This article is part of our Overwatch series.
Ever since the beginning of Stage 2, the Los Angeles Valiant have completely bought into the concept of a 12-man roster. As CEO Noah Whinston talked about during an episode of “Inside LA Valiant,” the idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become...wait. Sorry, I accidentally clicked on the Avengers trailer. But really, the idea was that anyone on this team could step in at any given moment and lead the group to victory. Unlike the Avengers, though, this initiative of the Valiant isn’t off to the best of starts.
When it comes to the major players that the Valiant brought on -- DPS Chae “Bunny” Jun-hyeok, Scott “Custa” Kennedy, and Indy “SPACE” Halpern -- things are just fine. Bunny continues to be a beast on Tracer, although with Tracer having much less of an impact in Stage 4, we may not see him often. Custa is still a Swiss Army Knife of support heroes and chugging along nicely. SPACE’s D.Va is the best this team has ever had, and he even showed that he can play Zarya here in the new meta of Stage 4.
The other members of this 12-man roster, though? *gulps*
During the Valiants 3-1 win over the Shanghai Dragons last Saturday, we finally got to see what the B-team brought to the table. With the Valiant already securing the series with a 3-0 lead going into the final map, they decided to give DPS Kyle “KSF” Frandanisa, flex support Stefano “Verbo” Disalvo, and main tank Seb “Numlocked” Barton a chance at glory. (Side note: I realize that Verbo and Numlocked are not new to this team, but Verbo hardly ever played and Numlocked made his first appearance of the season in this game. “The next man up” philosophy the team adopted still applies to these guys, too.) The results were...not good.
That play pretty much sums up how this outing went for these players. They really seemed to be out of sorts with each other and never pulled off a coordinated push of any kind. Getting held fully by the Dragons is not a good look for a group that is supposed to be able to carry the torch at a moment’s notice. Sure, they haven’t had much time to play together, but at least they all speak the same language. Shanghai speaks three different languages and they managed to run all over the Valiant’s B-team.
Of the three, Numlocked probably looked the best, as he managed to play two vastly different styles of tank throughout the course of the game. On defense, he played Reinhardt and while it wasn’t amazing, it was solid enough. On offense, he was on the ever reliable monkey. It’s true that they didn’t manage to even secure the first point on attack, but that was more due to the fact that KSF and Verbo never managed to stay alive during hectic fights.
While the two clips here only encompass about a minute of gameplay, you can essentially imagine that minute happening over and over throughout the course of the match. Verbo’s deaths were especially backbreaking as, like you can see in the clip above, they stalled out just about every push they made on attack and it allowed the Dragons to keep rolling right through them while LA was on defense.
KSF, on the other hand, seemed to just make questionable positioning errors and had poor ultimate usage with regularity. Granted, he did have a nice sequence on Widowmaker during their defense where he picked off three people and stalled out a Shanghai push, but the Dragons came right back on the next push and secured the final point. More often than not, he was on the receiving end of Lu “Diya” Weida ultimates and sniper shots that left him constantly dead.
While the idea of a 12-man roster is certainly a good one, as it can give the team plenty of flexibility during an evolving meta, the early returns on this philosophy are simply not good. The Valiant better hope that Thanos doesn’t snap his fingers (I had to bring this thing full circle) on the A-team until the B-team can get on the same page.