In the early days of the 2019-20 offseason, the LA Valiant were the talk of the league – for all the wrong reasons. With rumours of them being cash-strapped floating all around, players started leaving. Gone are fan-favourite Agilities and his star best friend KariV. Late-season acquisition FCTFCTN has left. Even the team’s heart and soul, offtank Space, was signed to the Gladiators.
The Valiant were rumoured not to be looking to sign any player on more than a $50-60k salary. They did find players under this tight budget, but how well did they do? Let’s take a look at the Valiant’s roster and new pickups for 2020.
Shax, KSF, Apply
Arguably the best part of the Valiant roster and certainly the most experienced, is the DPS line. Reaper god Johannes “Shax” Nielsen is back to slay with his glorious 6-kill Death Blossoms, and sniper legend Kyle “KSF” Frandanisa is back to his head-clicking form.
In all seriousness though, while this looks like an OWL-caliber DPS line, a lot depends on the meta I think. Shax hasn’t been great on much besides Reaper and Sombra this year, and KSF hasn’t seen the stage much at all. Apply was a 2-way for Florida last year, so his OWL experience probably consists of about 1 stage game and a few scrims in Korea. If Reaper or Sombra is meta, I can see Shax being really good, and if snipers get playtime, KSF will thrive. But if we see something like Mei-Doomfist, these players, and the Valiant as a whole, might struggle. Also notable, Apply is the sole projectile main here, which could be a problem, again depending on the meta.
Now this is the worrying part of the roster. I was actually quite impressed with McGravy’s D.Va last year, and it’s a shame he didn’t get more playtime. He’ll get it this year, but D.Va hasn’t been meta for a while, and I haven’t seen him play anything else. He’s still pretty inexperienced, can he stack up to the other offtanks in the league?
Dreamer is the real concern though. Namely, no one’s heard of him. He is a Korean, who played for Sydney Drop Bears in Australian Contenders. SDB have historically been the best team in AU Contenders, but in their season with Dreamer on the roster, they fell out in the semifinals. He must have performed great in trials, and people are saying he’s underrated. I hope they’re right, because an inexperienced main tank from Australia doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Custa, Lastro, Slur, RaiN?
Main support is obviously fine. Custa’s got that position locked down. He’s still a fantastic player and leader, and will now be one of the team’s most experienced players. With him at flex support will be two rookies, Lastro and Slur.
Lastro comes in with pretty high expectations. At the height of GOATS earlier this year, Lastro was known as one of the best Zenyatta players in North America. Going further back, his Stormquake team made the Semifinals of Korean Contenders in 2018 season 3. And more recently, his Moira play for Skyfoxes has been quite oppressive. I’m excited for what Lastro can bring to the Valiant.
Slur is a more unknown quantity. Coming from Samsung Morning Stars in EU Contenders, he’s known as an up-and-comer. I don’t see him getting the starting spot over Lastro, but as a backup for a rookie he’ll be valuable, and it’ll be good to give him scrim time to see if his potential is that high.
RaiN is reported as the final support, coming over from the Florida Mayhem. While he hasn’t been officially announced, only reported by HaloofThoughts, he is likely coming over as competition for Custa’s Lucio. This should be a good pickup, I can actually see him getting starting time, which he didn’t on the Mayhem, and give competition to one of the older players on the Valiant. An interesting signing, for sure.
The Valiant are not looking great for 2020. I like some of the pickups, and I think there’s potential in every player. But when you step back, this is a team of mostly rookies and second-stringers in a league where it looks like almost everyone has improved. If Apply, Dreamer, and Lastro can hit their ceiling, and the team meshes together, I could see the Valiant making a run for playoffs. More likely, they’ll be a bottom tier team. But I’ll be rooting for them nonetheless.