The Los Angeles Gladiators just barely missed out on the Stage 3 playoffs with their record of 4-3. They suffered defeats to the Vancouver Titans twice, and fell to the surging Shanghai Dragons. With their next game being on July 25, the Gladiators have ample time to practice and try new strategies. With the 2-2-2 role lock all but confirmed by the Overwatch League, the Gladiators will need to be able to shift their composition quite drastically. What is the best starting lineup for Los Angeles with this new change? The Gladiators have plenty of depth, but will it be enough in Stage 4?
The Gladiators have three players signed under the DPS category; Lane “Surefour” Roberts, João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles and Gui-un “Decay” Jang. Decay has easily been the best player on the Gladiators roster this year, and his ability to flex onto almost any role all but guarantees that he will be playing the entirety of Stage 4. In the 2019 season, Decay has played eight different heroes for at least 10 minutes each. While he has been the mainstay on Zarya, he has still played almost two hours of Sombra in game, and almost an hour of Widowmaker. With the 2-2-2 role lock, no one is quite sure what the compositions will be. Most analysts are leaning towards Sombra based compositions still, which Decay has shown his prowess on.
The interesting battle will be between Surefour and Hydration. Both players were part of the Inaugural Season last year, and this year have had to split time. Stages 1 and 2 saw Surefour take more of a backseat, while Stage 3 saw him return for all seven games. Both players have different specialties, with Surefour being a hitscan player and Hydration focusing more on the projectile heroes. Compositions that require double sniper will favor Surefour, as he and Decay can run the Widowmaker and Hanzo duo. However, if they play with a Junkrat and Pharah, Hydration may be more fit to play.
What it all comes down to is the composition that the Gladiators play. While one map may be more suited for a Pharah-Mercy combo, another may require two snipers. Either way, it seems like Surefour and Hydration will be competing for the DPS role, as Decay has shown that he deserves to play every single minute on the Overwatch League Stage.
When it comes to tanks, the Gladiators have four players signed. In the main tank role, they have Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye and Byung-ho “Panker” Lee. The latter is on a two-way contract and spends most of his time with the Gladiators Legion. He has not seen any playtime so far in the Overwatch League. When it comes to off tanks, Los Angeles has Hyung-seok “Bischu” “Aaron” Kim (for now, at least) and Jun-woo “Void” Kang. Bischu suffered from some health issues during Stage 1, and spent Stage 2 with the Gladiators Legion getting back into the game and filling a role for the Legion in Contenders.
The main tank role seems pretty set, with rOar fitting in nicely in this spot. Luckily for him, the meta seems to be shifting away from Reinhardt, so fans may see more of his Winston play. This bodes well for the Gladiators, as some of rOar’s best play has been on Winston. While Panker has not seen any stage time yet, Stage 4 may be his chance. The Gladiators have all but secured their spot in the Season Playoffs, and towards the end of the season, may look at giving Panker a chance to play with the main squad.
The battle for off tank is not as easy as main tank. Void has been stellar for the Gladiators this season, and has helped bridge the gap between his former KongDoo Panthera teammates and the rest of the team. He has maintained his spot at off tank, boasting the third least deaths per 10 minutes, according to the Overwatch League website. His D.Va play has helped the Gladiators tremendously, and it would be strange to see him not start. However, Bischu will not simply roll over and let Void have the starting role. Bischu played well with the Gladiators in the Inaugural Season, and he still possesses his skills on the off tank role. Bischu will offer competition to the role, and give Void something to keep working for.
The Gladiators have a Finnish support trio in Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara, Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni and Riku “Ripa” Toivanen. Ripa has only seen the stage once, playing Zenyatta for a grand total of 11:07. Shaz has proven over and over that he is still the superior Zenyatta player, boasting the sixth best healing per ten minutes. Shaz has played over 14 hours of Zenyatta, three and a half hours of Ana and just over an hour of Moira this season. BigGoose continues to hold his spot as Lucio, occasionally flexing onto the Mercy and Baptiste.
The original Finnish duo of Shaz and BigGoose do not look like they will be dethroned anytime soon. They will continue to play in the 2-2-2 role lock. If Panker does get a chance to play, it will be after the Gladiators have already clinched their playoff spot, and are happy with their seeding. Zenyatta and Lucio seem to be mainstays in the roster, and with the addition of Baptiste, BigGoose will not have a problem fitting into any composition.
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Featured Image Courtesy of The Los Angeles Gladiators
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