After a fraught victory over the Guangzhou Charge and an affirming victory over the dangerous San Francisco Shock, the Titans get a break in the schedule in more ways than one. First, the maybe good, maybe bad news: there’s only one game this week, on Friday at 7 Pacific. Great for our players after a brutal back-to-back against difficult opponents, sad for fans who’d like to see more victories. Now, the definitely good news: after facing difficult opponents, we have all week to prepare for the Los Angeles Valiant, who despite expectations have yet to win a game and sit at the very bottom of the standings.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Los Angeles boasts Fate, the main tank for Team South Korea; Space, one of the best Dva players in the league; four fearsome DPS players in Agilities, Bunny, KSF, and Kariv; beloved main support Custa; and hyped rookie zen fragger Izayaki. Surely one of the DPS players would figure out how to play Zarya when aided by what should be an all-star tankline and support line.
But alas, no. Bunny has yet to appear in a match and KSF has generally been poor, resulting in a Brig/Zarya duo of Agilities and Kariv, neither of whom seem particularly well-suited to their roles. The coordination between them and Fate/Space has been lacking, and it’s at this point I need to address the elephant in the room.
See, Valiant have one more player on their roster. His name is Kuki, he was a replacement main tank for Seoul Dynasty last season, and he was expected to backup Fate this year. Instead, for reasons that are extremely obscure, he has been the starting Lucio player, despite seemingly not knowing how to wall ride.
Valiant’s public explanation only made things weirder. Custa, heart and soul of the team’s shot-calling last season, is benched because… he understands the meta TOO WELL. Read that again, then think about Kuki starting again. Is Valiant’s coaching staff lying because Custa is underperforming in scrims? But if that’s the case (and here I paraphrase from the brilliant “Fire at a Sea Parks” sketch from The IT Crowd)… Why would they lie? And if they were going to lie, why would they use this one? Taken at face value, Valiant’s coaching staff is literally saying that the rest of their players are too dumb to play well. That seems like something you’d want to avoid–then again, this is the organization that thought it was a good idea to publicize the In-N-Out video. The most I’m willing to say is that someone is incompetent here, but it’s entirely unclear who precisely that is.
In terms of what this means for the Titans, Valiant have yet to win a match, but they also have yet to be bodied over the course of a series. Every loss has been by a 1-map margin, and 2/3 of them have required a tiebreaker map. The ace in the hole should be superior coordination out of the side of Vancouver, whose backup support player and shot-caller 1. Is actually a support player, 2. Is a star support player, and 3. Still has not played because Slime is just so good.
So don’t be fooled by Valiant’s 0-3 record: they’re definitely not the worst team in the league. However, they’re also not among the best. Vancouver is among the best–after defeating San Francisco so comprehensively, I would argue the very best (NYXL’s gameplay has not impressed in the same way as their 4-0 record would imply). Valiant might well find a map win, especially if they bring in Custa, but this should be a clear-cut victory for the Titans. I predict a 4-0 Vancouver victory.