OWL Shoutcaster questions Coach of the Year award: 'I just hate that we even have a vote'

OWL Shoutcaster questions Coach of the Year award: 'I just hate that we even have a vote'
Images via Blizzard Entertainment

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch


31st Aug 2023 19:20

It’s award season in the Overwatch League again, and with that arrives not just the discussion around the top candidates for each category, but the discourse on the very point of the awards.

While many are quibbling about the definition of the Most Valuable Player, Overwatch League broadcast talent Jennifer "LemonKiwi" Pichette raised a more fundamental point about the Coach of the Year award.

Overwatch League award season

Since 2020, the Overwatch League has allowed members of the media, broadcast talent, team staff, and select community insiders to have a vote on the Coach of the Year.

In its first year, Shanghai Dragons head coach Moon "Moon" Byung-chul won the trophy after a dominant 27-2 regular season, also winning the May Melee and Countdown Cup in Asia. 

For season 4, Dallas Fuel Head Coach Yun "RUSH" Hee-won earned the honours for his achievements with the Texan team, leading them to the first franchise stage victory of its history.

In season 5, Christopher "ChrisTFer" Graham won the award with a large lead for his teams' impressive sixth-place finish in the North American region. Taking over head coaching duties in season 5, after the Spitfire showed a lacklustre fourth-season performance.

Still seen as a budget team, the team punched above their weight most of the season, using their unique Reinhardt compositions to throw curveballs at the opposition.

It could be argued that all three candidates received their award for varying reasons, with some receiving it for simply having coached the best team of the award consideration period, while ChrisTFer’s performance was seen as exceptional for outperforming expectations.

Despite the definitional differences that these achievements were awarded for, shoutcaster LemonKiwi raised another fundamental question. How do you assess the coach's performance at all?

Judging intangibles

During an episode of the Tactical Crouch Podcast, LemonKiwi took a moment to reconsider the question when asked to give her candidate for the Coach of the Year trophy. 

"I just hate that we even have a vote," LemonKiwi opened. "I cast the game, I see you shoot things. I have never talked to your coach. I'm not in your scrims, I'm not in your [team] house," she argued.

Coverage of coaching impact is largely neglected in the Overwatch League, with few points of contact between the public and nominees up for the award.

"Why do I have an opinion on someone I have never spoken to or have ever seen work," she continued, pointing at the nebulous nature of the award criteria and the accessible information to come to an objective assessment.

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