That is the record so far of the Los Angeles Valiant in Stage 1 of the Overwatch League. They are staring down the barrel of an 0-7 winless stage if they should lose to the Houston Outlaws on March 9.
How did the team that won the Pacific Division last season fall so quickly to the bottom of the current OWL standings? What does the team need to do to get out of their rut? And are the Valiant really as bad as their record shows?
Individual Performance: It's the Little Things
The biggest culprit to the Valiant has been themselves. Every player on the team has made poor decisions that have cost the team maps and even games.
A glaring issue has been Ultimate usage. In their last match against the Fusion, the Valiant were undone by two missed Graviton Surges from Youngseo "Kariv" Bak and poor ultimate usage from the support line of Daekuk "Kuki" Kim and Min Chul "IZaYaKI" Kim. Although they may charge these Ultimates fast, if the Valiant can't find value with them, these powerful abilities are just wasted.
Individual play and communication have not been the strongest either. Brady "Agilities" Girardi has been caught out of position multiple times, literally gifting team fights to the opposing team. There has also been the question of who to put on Lucio: Kuki and his bilingual prowess or Scott "Custa" Kennedy for his smart shot calling and intricate plans. Custa, last season's primary support player, has seen a lack of play time, so perhaps there are internal issues going on that are preventing the Australian star support player from playing.
Grueling Strength of Schedule
The Valiant's six losses have been to the Spark, Excelsior, Defiant, Titans, Charge, and Fusion. Besides the Spark, every single one of these teams currently have a winning record and are in a position to reach the stage playoffs. Of this group, the Excelsior and Titans are perhaps the strongest teams in all of the OWL. In other words, the schedule really has not been easy on the Valiant. In fact, the Valiant may very well be a playoff worthy team; they have just been playing teams that are clearly stronger than them.
The Valiant's final game against the Outlaws will hopefully provide some clarity. If the above assumptions are correct, the Valiant should win handily against a struggling Outlaws team. Getting some victories against weaker teams will provide a much-needed boost to the Valiants' confidence, which has been shattered by repeated, lopsided losses against stronger teams. But if the Valiant should lose, it will be the final nail in the coffin relegating the Valiant to the bottom half of the League.
All things considered, the Valiant are trending upwards. They narrowly lost their latest contest 3-2 against the Fusion, almost coming away with the reverse sweep. If they can work on minimizing individual blunders, the Valiant will develop the "clutch factor" necessary to extend their Wings Out and achieve victory in close matches.
Photo courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment