering he his fairly quiet narrative coming into the league. In his rookie season, Xzi is ranked third in final blows per ten minutes, third in eliminations per ten minutes, and second in solo kills per ten minutes on McCree alone. His Widowmaker statistics show a similar light. With that kind of hitscan presence across a number of heroes, it’s difficult for teams to do much of anything. This is showcased beautifully in the Eternal’s grand final win over the Philadelphia Fusion at the Summer Showdown. For Xzi to have an impressive showing is commonplace, but his split-second calls to flank and hide to be able to find the picks needed to clutch out the title victory late into the series is award-winning in and of itself.
Byung-sun "Fleta" Kim chosen by Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch
The DPS role has arguably been hit the hardest out of all roles in the meta, with players being repeatedly forced out of their comfort zone. The distinction between a hitscan and a projectile DPS is hazy for many players in the Overwatch League and some have done it so well that they’ve become meta-resistant, becoming staple starters the entire season.
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The leader of that special bloodline of hyper flex players this season was Byung-sun "Fleta" Kim, who has performed on a wide range of heroes, never becoming a liability and remaining clutch on top. Starting ahead of specialists even on their heroes, I don’t believe there to be a player in the Overwatch League to be able to slot into the role he has for the Dragons, and allow them to enjoy the same continued success. As my MVP, he naturally had to be picked as a rolestar.
Jae-hyeok "Carpe" Lee chosen by Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch
For my second DPS choice, I went with someone that has played a more specialised role for his team than Fleta, though still performed on a range of hitscan heroes. For me, there’s simply no way around giving Jae-hyeok "Carpe" Lee his due credit this season, contributing to his team in a major way. As pointed out by stats producer for the Overwatch League, Ben “CaptainPlanet” Trautman, Carpe’s clutch factor in high-pressure overtime situations is incredible. On top of that, he leads the Kill/Death ratio charts by a considerable margin and ranks high in most other metrics. The only thing left to do for Carpe this season is to finally win a trophy.
Rolestar - Flex support
Kyung-bo "Alarm" Kim chosen by Sebastian "Seb" Romero
Alarm is disgusting in the best possible way, let’s jot that down. It seems as though Alarm can play any support hero he wants, and still perform at the top level in the league. For a player who’s dominated Contenders in such a way as he has, Alarm came into the league with a lot of expectations on his shoulders, and he delivered on all of them.
His ability to play at the top level regardless of the hero fielded is impressive, and he’s the key behind Philadelphia Fusion’s success. We’ve already talked at great length in our RotY nominations as to how great Alarm is, but to reiterate, he’s top in the statistics on Baptiste and Brigitte, and he’s the lynchpin in the Fusion’s success so far this season. He enables his team to perform in a way not many other flex support players have managed to do and is one of the best support talents we have the pleasure of watching.
Kim "Alarm" Kyung-bo chosen by Joseph "Volamel" Franco
A Rookie of the Year candidate that also could easily be an MVP candidate has to be considered for Role Stars. Kim "Alarm" Kyung-bo is simply a generational talent. Incredibly high first elimination rate and ranking in the top five of nearly every measurable category on a number of heroes, Alarm could easily sweep the awards this year. If you need something more objective, that’s fair, Alarm delivers in every single way. Let’s take for example his Zenyatta. Over the course of 228 team fights, Alarm has a 10.1% first elimination rate, a statistic that is directly tied to team fight win rates. The next highest performer has a 7.5% first elimination rate. This is echoed with regards to his Ana and, strangely enough, his Moira statistics as well. Again, Alarm is someone who is a perfect marriage of the eye test and objective measurements. He is someone who not only is a fantastic teammate, his work ethic is second to none, he is on a shortlist of super flexible support players, and to top it off - he can perform incredibly well on every single one of them.
Kim "Alarm" Kyung-bo chosen by Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch
Flex support qualities remained in high demand this season, with many hero pools demanding two flex support heroes to be played at once. While it didn’t have the same prestigious oomph to it that it had in season 1, the carry potential of a flex support is to finally make good on the description. This year, flex support had to actually be flexible for once, requiring the full range of support heroes, arguably only with the exception of Lucio and Mercy, Brigitte being a split decision in who inhabited the role in each team.
