Although the 2020 Overwatch League season was rough around the edges, it still featured plenty of incredible matches and standout player performances.
Of the players who stood out, a good number were Overwatch League rookies. In fact, for many of the most successful teams, like the Shock, the Dragons, and the Fusion, rookies became the centerpieces of their strategies when the stakes were at their highest.
Here’s a list of the top rookies who rose to the challenge and excelled during the 2020 Overwatch League season.
Alarm is an obvious candidate for this list. The former Lunatic-Hai and Fusion University player made a big splash in Contenders in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, he finally received the nod from Philadelphia Fusion and earned his place in the Overwatch League.
The main support player served as the backbone of the Fusion’s support core during their incredible regular season and their run to the Grand Finals weekend. Although the Fusion fell short of the championship in the end, Alarm was an impressive and consistent performer for this team all year long. At the conclusion of the 2020 season, he was awarded the Rookie of the Year award and a 2020 Support Role Star award.
Coming into the 2020 season, many people doubted whether ANS had what it took to succeed in the Overwatch League. The former BlossoM hitscan player retired from Overwatch in early 2019 to become a full-time streamer, leading to questions about his competitive future. He was picked up for the 2020 season by San Francisco Shock, though, where he proved all the doubters wrong.
Throughout the year, ANS put on flawless Widowmaker performances and became a consistent performer for the championship Shock team. ANS was an MVP candidate, a Rookie of the Year candidate, and a DPS Role Star winner in 2020. On top of that, he was a key part of San Francisco’s victory during the 2020 playoffs.
SP9RK1E was picked up by the Paris Eternal at the start of the 2020 season after competing for two years with Element Mystic in Korean Contenders. Although he was inactive during the first half of the season, his performances in the second half more than made up for his earlier absense. On the back of SP9RK1E’s masterful Genji plays, Paris beat both the Shock and Fusion to claim the Summer Showdown title for the Eternal. Due to his highlight worthy plays and incredible clutches, he was named a DPS Role Star and was a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year. At the tender age of only 18, SP9RK1E is just getting started. He’s joined the Dallas Fuel for the 2020 OWL season.
XZI was perhaps the most impressive individual player on the Paris Eternal throughout 2020. The 19-year-old hitscan specialist hails from Element Mystic originally, along with SP9RK1E and some other members of the Paris roster. Despite going inactive from April to June, XZI still managed to leave his mark during his rookie year and was even nominated for the 2020 MVP award. He played a key role in Paris’ success this year and proved that he has what it takes to be a star DPS player in the Overwatch League.
Heesu was another key performer for the Fusion this year. The former Element Mystic and RunAway player entered the league with great expectations on his shoulders—and he lived up to them. He proved to be one of the most reliable DPS players in the league. Philly leaned on him throughout the playoffs to play Sombra, Reaper, McCree, and more. In many situations, Philly preferred Heesu over star DPS player Carpe, which tells you something about how highly they think of this player.
LIP is a former Blossom DPS player who was picked up by Shanghai for the 2020 season. The Dragons had an amazing year, topping the regular-season rankings and placing third overall in the playoffs. A key part of this success was LIP’s amazing clutch plays as Widowmaker, Hanzo, and Sombra. Throughout the year, LIP was an essential performer for his team, so much so that he was named a 2020 DPS Role Star along with his fellow DPS teammate Fleta. With such consistently strong performances, it’s hard to believe that LIP was a rookie this year.
LeeJaegon is a support player for the Dragons and he absolutely crushed it this year. Whether he was playing Mercy, Brigitte, or Lúcio, he dominated his role and was crucial to his team’s success. He formerly played for Runaway before joining the Dragons. LeeJaegon earned a support player Role Star award and was a key candidate for the Rookie of the Year award like many of the other players on this list.
The Guangzhou Charge picked up Cr0ng from O2 Blast for the 2020 season. The Korean player has been involved in Overwatch since the APEX days and was a well-respected off-tank in Korean Contenders. While playing with the Charge this year, Cr0ng’s Sigma plays helped them ascend to second place in the APAC region throughout most of the year. Eventually, he led them to the Grand Finals of APAC Summer Showdown, where they defeated the top-ranked Dragons to earn their first OWL title. He was the only rookie this year to earn a 2020 Tank Role Star award from the Overwatch League. In recognition of his top-tier rookie year performance, Cr0ng was also nominated for the 2020 MVP award.
Hanbin was a standout tank player for the Paris Eternal who formerly played for Element Mystic before earning his first Overwatch League contract. He specializes in D.Va and Sigma, both of whom were key heroes in the 2020 meta. His outstanding Sigma plays were crucial to the Eternal’s victory at the Summer Showdown and throughout the rest of the regular season. The 18-year-old had a fantastic rookie year, helping lead Paris to their best season yet—and his future in Overwatch is bright, to say the least.
FDGod originally hails from the European Contenders team Young and Beautiful. The Lúcio specialist played for the French World Cup team in 2019, where he caught the attention of the Paris Eternal, who recruited him for the 2020 Overwatch League season. FDGod immediately started pulling his weight, producing incredible plays as primarily Lúcio and overall showing the massive impact a single support player can have on a team. Along with being a candidate for Rookie of the Year, FDGod was named a 2020 Support Role Star along with fellow rookies LeeJaegon and Alarm.
Yaki was the driving force behind the Florida Mayhem’s rise to prominence this year. He formerly competed with XL2 Academy and RunAway before joining the Mayhem. Throughout the 2020 season, no matter what hero his team needed, whether it be Genji, Pharah, Echo, or Tracer, Yaki was ready and able to bring in great results.
On the back of his amazing performances, Florida reached the finals of the May Melee event where they lost to the San Francisco Shock. Nonetheless, this second-place finish was the best performance Florida has ever had. At the end of the year, Yaki received the honor of being nominated for the 2020 MVP award and he’ll be a player to keep an eye on going into 2021.
After playing with GC Busan Wave for two years, Fielder was picked up by the Paris Eternal in May following the departure of Kruise, who was transferred to the Toronto Defiant. Despite being signed halfway through the 2020 season, Fielder managed to make a serious mark in his rookie season, becoming a key last-minute component of Paris’ Summer Showdown win. His performance was also impressive because he played in North American games from South Korea, where he was quarantining for the pandemic. Anyone who can overcome 200 ping in a professional match must be an exceptional player.
KSP is a British player who competed on the British Overwatch World Cup team in both 2018 and 2019. Before joining the Overwatch League, he played with Contenders teams like Young and Beautiful and XL2 Academy. He was signed by the L.A. Valiant through their open tryouts system at the start of the year—and boy, did he deserve it.
Throughout the first half of the season, KSP led the DPS stats for most damage and kills. His incredible hitscan abilities on Widowmaker were impressive, but perhaps more impressive was his Ashe play. He single-handedly proved to the rest of the league that Ashe is a good hero, bringing her into the professional meta in April. After his dominant DPS performances this year, it’s safe to say that he was one of the best rookies in 2020.
The past season was filled with strong rookies, so this list can’t cover everyone who deserves a shoutout for their top-tier debut seasons. To help remedy that, here are some final honorable mentions who just barely didn’t make the cut:
- Stand1: Shanghai Dragons
- Gangnamjin: Florida Mayhem
- Dreamer: L.A. Valiant
- Lastro: L.A. Valiant
- sHockWave: Vancouver Titans
- Glister: London Spitfire
- Edison: Atlanta Reign