OWL Contenders: LA Valiant defy the odds, Boston continue without DreamKazper
Stage Three is officially in full swing for the Overwatch League, some rosters faced a few shake ups as others opted for continuity in personnel and LA Valiant came up big with their newest additions. With the recent news surrounding DreamKazper’s scandal, Boston Uprising were expected to take a dip in form but they rallied in a thrilling five game series to bring them right back into playoff position.
In the transfer window heading into Stage Three, many OWL fans were questioning the rationale for both LA Valiant and Dallas Fuel as Unkoe traded the green and yellow for Dallas blue as Custa headed the other direction. For LA Valiant, it seemed that their roster was en route to implosion with a few players coming out and publicly questioning the trade and upper management for even making the switch.
The question marks soon led to nods of approval as LA Valiant sit at a perfect 3-0 to start the Stage, winning all 12 maps in the process. It’s been a positive boost for Valiant to have that staple shot caller and healing presence in Custa, and his team has thanked him with stellar play across the board. The tanks and healers playing with synergy has really enabled the damage duo of SoOn and Agilities to flourish. Their pairing together with the addition of their staple healer has made SoOn and Agilities the best Western duo in the entirety of the OWL.
This amazing play was more than expected from an LA Valiant roster in flux, but the real head scratching comes from Seoul Dynasty as they drop another series to a team based off their own miscalculations. Granted, the entirety of the series was not Dynasty misplaying but it seemed like Dynasty overall has lost a step since coming back to live play in Stage Three. This marks their first loss in the first week of any stage, and that trend does not suit them well considering the tough schedule they face en route to Stage playoffs. Being the only full Korean roster not to make playoffs yet, the anxiousness to perform will be even higher this Stage as Dynasty still have much to prove.
The Uprising continues
It was a rocky week of PR as Boston Uprising were engulfed in a scandal regarding their DPS player Jonathan ‘DreamKazper’ Sanchez. The former Uprising player was accused of preying on a number of underage girls in the same friend circle after screenshots of personal messages were posted in an attempt to expose DreamKazper for the manipulating behavior he was exacting over these girls. Through their bravery, DreamKazper was exposed for being a pathological liar and serial manipulator using his newfound fame as a way of coaxing girls into doing things they may have not otherwise done.
While the scandal is far and away the most egregious scandal to ever affect the league, Boston Uprising have taken the right steps to cut off all ties with Jonathan Sanchez as these allegations will surely affect much more than his job as a pro gamer if the severity of his actions are pursued in court. Even with the controversy surrounding their team being impossible to ignore, the goal now is to continue winning and finding areas to succeed with or without the threat that DreamKazper brought to the table.
Luckily, Boston Uprising is a team that is much more about the stability of strength throughout the team rather than a team anchored by their star players. The DPS core of Striker and Mistakes will be more than enough to administer the damage needed to succeed. As Gamsu, Note and Neko continue to gel with the remaining assets on the team their ability to grow as a unit will only continue as their progress thus far has been well documented.
Aside from New York Excelsior, every team in the OWL can be beaten at any given time. The roster shakeups, differing weeks of prep, and overall volatility of the league is giving way to new runs of glory and harsh runs of missteps for teams as they struggle to get acquainted with the changing meta.
The new emphasis on Sombra for most DPS threats has been interesting to see as certain teams have incorporated the hero into their playstyle while other teams go to great lengths to patch up that hole in their strategy. The changes in match ups has given a new life to this level of play that can be rigid with certain maps only allowing a handful of options. Looking forward, teams like LA Gladiators, Boston Uprising and LA Valiant will try to clamp down on their hold on a playoff spot as London Spitfire, Seoul Dynasty and Philadelphia Fusion work to push off the looming threat.