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The Los Angeles Valiant announce their new 2021 roster

Overwatch Jacob “KraftyGG” Zilversmit

Breaking down the new Los Angeles Valiant roster and the storm of controversy that came with it.

On March 18th, the Los Angeles Valiant revealed their new 2021 roster. The announcement came after months of controversy surrounding the organization and has only added to the confusion and frustration of the Overwatch League community.

On January 14th, the Valiant announced they will be moving operations to the Asia-Pacific region. They were not the only North American team to do so. Despite representing American cities, the New York Excelsior will stay in the APAC region, and the Philadelphia Fusion will join them in 2021.

However, Valiant’s move was particularly surprising, as they had already built a primarily western roster and staff and cultivated a North American fanbase.

In their announcement on Twitter, the team cited the potential to host live events in Asia as the primary reason for their move.

Later that day, eSports reporter Arran “Halo” Spake claimed in a Twitter post that Immortals Gaming Club (the owner of the LA Valiant) had sold the team to an unknown Chinese organization and planned to modify their freshly-unveiled 2021 roster to prioritize Chinese talent.

This report fell in line with 2020 rumors that IGC intended to cut costs from their eSports teams and diminish their involvement in franchised leagues in order to prioritize other investments in the eSports industry.

Although the Valiant initially denied Spake’s claims, they later announced that LGE, a Chinese eSports organization who won Contenders China 2019, will operate their roster for the 2021 season.

The brunt of public outcry came on January 29th, when the Valiant dropped their entire roster in a single Twitter post. The tweet cited “COVID-related visa issues” as the cause for the sudden implosion and lacked any individual acknowledgements of the players and staff.

For over a month, the Los Angeles Valiant had no official roster or staff. Finally, on March 18th, the team announced their new signings on Weibo.

Kai “Krystal” Shilong - DPS
Liao “MoLanran” Yang - DPS
Haibo “Silver3” Han - Tank
Wen “NvM” Yelin - Tank
Cheng “ShowCheng” Yu - Tank
Zening “highbee” Zhang - Support
Qi “wya.cn” Haomiao - Support

Although Valiant fans finally have players to root for, many of these additions raise more questions than they answer.

Krystal, one of only two Valiant players with OWL experience, was a promising DPS talent for the Hangzhou Spark in 2019. However, he was indefinitely suspended in August of 2019 for a variety of issues including attitude, commitment, and returning to China mid-season under false pretenses.

MoLanran was a longstanding DPS for the Chinese Tier 2 team, The One Winner. The One Winner served briefly as the academy team for the Guangzhou Charge and won Chinese Contenders: Season 3 in 2018 but have not had much success since.

Silver3, also formerly of The One Winner, will likely take the lead at Main Tank, considering NvM has not played professional Overwatch since 2018. ShowCheng won Chinese Contenders: Season 2 in 2020 with Flag Gaming as a Flex-DPS, but will apparently transition to Tank for the Valiant.

Highbee, also formerly of The One Winner, will also be swapping roles from Off-Tank to Main Support. Wya was picked up as a prominent Chinese Flex Support for the Guangzhou Charge in 2020 but did not play a single map.

After such a contentious and disappointing offseason, it will be difficult for the Los Angeles Valiant to rebuild their reputation and earn back their once positive fan perception.

Their new roster, plagued with inexperience, past controversies, and confounding role swaps will likely struggle to win many matches, making Valiant’s redemption even more challenging. According to Halo, “Sources say they’ll be happy with just one win.”

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Jacob “KraftyGG” Zilversmit
Jacob "Krafty" Zilversmit is an aspiring eSports writer and college student. When he's not covering Overwatch or Dota 2, he enjoys playing music with friends.

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