Esports Los Angeles Valiant Overwatch

The Release of LA Valiant Head Coach Moon: An Analysis

On March 11, the LA Valiant announced that they had released head coach Byung-chul “Moon” Moon. The Valiant brought Moon on early into the 2018 season to replace Henry “Cuddles” Coxall. He would later go on to lead the team to the Stage 4 championships, winning first place. As of now, the team has put in assistant coach Mike “Packing10” Szklanny as interim-head coach until they find a replacement.

Why Was Moon Released?

LA Valiant
Image courtesy of the Overwatch League

The LA Valiant didn’t make any comments as to why they dropped Moon. Despite this, looking at the Valiant’s current situation, it’s fair to assume that they would want to make changes. One controversy surrounding the team during its Stage 1 run was the fact that team captain Scott “Custa” Kennedy was not present in many of the matches. The Valiant’s reasoning behind this was that Custa apparently knew GOATs too well compared to the other players. It’s safe to assume that Moon most likely had the biggest say in the matter, as well.

Assuming all of this is true, it doesn’t make much sense. Having a skilled shotcaller like Custa playing seems more beneficial than detrimental. Knowing the meta that well, he could guide his teammates in-game arguably better than anyone else. Instead, they opted for their off-season pickup Dae-kuk “KuKi” Kim. KuKi has performed decently throughout his time playing. However, there’s no reason, given Custa’s experience and skill, to put the rookie in, in place of him. It’s not as if Custa was the savior of the squad, though. The few maps he was present in were certainly not all wins. It’s just that, on paper, Custa is the obvious better choice.

Another reason could also simply be the standings themselves. It is not unheard of for sports teams to do poorly early into the season, then drop their head coach in response. As mentioned above, the LA Valiant did just that last season, and have now done it again. Hopefully, Packing10 can have a greater impact in his new temporary position.

Overall, the Valiant’s current record most likely had the bigger influence on the Valiant’s decision to drop Moon. Although, the decision to put Custa in so rarely was probably the icing on the cake.

The Future for the Valiant

LA Valiant
Image courtesy of Liquipedia

It is, of course, too early to say whether or not Moon’s release was needed. The LA Valiant have no games in week 5, and no spot in the playoffs. This means the wait will be quite long until the Valiant are next seen on stage. Though, it also means the Valiant have plenty of time to get used to their new situation, and, best case scenario, improve their GOATs.

With a new head coach comes new strategic opportunities. Packing10 was previously a coach for Angry Titans, a rather successful EU Contenders team. No coaches have the same exact style, so perhaps Packing10 is indeed what the Valiant need to re-frame their game plan, and, come Stage 2, take their first win of the season. They may even find a new permanent head coach with more expertise in GOATs in the three weeks they have of off-time.

It’s important to note, though, that the meta is not static. Recently, there have been a number of changes on the Public Testing Region that seem to be aimed at knocking GOATs down a peg. Therefore, it’s possible that GOATs is on its way out. The LA Valiant were at their most dominant during the 2-2-2 meta in the 2018 season, so if GOATs was to leave, then they could very well snap back to fighting form. As it stands, though, they need to focus on improving in the current meta. However, it might not be too long before that meta changes, and with it, the LA Valiant.

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Featured image courtesy of Liquipedia

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!

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