The LA Valiant were met with a hard end to Stage 4, facing two of the toughest teams in a loss at their own Homestand Weekend. However, with how successful the Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend was, fans are already invested and excited to spend 2020 with the Valiant in Burbank at The Novo.
Climbing up the ladder once more, the Valiant finished in an overall 13th place, just outside of the playoffs. For a team that started their season going 0-7, and benching some of their best players, it’s safe to say that the Valiant have easily redeemed themselves. To add icing on top of the already amazing cake, team captain Scott “Custa” Kennedy was this years recipient of the Dennis Hawelka Award. This award is given to the player who best exemplifies the legacy left behind by Overwatch veteran Dennis “Internethulk” Hawelka, who sadly passed away in 2017.
Though the Valiant missed out on redeeming themselves even more, 2019 was an amazing season for the boys in green. There’s plenty to rejoice and celebrate, and even more to look forward to when they play in Burbank next year.
The Down Side
The penultimate disappointment for the Valiant was seeing them miss out on their playoff opportunity. The loss earlier in the Stage to Seoul Dynasty, a game that went to map 5, started to show its importance as the Stage progressed. Though the Valiant proved themselves in fights they were meant to win (even against a flourishing Florida Mayhem), it’s upsetting to see them fight so hard and not go the distance.
Additionally, they’re the only team who lost their own games at their Homestand Weekend. This, however, is something that was not in the Valiant’s favor. Out of all the Homestand Weekends, the Valiant very clearly had the hardest schedule. Facing a fourth place seed in their Los Angeles rivals, the LA Gladiators, the Valiant lost 1-3. The very next night, the Valiant had to face the third seed in their California Cup rivals, the San Francisco Shock. The game was a sweep, and watching their faces as they realized their playoff dreams were dashed was hard to stomach.
The Up Side
Despite ending the season on a loss, the Valiant have so much to be proud of when it comes to their overall performance. In an enforced 2-2-2 meta, they showed their true talents. Though they did lean into the 3-2-1 meta, made popular by the Shanghai Dragons, before the role lock, this new meta didn’t stop them from flourishing. Additionally, fans got to see the return of beloved offtank Indy “SPACE” Halpern”. The Valiant succeeded in many instances where analysts thought they could fail. Even in the Battle for LA, a game that they lost, they showed a large display of dominance in the first round. They stood up against the best of the best, and it speaks volumes for their future in 2020.
Additionally, their Homestand Weekend set the precedent for what fans can expect going into 2020. With games to play all over the arena, photo ops with Upper Deck Entertainment, and a Kit Kat Dunk Tank where super fans got to represent their own teams, the Valiant showed how these Homestand Weekends can and should be run. With meet and greets, players hanging out around The Novo when the games were over, and an overall sense of community, the Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend was a massive success. (Oh, and Caleb “McGravy” McGarvey got to make his on-stage debut, a moment fans have long since waited for. Thank you, Mr. Valiant.)
MVP of the Team
It’s hard to pick one when everyone performed at such a high level. However, it feels wrong to give this award to anyone other than Custa. His personality has always been so positive and bright. In the Valiant’s darkest moments, his leadership played a huge part in bringing them back and helping them succeed.
On top of all the hard work he did on stage, Custa has been constantly working to help the community. Teaming up with St. Jude’s Hospital, Custa hosted a variety of charity streams. In fact, not only did he donate his entire subscription earnings from Twitch to St. Judes, he matched the amount and donated his own money as well. Custa has been a shining beacon of light and hope for Valiant fans, and Overwatch League fans in general. He certainly deserves every bit of praise and respect.
Sadly, the Valiant’s season is over. The postseason can be long, and fans will have to wait a long time to see only a handful of these players back on stage at the Overwatch World Cup. However, with the way things ended, 2020 isn’t looking too bad. From a winless stage, to making the Stage 3 Playoffs, to hosting a successful Homestand Weekend, the Valiant have left their mark on the second season of the Overwatch League. Next year their season starts with a bang—a trip to Dallas and then a month long stay in China. There, they’ll get to attend a Guangzhou Homestand, and Hangzhou Homestand.
Fans all over the world will finally be able to see their favorite teams in person, and the Valiant are some of the first to make this trip into China. On top of their own trips along the West Coast, the Valiant are traveling to the East Coast as well. A stop in New York brings them one step closer to Europe, where they’ll be attending a London and Paris Homestand.
Roster changes don’t seem very likely for a team that went through a major makeover halfway through this current season. New additions Russell “FCTFCTN” Campbell, Johannes “Shax” Nielsen, and Kyle “KSF” Frandanisa have more than proven themselves on stage. The return of Young-seo “KariV” Park also helped the team improve and climb the ladder. 2020 is sure to give fans more Valiant content than ever before.
Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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