The Los Angeles Gladiators ended their Stage 1 with a 3-4 record, including two wins from their last two games. The stage was a turbulent one for the Gladiators, with a stretch of three games that they lost to the London Spitfire, Hangzhou Spark and Paris Eternal. While they did not make the playoffs, they finished strong and are looking to carry their momentum into Stage 2. Here is a breakdown of each player on the Gladiators, and their rating for the team during their Stage 1 campaign.
Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara played the Zenyatta for the Gladiators perfectly. He ended the regular season as the 2nd highest healing per 10 minutes on average. His constant healing was integral to the 3-3 compositions that most teams were running for Stage 1. While playing Zenyatta, he was able to deal large amounts of damage, as well as keep his teammates alive. A great showing throughout the season from Shaz. However, there were times where his Transcendence was a little too late. All in all, Shaz was the second best player for the Gladiators this stage. He has proven irreplaceable.
Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni did not look like his regular self for most of the stage. He seemed to go into fights extremely aggressively, trying to charge his ultimate and kill enemies, often to the detriment of himself. Having the Lucio fall first in a teamfight is problematic for a 3-3 composition, as his speed boost and healing abilities are no longer available. While he did struggle towards the beginning of the season, his leadership and shotcalling was extremely important throughout the stage. He bounced back for the last two games of the season and showed why he deserves to keep his starting spot. The chemistry might have been off, and he may have wanted to prove that he was one of the best. Whatever the case, BigGoose is setting up for a make-or-break Stage 2.
Riku “Ripa” Toivanen did not see any action for the Gladiators in Stage 1. He was suspended five games by the Overwatch League for “throwing matches and toxicity.” While Ripa was available for the last two games of the stage, he still did not see any action. This may be because BigGoose and Shaz have such great chemistry. It is unclear if he will play in Stage 2. The Gladiators will be focusing on making playoffs, and not taking any games for granted. Ripa will continue to sit on the bench, and be available for the Gladiators in the case that the support players get injured or get in a rut.
Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye had huge shoes to fill for the Gladiators when he signed for the team. He was the only main tank that Los Angeles signed, putting all their eggs in one basket. While rOar showed great promise, and had some great plays, he did not fit perfectly into the team right away. While language clearly was a barrier, his play often left a lot to be desired. Teams that played the Gladiators knew that if they focused rOar early in a teamfight, he would often die early and leave the Gladiators without one of the most important pieces to a 3-3 composition. Towards the end of the stage, he started to play more with the team, and look much more comfortable.
Jun-woo “Void” Kang was the shining star at tank for the Gladiators. In a meta that calls for a strong D.Va, Void delivered. His ability to stay alive saw him sit at 8th in the deaths per 10 minutes average category. On many occasions he was able to use his Self-Destruct to take out multiple enemies, often combining with BigGoose or rOar to do so. Void made a name for himself on the Gladiators, ranking 20th in the league for eliminations per 10 minutes. He has been a solid mainstay for Los Angeles, and it will be hard to justify him not starting every week.
Hyung-seok “Bischu” “Aaron” Kim unfortunately was unable to compete during Stage 1 of the Overwatch League. His battle with Ulcerative Colitis kept him sidelined and unable to practice with the team. His language skills would have been helpful for bridging the gap between the old and new teammates. Bischu is fluent in English and Korean, so he could have translated for both parties. His smile and attitude did not falter throughout his troubles, and fans are excited to hear that Bischu is planning on being back for Stage 2.
Byung-ho “Panker” Lee is the only player for LA that is signed on a two-way contract. He has not been called up for the Gladiators OWL team yet, but continues to prove himself with the Gladiators Legion. The Legion took precautions in case Panker does get called up by signing Felix “xQc” Lengyel to a streaming/back-up main tank role for the team. This allows the Legion to have someone to fill in if Panker does play in the Overwatch League.
Lane “Surefour” Roberts is known for his ability to flex onto almost any character in the game. Because of the illness to Bischu, as well as the current meta, Surefour was forced to play Zarya for most of his time on stage. While he was able to show up as the Sombra from time to time, it is clear that Surefour has a DPS mentality, and would often go too far in fights as Zarya. This eventually led to him being placed on the bench in favor of Decay, the young Korean from KongDoo Panthera. While Surefour was not a bad Zarya, it was clear that Decay was better than him on that specific hero. In a different meta, expect Surefour to be starting for the Gladiators.
João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles played the Brigitte for the Gladiators, something he had done last season. An integral part of the 3-3 composition, he was able to slot in well and help his team. He was not the person that many saw as the star of the team, but he did his job. Towards the end of the stage, he was able to gel well with the rest of his teammates, and it showed. Hydration will also be looking forward to going back to DPS characters.
Gui-un “Decay” Jang was the Gladiators best player in Stage 1. While he was unable to play until halfway through the Stage, his impact was massive. When many thought that Surefour was irreplaceable, Decay showed that his Zarya was the best on the team. Two of the Gladiators three wins came when Decay was in the starting lineup. Decay was one of the most sought after players in the offseason, and he showed why there was so much hype around him. He ranked 4th in damage per 10 minutes, 5th in final blows per 10 minutes and 8th in eliminations per 10 minutes.
Overall, the Gladiators started poorly, and were able to show a bit of their true potential towards the end of the stage. The Gladiators will look to carry their momentum, as well as have the entirety of their lineup, into Stage 2. Los Angeles returns Thursday, April 4, as they take on the Shanghai Dragons.
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Featured Image Courtesy of the Los Angeles Gladiators
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