At the start of the Overwatch League 2019 playoffs, Hyojong "Haksal" Kim was announced as the winner for Rookie of the Year. It was an exciting way to kick off the official post-season as the league celebrated the outstanding play of the Titans' damage (and Brigitte) player and his journey throughout the 2019 season. Haksal becomes the first recipient of the Overwatch League Rookie of the Year Award.
Haksal stood above all other rookies during this year's Overwatch League season (and there were a lot of them to choose from). Incorporating eight new teams into the second season of the Overwatch League resulted in incredible rookie players on all the teams. The entire Vancouver team could have made a run at the award themselves, but Haksal was in a league of his own.
The electric damage dealer was subjected to "Brigitte jail" - a term lovingly coined for DPS players that had to play the hero during the 3-3 meta - but made his presence known on the character. He led the league in both hero damage and healing on Brigitte, who was an integral part of the first half of the season. This proficient play from Haksal helped catapult the Vancouver Titans to a stage one finals win and a 19-0 record before falling to the Valiant towards the end of stage three.
When the 2-2-2 role lock went into effect, Haksal showed just how mechanically gifted he was. His Genji play caused everyone to stop and stare in amazement and when he whipped out the Dragon Blade there wasn't much opponents could do to survive. He cemented himself as one of the most dynamic DPS players in the league and helped solidify his spot as the Rookie of the Year.
It's crazy to realize that Haksal is only 18 years old at the moment. He admitted that he has been toxic in the past, but has grown in abundance as a person and as a player. The Vancouver Titans will now look to him as one of the their leaders. It's a big role to step into, but one that Haksal is more than capable of doing. He already has his eyes set on the MVP trophy next season as well.
Haksal and the Vancouver Titans got off to a good start in the playoffs with their win against the Seoul Dynasty 4-2. They advance to take on the LA Gladiators on September 8th and hope to use their momentum to carry them far into the post-season. Haksal is in a prime position to continue to carve out his legacy this season and will look to do so going forward. Until then, he can rest in the company of his Rookie of the Year trophy.