Tag: LA Valiant

Episode 58 – Crunch Time

Chris and co-hosts Omni & Sam recap the Vancouver Titans first two wins in what they hope is a very successful Overwatch League 2020 season. They also dive into the meta, give a rundown of all the matches in the week, and share some thoughts on the production through the first week.

Show Notes

  • Stuff & Things
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Episode 57 – Kicking Off 2020

Chris and co-hosts Omni & Sam kick off the 2020 Overwatch League Season by talking to special guest Lauren, writer for The Game Haus, about her thoughts on the Vancouver Titans newest additions, Fissure & Ryujehong! The crew also setup the Titans matches against the LA Gladiators & LA Valiant down in Dallas, and discuss the recent changes to Overwatch that came out shortly after the last episode went live. Plus all the usual trimmings you’re used to!

Show Notes

  • Love us, hate us, just rate us! Head to ratethispodcast.com/readysetpwn for instructions how.
  • Want to ask us a question? Provide us feedback? Your favourite Korean recipe? Head to voicelink.fm/readysetpwn.
  • Why not subscribe to the podcast so you never miss out? We’re available in every major podcast app. And some minor ones too!

Stage 3 Week 3 Preview: Hunters and Valiant

This week, the Titans take another look at two teams they haven’t seen since Stage 1, the Chengdu Hunters and the Los Angeles Valiant. Outside of our comfy little bubble of being the best team every week, others have been rising and falling, and these two teams exemplify the different directions that can go. Los Angeles have ascended from the “will they even win a game?” tier into a respectable mediocrity. Meanwhile Chengdu have fallen from heights of promise into a spot where they just don’t look competitive against anyone at all decent.

In other words, both of these teams are pretty bad, and somewhere within the two victories the Titans will clinch an appearance in the play-ins, which is the sort of idle thinking you can do when nothing important will happen in the week’s matches.

Since we play them first, let’s start with Chengdu. The team that pioneered Hammond-and-3-DPS compositions has had a few bright moments where things almost came together. Never forget that Chengdu is one of only two teams to take the Titans to a map 5 in a normal series, and that that was a fully-deserved result. Vancouver struggled mightily against the aerial prowess of Jinmu and the bizarre hamster-ball tactics of Ameng, and the two maps Chengdu won were actually quite lopsided in their favor. A key part of that series was another moment of potential: Ameng, the Hammond one-trick, swapped to Rein and went toe-to-toe with, or even outclassed, Bumper. Suddenly it looked as if the Hunters would be able to use both whacky triple DPS and standard 3/3 at high levels: what more could you need to fear a team?

Alas for them, it was not to be. The multi-DPS, impressive as it looked, has struggled to get map wins because of how objective-unfocused it was. Ameng’s star turn on Reinhardt turned out to be overperformance, and the long-awaited arrival of their original main tank, Jiqiren, didn’t prove to be the solution either. Chengdu are now stuck in a weird spot. Triple DPS has uses, but mostly around a core of solid 3/3 play, and the team isn’t strong enough either with Ameng or with Jiqiren in to provide that base, plus they have yet to show a strong-looking Sombra composition. They’re 1-2 this stage, with losses to the Valiant and the Guangzhou Charge, neither of which indicate a team ready to challenge for anything. I’m still a bit scared of them mechanically—this team’s individual skill is just nuts—but their coordination has actually gone backwards, and without coordination you aren’t beating Vancouver.

The Titans are better, and the Hunters won’t get as close as they did last time. 3-1 Vancouver.

The Valiant, meanwhile, have improved dramatically, although I’m going to give myself credit for the brilliant insight that it would be better to have a Lucio player play Lucio than a main tank. Paycheck please.

Since putting Custa back into the main lineup, the Valiant have, well, stopped losing every single game they play in. They’ve dug themselves into an awful hole for stage playoffs, with their record still stuck at 5-12, but at least those 5 wins are coming somewhat recently. Solidifying a Zarya player in KSF has given important consistency, even if he’s not on anyone’s short list of best Zaryas in the league. Agilities has learned to play brig, and weirdly is on the short list of statistical best performers on the hero (I’m serious, it’s true). I still take that with a mound of salt because come on, but it’s better than him being bad by both statistics and the eye tes. New main tank FCTFCTN is probably less individually-skilled than Fate, but the team as a whole works around him better. And benching Izayaki so he could intently meditate on how to not press Q at the worst possible time has paid real dividends, with Kariv outputting the same amount of damage and also occasionally healing his teammates. All these adjustments have meant the Valiant are no longer complete garbage, but they’re now comfortably mediocre.

That’s not enough to hang with the Titans even a little bit. 4-0 Vancouver.

Titans vs. Valiant Postgame

Map 1: Nepal

What’s that? You missed the part where I described the map? Well, I’m just trying to fully convey the experience of watching the games via text, and that double take–“wait, how is it done already?”–is exactly how this map went.

Titans came out with their current best roster, while Valiant led with Kuki on Lucio again. That decision continues to be baffling, as Kuki still cannot wallride and doesn’t seem to be a strong shotcaller based on what can be seen of the team’s coordination. Vancouver lost half of one fight, never relinquishing control of the point on either Shrine or Sanctum and thus completing two 100-0s in a row. There, now we’ve analyzed the map, now the score makes sense.

