Atlanta Reign (4-5) vs Los Angeles Valiant (1-8)
Hyeonjun “Pokpo” Park
Nathan “frd” Goebel
Andrej “babybay” Francisty
Jun “ErsTer” Jeong
Petja “Masaa” Kantanen
Dusttin “Dogman” Bowerman”
Valiant 3-2 Reign
Entering their clash on Friday both the Los Angeles Valiant and Atlanta Reign were sorely in need of a win. The Valiant desperately wanted to put their first victory of the 2019 season on the board, and the Reign looked to stop the skid that has seen them lose five of their last six.
Lijiang Tower: Valiant 2-0 Reign
Atlanta got off to a slow start on Friday when they lost every fight on the Gardens stage of Lijiang Tower. Pokpo was taken down early and the Valiant capitalized to take the point. Kyle “KSF” Frandanisa got a jump on babybay in the ultimate race and his Graviton Surge won LA the next fight, and even forced out an ult from Dogman. The Valiant maintained a strong ult economy and had plenty of answers for the Reign’s next push, closing out the stage comfortably.
As the teams moved over to Night Market, the Valiant kept up the pressure. This time it was a high charge KSF and a quick kill on babybay that gave them firm control of the point. LA traded ultimates to get themselves up to 99% before the Reign could pull off the flip. Atlanta held strong for a while, thanks to a triple kill Self-Destruct from frd off of babybay’s Grav. The Valiant built up their ultimates in time to retake the point when they killed babybay even through Dogman’s Transcendence. LA took Lijiang 2-0 to strike first in the series.
Paris: Reign 3-2 Valiant
Atlanta looked rejuvenated on the second map and came up with a superb defense when they needed it most. They held down point A almost until overtime, thanks to some timely early picks on Indy “SPACE” Halpern and Min chul “Izayaki” Kim. LA eventually broke through with a solo-Grav on Pokpo. Point B went much the same with Atlanta hanging on for a while before an ult advantage pushed them over the line with 36 seconds remaining.
On their attack, Atlanta snuffed out the LA defense with ease. They took point A after a great early pick on Pan Seung “Fate” Koo left the Valiant without a main tank. Point B took them just one fight as well, and they finished the map when Izayaki used his Transcendence just before babybay tossed in the Graviton Surge. The Reign finished the map with 6:00 on the clock, a blistering pace on Paris.
With just a minute to take point A, the Valiant had little chance against the bunker comp from Atlanta. ErsTer’s Bastion melted LA’s attempt to dive, and just like that, it was over. The Reign needed just one tick on their attack round, and it didn’t take them very long. They patiently wrapped around the point to get in position, waited out the Transcendence from Izayaki and found themselves tied at the half after a dominant showing on Paris.
Blizzard World: Reign 1-0 Valiant
Atlanta carried over their momentum from Paris, this time stonewalling the Valiant on point A. Running an unusual Brigitte-less 3-3 composition, Atlanta turtled on the point and punished Fate for his Winston pick. He had to switch after a long first fight that lost LA time and ult charge. Atlanta maintained that advantage until the very end when Masaa’s Sound Barrier sealed the deal and secured the full hold.
It was almost too easy for Atlanta as they once again found themselves with more time than they needed to take one tick. LA ran Baptiste and Pokpo got aggressive. Knowing there wasn’t a Brig on the other side to punish him, he built Earthshatter almost immediately. He connected on five of the Valiant and pushed the Reign to match point.
Junkertown: Valiant 3-2 Reign
Atlanta tried to get aggressive on their defense, first going for a brief spawn door defense and then using ultimates as they tried to turn around a scrappy second engagement. The Valiant swatted them aside and cruised through point A. Atlanta fell apart completely after once again losing a fight in a forward position. They got staggered and never managed to regroup as the Valiant finished the map without breaking a sweat.
For all their troubles on defense, Atlanta seemed lost on the attack. They struggled to break through the Valiant’s defense that featured KSF on Widwowmaker and YoungSeo “KariV” Bak on Roadhog in his first appearance of the series. Atlanta tried a variety of comps to break through but it was the Winston 3-3 that did it. Atlanta made quick work of point B before the Valiant finally made their stand on point C. An early loss drained the Reign of their time and tools, and the Valiant pulled off the stop behind all six of their ultimates, forcing the series to a fifth map.
Busan: Valiant 2-1 Reign
In their three attempts so far, Atlanta had failed to win Busan even once. That map bit them again, as they went down early on Sanctuary when Dogman went down to SPACE. The Reign recapped thanks to frd’s Self-Destruct, but the retake came through at 99%. Atlanta had just one shot to secure the point, but the Valiant denied them any value out of their remaining ultimates – the Reign were down 1-0.
Going over to MEKA Base, the Reign needed a win to stay alive. They played with tremendous urgency, taking the first fight with a kill on Fate’s Winston. They held onto their ultimates after another kill on the Valiant main tank. They refused to give up control of the point, closing things out when frd saved the day with a Self-Destruct that protected his team and took out KSF.
On Downtown, the main tank battle continued to define the series. This time Pokpo was the first to fall and the Valiant raced to an early lead. Atlanta retook control after LA put 90% on the board and needed to hold on for the duration of the map. The could not as KSF’s Graviton Surge secured the kill on Masaa and sealed the Reign’s fate.
It was another in a series of heartbreaking matches for the Reign. They were hot and cold all night, alternating between lackluster showings on some maps and incredible performances on others. For the first time all season, the Valiant found themselves victorious. That should be sobering for an Atlanta team whose strong start to the season is far in the rearview.
Featured image courtesy of the Atlanta Reign via Twitter.
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