Stage 4 is over, the Overwatch League playoffs are soon to be underway and it is time for the end of season awards, with the most prestigious award waiting on the horizon -- the Most Valuable Player award or “MVP.” There are multiple ways to look at the award, but the winner is generally the best overall player in the league or the most impactful player, for better or for worse.
Many players come to mind when awarding the Overwatch League Inaugural Season MVP award, such as London Spitfire’s Profit or the New York Excelsior’s JJonak, but one player stands out in particular as the league winds down -- the Los Angeles Gladiators’ Baek “Fissure” Chan-Hyung. Before the Overwatch League began, he was recognized as one of the best main tanks in the world on Korean team, Kongdoo Panthera, but despite his prior success, he rode the bench for London in Stage 1.
Fissure was sent over to the Los Angeles Gladiators for cold hard cash, in arguably the most impactful transaction during the Overwatch League transfer window, and the rest was history. Fissure got the playtime he deserved and the Gladiators quickly improved with him at the head of their battalion, posturing him at the forefront of MVP candidates.
The value of players can be debated to no end, as individuals will always value different things about different aspects of the game, but holistically, no one impacted their team more than Fissure. Bang “JJonak” Sung-Hyeon is the league’s best Zenyatta and might be the most skilled player in the Overwatch League, but it’s arguable that the NYXL would still be in first place with a Bdosin or Ryujehong at flex support instead.
In Fissure’s case, his style and pedigree was a perfect match for the Gladiators and he elevated the team to work with him, as opposed to slipping in as the perfect cog. Fissure admitted himself that he tried to fit into the team as a newcomer, but it wasn’t going to work -- he had to really bring it in as the team’s anchor.
Fissure proved himself to be a vocal leader for the Gladiators and it’s hard to imagine Los Angeles without him at this point. Players like Lee “Carpe” Jae-Hyeok and Profit had plenty of superhero moments for their team, clicking heads and fragging out, but Fissure was practically on full-time duty assuming the identity of his team and molding it into a contender. His competitive mentality out of game and superstar status in-game made all the difference for everyone’s performances and that can’t be ignored.
Leading the charge
Before Fissure came into the fold, the Gladiators were a below average team, amassing a 4-6 record in Stage 1, while being just out of favor against the upper half of the league. The Glads were known for their tank duo of Aaron “Bischu” Kim and Luis “iiRemix” Galarza Figueroa, but there were clearly stability issues on that front that didn’t quite allow the team to shine. Fissure’s addition changed that all in an instant and his teammates’ performances only continued to improve as a result.
The Gladiators were already an aggressive team so Fissure’s inclusion, despite the language barrier, had an immediate impact. The DPS line of Surefour/Asher excelled upon his arrival and consistently improved once he entered the roster. Not only that, but Bischu, who served as the Korean language bridge, refined his D.Va play under Fissure’s tutelage to become one of the more consistent off-tanks in the league, forming a dangerous one-two tank battery for the Los Angeles side. The Gladiators ended Stage 2 with a 6-4 record and narrowly missed the stage playoffs, but it was a two-game improvement from the first stage and proved to be just the beginning.
From that point on, the Gladiators put together a 15-5 record to end the season 25-15, qualifying easily for both the Stage 3 and 4 playoff segments. Fissure never quite took his Glads to a Stage Final, but the team’s record of 21-9 (70% win rate) following his arrival speaks for itself. A single change at main tank steered the destiny of the Gladiators from mediocrity to potential greatness. Occasionally, roster changes might bring enough juice to catch lightning in a bottle, but Fissure’s electric play became a full-blown thunderstorm, galvanizing the Gladiators and their loyal fans.
As a main tank, Fissure might receive less consideration for MVP, as DPS players (or Zenyatta mains) will always command more attention for their efforts, but thankfully he doesn’t lack for starpower or personality. Sick headshots will stick in people’s minds longer than Primal Rage juggling, but regardless, Fissure’s impact solidifies his first season in the Overwatch League.
The Gladiators moved up from eighth to fourth place with the addition of Fissure and it’s unlikely that they could have been a playoff team without him. The sheer immediate impact and consistent growth of Fissure is clearer than a bright Summer day in Burbank, California, and it deserves to be rewarded with the league’s first MVP award. After all, no one is more handsome or better at main tank than Fissure.
Photo Credit: Blizzard Entertainment