Alright frontline, grab those shields and get ready to make some noise. The 2020 season is right around the corner, and the Los Angles Gladiators are gearing up to make this year, their year.
The Gladiators are considered by many to be a Top 10 team going into the 2020 season. While they had a decent 2019 season, the team struggled to stand out against more dominant teams like the New York Excelsior and Atlanta Reign. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, the Gladiators only made it slightly farther than they did during the 2018 playoffs. While they were a consistent team throughout the 2019 season, they only managed to place 5th in the overall standings, and the team was disappointed in their results.
Most of the Gladiator’s contracts came up at the end of the 2019 season. As a result, fans were sad to see a good chunk of the players walk away and move on to different teams during the offseason. Fan favorites like Lane “Surefour” Roberts and João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles have moved on to the Toronto Defiant and Houston Outlaws, respectively. Both were members of the original Gladiators roster, and fans are sorry to see them go.
Along with losing “the two DPS in the League”, the Gladiators also lost Jang Gui-un “Decay” Gui-un, Gye “rOar” Chang-hoon, Kang “Void” Jun-woo and Riku “Ripa” Toivanen. Decay has found a new home on the Dallas Fuel while rOar has moved on with former Gladiator’s assistant coach, Seetoh “JohnGalt” Jian Qing to the Washington Justice. Void will now be playing for the Shanghai Dragons alongside former Gladiator’s Legion main tank, Seo “Stand1” Ji-won. Out of the four, only Ripa has moved back down to Contenders. He is now playing for British Hurricane who are the number one seed coming out of EU trials.
The Core Remains
Luckily for fans, the Gladiator’s core remains intact. Both Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara and Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni are returning for the 2020 season. The Finnish support duo have been the heart and soul of the team since the beginning. Shaz is considered by many to be one of the most underrated flex supports in the league. He is officially the all-time leader in healing with 3,894,080 total. BigGoose isn’t far behind him; he is currently sitting at fifth place with 3,409,109. Together they have a combined 7,303,189 healing, which is the most healing from a duo in the history of the League.
BigGoose and Shaz are clearly the Gladiator’s source of strength. Where Shaz is more quiet natured, BigGoose is not afraid to speak up. He is the Gladiator’s primary shot-caller and leader. Together, they have led the team through one successful season after another.
The Gladiators have also signed Nolan “Paintbrush” Edwards. Paintbrush is an excellent main support player. He will be joining the team after playing for Revival, a Contenders team originally consisting of former Mayhem Academy players. Mayhem Academy were the only team to take down Fusion University during a regular season. Considering that FUNI was 30-0 before this defeat, that says a lot about the talent on that Mayhem Academy roster. Paintbrush will make an excellent substitution for the support line should he be needed.
Once A Gladiator, Always A Gladiator
Another familiar name will be rejoining the ranks next season. Aaron “Bischu” Kim will be returning to the Gladiators after spending some time on the Guangzhou Charge. Bischu was traded to the Charge late last season in hopes of seeing more playtime after being benched due to illness. With Void now gone, the return of Bischu still raises questions for fans, especially since Indy “Space” Halpern has joined the team.
Cracks in the Shield
While the Gladiators suffered a lot of losses during the offseason, they also picked up some amazing new players. Along with Space, the Gladiators have acquired Son “OGE” Min-seok and Roni “LhCloudy” Tiihonen. The Gladiators tank line has been a constant source of struggle for the team. In 2018, an underperforming Luis “iRemiix” Galarza Figueroa was benched in favor of Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung.
While Fissure brought the Gladiators to new levels, he also let them (and fans) down by not participating in the 2018 playoffs. Both Fissure and iRemiix left the team after the inaugural season and the Gladiators put their faith in rOar as their only main tank. While rOar performed fairly well, both he and Void were considered to be a barely above average tank line.
Just Getting Started
The additions of Space, OGE, and LhCloudy will provide the Gladiators with more depth. Space is an exceptional off-tank and is highly regarded as one of the best players on the Valiant’s old roster. His D.VA is exquisite and his skills on Roadhog and Sigma give him an advantage over Bischu. With Rein/D.VA expected to be the tank meta, Space will probably be their starting flex tank.
Space’s partner in crime will likely be OGE. OGE is joining the Gladiators after playing for the Dallas Fuel. The Fuel have had an abundance of problems over the past two years, but OGE was a constant bright light amid their struggles. He is an incredible Reinhardt player, but he never had the proper backup for him to succeed. With a strong support line and a great partner in Space, OGE will finally be able to show fans what he’s got.
Rounding out the tanks, LhCloudy will probably be the Gladiator’s Wrecking Ball specialist. Although the Paris Eternal had a rough season, LhCloudy is known for being a good tank from his time on Team Gigantti. His Wrecking Ball is his primary source of strength, and he’s also a good Orisa. Having LhCloudy on standby will allow the Gladiators to come up with even wackier compositions to try out while on the road.
The (Possible) DPS Dilemma
The Gladiators seem to have their tank and support line under control. However, the Gladiators might have some possible problems with their new DPS pickups. With Surefour, Hydration, and Decay now gone, fans aren’t sure if the new pickups will be up to par.
Jason “Jaru” White and Chris “MirroR” Trịnh are joining the Gladiators after playing in Contenders. Jaru is a flex DPS player; his best heroes are Genji, Pharah, and Mei. He is joining the Gladiators after playing for Team Envy. On Envy, Jaru thrived and helped his team win Contenders NA West, twice. Although Envy failed to meet expectations at The Gauntlet, Jaru is a solid pickup for the Gladiators.
On the other side of things, MirroR did not see much success while playing for Uprising Academy. Uprising Academy only managed to tie with Skyfoxes at 5th and 6th place at the end of the 2019 season. However, those results do not reflect entirely on MirroR as a player. The first Vietnamese player to enter the League, Mirror is a great Reaper and Doomfist player. Both he and Jaru have overlapping hero pools, so it is a toss-up between the pair when it comes to who will start next to Kim “birdring” Ji-hyeok
Speaking of birdring, this signing is probably where most concerns stem from. There is no doubt that birdring is an incredible player. His Widowmaker and Tracer were an absolute terror of the 2018 Grand Finals. However, the Spitfire had a less than stellar performance during the 2018 season. With big expectations on their shoulders, London struggled and only managed to come in at 7th place in the overall standings.
In general, DPS players struggled to perform well under the stranglehold of GOATS. Birdring had an average performance during the 2019 season. However, there were rumors of him causing trouble behind the scenes. It is because of this that fans aren’t quite confident in this pickup. After a somewhat disastrous breakup with Fissure over personality issues, fans don’t want a repeat of that affecting the team’s chances. However, if anyone can help birdring grow as a player and person, it is head coach David “dpei” Pei.
Overall the Gladiators are looking strong coming into the 2020 season. Having a more solid tank line will be beneficial to the team’s overall success. While there is an air of uncertainty regarding the Gladiator’s DPS, fans ultimately need to give it time. With DPEI at the helm and BigGoose and Shaz still on hand, the Gladiators should have another successful season upon them.
Make sure to tune in for the Los Angeles Gladiator’s first game against the Vancouver Titans on February 8 at 5 PM EST!
Follow me on Twitter: @Sybil_OW for all things Gladiators and Contenders! I also like to yell about the Fusion and Paris Eternal. Feel free to message me on Discord @ Sybil#3517 – I’m always happy to discuss anything I’ve written!
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