This offseason, many teams went about improving their rosters, and the Los Angeles Gladiators are no different. The Gladiators made a few changes, dropping a few players, as well as picking up some new ones. With these new changes, how will the Gladiators shape up for Season 2 of the Overwatch League?
Recapping Last Season
The Los Angeles Gladiators started Season 1 of the Overwatch League 4-6 during stage 1. This placed had them in 8th. Their wins came against the Shanghai Dragons, Philadelphia Fusion, Florida Mayhem and San Francisco Shock. Of those teams, only the Fusion finished higher than the Gladiators. The Gladiators began to turn around in stage 2, with a large majority of their success being attributed to the addition of Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek. His main tank play is considered one of the best in the league. He helped the Gladiators push to 6-4, finishing 5th in that stage.
Following that, stage 3 saw the Stage Playoffs expand to four teams, with the Gladiators finishing 4th, securing that playoff spot with a 6-4 record in that stage. They lost to the Boston Uprising in the semifinals of the Stage Playoffs. During this stage, the Los Angeles Gladiators brought in off tank player Jun-woo “Void” Kang from KongDoo Panthera, as well as Ted “silkthread” Wang. Stage 4 is when the Gladiators showed their true potential. They finished in 1st place, with a 9-1 record. They took down teams like the New York Excelsior, London Spitfire and Philadelphia Fusion. While they fell in the first round of the Stage Playoffs against the Los Angeles Valiant, they showed that they were a force to be reckoned with.
Heading into the Season Playoffs, the Gladiators had a record of 25-15. This put them in 4th place. They were pitted against the 5th placed London Spitfire. The series was interesting for various reasons. First, Fissure did not play the whole series. He claims it was because the team felt that their other tank players were more suited for the meta, while others claim it was because he was frustrated with the team, and wanted to play on an all Korean roster. The Gladiators took the first match 3-0 the first day. However, the following day, the Gladiators lost 3-0 twice, thus crashing out of the playoffs.
Head Coach : David “dpei” Pei
Assistant Coach : Timothy “Tim” Albanese
Flex Tank : Hyung-seok “Bischu” “Aaron” Kim
Flex Tank : Jun-woo “Void” Kang
DPS : Lane “Surefour” Roberts
DPS : João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles
Support : Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni
Support : Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara
This group is made up of a solid core that played in the first season, minus a main tank. The support duo of Shaz and BigGoose are very solid, with the latter known as one of the best communicators in the Overwatch League. Bischu and Void both spent time as the off tank for the Gladiators, with the two rotating in different matches. Surefour and Hydration were the teams main DPS players throughout the season. Together, there is a large amount of synergy between them. Their chemistry is what pushed them to greatness in Stage 4.
The Los Angeles Gladiators allowed Fissure to leave, as well as silkthread, Luis “iRemiix” Galarza Figueroa and Joon-seong “Asher” Choi. Fissure has joined the Seoul Dynasty, Asher has joined the Toronto Defiant and iRemiix has joined Skyfoxes, a team in North American Contenders. Silkthread announced that he was retiring, after he had previously announced that he was joining the Chengdu Hunters.
Assistant Coach : Seetoh “JohnGalt” Jian Qing
Main Tank : Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye
Main Tank: Byung-ho “Panker” Lee (two-way contract)
DPS : Gui-un “Decay” Jang
Support : Riku “Ripa” Toivanen
The Los Angeles Gladiators brought in exactly what they needed to in the offseason. They signed main tank rOar and DPS player Decay from KongDoo Panthera, linking them up with former teammate Void. Their new main tank will fill the hole that the Gladiators had in that position, while Decay brings a high level of skill to his new team. Ripa adds another Finnish support to the existing duo, thus creating a Finnish trio. Finally, singing Panker to a two-way contract shows that the Gladiators believe in their academy team, the Gladiators Legion, as a team that can develop young talent. Giving Panker that two-way contract gives the Gladiators the option to experiment and see how he does at the highest level, while still allowing him to continue playing each week in Contenders.
A Look At The Schedule
The Los Angeles Gladiators have their hardest challenge at the beginning of the season. Their stage 1 games include tough matchups against the Seoul Dynasty, San Francisco Shock and London Spitfire. They will also face four new teams in this stage, including the Paris Eternal, Hangzhou Spark, Atlanta Reign and Guangzhou Charge. They finish the stage with a bye week before the stage 1 playoffs.
The Gladiators stage 2 see difficult matchups against the Seoul Dynasty, a revamped Shanghai Dragons roster and their closest rivals, the Los Angeles Valiant. They will also face the Guangzhou Charge, Chengdu Hunters, Florida Mayhem and the Boston Uprising. The Gladiators will have a bye week during week 4 of stage 2.
Next, stage 3 sees the Gladiators face the Vancouver Titans twice, along with a tough battle against the Philadelphia Fusion. They will take on the Toronto Defiant and Dallas Fuel for the first time this season, as well as the Washington Justice. The Shanghai Dragons return for a matchup after their previous meeting in stage 2. The Gladiators finish the stage with a bye week, just like stage 1.
Finally, the Gladiators have a very tough challenge to finish up their season. Stage 4 starts off with a battle against the New York Excelsior. That same week they will take on the Houston Outlaws. Week 2 sees the Gladiators face a sea of orange, as they take on the Chengdu Hunters and San Francisco Shock. Their next two games have the Gladiators facing off against the Dallas Fuel, followed by the Hangzhou Spark. To close out the regular season, the Gladiators compete against the Valiant for the second Battle of LA this season.
Most Important Game
The Gladiators have many important games this season. However, the most important game this year is their stage 1 week 3 game against the London Spitfire. This game will set the precedent for both of these teams, as the Spitfire will be looking to defend their title. The Los Angeles Gladiators are looking to come out swinging. Taking down the defending champions is a great way to show that they are a force to be reckoned with. It is important for the Gladiators to show that their team synergy is still there, especially after bringing in a new starting main tank. The Gladiators will put up a good fight, and this game should be one of the best games of the entire season.
Player to Watch
The most important player to watch this year is new main tank, rOar. He comes in from KongDoo Panthera, along with Decay, and has large shoes to fill. Fissure is widely considered one of the best main tanks in the league, and rOar is the player that the Gladiators have put their trust in. His ability to both learn to play with these new teammates, as well as communicate with them, could make or break the Gladiators this season. With the GOATS comps still being a viable option, rOar’s Reinhardt play will be essential.
If rOar is able to adjust to this new team and new competition, the Gladiators will truly excel. However, if the main tank player is unable to play at a level that they need him to, the Gladiators will fizzle out. Synergy and chemistry is key for the Gladiators, and fitting rOar into that system is very important.
The Playoff Push
The Los Angeles Gladiators will be pushing hard for the playoffs. The playoff format has changed this year, which is outlined here by the Overwatch League. The teams that are on top of the Pacific and Atlantic division will quality, as well as the next four teams will automatically qualify. Finally, the 7th through 12th placed teams will be pitted against each other for the final two spots in the playoffs.
The Gladiators are aiming for a top six finish, with an automatic bid into the playoffs. They will not want to test their luck in the knockout round. The Gladiators have a good shot at getting one of these top six spots. However, the biggest competition they face are the London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion and the Los Angeles Valiant.
Overall, the Gladiators have a shot at a top spot in the Overwatch League. Their previous core, along with the great new signings, give the Gladiators the leverage that they need to push to be one of the best teams in the league. If the Gladiators hope to push to the top spot, they will rely on their new main tank, rOar. Each stage for the Gladiators has a good mix of difficult and easy opponents. Finally, take a look at the Gladiators latest hype video; it is sure to get anyone excited for the upcoming season.
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Featured Image Courtesy of the Los Angeles Gladiators
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