Two Overwatch League Los Angeles-based teams, the Gladiators and the Valiant, have had a difficult second season. Heading into week four, both teams were lagging at the bottom of the standings, with the Gladiators in 17thplace of twenty and the Valiant in dead last. After a night of intense matches, one Overwatch League Los Angeles team has turned around their fortunes, and the other hasn’t been able to recover from their rough start.


In a surprising turn of events, the LA Gladiators pulled off a 4-0 sweep against the Atlanta Reign. For those of us who have been watching the standings carefully, this is an absolutely stunning upset. Despite being strong last season, the Gladiators have been struggling over the last few weeks. They headed into their match against Atlanta with a win-loss record of 1-4. The Atlanta Reign, on the other hand, were ranked third in the League with a record of 3-1, and were looking like one of the League’s most promising expansion teams.

For the last three weeks, the Gladiators have been plagued by communication issues on the team. Like many of the League’s teams, the Gladiator’s international roster must battle language barriers in addition to the many communication snags that are organic to the Overwatch experience. Additionally, their main tank, rOar, has consistently been the victim of early picks in team fights, which has held the Gladiators at a perpetual disadvantage.

During the opening series of week 4, however, it was a brand new Gladiators who took the stage at Blizzard Arena. rOar was at the absolute top of his game, pouring out damage as Reinhardt, and his team was able to support him and keep him alive through most team fights. Perhaps most impressive tonight was the Gladiators’ main support, Shaz, whose Zenyatta play was really activated by rOar’s protective presence. Shaz is currently ranked third in the League in overall healing, but doesn’t receive much attention as a skilled Zenyatta player, especially when we compare his hype to that of NYXL’s JJoNak.

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Atlanta’s performance in this series was frankly confusing. We saw a lot of instability in their roster, with substitutions coming in nearly every map. Their tanks were consistently the first picks in team fights, and Pokpo (Reinhardt) was just plain outclassed by rOar. Dogman, whose Zenyatta play has never been quite on par with the likes of Shaz, was definitely off his game tonight. The Reign just seemed shaky from the start and couldn’t seem to find their footing in this series.

In a post-game interview, Gladiators’ BigGoose explained that the Gladiators have been working hard on their team communication and are learning to navigate their language barrier.

It’s a little late in the stage to be just now figuring out their team synergy, so the playoffs of Stage 1 might be a pipe dream for the Gladiators now. However, hopefully this win gives them the momentum to work their way back toward being the juggernaut of a team we came to love in the inaugural season.

Final scores via the Overwatch League website

The night’s second match brought Los Angeles’ other team to the stage. The LA Valiant took a loss against the Philadelphia Fusion, but this was a seriously close fight. After yielding the first two maps, the Valiant actually managed to win Temple of Anubis and Route 66, forcing the series into a tie-breaker fifth map. Valiant fought—well, valiantly—right up to the end of the king of the hill map, Busan, which came down to the third and final point. Despite losing to Philly in the end, the Valiant put up an excellent show against one of the League’s stronger teams.

Philadelphia’s win brings them to third place in the standings, now just above the Atlanta Reign. The Los Angeles Valiant have lost their chance at the playoffs, but with one more match left in the stage, they still have a chance at turning around their losing streak.

Did you get to celebrate with your team tonight, or were you left groaning in defeat? Air your cheers and grievances with us in the comments!

 

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