From South Blue to the Overwatch League, these rookie stars are a dangerous lot
Media like books and movies can closely reflect everyday life well and sometimes they align in a way where we can use their concepts and analogies to better frame the world around us. Barring the pirates, the treasure, and the magic fruit that gives superpowers, the 2020 graduating class has given us our own Overwatch League equivalent to Eiichiro Oda’s masterwork, One Piece. In particular, we can barrow its concept of the “Worst Generation”, a nickname given to twelve rookie pirates in the series that threaten to shake up the story’s world government. Even without watching the show, even without knowing what on earth a “devil fruit” is, you can already see where we’re headed with this. We can use this concept from this manga to better frame the upcoming Overwatch League award season.
As the 2020 season nears completion, discussions around the league’s many awards have become more and more frequent, specifically around the Rookie of the Year award. While many people have their standout rookies, it’s difficult to come to a consensus because of the sheer amount of impressive rookies the Overwatch League has seen injected this season. It feels almost wrong to only give a nod to one rookie out of the massive graduating class this season.
So, let’s not.
Instead, let’s raise a glass to some of the most talented rookies in the 2020 Overwatch League season. Like a supernova causes a stir in a galaxy, like a single drop of water in a still pond, these twelve rookie players have already or carry the potential to change the status quo in the Overwatch League.
Again, before we get our pants all in a twist, these are not the twelve worst players, the naming convention of “Worst Generation” describes how densely packed the 2020 Overwatch League season has been with talented rookie players and celebrates the top twelve players. They are considered the “worst” because they have the potential to shake up the status quo.
@ansansniper__ uses his tattoos to keep himself motivated and striving for greatness. 🖤
56% scoped critical hit accuracy, that is the type of stat lines someone like Lee "ANS" Seonchang can give a team like the San Francisco Shock. Not like they need more talent, but that type of mechanical freak is what is going to keep the title in the Bay Area. Few players can come into the league in their rookie year and become star players. Few players ever get the chance to truly take over the game. All most no one does both and puts up numbers that unbelievable, unless your ANS. This is the type of monster that should stand at the head of the Worst Generation.
A symbol of hope for rookie players everywhere, British DPS ace Kai "KSP" Collins finally has gotten the recognition he rightly deserves on the Los Angeles Valiant. From not seeing many looks in the offseason, to his all-star hitscan performance in the Overwatch League, KSP encapsulates every essence of the Worst Generation. He has taken the opportunity given to him and has kicked open the doors of not only the Overwatch League but the general practices of scouting within the game as well. With how much dedicated hitscan heroes have been played nearly all season long, KSP has become a monster, and easily one of the best western DPS players in the league.
To start the list we’ve got someone who joined part-way through the start of the season, has played away from his team on ping, and could easily be in the running for Role Star this year - Joon "Fielder" Kwon is scary talented. His map winning Sleep Dart against Dallas Fuel in the Summer Showdown Round of 12 helped the Paris Eternal progress to their eventual title win. This only stands as one of the more recent examples of his play among the litany of others. Consistently a threat, Fielder is rock-solid and is a textbook example of just how talented Overwatch League’s Worst Generation is.
Paris Eternal fans need not travel too far for their next entry into this as they’ll be recurring quite often through the Worst Generation. One such player waited in the wings for quite literally half the season before kicking the league collectively in the teeth. Kim "SP9RK1E" Yeong-han is the Overwatch League’s next star DPS player. There were fair criticisms coming into this season around how well he’ll integrate and his aggressive style, and they were all proven wrong. SP9RK1E is incredible and can pull magic out of his back pocket, seemingly at will. Genji, Doomfist, Pharah, even reaching towards Zarya, SP9RK1E is beyond just talented, he is easily a generational talent.
A member of the 2019 RunAway core that was on a collision course with the Overwatch League arrives to bolster the ranks of the Worst Generation, or rather, support them, Gang “Gangnamjin” Nam-jin easily is going to be in the running for best flex support within the next few years. While the length of his resume doesn’t compete just yet, the level that he’s shown just this season has put him above some of the league’s mainstay support players. He is the pillar of the phrase “shake up the world” and Gangnamjin is knocking on the door of the flex support pantheon.
