The long awaited news of the 2020 season of the Overwatch League dropped just over a month ago. To the pleasant surprise of most fans, it was announced that games will be held all around the world, at each team’s specific hometown. For the Valiant, this doesn’t break the mold too much, as the games could (and might) remain safely in the Blizzard Arena. Or, perhaps they’ll make Burbank their new home, right on the heels of their Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend at the end of Stage 4.
Specifics around the Homestand Weekends that each team must host are slowly dropping as we near 2020. However, the biggest change comes in dividing up the 20 teams in the League. There will be four new divisions—the North Atlantic Division, the South Atlantic Division, the West Pacific Division and the East Pacific Division. These separate divisions will hold five teams each, giving some other teams a chance to shine without the crushing weight of New York or Vancouver lurking just behind them.
The Valiant, however, have landed themselves in what many are calling the toughest division in the League. The Pacific West Division is the host to both the LA Valiant and the LA Gladiators. On top of that, the San Francisco Shock and the Vancouver Titans are settled in as well. The Dallas Fuel also join them, however they’re the least of the Valiant’s concerns. They’re in a division with giants.
How The Valiant Can Survive
Last season, the LA Valiant were seen as one of the best teams in the League. After winning the Stage 4 playoffs, they struggled in the overall Season Playoffs, and fell off before they could get started. This season, with GOATs taking center stage, the Valiant weren’t themselves. An 0-7 stage set the scene for a comeback, and Stage 3 showcased the team fans have come to know and love. This wasn’t done, of course, without changes, and some new players added to the roster. This begs the question: will these changes, along with 2-2-2 lock, help the Valiant survive against the best of the best?
5: Dallas Fuel
Another team that suffered from the changing metas is the Dallas Fuel. While their Texas counterparts have managed to find some footing in a post GOATs world, the Fuel continue to struggle. It could be speaking too soon, but after the Valiant defeated the Fuel just last week, they should be able to handle them down the road. Dallas can’t seem to settle on which DPS players they want to run, and with a constantly rotating roster, they can’t find a sense of balance. The Valiant, while having new players, have found the necessary synergy. Dallas could very quickly be dusted among these hard hitting teams.
4: LA Valiant
Sadly, there’s nowhere to go for the Valiant other than up. They’re a good team in comparison to the others in their division, but it’s hard to imagine them in the top three after the struggles they’ve faced. Every team has room to improve, and the smart signings of Russell “FCTFCTN” Campbell, Johannes “Shax” Nielsen and Caleb “McGravy” McGarvey has certainly served them well. Additionally, the return of star offtank Indy “SPACE” Halpern has served the team well. With more practice, and downtime to structure just how they want to proceed in a 2-2-2 world, the Valiant could see success, and climb up the rankings. As it stands, however, they’ve got some room to grow in order to take on the Shock and the Titans with gusto. (If they can beat them once, they can do it again.)
3: LA Gladiators
Even in their lowest of lows, the Gladiators have looked fantastic all season long. GOATs proved to be a test in the beginning, but when new signings Gui-un “Decay” Jang, Jun-woo “Void” Kang and Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye turned 18, the game was on. Since then, those fantastic players have been showcasing their talents to the highest level. They’re constantly outperforming the teams at lower ranks, despite a few failings here and there. They could even make a case for second among their division, but they’ve yet to topple something like a Golden Stage.
Though most people admire the boys in purple for their aggressive DPS players, it should be stated that they have one of the best support duos in the League. Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara and Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni are superb together. If the Valiant want to soar above their LA rivals, they’ll need to make sure Scott “Custa” Kennedy and Young-seo “KariV” Park are up for the challenge.
2: Vancouver Titans
While some could argue that the Titans topple the rest of the Western Division, there’s room for improvement. In a GOATs meta, they seemed unstoppable. Only the San Francisco Shock stood a chance at bringing them down, and they did in the Stage 2 finals. However, in this new 2-2-2 meta, the Titans look a little lost. Just recently, they suffered a 0-4 sweep from the Washington Justice, the lowest team statistically speaking.
Despite letting players like Hyojong “Haksal” Kim, Chung-hee “Stitch” Lee and Dong-eun “Hooreg” Lee return to their normal roles (or, in some cases, see the stage), they can’t find a composition that works. GOATs seemed so seamless for a team that’s been playing together for nearly three years. Without three supports to main tank Sang-beom “Bumper” Park’s aggressive play, they seem to falter. They’re still one of the best teams, facing only two losses in the regular season overall. However, with 2-2-2 locked in for next year, they need to find a roster that works.
1: San Francisco Shock
When GOATs reigned supreme, there wasn’t a team that could match the Shock. They were the kings of the meta, going to both Stage 1 and 2 playoffs. After their perfect win streak, they ended up winning the Stage 2 playoffs in a near sweep of the Vancouver Titans. Despite their quick loss to the eventual Stage 3 champions, the Shanghai Dragons, the Shock are the strongest in this division. In the newly adapted 2-2-2 meta, the Shock have been one of the top teams to make the necessary adjustments.
With DPS superstar Jay “sinatraa” Won already in the mix, the Shock have rotated some previously benched players into the mix. Minho “Architect” Park and Nam-joo “Striker” Kwon have both seen the light of day, as well as main tank Myeong-hwan “smurf” Yoo. With enough men on the team to reasonably make two rosters for both a Dive heavy composition, and a stagnant Orisa/Roadhog composition, the Shock seem to be settled in for the long haul. The entire League has already been watching for this team since the beginning of the season. It’s safe to say that, next year, the other teams in this division will be doing the very same.
Spreading Their Wings: The LA Valiant Comeback
It won’t be easy for the Valiant to claw their way to the top of this division. With a slight edge over the Dallas Fuel, the Valiant still have three other teams to face. The Gladiators are stronger than ever, the Titans will surely get better with time to practice and the Shock look hard to shake. The Valiant, with their new roster changes, can find a way to make the best of being among the very best in the entire League.
If they don’t end up making this season’s overall playoffs, they have time to hit the ground running. The element of surprise can be powerful, after all. Once before, the Valiant have taken on the Titans and succeeded. They’ve also been able to conquer their LA rivals on more than one occasion. In fact, The Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend will allow fans to get a sneak peak of how these matchups will go. With a rematch against the Gladiators, and a face off against the Shock, the Valiant can show just how well they stack up to these powerhouses in the new meta. Hopefully, this brings promise for 2020.
Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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