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The Valiant’s return to the Overwatch League is clad in trust and consistency

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The Los Angeles Valiant aren’t shaking things up for the sake of it

Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Sometimes, massive iteration can ruin what you’ve already worked so hard to achieve. The Los Angeles Valiant are looking to prove their thesis during Overwatch League’s second season. Confident in their roster, the Los Angeles Valiant has made scant changes during the off-season. As it stands now, the nine-man roster retains a lot of the same names from their inaugural run as Pacific Champions.

  • Brady “Agilities” Girardi
  • Chae “Bunny” Joon-hyuk
  • Kyle “KSF” Frandanisa
  • Park “KariV” Young-seo
  • Indy “SPACE” Halpern
  • Kim “KuKi” Dae-kuk
  • Koo “Fate” Pan-seung
  • Scott “Custa” Kennedy
  • Kim “Izayaki” Min-chul

This doesn’t mean the Valiant didn’t suffer any changes. First, what remained of their French stable has left the team to find greener pastures. Their former DPS ace, Terence “SoOn” Tarlier and former assistant coach Julien “daemoN” Ducros have left the Valiant for the Paris Eternal. The team’s late tank addition, Finnbjörn “Finnsi” Jónasson, also has left the team to join the Eternal as well.

The Valiant continued with jettisoning what remained of their substitutes with Stefano “Verbo” Disalvo and Seb “numlocked” Barton having to find new homes for the 2019 season. With the loss of a substitute main tank, this opened up room for former Seoul Dynasty member KuKi to join the lineup to play under the green and gold. No matter how minor, these changes will be tested against the returning twelve teams and the eight expansion slots that were added in the off season.

The Boston Uprising and the Paris Eternal are teams that are built around a thesis; the idea that their unique approaches to team building systems can provide sustainable playoff success. Both rely on their strong coaching staff and structured management to take their players to the peak of their potential. In a way, the Valiant are also testing their own principals by relying on the majority of their season one roster, who, on paper, don’t jump off the page, but have been a consistent threat throughout the league’s lifespan so far. And at the helm of this whole operation we’ve got one of the more respected coaches coming out of the inaugural season, head coach Moon “Moon” Byung-chul.

Coaches in esports tend to be tough to judge. Is it the skill of the coach? Is it the skill of the players? Sometimes it can be a brutal concoction of both. The improvements that head coach Moon has been able to facilitate in such a short amount of time during his entrance part way through Stage 1 have been promising. These results are further explained when we look at the Moon’s track record working with Valiant’s aces.

Moon previously worked with Fate and KariV on both Mighty AOD where they were always a group stage threat to teams in OGN’s Overwatch APEX tournaments and on Ardeont as they won the second season of the Overwatch Pacific Championship. As director of the Valiant’s blockbuster, coach Moon is, understandably, held responsible for the success of the roster and how the team is run. And throughout the first season for the Valiant, they’ve made very thoughtful moves as they approach the coming seasons for the Overwatch League. This furthers the encouraging narrative around him when we look at some of the portions of the roster that will see more playtime than they did last season.

Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Consistency and trust seems to be the name of the game with the Valiant this season. Last spring, the Valiant brought on board support player from the South Korean team NC Foxes, Izayaki, and promising western DPS player, KSF, to the roster. Unfortunately, for a handful of reasons, both players did not see a ton of play time. With that context in mind, things must be going well behind the scenes for the Valiant to be bullish on the young upstarts. Both players were seen during the Valiant’s performance at the California Cup against their in-state rivals, the San Francisco Shock and looked to be solid additions to the roster. While this season will act as a major crucible for the two fresh players, they will be led by seasoned management and veteran players, most of whom play on the front lines.

What looks to be a pillar the team will lean on this season is the team’s tank play. Last season Fate and SPACE were a tank duo that impressed the world to say the least. We’ve seen what Fate play along with flex support player, Kariv, with Immortals during Overwatch Contenders and previously in Mighty AOD, and SPACE was a fantastic addition to that core. Now that the Valiant have added former MVP Space main tank, KuKi, not only does this addition add redundancy to their tank line but could add some clarity in communication.If by chance the team wants to stray away from depending on Custa’s ability to lead to the team internally, now they have a Korean player who is fluent in English. And we’ve seen this work to some degree in the Los Angeles Gladiators with D.Va specialist, Bischu, who was celebrated for supporting his team in-game with on demand translation between English and Korean.

Being featured in the Stage 3 playoffs and evening scoring a win during Stage 4, the Los Angeles Valiant have a lot of good things going for them. This is a roster that collectively has a ton of experience not only in the Overwatch League, but in tournaments that predate it. Their potential, rivals that of some of the leagues top teams, and the Valiant brass has built the roster through a confident coaching staff. So, why fix what isn’t broken?

Just as the perfect can be the enemy of the good, constant iteration can be the enemy of long form success. In Overwatch League’s second season, the Los Angeles Valiant look to hold this mantra as truth.