My rookie of the year nominee Kyung-bo "Alarm" Kim has convinced on all of them. The sheer talent of Alarm is hard to wrap one’s mind around. Not only is he an incredible mechanical player, but he also brings an awareness to the table that lead the Fusion to choose him over their main support Daniel "FunnyAstro" Hathaway for Brigitte. Alarm proceeded to contain Yeong-han "SP9RK1E" Kim in the final, which I believe to be one of the major reasons why it ever got close between the Fusion and the Eternal. All of the time and resources his organisation has put into developing Alarm on their academy team has most definitely paid off this season. He’s a special player who I will believe we will see a lot of for years to come.
Rolestar - Main Support
Jae-gon "LeeJaeGon" Lee chosen by Sebastian "Seb" Romero
LeeJaeGon is the definitive Lucio freak, statistically at the very least. In an age where a lot of the Contenders Lucio’s that feed their frog brains out were promoted to the Overwatch League, LeeJaeGon is the frog king all the other Lucio feeders fight to match. Whenever I watch LeeJaeGon solo some poor enemy player in their spawn and trades his life away, I think “wow, this guy is an absolute weirdo”, but you know what, that’s what makes him one of the most unique players in the Overwatch League.
LJG came into the league with a lot of expectations on his shoulders, being one of the most recent players to graduate from Runaway, and it’s great to see that his signature playstyle was left untouched so that we could be graced with his overaggressive presence in each Shanghai match.
Even if his “selfless” playstyle bars him from a RotY Award for some, I think he’s perfect for being highlighted as a Support Role Star. Being no slouch on the other support heroes, LJG is such a standout main support player that exudes so much personality just from the way he plays in each match. He’s got the chutzpah to be one of the hungriest support players in the league, and the numbers to back up his all-in philosophy.
Jae-gon "LeeJaeGon" Lee chosen by Joseph "Volamel" Franco
While quietly shouldering a lot of the weight for the Shanghai Dragons as they reign as one of, if not the best, the team in the Asia-Pacific region, Lee "LeeJaeGon" Jae-gon has been a gem in terms of main support players. Again, something that should be weighed highly is a player’s flexibility with the current format of how Overwatch League is structured and LeeJaeGon has a wide range of heroes that he not only can compete with, but excels at. Not just Lucio, not just Brigitte, but with time on Baptiste and Mercy, LeeJaeGon doesn’t have much leverage in terms of criticism. Statistically speaking, he scores at the top of his class when it comes to final blows per ten minutes on Lucio and he is tied for second in solo kills. LeeJaeGon is also second in final blows per ten minutes and third in hero damage done per ten minutes across Lucio and Brigitte. Coming from the RunAway comet that broke apart and crash-landed in the Overwatch League, there are few main supports that you’d want over someone like LeeJaeGon for an all-star team. Combined that with his performance throughout the 2020 season with Shanghai and LeeJaeGon has to be considered for Role Stars.
Grant "moth" Espe chosen by Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch
In previous seasons, the main support role turned out to be two dimensional at most, requiring their performers to only look at Lucio and Mercy, though never in quick succession. This season, hero pools has turned that idea on its head and has weeded out specialists who often picked up shot-calling duties and were tolerable in their individual shortcomings in previous seasons. With the invasion of highly mechanically gifted main support players, the role has transformed, and as a result, got a whole lot more exciting.
While I have upheld the value of consistency and being able to stay relevant in any meta, my choice for the main support role star sidesteps this factor slightly to vote for a player that hasn’t seen playtime in recent weeks. Grant "moth" Espe is not your frag movie Lucio, though he has huge playmaking potential. The quality that stands out in him is that he’s always safe, aware and in control of the action - a quality that is rare among elite main support these days. The amount of risk other top candidates take results in high death rates, even when approximately normalized against their team’s win rate and strength of opposition.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment