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Forging a stronger shield: The L.A. Gladiators’ off-season roster changes

LA Gladiators Victory Walk

Fans and analysts alike have been sceptical about the L.A. Gladiators’ recent roster changes, which have put the fate of the organisation in limbo for quite some time. Following Overwatch League’s 2019 season, many teams had lineup changes, but none were as questionable as the Gladiators.

The largest concern spectators had, was whether the most recent moves could create a stronger team in the end. Despite their consistently above-average stages, the Gladiators traded away four of their top players to other teams and lost much of their coaching and management team. Now that the L.A. Gladiators have added new players and coaches, will they break the course of mediocracy, and rise above in 2020?

Making Changes

In late September, the L.A. Gladiators lost Manager Kevin “Kez” Jeon, and a week later, Seetoh “JohnGalt” Jian Qing left to take a head coach position with the Washington Justice. On October 18, Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye joined JohnGalt on the Washington Justice, and João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles went to the Houston Outlaws. On October 26, in a surprising movet, the L.A. Gladiators traded Guiun “Decay” Jang for Minseok “OGE” Son from the Dallas Fuel. This trade could be beneficial for the L.A. Gladiators, as with their acquisition of Indy “SPACE” Halpern, it gives the team a solid foundation

From the Ground Up

This foundation of the L.A. Gladiators going into 2020 will be veteran players Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara, and Benjamin “BigGoose” Ishohanni. The two support players have performed consistently well during the 2019 season, and the renewal of their contracts for 2020 is promising. BigGoose is a clever Lucio player and solid support, plus the preexisting chemistry with Shaz will alleviate some pressures of a changing roster. Bringing in world-class tank talent like SPACE and OGE gives the Gladiators a chance to rebuild a with a new style with little risk of underperforming.

A Damage Boost in the Roster

The Gladiators were highly criticized when Lane “Surefour” Roberts was traded away to the Toronto Defiant. Since then they have picked up none other than Ji-hyeok “birdring” Kim to fill a Surefour’s shoes, and there is no denying this is a trade up. Both birdring and OGE are Korean, but BigGoose and Shaz have extensive experience playing with Korean teammates.

The last cherry on top of the roster for the L.A. Gladiators is their Head Coach and General Manager, David “dpei” Pei. The Gladiators were long overdue for a change of pace, and with new players and Head Coach role, dpei is being allowed to build a solid team going into 2020. There is still plenty of time before the next season of Overwatch League begins, so further changes in the roster are a possibility. As it currently stands, however, the L.A. Gladiators are a strong contender to be a top team next year.

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Photo via: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment