A game that fans of the Overwatch League have waited for since the start of the stage: The Battle for LA. The LA Valiant vs LA Gladiators was a game that proved to go the distance. Despite most predictions putting the Gladiators in the front with a sweep, the Valiant kept their wings out and put on a show that was worthy of closing out the second week of the stage.
Lijang Tower Valiant 0-2 Gladiators
On the Gardens, the battle for LA began. Rotating nicely, the Valiant charged forward and claimed the point. With Brady “Agilities” Girardi keeping them at bay with his mace, the team worked together to keep the Gladiators away. Indy “SPACE” Halpern helped their cause immensely with a double kill on a Self Destruct. The boys in purple had another idea, and charged the point behind their main tank, Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye. Min-chul “Izayaki” Kim fell to his lightning, and from there, the Gladiators were free to take the point. The round remained contested, with both teams getting picks, but not swaying in either direction. In the end, the Gladiators pulled ahead, and ended up claiming the first point as their own.
Command Center set the stage for the Valiant once more, as they stormed the point and staked their claim. Their control was a little shorter this time, however, and rOar led the Gladiators in full throttle. They flipped the point at 35% to the Valiant, and the boys in green had a chance to regroup before going again. Try as they might, despite an initial shift in their favor, rOar swept them away. With a well placed shatter, and a zoning Self Destruct from Jun-woo “Void” Kang, the Gladiators came out on top. The Valiant ended up losing the map, 0-2.
Hanamura Valiant 1-1 Gladiators
With the Valiant on the attack first, their initial start was slow to take flight. Kyle “KSF” Frandanisa on a sneaky Sombra tried to back cap, but was called out by Gui-un “Decay” Jang’s Widowmaker. From there, they struggled against João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles’ Bastion, who was safe behind rOar’s shield. After grouping up once more, Agilities led them in. With the crucial pick onto Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni, Pan-seung “Fate” Koo popped Primal Rage to sweep the Gladiators off their feet. Off of that, the Valiant picked up the first point.
The battle for the second point didn’t go exactly as planned. There was no answer to Hydration’s Bastion, who continuously put down damage again and again. Combined with the frosty power from Lane “Surefour” Roberts’ Mei, the Valiant were unable to break through the mold. The second point was never touched, and the round ended in overtime.
When the Gladiators stormed through the gate, they did so with vigor. Immediately, they scored two ticks on the point, showing aggression and power. The Valiant, however, decided it wasn’t going to be that easy. Fate sent them back to spawn, giving them a chance to regroup and try again. From there, the Valiant truly excelled. Agilities got a double kill to fend them off, and another wipe at the gates of Hanamura burned time on the clock. Surefour finally had enough, and using EMP, helped rOar wipe them clean, and take the first point.
The second point looked lost, but Fate made sure the Valiant stayed alive. Despite being pushed off the point with a Graviton, he charged Decay into a wall. Swinging onto the point, he made quick work of cleaning up the Gladiators, and sent them away after they nearly earned their first tick. From then on, KSF continuously built up the damage and kills that staved them off. Izayaki was also elusive, slipping away from death to keep his team up during the final fight. The Valiant managed to clear the board of any trace of purple, and the map ended in a draw.
Eichenwalde Valiant 1-2 Gladiators
Hope was still alive as the Valiant surged into their first attack. Scott “Custa” Kennedy got the initial pick on BigGoose, clearing the way for the rest of the team to take care of the Gladiators. The first point was easily obtained, and the payload started moving quickly. When the Gladiators came back, KSF took his chance. Throwing in a Graviton, the Valiant obtained another team win, wiping them away and progressing towards the castle gates. Things looked good when SPACE earned a double kill with his Self Destruct, but Void and rOar did not let them pass. With a Shatter, and a Self Destruct, the Valiant were wiped. Unable to touch once more, they were held just shy of the second point.
The Valiant defense started off strong, with KSF earning himself a five man kill on the Gladiators. With Agilities playing Baptiste, they took advantage of the burst healing. Void proved himself to be hungry, however, and ate KSF’s graviton when the second fight engaged. From there, the Gladiators swept the point as their own. As the payload progress, KSF and SPACE banded together to wipe them just under the bridge. However, Void got the better end of the D.Va stick. With a double kill on his Self Destruct, the Gladiators were free to approach the gates. The Valiant ended up losing the map, 1-2.
Rialto Valiant 1-0 Gladiators
The battle for Los Angeles swayed towards the Gladiators, but the Valiant still had one more fight left in them. The Gladiators put in Riku “Ripa” Toivanen while Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara relaxed. The boys in green did their best to put pressure on their new addition. The uncontested payload moved forwards as the Valiant pushed onward. However, the Gladiators chose to engage, and the fight went in their favor. Their following pushes were a little stalled out, but when the meter clicked into overtime, the Valiant spread their wings. Despite a multitude of ultimates being used, the kills didn’t come through until SPACE and KSF got the necessary picks.
From there, the first point was theirs to take. When the Gladiators returned to the battle, KSF did it again, keeping them away with a multi kill as they moved forward. Just shy of the second point, Void pushed back. With a double kill on a Self Destruct, the Valiant were unable to touch. The round ended swiftly, with them a few meters away from the second point.
Their defense was much stronger the second time around. KSF worked up charge quickly to keep them at the door. The payload didn’t move beyond the first corner, and when they returned, the Valiant did it once more. SPACE delivered another double kill with his Self Destruct. To finish them off, Fate landed a four man Shatter. With the Gladiators on the ground, the Valiant wiped them from the map, and held them off completely. They ended up winning the map, 1-0.
In a game that many expected to be a shutout, Valiant fans should be extremely proud of the way they played today. A team that’s been struggling to find their footing in this season of the League, it looks like the Valiant are starting to pick things back up and piece them together.
Earning a win after a big loss streak has definitely improved their mental state, and taking a map off of the Gladiators should give fans hope that this is just the beginning. They can only go up from here, and as the stage continues, we should be seeing them improve and grow.
Featured Image Courtesy of the Los Angeles Valiant Twitter.
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