The Los Angeles Gladiators finished the stage 3-4, with a +1 map differential. They lost their opening game against the Seoul Dynasty, and followed it up with a close win against the San Francisco Shock. The following week, they lost a close battle with the Paris Eternal. Week 3 saw the Gladiators lose twice, facing the London Spitfire and the Hangzhou Spark. The Gladiators rallied during Week 4, and swept the Atlanta Reign, and beat the Guangzhou Charge. Overall, this stage has been filled with ups and downs for the Gladiators, who did not find their form until their last games. They will be hopeful that their chemistry is improving, and they are getting much better at playing as a unit.
Negatives of the Stage
There were a few negatives this stage for the Gladiators. First, one of their off tank players Hyung-seok “Bischu” “Aaron” Kim was sick with ulcerative colitis. He did not play a single minute on the Overwatch League stage. This hit the Gladiators hard in a very tank-heavy meta. His communication skills, along with stellar tank play, were missed. In his absence, however, Jun-woo “Void” Kang stepped up and played extremely well in the off tank position.
Next was the synergy of the team in adapting to the meta. The Gladiators introduced a few new pieces for Season 2, including the integral main tank role. Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye was introduced to fill that gap. While he has proven that he can be a solid main tank, early on he struggled to adapt to the Overwatch League and died early on in many team fights. Similarly, Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni was often reaching too far, and falling early in team fights as well. Overall, the Gladiators were not the strongest team when running 3-3 compositions, especially earlier on in the stage.
Positives of the Stage
By the last two games of the stage, the Gladiators were able to find their stride, and pick up two wins. They played the Atlanta Reign and Guangzhou Charge, winning 4-0 and 3-1 respectively. The addition of Gui-un “Decay” Jang to the lineup helped the Gladiators greatly, with someone who was extremely skilled at playing Zarya. The Gladiators showed that they can play together well, and face playoff-level teams.
The Gladiators were able to finally pull together as a unit, and figure out how they want to run the 3-3 comp. ROar has shown great promise, and is playing much better with Decay in the lineup. The return of Bischu to the lineup should help with communication issues, as he is fluent in both English and Korean. The strong depth in their lineup is a positive as well. Having backups at each position will ensure that the team is able to play their best lineup, week in and week out. If someone is injured, or in a slump, the Gladiators will be able to utilize their various options.
MVP of the Stage 1
So far, the MVP has to be Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara. He ranks second in healing per 10 minutes in the Overwatch League. His impressive Zenyatta play has been vital for Los Angeles as they fight in this current 3-3 meta. His ability to do damage, heal his teammates and most importantly stay alive has truly made him a force to be reckoned with. The Los Angeles Gladiators would not be where they are today without the skills that Shaz has put on display this stage.
While Shaz still takes the MVP for Stage 1, Void played incredibly for the Gladiators. His D.Va play was highlighted by some multikills with his ultimate, often set up by BigGoose. The off tank player joined the Gladiators in April of last year, and was switching off starting with Bischu. Void has stepped up well in the absence of Bischu.
Looking towards Stage 2
The Gladiators, while they had a poor start, turned their season around and finished with their heads high. They will be more confident in their 3-3, and should be able to keep up with the best teams going into Stage 2. The Gladiators will also be ready for a meta shift, as they have substitutes and flexible players, such as Lane “Surefour” Roberts. The introduction of Baptiste to Overwatch could change the meta greatly, and the Gladiators look ready for that stage. Bischu will be able to return to the team, and Riku “Ripa” Toivanen will have finished up his suspension.
The Los Angeles Gladiators start off Stage 2 against the Shanghai Dragons, followed by the Seoul Dynasty, all in Week 1. They will be looking to keep their momentum going, and use the break to rest, regroup and prepare their strategies.
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Featured Image Courtesy of the Los Angeles Gladiators
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