The LA Valiant had one of the worst Stage 1 runs in the league. Not able to win a single match, they ended 0-7. However, they had already been out of contention for the playoffs before then. Their matches were always either as close as could be or complete stomps against them. To add even more to the inconsistency, they went to fifth maps and tied maps with some of the higher rated teams, while getting stomped by some of the middle tier ones.
Week 1 gave the Valiant only one match, and it was against the newcomers the Hangzhou Spark. The Spark were already being talked about quite highly by the rest of the league. However, based on the Valiant’s Stage 4 performance in the 2018 season, many thought it would be at least a close match. That proved to be true, but the LA Valiant were not the team to come out as the victors, as they lost 3-2.
All of the maps except one were quite close. The one map that wasn’t close was a win by the Valiant on Numbani. Despite their loss, the LA Valiant looked as though they were still in good fighting form. Many people maintained their hope in them without question.
This was the week where the Valiant had their strongest opponents. Their first match put them against the New York Excelsior. Every map leading up to the tiebreaker was either a shutout by the LA Valiant or a 2-1 victory over them on an escort map. When it came time for map five, though, the Valiant faltered and were shutout themselves, losing the series 3-2. Because of how dominant the NYXL are, this loss actually seemed to reflect almost positively on the LA Valiant. For many, it meant that the LA Valiant can challenge the best of the best.
Match two was against the Toronto Defiant, a team that, at the time, looked only to be mid tier, but with potential to move up. Once again, every map was very close. The Valiant were even able to tie on one. Unfortunately, that tied map needed to be a win in order for the Valiant to bring the series to a tiebreaker. They ended up losing 2-1. At this point worry began to set in for fans of the LA Valiant. The Toronto Defiant were not looked at as one of the best, and the Valiant were now sitting at a 0-3 win-loss record. As of writing this, though, the Defiant are currently at third place in the league. Therefore, in retrospect, the loss is not as shocking.
Things started to go downhill after week 2. This week was, by the numbers, the LA Valiant’s worst week. They lost both of their series 3-1, with their only map wins being the fourth map, after they had already been 3-0’d. Match one versus the Vancouver Titans was their most one sided of the stage. No map went more than two rounds, and the Valiant got no points on two of them. No one really expected the Valiant to win, as the Titans were sitting at 4-0 before the match. Nevertheless, this was yet another loss on the record.
Despite now being 0-5, hopes were considerably higher for the LA Valiant’s series against the Guangzhou Charge. Guangzhou was another team that only looked to be mid tier at best. Of the three maps lost by the Valiant, two were very one sided. They put up a very decent fight on King’s Row, but still lost it 5-4. At this point, it looked like the Valiant may never pick up a win, considering who their opponents in week four were.
This week ended, of course, with the LA Valiant winless. However, it was nowhere near the stomp that they endured in week 3. In their first match of the week versus the Philadelphia Fusion, the Valiant almost pulled off a reverse sweep. They lost the first two maps very convincingly, but come halftime, the Valiant found the fighting spirit they had from weeks two and one. They won the next two maps in their own convincing fashion. Even the tiebreaker was extremely close, with the map ending 2-1 in favor of the Fusion. The final decider round went all the way to 99% for both teams, but the Valiant just couldn’t pull through. Despite this loss, fans of the LA Valiant were more optimistic after seeing that performance.
The Valiant’s final match of the stage was versus the Houston Outlaws. Because of how far the Valiant pushed a team like the Fusion, many thought that they might just pull out their first win on their last chance. This did not happen. However, the match was still another very close one. The map wins were back and forth, and they even tied on map three. Map four was very one sided, though, with the LA Valiant unable to pick up even a single point.
Overall, the underlying problem is quite clearly that the LA Valiant are not comfortable running GOATs. Their roster is made for playing in a 2-2-2 meta. Because of GOATs, the DPS had to play off-tank and support. Though, the silver lining is that GOATs might be getting the boot in the near future.
With new changes on the Public Testing Region, as well as the new hero Baptiste, GOATs’ popularity could drop drastically moving into Stage 2. If the LA Valiant get the chance to move back to 2-2-2, they could easily return to their level of dominance near the end of Season 1.
Featured image courtesy of the Overwatch League
Follow @TGHEsports on Twitter for more Overwatch League and Contenders coverage, and Aaron @maestrohdude if you want to discuss or just give feedback. Thanks for reading!