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Player Spotlight: Boulevard's Player of the Year 2021

(This is an opinion piece and reflects the views of the author and is not an official endorsement from Giant Slayer)

Hello dear reader, my name is Boulevard and if you’ll allow me to go full clickbait and bury the lead a little more, I’d like to give some context to the title of the article. Why is this article being written? There are a lot of things I find more likely than a Riot official ‘Player of the Year’ title being awarded for 2021 Legends of Runeterra. But as someone who has won an unofficial player of the year award in the past, I know it's a really cool title to have. I simply want to highlight the player that I think stood above the rest in a game with a lot of incredibly skilled competitors. On top of that, Jasensational is putting together a sort of award show for the best of 2021 Runeterra, and I’d like to give this player a bit of a boost because I think there was a clear choice and that it wasn’t particularly close.

If you’re wondering why I’m the one writing it, I have to assume you have no idea who I am. Is that a little egotistical? Perhaps, but this whole article is egotistical - from awarding a player the unofficial title to thinking I have the authority to give it out (which I do). But this article isn’t about me, so I’m not going to get into my credentials, but you can ask around. 

Now as for the player that I did pick, well I couldn’t actually narrow it down to just one. It’s a bit of a cop-out but there really aren’t any rules out here, so without further delay, I’d like to present the Official Enough Legends of Runeterra Player of the Year 2021 award to MajiinBae and BaJAtakk.

You may have astutely noticed that one thing these players both have in common is they’re both Seasonal champions who made it to the round of 16 at the World Championship. Now it’s certainly not necessary for the player of the year to have made it to the top 16 of Worlds or won a Seasonal, but you need to have a very good reason not to pick a player who did both. If we had a two-time Seasonal champion from any region they certainly could have shaken up my dictatorial voting system, but we didn’t. The closest anyone came was DK from South Korea, who picked up a win and a top 4, but no Seasonal champion in 2021 was ever able to make it back to the finals. 

That said, it does take more than their shared accomplishment to put them a cut above the rest. BaJAtakk has had a lot of success in the LoR Masters Europe events, attending all 3 tournaments with team Czechia and reaching as high as the top 4 in the most recent iteration. In fact, consistency was the name of the game for BaJAtakk for most of the year as he constantly leveraged his high ladder placement into qualification for the Masters event as well as good seeding for the Seasonal tournaments, resulting in multiple top 32 finishes. After qualifying for the Worlds Qualifier stage through Seasonal points, he got his first major ‘win’ of the year by qualifying for the round of 16, where neither he nor Majiin would be able to advance to the top 8. It wasn’t until after Worlds however that Bajatakk would become a champion, finally grabbing the win that had eluded him the entire year at the Between Worlds Seasonal. It felt like a culmination of all the hard work and improvement he had done over the year, solidifying him in my mind as one of the players deserving of the Player of the Year title.

MajiinBae on the other hand started off the year with a win at the Cosmic Creation Seasonal, leveraging his win into content creation and the start of the Mastering Runeterra Podcast. While he certainly has a laundry list of accomplishments as a community figurehead and content creator, his competitive resume is just as impressive. Since there’s no EU Masters for Americas players to shine in, Majiin only had the Seasonal tournaments to really put his name on the map. Considering that the Monuments of Power Seasonal is a part of the 2021 competitive year, that gives us 7 Seasonals in total. MajiinBae, alongside TheBlackBoss and XxWhatAmIxX, was able to top a whopping 5 of those 7. What set Majiin apart from his fellow perfect 5/7 countrymen was that BlackBoss was unable to top Words, and WhatAmI was unable to pick up a Seasonal win at any point, and his 4th place finish at Worlds wasn’t enough to negate that fact for me. As such Majiin was the clear choice in my mind as the most successful Americas player of 2021, showing not only incredible consistency in the Seasonal tournaments but going above and beyond not only with the win but with a top 16 finish at Worlds as well.

On top of their competitive success, which was really the only factor I was weighing for this award, I did want to shout out what exemplary community members these two are. Even before his Seasonal win, the European competitive community couldn’t find enough good things to say about BaJAtakk, consistently rating him as their favorite to win Worlds while I was polling before the event. Every interaction they had with him was pleasant, and everyone seemed very eager to see the young Czech player succeed on the world stage and really put a lot of their hopes into him. He’s even recently started streaming, which you can find here. As for Majiin, there’s really not enough good things I can say about him. He’s exploded onto the Runeterra scene as one of the best content creators in the game, and he’s really embodied the spirit of a Seasonal champion all the while. He’s constantly thinking about the new player experience and making resources for them and the competitive player alike, as well as putting on tournaments of his own so that the gap can be bridged a little more and players have something to compete in. Mastering Runeterra has been raising the bar in what it means to uplift your community, and Majiin has been a pivotal part of it.

And that's that, MajiinBae and BJAatakk are official recipients of my Official Enough Player of the Year 2021 joint award for their unmatched competitive success for the year. If you feel very strongly that X should have won the award instead of being a third recipient, you can tweet at me here and I’ll tell you why I didn’t pick them if it makes you feel better. With Jasensationals 2021 awards approaching soon I hope you’ll take my words into consideration when thinking about the Player of the Year award as these two really are a cut above the rest, and I look forward to seeing what they can continue to do in 2022, and what new faces can arise to challenge their claims. 

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