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Some Overwatch League teams used the adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as inspiration for building their 2020 rosters. The Los Angeles Valiant had to do the opposite during this offseason. With a majority of the team’s star players leaving or retiring, their roster was broken and they had no choice but to fix it.
Through an open trial process, Valiant management acquired Overwatch Contenders talent from multiple regions to rebuild their roster. The end result is an international squad that may require intensive coaching to reach their full potential.
Despite having little Overwatch League experience, the team has enough tier-two talent to possibly make a mark on the 2020 season. The Valiant’s new color scheme might be blue, but they have no reason to be.
Main tank Song “Dreamer” Sang-lok makes the longest trek to Los Angeles, having been a part of the Sydney Drop Bears in Overwatch Contenders Australia. He’s joined by fellow main tank Rick “Gig” Salazar, formerly of XL2 Academy and Chicken Contendies in North American Contenders. Both main tanks have been a part of successful teams and can bring that expertise to the Valiant.
The team’s sole off-tank is Caleb “McGravy” McGarvey, who was on the Los Angeles roster in 2019. Though he saw little stage time due to the mere existence of Indy “SPACE” Halpern on the roster, this could be McGravy’s time to put to use what he’s learned on the Valiant bench. With the introduction of Hero Pools, he’ll have to dig deep and flex to heroes beyond his signature D.Va.
The new Valiant support line is a one-two punch of Korean talent. New flex support Moon “Lastro” Jung-won spent time on Armament in Korean Contenders and moved to Skyfoxes in North American Contenders last year. Despite the questionable results of the Skyfoxes roster, Lastro had a part in bringing the team back to North American Contenders through the Trials process.
Main support Park “RAin” Jae-ho most recently played for the Florida Mayhem in the 2019 Overwatch League season. Before that, RAin was a part of O2 Blast in Contenders Korea. Though he didn’t have much impressive play time on the Mayhem, the Valiant may give him the chance to prove what he can do with a cohesive team. While both of the Valiant’s supports are talented, relying on only two players with no backups could be an issue.
The Los Angeles Valiant’s DPS lineup is the most well-known and will likely be the most impressive part of the team’s 2020 roster. Kyle “KSF” Frandanisa and Johannes “Shax” Nielsen were absolute highlights on the Valiant’s 2019 roster. KSF went head to head with hitscan players and routinely won fights he shouldn’t have due to mechanical skill alone. Shax was a key part of the Valiant’s stage four victories, playing Sombra to a maddening skill level.
Newcomers this year include Damon “Apply” Conti, who spent a brief period on the Florida Mayhem before going back to North American Overwatch Contenders as a part of Revival. He’ll be joined by Kai “ksp” Collins, a highlight of the Team United Kingdom roster in the 2018 and 2019 Overwatch World Cups. Apply and ksp have both proven they can make clutch plays when given the opportunity.
The Valiant’s success in this season of the Overwatch League will come down to cohesion and the potential carry ability of the DPS lineup. With a relatively unproven support and tank line, the coaching staff will have to use their players’ Contenders experience and knowledge to create new strategies. The DPS lineup is relatively stacked in comparison to the rest of the roster, so leaning on the carry potential of KSF or ksp is a good choice. Los Angeles has the ability to use their roster’s disparate experiences to create some wild strategies that could pay off in the end.
The Los Angeles Valiant’s season kicks off in Dallas when they take on the Dallas Fuel at 6pm CT on Feb. 8.