It was as if it happened overnight. After a disappointing, but expected, loss against the Shanghai Dragons in the Valiant’s first match of Stage 3, the rest of the stage seemed like it could be their roughest yet. However, come their second match of the week against the Chengdu Hunters, Los Angeles pulled out a 4-0. They would then go on to dominate in all but one of the following matches.
So the question is, what exactly changed for the LA Valiant that gave them this much needed boost?
FCTFCTN Charges In
The results of Russell “FCTFCTN” Campell’s debut match were lackluster to say the least. He constantly found himself split from his team, but not because he didn’t know where to go. The reason was the Valiant’s opponents, Shanghai, were running the infamous Sombra-GOATS composition. This made the series very difficult for the whole team.
Still, due to this match, many saw the LA Valiant’s decision to replace Pan-seung “Fate” Koo with FCTFCTN as what caused this disappointing performance. Come their next two matches, though, the Los Angeles Valiant, and FCTFCTN along with them, were unstoppable.
It seems as though it was simply a matter of FCTFCTN needing time to adjust to playing with a brand new team on stage, albeit not much.
Shax Turns Off the Lights
The Valiant’s fourth match of the stage gave them a rematch against the Shanghai Dragons, and a chance to really switch the narrative. Although, the outlook was still grim. That was until Los Angeles came out kicking with a convincing first map win.
Though, this time they had Johannes “Shax” Nielsen in the starting lineup as opposed to Indy “SPACE” Halpern. Furthermore, Shax was on Sombra. The LA Valiant had decided that if they couldn’t counter Sombra, they would use their own.
The series ended up a victory for the Valiant, but, despite the 3-1 scoreline, it wasn’t a stomp. The important thing, though, was that the Los Angeles Valiant had now found what worked for them. Needless to say, it worked like a charm, and continued to do so in the LA Valiant’s match against the Vancouver Titans.
KariV Puts the Enemy to Sleep
It’s impossible to talk about the Valiant’s sudden 180 without Young-seo “KariV” Park. As a flex support, he moves from hero to hero to fit the playstyle that the team is going for. When the time came for Ana to be brought out, whoever was unlucky enough to be a target for one of his Sleep Darts was not going to have a good time.
Although the sleeps were phenomenal and on more than one occasion round-influencing, KariV’s overall Ana play was simply at its peak in both series against the Dragons and the Titans. He used his Biotic Grenades at the most opportune times, and even provided some DPS against the enemy Pharahs and Mercys.
As many have been saying, it’s a no-fly zone when KariV is on Ana.
How Does the Future Look?
At the time of this article, the Los Angeles Valiant have gone on to lose to the Hangzhou Spark in a close 3-2, then completely stomp the London Spitfire 4-0. When it comes to the loss, a lot of their troubles can be simply chalked up to the fact that the Spark actually know how to play against the Sombra GOATS composition while still playing the classic 3-3 setup.
Moving to Stage 4, the Los Angeles Valiant’s schedule is even easier than that of Stage 3 save for the Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend. If they keep playing at the level they are now while omitting the small, but still impactful, mistakes that they made against Hangzhou, their next stage should be just as smooth, or smoother, than this one.
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for the Overwatch League