Rookie of the Year: Which newbee made the biggest splash on their entrance to the League?
Every year, being a rookie in the Overwatch League becomes more and more daunting for players. The well established teams, players and overall league make one feel small when they first step foot on stage — or load into their first map. These players all know though that they have big shoes to fill, and something to prove. On the lower end of the league, we’ve seen rookies flounder under less than professional guidance. While on the high end we’ve seen more breakout stars than ever before.
The likes of Sparkr, Flora and Aspire joined midseason to elevate their teams’ abilities. While players like Kevster, Pelican and even Mag do their best to push their teams into tournament contention. So which players have a shot at claiming the best Rookie of the year?
Kevster was a faceless man until his reveal video at the LA Gladiator’s training center in the middle of the season. He even covered his drawn face with a Genji mask. While he was one of the only players that could pull off Genji in this year’s various metas — he proved to be so much more than that right off the bat. Tracer was one of the most influential DPS heroes across the 2021 season. While Kevster didn’t reinvent the wheel with that hero, he showed clear, classically refined skill.
It was almost as if he had studied the Tracer greats and adapted all of the normal playstyles to ensure consistent performance. He doesn’t have the widest hero pool, and in other metas he may not have even been a staple on the starting six. But due to lucky circumstances for him, the stars aligned and he was most definitely the man for the job all year long.
Pelican has now seen two stage tournaments with the Atlanta Reign and has had significant impact in both. With Atlanta being said by fans and casters to have one of the weakest DPS lines early on, Pelican and both of his fellow DPS teammates decided not to settle. They made the most notable improvements on the team. Taking them from an average start, to a 3rd place position in the power rankings.
Unlike Kevster, Pelican would’ve been a team staple no matter what the meta. Being the absolute best Echo player in the league, highly ranked as Doomfist (3rd), Mei (3rd), Phara (6th), and even being the 4th best Torbjorn for the short sprint of time that he was played, notably using him to decimate the New York Excelsior (NYXL) in the June Joust tournament. With the highest total Power Ranking of any rookie at 12th in the league, Pelican has a great shot of being named best rookie of 2021.
Flora is a hitscan player on the New York Excelsior; which means this season, he’s had to do more carrying than maybe any NYXL DPS in history. His start to the season was shaky as he settled into his spot in the league — but within a few games he was a walking highlight reel. He has his fair share of top 10 power ranking placements on certain heroes; but even without looking at stats his impact is clear. NYXL as a team have picked up steam as the season has moved forward, but no player on the team, including the 2018 Season MVP Jjonak has peaked as highly as Flora this season.
The deciding knockout game that got New York into the June Joust tournament was multiple maps against the Hangzhou Spark. Where the team supported Flora and allowed him to carry. Without being on a frequent tournament contesting team, Flora has made himself a hot commodity. He deserves Rookie of the Year just as much as any top team player: rookie or veteran.
An honorable mention for the award would be Mag of the Washington Justice. Not only is he the closest a Tank player has been to winning Rookie of the Year — he’s had some very high points this year. In the first stage the team steamrolled the competition under his leadership going 4-0. Through the season they have become much less consistent. Which has only made it harder for him to shine because his position requires lots of team support.
If he’s able to be recognized for his individual talents; and the fact that Washington’s success has always had much to do with him, there is a shot for the Main Tank of the United States Capitol city to leave with an individual award.