Titans 1: Valiant 0

Map 2: King’s Row

It was a low bar to clear, but Valiant did do better on this map than they had on Nepal. Vancouver defended first point with vigor, and managed a frankly incredible comeback at around 90% captured to reestablish control and force Valiant to fight again, but eventually Los Angeles did break through for their first objective capture of the series. By the time Valiant reached the end of Point B, they were nearly out of time, and frankly it was surprising they even got into Point C. Vancouver held near the last corner, and the timing worked out that Los Angeles slowly lost a fight starting at about 30 seconds to go, which meant they couldn’t even make it back to the point to being overtime.

The best you could say for Valiant was that they had moved the payload a lot of the way on the map, but they couldn’t have been filled with confidence. However, the rest of their play was at least a bit encouraging. On both A and B, they forced Titans to take difficult fights and drained the timebank enough to make me a bit nervous. The Titans, stronger-willed than myself, didn’t show any ill effects, and won the fights when they needed to. Capturing Point B was the real end of the map, as Point C was a straight run to the box of victory and a quick map victory.

Titans 2 : Valiant 0

Map 3: Horizon

Remember the first map? Nepal felt exactly like that. Valiant tried putting Kariv on Reaper to counter Bumper’s Winston defense, but it worked exactly as well as everything else Los Angeles tried, which is to say not at all. 4 minutes of failed attempts later, Valiant had failed to gain any ticks on the point.

That was never going to stop Vancouver, who at this point and established themselves as the clearly superior team. The casters even noted that their approach, rushing directly up the stairs to brawl in the second floor room, was not the usual: but when you’re imposing your will on the game, more or less anything will work. Bumper ran forward in a way that should have resulted  in his death, but instead resulted in two kills and a quick capture of Point A. The Valiant players looked so dead that a cemetery would have taken them in with no questions asked.

Titans 3: Valiant 0

Map 4: Rialto

This is an important map to understand, because if you didn’t watch and only read the map scores you will have a hugely inaccurate impression of this map. The fundamental principle to understand is that the Titans, and in particular Bumper, decided to have fun even at the expense of good play.

Vancouver’s offense started out looking more or less normal, albeit with Rapel coming in to replace Twilight. This was sensible, considering the victory was assured and Valiant looked to be a pretty weak opponent. Kuki used sound barrier too early on a grav/bomb combo, as per usual, meaning everyone on his team died and Vancouver capped Point A. It was at this point that Bumper gave his first indication of how he intended to play the map, charging forward into the first Rialto defender’s spawn and dying to the entire enemy team. After Titans won the next fight, he used the kneel emote on cart for more than half the pushing distance of B. Next, he bounced around to behind Valiant looking for a shatter, didn’t find it, and rotated back to his team only to charge Fate directly into the water, ending his own life in the process. At this point, Rapel clearly wanted to fit in with his new teammates, and literally walked straight off the dock into the water, bringing an end to the final fight before it even began.

This was a map push roughly equivalent to what Valiant had managed on King’s Row, but at the same time the Titans had looked so superior that it wasn’t unreasonable. It became unreasonable when Vancouver decided to only go for the flashiest of plays, starting with Slime trying to reddit Lucio from the literal skybox to the bridge. Having won the next fight, Titans pushed to the enemy spawn and Bumper refused to leave, forcing Rapel to use trans solely to keep the main tank alive. I can only explain this as the Titans hazing Rapel and forcing him to demonstrate his commitment to team support. Bumper charged Fate into the water again, which had the effect of reminding Valiant that they needed to actually push the cart, which finally approached Point B. Here, Vancouver took the one serious-looking fight of the map, which sadly they did lose, and with the victory box so close to the entrance the defense would be fraught. That tiny margin ended up biting the Titans when they C9ed and let Valiant push through to take the final map of the series.


Titans 3: Valiant 1

Player of the Match

When matches are this one-sided, it becomes quite hard to identify a Player of the Match. Who most contributed to the victory when there was little chance of the opponent actually winning? Who came up clutch in a match whose result was evident from the very first point of control? There aren’t any real answers to these questions. Instead, because this is my recap and I can do what I want, I’m going to give Player of the Match to the person with the largest total influence on the game.

Bumper, come on down and receive your trophy.

This award is given for two separate reasons. On maps 1-3, Bumper was a terror. He’s got a compelling case for best main tank in the league, based on his ability to exert pressure onto opposing tanklines and to instantly flick the switch onto “pursuing and hunting down the opponents” once a teamfight is won. When your opponents provide little resistance, a good main tank like this Bumper will seem to be everywhere at once, and that’s exactly what happened.

On map 4, Bumper was without doubt the largest factor. His refusal to end the spawn contain forced a trans, which thus wasn’t available when Titans were caught in a grav. His constant charging into the water meant that 500 hp, 2000 points of shielding, and a giant hammer’s worth of damage weren’t present for the remainder of fights. These are not good things, but they were at least funny things, and I’m going to choose to believe that the squad is preventing burnout by not pushing themselves too hard.

Week 3 Preview: Titans vs. Valiant

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.

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