Sunday, 14 July 2019

The MVP Case For Jin-Hyeok "Dding" Yang

With the stage 3 finals of the 2019 season now upon us, we are at the perfect point to start thinking about the end of season awards and which players deserve them. The league MVP is the most prestigious award a player of the league can have and by definition its awarded to "the player judged to be the outstanding player in a sport during a particular season or championship". One player that this applies to is the Shanghai Dragon's Flex DPS Jin-Hyeok "DDing" Yan.

2019 has been a monumental season for the Shanghai Dragons, as they have managed to turn the franchise around from the hapless 0-40 team to the title contending Dragons they are today and the performances of DDing have been instrumental towards this. He wasted no time in asserting his name into the conversation as one of the best players in the league and the statistics back this claim up. He leads the Overwatch League in match MVP awards with 9 (10 if you include the playoff) with only Gui-Un "Decay" Jang of the Los Angeles Gladiators and Dong-Gyu "Mano" Kim of the New York Excelsior close to him at 8. 

Out of all eligible players, DDing is 8th in final blows per 10 minutes (6.76), 11th in eliminations per 10 minutes (19.06) and 21st in damage per 10 minutes (8,765.64). He is also averaging only 4.15 deaths per 10 minutes, showing just how elusive and valuable his performances have been.

During the 2018 off season, rumours started to circulate that DDing would be picked up by Overwatch League teams after Kongdoo Panthera became runners up in Contenders Korea season 3. While the Spitfire were initially the team that DDing was rumoured to be going to, he ended up joining the Shanghai Dragons with Kongdoo Panthera teammates Kyung-Woo "CoMa" Son, Seong-Hyeon "Luffy" Yang, Young-Jin "Youngjin" Jin and their previous coach Seong-Hwan "BlueHaS" We.

Opinions on DDing varied throughout the leagues fans, half expected him to come in and be a good supportive DPS player alongside a star. The other half believed that the only heroes that DDing's was good on was D.Va and Sombra and that he was not ready to be in the league. Nobody expected him to become the star of the Dragons. 

While DDing has added both Doomfist and Hanzo to his hero pool this season, one of the key reasons he is in contention to be an MVP candidate is due to the meta for the first three stages being Goats and its variant compositions. While most teams started with the standard Reinhardt Goats, BlueHas and former Element Mystic coach Chung-Hyeok "Levi" Jeong quickly realised that they were better suited to run Sombra Goats around DDing and his ability to play her. 

As one of the best Sombra players in the league, his performances helped carry the Dragons to not only their first ever league win, but to a respectable 3-4 record while the Dragons, as a new team, were adjusting to life in the games top tier. With the ability to not only produce a lot of damage quickly, positioning well to scout and remain unseen for valuable hacks and being able to perfectly time his EMP usage, was a valuable asset during the new Dragons early days. However, it was during stage 2 and the Dragons switch to a 3 DPS meta where the Dragons and DDing started to really shine.

When 3 DPS started to creep into the meta, the Dragons were one of the first to make the transition to it. While everyone knew about DDing's Sombra, the entire league seemed to have forgotten about his ability on Pharah and he quickly reminded everyone just how good he is with her. The Dragons behind DDing continued to impress, with a 4-3 record in stage two they reached their first ever play off game and while they lost to the San Francisco Shock, DDing and the Dragons finally announced that they had arrived.

Stage three has seen further improvements, with the Dragons ending the regular season with a 5-2 record, except this time they weren't ready to lay down when they made the playoffs. Despite having to face the New York Excelsior in the quarterfinals, Shanghai beat them convincingly 3-1 with another MVP performance from DDing. They then faced the Vancouver Titans, a team that some would consider as a rival that dated back to their Contenders days. Despite the heartbreaking loss that Kongdoo Panthera had in Contenders to Runaway back then, they got their revenge in the semifinals when they won 4-1 after a devastating display by DDing on Pharah. His ability to pressure key targets in the way he neutralised Twilight in that game, allowed the rest of the Dragons to execute their strategy perfectly.

Now the stage three finals have arrived the Dragons are close to going to zeroes to heroes and only the San Francisco Shock stand in their way. If the Dragons beat the Shock and obtain their first title behind another solid DDing performance, it will be hard for anyone to argue against DDing not only being a contender for MVP but the favourite to win it.

Whether they win or not, DDing has gone under the radar in the MVP discussion and shown that he is not only the for a team that has improved over the course of the season, but the league's MVP as well.

(You can find more Overwatch League related content on Twitter @haloofthoughts)
(Picture Credit: Overwatch League)


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