Will the Los Angeles Valiant Come Out on Top Against San Francisco Shock?
Standing for fearlessness and determination, the Los Angeles Valiant is one of two teams repping Los Angeles in the upcoming Overwatch League. And they will be facing fan-favorite San Francisco Shock on Wednesday, Dec. 6, the second match of the preseason.
San Francisco Shock may be dominating social media with their behind-the-scenes tweets and spicy, deep-fried meme banter, but this match up could be anyone’s game. Which makes the upcoming preseason even more exciting.
Check out Los Angeles Valiant’s 11-man roster:
- Sebastian “Numlocked” Barton
- Benjamin “Unkoe” Chevasson
- Stefano “Verbo” Disalvo
- Brady “Agilities” Girardi
- Indy “Space” Halpern
- Pan-Seung “Fate” Koo
- Kang-Jae “Envy” Lee
- Young-Seo “KariV” Park
- Christopher “GrimReality” Schaefer
- Terance “Soon” Tarlier
- Ted “Silkthread” Wang
As diverse as the city itself, the team’s CEO Noah Whinston has emphasized in an introduction video that players are chosen not only for their in-game skill, but their ability to work as a team. He explained: “We have a complete commitment to not just produce talented players who win inside the game, but well-rounded players who succeed outside of it. A team needs to be given the resources and the right personalities in order to mesh together. They need that ability to connect and work together.”
Despite some initial language barriers, the team has supposedly been coming up with creative solutions during their practices, while Korean players Fate and KariV continue to learn English. According to support main Verbo, the team has “kinda clicked” and “everything is working out fine.” In fact, the team is supposedly not only good at communicating in-game, but outside the matches as well. They even came together to rescue an opossum.
Hmm… Sounds like Whinston’s vision for the team is coming true.
In an interview with Forbes, Whinston expressed his passion for building a healthy team atmosphere when he was asked about the team’s training grounds: The Immortals headquarters and campus in Culver City:
“I think this is a big and important step in the professionalisation of esports. I think going forward we recognize the kind of positive health and play benefits that having separated working and living spaces can have. We really want to be empowering our players to live healthy lives, not just inside of the game, and not just during work hours, but at all points in their lives. To do that you need to give players some modicum of control over their own environment and their home life. We don’t want to be supervising them 24/7, we don’t want to be taking care of every single person in the league, we want to empower our players to mature and grow independently and learn how to live on their own, the same way every other adult in America has to manage for themselves.”
And if there’s anyone who knows what it takes to compete in esports, it’s Whinston, the CEO of Immortals. Immortals have made a name for themselves in CS:GO, Super Smash Bros and Dota, and – despite not being in the NA LCS this year because of their involvement with the Overwatch League – League of Legends, even competing in the World Championship earlier this year. So Whinston is positive that they have what it takes to shine in the Overwatch League as well. Especially since they have competitive gaming the formula down.
“First and foremost it’s about providing the best fan experience,” said Whinston. “Fans are what enables teams to compete. If nobody is watching, no event will be held, and there’d be no league to run. In order to truly be a passionate fan of a team, you need to know who they are inside and out.”
For this reason, Whinston promised that the team would be putting extensive resources into providing a “behind the scenes” experience to Overwatch League viewers.
While showing who the players are outside of the game through interviews and filmed practices will definitely build their fan-base, is focusing on a growing following enough for the Los Angeles Valiants to stand a chance in the preseason?
That’s where the talent comes in.
Overwatch hype videos have all but taken over YouTube. Titles like THE BEST MCCREE PLAYER OF ALL TIME #1 IN THE WORLD 30 HEAD SHOTS COMPILATION!!!!! have become expected. But usually those videos have one thing in common: They’re almost always about a DPS hero – like Tracer or Genji – racking up the kills.
Los Angeles Valiant’s tank main Numlocked has broken the formula with his Rheinhardt and Winston highlight reels.
Then there’s crowd favorite McCree and Tracer main GrimReality, who just turned 18 this August.
Playing for the Immortals before the League, GrimReality’s team took first place in a plethora of professional tournaments in the past few years, including Overwatch Contenders Season Zero: North America.
“The thing that made me want to play Overwatch so much is the future of the game,” said GrimReality in an interview before the Overwatch Open. “It’s destined to be a great esport. At first I didn’t think I’d make it as far as I did, but now that it’s finally happening I’m growing confident in myself. […] I think the future is looking bright.”
Often seen playing with Seagull and other big name streamers and pro players, GrimReality is not only young and talented, but a definite favorite amongst the Overwatch viewership. GrimReality’s dedicated fanbase will hopefully draw in the viewers during their preseason matchup against San Francisco Shock, hopefully proving Whinston’s belief that a great esports experience is key to the team’s success.
“Los Angeles sports teams have brought home trophies, cups and first place finishes for decades, generations… And we’ll be no different,” said Whinston. “It’s our first job to make the citizens of Los Angeles proud to have us representing them. And that happens not just by winning, but by our values. We’ve been rooted in Los Angeles since day one. And we’re excited to represent our city when the Overwatch League starts.”
So, is the teamwork, values and talented roster enough to beat San Francisco Shock?
Unlike the match between Philadelphia Fusion and Florida Mayhem, it’s unclear who has the upper hand. But Los Angeles Valiant’s confidence in the match-up has made it evident it will be the preseason game to watch.
“Oh, we can’t wait to play San Francisco,” said Verbo. “They’re kind of our rivals. So we have to defeat them to set the tone for the rest of the season.”
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