The LA Gladiators have been one of Stage 2’s greatest stories. While their Stage 1 stats (8th place, 4-6 finish) left a lot to be desired, Head Coach David “Dpei” Pei had a plan to turn things around. As the trading window opened, the Gladiators moved quickly, securing Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek’s contract from the London Spitfire. One of the earliest moves of the season, Fissure’s short tenure with the Gladiators has been nothing short of miraculous. His addition raises some interesting questions, however…
The Great Enabler
Fissure is a fantastic main tank, which is a necessity for any team looking for a playoff spot in the Overwatch League. His true strength, though, might be what he brings out in the rest of his teammates. Jun-Sung “Asher” Choi, Joao Pedro “Hydration” Veloso de Goes Telles, and Lane “Surefour” Roberts have really figured things out this stage, and their performance at DPS has made life far easier for LA’s front line. With Mercy (mostly) eliminated from pro play, flashy one-off kills, or “picks”, are much more impactful. When you have a Pharah/Doomfist specialist like Hydration, or a flank-focused Tracer player like Asher, or a Widowmaker savant like Surefour… you get a lot of picks. Fissure knows this, and gets in the enemy’s face so his damage dealers can get down to brass tacks. There’s not a single team in the league that plays to this strength the way the Gladiators do, and their focus on supporting individual performance with strong team play has been wildly successful.
a team in sync
In the backline, Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara and Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni have continued their dominance, maintaining their status as one of the best support duos in the league. With a tank line as strong as theirs, the ex-Gigantti boys have been running riot. They make a recursive loop, of sorts- the tanks make more space, the healers stay alive longer, they heal the tanks more, who stay alive longer, creating more space, keeping the healers alive longer… you get the idea.
Fissure’s aggressive, intelligent main tank play also helps his off-tank specialist, Aaron “Bischu” Kim. The two keep each other alive in extended dives or frantic defenses, securing kills and space in equal measure. Enemy DPS players can’t simply push past the tanks to get to the juicy back line; they have to pay attention to Fissure and Bischu. And if they’re watching the tanks instead of, well, anyone else… they usually die.
Trouble in Paradise
So we’ve established that having a top-3 main tank is a good thing. Hard hitting, investigative journalism at work. The Gladiators have taken that wisdom and ran with it, having reportedly signing Fissure’s former counterpart, Kang “Void” Jung-woo. Their performance on the Korean team KongDoo Panthera was the stuff of legends, and if Void has held onto his old skills, the top 3 conversation could be split wide open. The only thing is, there’s an ever-so-slightly awkward question to ask now that Void will be joining his old friend in LA. What’s gonna happen to the Gladiators’ other tanks?
Bischu and Luis “iRemiix” Galarza Figueroa were signed together from Kungarna after season 1 of Overwatch Contenders. They’ve been apart lately, though, with iRemiix riding the bench as the Gladiators ride out Fissure’s explosively successful introduction. Bischu’s off-tank play is as solid as ever, but I worry that he won’t last long once Void flies into LAX. iRemiix’s contract is already up on the trading block, per Rod “Slasher” Breslau from ESPN, and his Korean-Canadian counterpart might soon join him.
What do you think will happen? Will Void fill a specialist role, keeping Bischu consigned to D.Va duty? Or will both of the Gladiators’ original tanks have to find new homes? If so, where will they go? Will a team buy them both, a package deal to reset their front line? Or will the Puerto-Canadian bond be broken for good?
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Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul and Blizzard Entertainment