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How the LA Gladiators will Fare with Hero Pools

Overwatch League

On Sunday, the Overwatch League announced the first heroes to be banned from professional play. In a new experiment called, “Hero Pools,” Overwatch is banning four heroes each week in competitive play to try to break the game’s reliance on metas. Each week, one tank, one support and two DPS characters will be banned based on how much playtime they have seen the week prior. The first heroes out are Reinhardt, McCree, Widowmaker and Moira. Although most were pleased with Moira’s removal, fans and players feel like Mei should have been banned considering her dominance over both McCree and Widowmaker. Thankfully, she is among one of the heroes banned in competitive this week as Overwatch also rolls out hero bans in competitive mode.

Some teams will miss out on the first weeks of hero pools due to homestand cancelations because of the coronavirus. The Los Angeles Gladiators won’t be walking on stage again until the San Francisco Shock’s homestand. The Gladiators are currently sitting in 19th place after losing their first game against the Vancouver Titans. Unfortunately, not being able to play until Week 8 will leave the Gladiators at the bottom of the table even though the Houston Outlaws are 1-5 in the standings. Until then, the team can only prepare for their next matches against the San Francisco Shock and Dallas Fuel.

week 5 hero pool owl

Image Clipped from the OWL Broadcast

On Hero Pools

With hero pools added to the mix, this will make preparation somewhat difficult as teams only have a week to plan. On top of the extensive traveling that teams do each week, hero pools have led to some grumbling among fans (and even a few of the players).

While the team might not be sure about the new system, there is one thing that fans can be assured of: the amount of talent sitting on this roster. The Gladiators are lucky in that they have a ten-man roster. Having ten players adds a lot more depth to what the Gladiators can pull off. Fans expect the Gladiators to be more flexible with their strategies going into the rest of the season. David “dpei” Pei is already known for his creative compositions, and hero pools will allow the Gladiators to get back to their inaugural season shenanigans.

Coaching Decisions

On Tuesday, dpei did a live stream where he answered fan’s questions regarding the offseason, their match against the Vancouver Titans, and more. When asked about hero pools, dpei said that the team planned on practicing with the hero pools each week. He also briefly mentioned that they were preparing for games as early as next week, which hints that fans might be seeing some Pacific teams play much sooner than initially thought.

Hypothetically Speaking

So, if the Gladiators were to play this weekend, what starting lineup would fans potentially see? The only players who would potentially not see playtime are Roni “LhCloudy” Tilhonen and Kim “Birdring” Ji-hyeok. LhCloudy is an incredible Reinhardt and Wrecking Ball, but his Winston is not as strong as Son “OGE” Min-seok’s. Fans haven’t seen OGE on Winston in quite some time, but those who remember him from his CONBOX days remember it fondly. His aggression on Winston would work exceptionally well alongside Indy “SPACE” Halpern on D.Va.

With hero pools, fans are hoping to see dive compositions come back into play. Watching SPACE and OGE dive into battle together would be an incredible treat. Especially considering fans only got to see a brief glimpse of this tank line at the Dallas Fuel’s homestand. However, some might think this would be a suitable time for Aaron “Bischu” Kim to return to the stage. While Bischu is a fan favorite, seeing him play would be unlikely. This is because SPACE has a much larger hero pool.

Along with being an exceptional D.VA player, he also is good at Roadhog and Sigma. Bischu is really only known for his D.VA, though fans do see him play Zarya on stream from time to time. However, dpei did say that the team determines starters based on weekly performance. There are no set role pairings. Should Bischu do well in scrims, fans will hopefully see him retake the stage one day.

The Battle Goes On

In terms of their DPS, both Jason “Jaru” White and Chris “MirroR” Trihn would be good to go. Having both McCree and Widowmaker out of commission would leave birdring out unless the Gladiators wanted to attempt something with Tracer. However, having Brigitte and Mei still in the rotation would make that tricky. Teams will likely try running Mei and Pharah this weekend, and Ashe will probably be the counter pick for Pharah. However, there is also a chance for Doomfist to reign supreme. It is because of this that fans are excited to see more of MirroR. His brief showing at the Fuel’s homestand had fans craving more. His Doomfist and McCree on Dorado played a big part in the Gladiator’s turnaround against the Vancouver Titans.

Jaru, Los Angeles Gladiators
Photo: CARLTON-BEENER for Activision Blizzard Entertainment

Having Moira out of rotation also isn’t a big deal for the Gladiators because she barely made it into contention for hero pools. Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni and Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara more than likely would still start, though there is a chance fans could see Nolan “Paintbrush” Edwards if they wanted to run Mercy or Baptiste. While BigGoose and Paintbrush share similar hero pools, BigGoose is, without a doubt, the stronger Lucio player. The Gladiators are strange in that they don’t seem to care for Baptiste compositions.

Last season, the Gladiators barely touched the hero, and he didn’t make an appearance during their match against the Vancouver Titans either. Although Baptiste has been nerfed, some teams, like the Atlanta Reign, see value in him. Dusttin “Dogman” Bowerman pulled off some fantastic plays on Baptiste last weekend. If the Gladiators wanted to start investing more in Baptiste, this could potentially be Paintbrush’s time to shine.

When Will the Pacific Divison Return?

Unfortunately, for now, all Pacific fans can do is theorize what compositions their preferred teams could be preparing. The Pacific Division has been severely affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus. Most homestands in China and Korea have been canceled until further notice. Only being able to watch the Atlantic division play is getting tedious and tiresome for fans and players alike. Hopefully, Pacific division teams will get the opportunity to play against one another soon.


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