It’s almost the Overwatch League’s awards season. A multitude of new, shiny trophies have been added into the mix, including Rookie of the Year and role-specific awards. While most of these focus on in-game performance, one award highlights the immense effect a player’s personality and optimism can have on a team.
Last year, Pongphop “Mickie” Rattanasangchod took home the inaugural Dennis Hawelka Award for his seemingly endless positive energy on the Dallas Fuel. The award honors Dennis “Internethulk” Hawelka, a legendary Overwatch player and coach who passed away in 2017. The award highlights a player who’s the “most shining example of positive influence” on their teammates or the community as a whole.
As a former teammate and friend of Internethulk and someone who embodied his supportive personality, it was only fitting that Mickie won the first award. This year, someone else will be honored with the Dennis Hawelka Award after their coaches and peers vote them in. We have a few candidates in mind who spread good vibes in the Overwatch League community.
Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-jin (Shanghai Dragons)
During the first season of the Overwatch League, Gamsu was a quiet but steadfast part of the Boston Uprising. As the main tank, he helped the team complete a 10-game win streak that brought them notoriety and respect. Before the league’s second season, he was traded to an unproven Shanghai Dragons. The Dragons were reeling from a 0-40 first season and had just completely restructured the team, chasing success.
Gamsu was there, beaming, as the Shanghai Dragons took their first win in the Overwatch League against his former team, the Boston Uprising. While this would’ve been an ample opportunity for toxicity for most players, Gamsu stayed thankful, humble, and happy. In the remainder of the second season, he’s helped lead the Dragons to a successful season, with multiple playoff runs and a stage championship.
Off the stage, Gamsu spreads joy through his favorite activities. He has a reputation for taking fellow players on hikes with him in the Los Angeles mountains to help to clear their minds. His adorable dog, Uni, also brings joy to fans on Twitter and Instagram. Uni entertains the rest of the Shanghai Dragons with his antics. Gamsu’s steadfast leadership and commitment to joy make him a great candidate for the Dennis Hawelka Award.
Yang “Tobi” Jin-mo (Seoul Dynasty)
Ask professional support players who they look up to the most in the OverwatchLeague and many will answer with Tobi’s name. Tobi has been perfecting the art of support play since Overwatch first became an esport. He joined legendary team Lunatic Hai in 2016. Many people from Lunatic Hai’s roster later became top players on the Seoul Dynasty. He’s built up a long-lasting relationship with many of his teammates that leads to a cohesion most teams can only dream of.
Numerous players have said Tobi has an “older brother” level of supportive energy on the team. Fellow Seoul Dynasty support Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong said in an interview with ESPN that Tobi “gives direction when we don’t know where to go. He is the support of the team.” During this season of the Overwatch League, the Seoul Dynasty have struggled and surged in equal parts as metas have changed. As the team continuously shifts rosters around strategies, Tobi remains a stable, supportive player for newer Seoul Dynasty competitors.
Aaron “Bischu” Kim (Guangzhou Charge)
Few players embody joy and resilience like Bischu. He was a star player on the Los Angeles Gladiators in the first season of the Overwatch League, becoming one of the most talented off-tanks to hit the stage. Beyond that, his optimism and beaming smile made him one of the most-loved players among fans and talent alike.
Everyone expected a repeat performance in season two, but life got in the way. After stage one, Bischu was sidelined due to a flare-up of ulcerative colitis, a condition he speaks at length about in his own essay on The Player’s Lobby. His fans sent love and he sent it back. “When I was lying in the hospital this time around and getting all the messages from the fans, they were the most heartfelt messages I’ve ever received,” Bischu said in the essay.
Because of his health issue, he opted to take a two-way contract during stage two and help the Gladiators Legion, the organization’s North American Overwatch Contenders team. Bischu stepped in and led the Legion to a great season. Fans awaited his return to the Overwatch League stage but, again, life gets in the way. Bischu was traded to the Guangzhou Charge for an undetermined sum ahead of stage four.
Despite health issues, trades, transfers, and multiple difficulties, Bischu briefly returned to the Overwatch League stage during the opening week of stage four alongside fellow fan-favorite player Joona “Fragi” Laine. The roar of the crowd was deafening when the duo had a post-match interview with Danny Lim. As Bischu emotionally thanked his fans for support, the obvious love in the room was a testament to the effect his resilience and joy have had on the entire league.
The Dennis Hawelka Award will be given to one Overwatch League player on Aug. 30 during the play-in tournament for the season playoffs.