Standing alongside him, stands the Philadelphia Fusion’s golden boy, Kim "Alarm" Kyung-bo. From dominating the North American amateur scene alongside the Philadelphia Fusion’s academy team, Fusion University, Alarm has long awaited the chance to prove himself on the biggest stage in Overwatch. Versatility in style, flexibility in picks, a resume that trumps some of his seniors, Alarm is easily on pace to become a Hall of Fame pick once he hangs up his jersey for good. It feels wrong to even call him a rookie seeing how he debuted all the way back in OGN’s Overwatch APEX! That said, Alarm is, in every sense of the word, an incredible talent.
In the running for Role Star as well has got to be the Mold Breaker himself, Nam "Cr0ng" Ki-cheol has risen this season to remind people that flex tanks are the backbone of any good team. It also doesn’t help matters when he can easily put the Guangzhou Charge in his backpack for a moment and clutch seemingly unwinnable fights. Cr0ng this season has been a standout player in a role that is often overlooked for more flashy roles like flex support and either DPS slots. That should show you what kind of talent Cr0ng posses. Throughout the Charge’s championship run in the Asian half of the Summer Showdown and throughout the regular season as a whole, Cr0ng has been a stud.
Have any of the Paris Eternal fans stuck with us? It is finally time to talk about the man who clutched out the victory, not once, but twice for the Eternal during the grand finals of the Summer Showdown. We’re talking about none other than hitscan ace for the Eternal, Jung "Xzi" Ki-hyo. Starting with McCree and adventuring to Ashe and Widowmaker, Xzi has been a staple of the Eternal’s offensive line since the beginning of the season. As Xzi took some medical leave mid-way through the season, Paris never looked the same. They tried to replace him with other members on the roster, but Xzi is just that good and upon his return, the Eternal shot up through the power rankings. As we head into the Countdown Cup and beyond, Xzi is sure to splash out again as he did in the Summer Showdown.
Another member of the RunAway family that has graced Floridian’s everywhere with a reinvigorated faith in their home team is DPS extraordinaire, Ki "Yaki" Jun-ki, who is also a player it feels strange to refer to as a rookie. Yaki has been a prospect going all the way back to 2017 and finally has the chance to showcase, on the world’s stage, just how good he can be. Throughout the Florida Mayhem’s impressive run, not only through the regular season but capped off with their glowing performance during the May Melee, Yaki has been the de facto spearhead for this team.
While the London Spitfire entered the season with a piecemeal roster of unknown and rookie players, a few stood out then and still remain stars now. One among them is Lim "Glister" Gil-seong, who we saw stand toe-to-toe with some of the best North American stars when he played in the West, and now we’ve seen him travel to Asia and continue to hang among some of the most talented Overwatch League players in the world. There are few star players that can say they have true, international experience in today’s current climate, but Glister can. Hitscan or projectile, Glister can do it all and has done it all for the Spitfire this season. He has easily been the wind beneath their wings throughout this chaotic season and would do the same for any of the other Overwatch League franchises.
Going into the 2020 Overwatch League, the community correctly tapped quite a few of the names we’ve mentioned previously. However, no saw Lee "LIP" Jae-won becoming a star player for the Shanghai Dragons. Criticised in the pre-season as an unknown LIP has taken his hitscan prowess and become an overnight sensation. He is another player that truly captures the essence of the Worst Generation, someone who, out of the blue, shows up and can change the course of the ship. LIP is an impressively talented DPS player who rightfully is among some of the leaders in the 2020 Overwatch League Rookie of the Year discussion.
Ah, hello Paris Eternal fan, didn’t see you there. Interested in talking about your lord and saviour, Choi "Hanbin" Han-been? You’ve come to the right place. Leading the pack statistically in final blows, eliminations, and hero damage done per ten minutes, Hanbin is a freak defined by the numbers. While the numbers might be glowing, they are not divorced at all from the eye test. Since his debut with the Eternal, Hanbin has been among the best flex tanks all season long. Coming into the league his D.Va impressed as well as his Sigma, now it’s toppled some of the best in the world on the biggest stage in Overwatch. Hanbin cannot be ignored anymore.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment