The Los Angeles Gladiators finished in 4th place last season. In the playoffs, they were defeated by the eventual champions, London Spitfire, in the quarterfinals. To fill any holes in their game, they added Gui-un "Decay" Jang and Chang-hoon "rOar" Gye from Kongdoo Panthera. The Gladiators also added Riku "Ripa" Toivanen from Team Gigantti, who played with one of the best support lines last season.
One of those supports, Jonas "Shaz" Suovaara, spoke to Inven Global about his takeaways from the World Cup, how the meta will evolve, and what expansion team he thinks look the strongest.
First of all, thank you for joining me after your victory. How was your offseason?
I didn't do much apart from the World Cup. Then I met with some old friends in Finland, just hanging out and catching up.
Have you seen that clip from that Netflix show? What did you think about it when you first saw it?
I was surprised. I don't think anybody knew that this was going to be there. It was cool to see esports in mainstream media.
The Gladiators were among one of the highest rated in most people’s power rankings. Do you agree with their power rankings?
I don't know how to feel about it. It's like cool that people think highly of us, but it's a lot of pressure as well. We don't let that go to our heads.
Do you think this team looks stronger than last year?
Yeah, definitely. We have way more structure; one more coach and one more separate translator now. Before, it was Bischu mainly doing it and our manager. Practice is more efficient now.
What did you guys work on during the offseason?
I think we started scrims pretty late compared to a lot of teams. We had like a month and a half before the season started. We were just getting the basics down, getting everybody to play with each other to build synergy. We had 4 or 5 people playing at the same time from the previous season, then the new people integrated pretty quickly. We felt we had our communication down.
You got the opportunity to play in the World Cup. What did you take away from participating in the World Cup that you brought over to the Gladiators?
We got to see China and China was really strong. I didn't think a lot of people expected that from the World Cup. It was nice playing with the old Gigantti players, plus Taimou. I got to play with Taimou for the first time and it was pretty cool.
Basically, I felt like I improved overall because of the World Cup. It was nice having to do something during the offseason and bringing my improvements over to this season.
So far in the first week, we’ve seen a diverse pool of heroes played even though the meta is still triple tank/triple support. What do you think about the current meta?
I like it. It highlights team play. It doesn't highlight the flashy plays from a star player.
How do you think the meta is going to evolve as the season rolls on?
We're going to still see a lot of three/three but there's going to be a lot of strats. Like one-time use strats in a lot of maps that counter GOATS or counter three/three.
London's experimented with a 4 DPS comp this week, do you think other teams will use it too?
I haven't seen much of the 4 DPS comp. I've seen a lot of 3 DPS though. I'm not sure about the strengths of using 4 DPS. I think people haven't had time to look into it yet since there's not much time in between games.
Were there any comps that you tried in scrims or practice that you weren’t able to use so far this week?
The Symmetra play was something we tried when we first started practicing, then some teams tried using it against us, then we figured out how to play against it. Maybe they were trying to figure out how to play against it, to see what we do. A lot of teams tried it!
During the offseason, you guys added Ripa into the team. How is he adjusting to being with the team so far? Do you think we will get to see him play soon?
Right now, we're focusing on playing the 6 players you saw on stage since he's ineligible to play for the first 5 games. He started to practice with us every day, spectating and watching VODs, and talking with the team. I'd say he's integrating pretty well.
When I look at him play, it's kind of like watching myself play -- looking at my own VOD. I felt like our playstyles are pretty similar.
I don't know if we'll use him as soon as he's eligible.
Out of all the expansion teams coming in this season, who do you think looks the strongest?
The strongest might be Paris with their tanks, but then I think the Spark is really good as well. It's been a while since we've practiced against them [Spark], but they look really strong. Vancouver also has great efficiency when it comes to communication.
Lastly, thanks for the interview. I wish you and the rest of the Gladiators the best of luck this season. Is there anything you want to say to the fans out there?
Thanks for supporting us. Hope we can keep doing well for you guys. When they chant "SHIELDS UP!", especially during the last fights, it gets really loud and we can totally hear them. We might not be able to make clear sense of what they're saying, but I think we know what they're saying.
Writer @InvenGlobal | Freelanced at @overwatchscore @vpesports @GinxTV @Upcomer | Former CLICKON Media and Echo Fox.