Changing Ranks in the Overwatch League: A case of the two Los Angeles teams

March 31, 2018 | 0 | 2744| |

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -”


Change is the only thing that binds the world together. Constantly evolving, no two points in history are the same and the only thing you can count on is ‘change’.

It was no surprise to see a shuffle in the Overwatch league leaderboards as we moved from Stage 1 to Stage 2. Most of the Overwatch League teams, however, remained very close to their Stage 1 standings.

There are a total of three teams which saw movement across the board in the Stage Standings.The Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant and Houston Outlaws saw big changes in their standings. Amongst the three teams, the Gladiators were the only team to move upwards and potentially have a chance at the Stage Title Playoffs.

The Biggest Movers: Houston & Los Angeles


Houston Outlaws Logo + Mccree
Houston Outlaws had a less impressive showing in Stage 2

Most of the teams had results very similar to their Stage 1 performance. But there are three teams that stand out for their movement through the standings in Stage 2. Houston Outlaws, Los Angeles Gladiators and Los Angeles Valiant are the three teams that have seen a lot of movement. Gladiators are the only team to move upwards and actually have a much better performance in Stage 2. Houston Outlaws were definitely the team under the microscope during Stage 2. The Stage 1 playoffs did not have the same impact during Stage 2. The change in the meta hurt them the most as their Tracer gameplay has come under the public scanner.

Jake did not have the same impact on Tracer as he did on Junkrat during Stage 1. The team’s performance looked significantly weaker as they were unable to win the same number of matches. While their Stage 1 record was 7 wins with 3 losses, their Stage 2 performance was 5-5, a definite dip in their performance.

The Outlaws have been in the news for long with the coach ridiculing the community for their feedback. It is definitely the wrong approach to take towards constructive criticism from fans and analysts. But the team’s results speak for themselves as there was definitely something missing from the team’s performance.

But the two teams from Los Angeles have swapped places on the Stage 2 leaderboards as well as their form. The two teams had the biggest impact on the Stage 2 leaderboards.

The Gladiators filled the Void in the team.

That isn’t a pun because Void has not yet joined the team. The Gladiators roster change was one of the high-profile roster movements during the Player Transfer window. Fissure is easily regarded as one of the best, if not ‘The Best’ Tank in the Overwatch League. He was a part of the London Spitfire, who let him go after an amazing reverse sweep Title Stage win.

The Gladiators took the opportunity to strengthen their team. Fissure’s addition to the team has helped them strengthen their core. With the original roster having only an extra DPS player, they did not have many options in the tank department. With Fissure’s addition, the change was noticeable within a few matches. Fissure provided them with exceptional individual Main tank play. He was single-handedly responsible for some of the Gladiators match wins.

Initially, the Gladiators looked shaky with Fissure. The change in playstyle, the communication barrier as well as synergy issues were clearly visible. But so was the increased skill ceiling on the roster. They had some memorable wins in Stage 2, including the much talked about 3-1 win over London Spitfire. It was a bittersweet moment for Fissure playing against his old teammates. The same week saw the Los Angeles Gladiators take back the name for the best team in Los Angeles. They won 4-0 against the Valiant and firmly established themselves as the kings of Los Angeles.

Strengthen he tanks

Fissure is incredibly talented and knows what it means to be at the top. We think he will be a great addition to our team, and we’re really excited to have him on the Gladiators

Head coach David “dpei” Pei

The difference in the tank play for the Gladiators is what enabled Surefour and Asher to come alive. While individually great players, their true potential was not fully realized in Stage 1. Fissure provided great chemistry with Bischu and much of the language barrier problems were solved due to the tank chemistry in the team. The Gladiators were ranked high in the leaderboards for most of Stage 2. However, the last week saw them lose two important matches to Philadelphia Fusion & Boston Uprising. They lost out on the Playoff berth narrowly but they remain the most improved team in Stage 2.

Going into Stage 3, they have already added Void to their roster ( on the suggestion of Fissure). This addition will only serve to strengthen their off-tank play. The tanks of Los Angeles Gladiators look as dominant as London Spitfire on paper right now. Whether the team will be more consistent off the great tank play is still up for debate.

Los Angeles Valiant

Los Angeles is the only city to have two home teams. Being the heart of esports, it is always interesting to see the matchup between the Gladiators and the Valiants. While the Valiant flag flew high in Stage 1, Gladiators had a dominating performance in Stage 2.

But as we speak about the Los Angeles Valiant, there seems to be a multitude of problems plaguing the Valiant team. The team has players from three different countries. The tri-lingual team definitely faces big communication issues with players speaking French, Korean and English. Sometimes tactics have to be explained in all three languages, which is a slow, painstaking way to get all the players on board.

The Los Angeles Valiant is one of the strongest teams in Stage 1. Establishing their dominance over their local counterparts, they were in a contention for a Playoffs berth. However, they fell short by a small margin and in their pursuit towards excellence, the Valiant ended up removing their head coach, Henry “Cuddles” Coxall. The players believed that the majority of the blame for their disappointing performances lay with the coach. Their decision to let go of the coach was supposed to help improve the team.

But they were wrong. The team’s problems were much deeply rooted and the removal of a single person could not solve their problems. Indeed their results worsened during Stage 2 and the lack of adequate direction and leadership led the players to blame each other. The team was breaking up from within, with players acting amateur and blaming each other.

Coach Moon

LA Valiant Coach Moon
Can Coach Moon help the Valiant improve their performance?

Meanwhile, the Valiant had already signed their new head Coach, Moon. On the verge of transitioning to PUBG coaching, Moon is well respected amongst the players. He already has some experience with some players on the team. Having a strong work ethic, Moon was able to point out some of the problems within the team. While the language barrier is going to be a long-term work, other issues plaguing the team can be immediately addressed. One of the first steps he took as the Head coach was to allow Agilities to step down from the roster. Kariv, traditionally a support player stepped up as the DPS player for the team during Stage 2.

However, Agilities was not left alone and Coach Moon is working on the player’s positioning, his movements, and ultimate usage. He is focussing on the team as well as individual player needs. Coach Moon presents the best chance for the team to get better again as a team. While their individual skill and performance got them through Stage 1, the problems surfaced in Stage 2. Coach Moon will help the team sort out their problems and focus on the team chemistry and cohesion.

Will the Valiant rise again?

It’s too soon to possibly judge their results in Stage 3. According to several reports, the Valiant is considering a player swap with Dallas Fuel. The player transfer window ends before the start of Stage 3, so we should have news by then. Bringing in new players presents its own set of problems for the Valiant.

The nature of these trades suggests a possible solution to the language problems on the Valiant. Swapping their French players for the Korean players will definitely help the Los Angeles Valiant in solving their communication problems.

New Players Are a double-edged sword

The inclusion of new Players on the team is a good thing for the Los Angeles Valiant. The Los Angeles Valiant roster has a mixture of French, Korean and English speaking players. With the potential of player swaps for the team, they should be able to fix their communication problems faster. It will definitely help the coach and the team move forth in Stage 3. With the map pool for Stage 3 overlapping with that of Stage 2, we should expect a resurgence in the Valiant performance.

New players for the team are definitely a double-edged sword. While a faster resolution of communication problems is a good thing, there will be a brief pause in the synergy. Adjusting to a new team, a new style of coaching and forming the coordination amongst themselves is crucial to the success of the team.

Gladiators vs Valiant will be a rivalry for ages

The two teams took different routes in their Stage 2 results. The Los Angeles Gladiators are undoubtedly in better form right now. The two new players, Fissure and Void only serve to create more space for their DPS players who have stepped up to the occasion. Fissure’s experience and individual skill have created a lot of opportunities for the Gladiators.

The Los Angeles Valiant, on the other hand, remain a team full of potential. We saw glimpses of the same during Stage 1, but the dark side of the team surfaced in Stage 2. Ego clashes, individual gameplay, and frustration seemed to seep through the ranks. The Valiant will be looking to Stage 3 as their playground and the opportunity to realize their potential. We will be awaiting more news about the Valiant in the next few days as the player trade window comes to a close.

The Battle for Los Angeles will always be a rivalry between the two teams. It is a story being formed and no matter who is on top, each team will bring out their very best in these matches. The two teams next play each other on 18th April at 16:00 PDT. The matches will be live on Twitch and be sure to support your favorite team.

The author

Esports journalist. An esports fan, former wannabe pro and occasional angry young man. You can find him trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR or just chilling in Rocket League. Or maybe building an entire city in Cities: Skylines. The current mood is always a surprise.

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