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OWL 2021 Power Rankings — #20 Los Angeles Valiant

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We’re ranking the top teams in the Overwatch League ahead of the start of the 2021 season.


Welcome to this new edition of ESTNN’s Overwatch League Power Rankings! As the 2021 Season of the Overwatch League is coming closer each day, it is time to take a look at all the teams competing this year.

Even though there is no new franchise for this season, the 20 existing teams all went under some roster and staff changes. Will the San Francisco Shock grab their third win in a row? Can Dallas Fuel really revive the old Element Mystic gang? We will get to that in time. Right now, it’s time to focus on the bottom of our leader board. At the 20th place of our OWL 2021 Power Rankings is the Los Angeles Valiant.

Los Angeles Valiant 2021 Roster Preview

The Los Angeles Valiant is the last team to unveil its roster, less than a month before the beginning of the Overwatch League 2021 Season. The team signed an all-Chinese roster, following its move to the Asia Pacific region.

DPS:

  • Cai “Krystal” Shilong
  • Liao “MoLanran” Yang

Cai “Krystal” Shilong, who aims to be the “Overwatch Ronaldo,” is not a new face in the Overwatch League. The Chinese player already played for two other Overwatch League teams but shined more for his bad behavior than for his good plays. He was kicked from the Guangzhou Charge as he voluntarily missed training with the team, distracted his teammates, and even refused to return the team’s facilities when he couldn’t play the hero he wanted. Krystal is a wild card and a risky bet for the Los Angeles Valiant.

Cai "Krystal" Shilong during his time playing for the Hangzhou Spark

Liao “MoLanran” Yang is a flex player, able to switch from Pharah to D.Va or Brigitte. Prior to joining the Los Angeles Valiant, MoLanran played with the Guangzhou Charge academy team, The One Winner. With his team, MoLanran won the Overwatch Contenders 2018 Season 3: China and placed second in the 2019 edition of the competition.

Tank:

  • Han “Silver3” Haibo
  • Cheng “ShowCheng” Yu
  • Yelin “NvM” Wen

Han “Silver3” Haibo is also a former player for The One Winner. His ability on main tank heroes helped the team reach the podium of the Chinese Overwatch Contenders 2018 and 2019, as well as the Pacific Showdown.

Cheng "ShowCheng" Yu celebrates after placing first in China's Overwatch Contenders

Cheng “ShowCheng” Yu is the off-tank of the team. He used to be a main tank, then a DPS player, and now specializes in off-tank heroes for the Los Angeles Valiant. He previously played in the Overwatch Contenders China, where he placed second in 2018 and first in 2020.

Yelin “NvM” Wen signs his return on Overwatch after a three years break from the game. The player retired in late 2018, following mixed results in Contenders with his previous teams. NvM was nowhere to be seen for a while, and his lack of recent experience in the game could impact the Los Angeles Valiant, as many changes to heroes happened while he was away.

Support:

  • Zhang “Highbee” Zening
  • Qi “Wya” Haomiao

The addition of Zhang “Highbee” Zening as a support player is quite a surprise. The player is mainly known for his off-tank plays, especially with Zarya, D.Va and Sigma. He was part of The One Winner in Overwatch Contenders China, alongside Han “Silver3” Haibo and Liao “MoLanran” Yang.

Qi “Wya” Haomiao is also a former The One Winner player, who then joined the Overwatch League with the Guangzhou Charge. Wya never managed to find his place on the team, and played as a two-way player with the Guangzhou Charge academy team. He was eventually released from the team, alongside Cai “Krystal” Shilong.

Qi "Wya" Haomiao behind the screen during a game of Overwatch

Los Angeles Valiant 2021 Power Rankings

The Los Angeles Valiant is the last team to announce its roster. The team signed Chinese Contenders players less than a month before the start of the Overwatch League. Moreover, many players are wildcards, who could either perform well or crash the team in a second. This short preparation time and lack of experience of the players put the Los Angeles Valiant at the bottom of our power rankings.

Stay tuned to ESTNN for more OWL power rankings!

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Source: https://estnn.com/owl-2021-power-rankings-20-los-angeles-valiant/

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Code S RO16 Preview: Trap, Armani, sOs, Zest

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by Wax

The round of 16 comes to a close with Group D, where three championship-winning Protoss players are joined by an unlikely underdog in Armani. It’s a warped mirror image of Group B, where sole Zerg Solar had to go up against three far more well-regarded Terrans. The streamlined practice may not have availed Solar then, but perhaps Armani will show us what three weeks of his finely honed ZvP can do.

Group D: Trap, Armani, sOs, Zest

Start time: Thursday, Apr 15 9:30am GMT (GMT+00:00)

Any talk about Trap has to start with addressing the elephant in the room: what the hell happened to him at IEM Katowice 2021? Headed into the tournament, he was the most-hyped player on the planet, having won three major titles in a row. But when it came time to play at the world championship, the weak-hearted choker of the past re-emerged. Trap was humiliated in the group stages, getting eliminated after finishing behind players like HeroMarine and Astrea.

This… this is a concern. Trap himself admitted in past interviews that his championship at DH: Last Chance wasn’t quite as meaningful as if he had won a bigger tournament like GSL or IEM Katowice. You have to wonder: did he only manage that three tournament winning streak because the pressure was off? Because those tournaments—two Super Tournaments and DH: Last Chance—were merely ‘tier 2’ tournaments? If that’s the case, then it means Trap still has significant mental barriers to overcome. Sure, there’s a chance his IEM collapse was just the product of crazy variance, the kind that we’ve come to expect in competitive StarCraft II. But even then, Trap will be the subject of much doubt should he reach the Code S finals again.

Still, Trap’s growth and accomplishments over the last two years suggest that the Code S RO16 should hardly be an issue for him anymore. Prior to IEM Katowice 2021, Trap was clearly the best Protoss player in the world—not just a jack-of-all-trades but an ace in every department. Whether it was all-ins or late-game play, macro or micro, you could hardly find fault in anything he did. If Trap is to rehabilitate his reputation and prove that he’s not just a paper tiger, then dominating his opponents in Group D will be an important first step.

At least he has an easy initial opponent on paper—or does he? Trap snapped up Armani with the second pick of the group selections, seemingly unimpressed with Armani’s unbelievable, titan-slaying qualifier run. Code S qualification this season was more complicated than usual—basically, the qualifier was divided into two segments. On the first day of the qualifiers, four direct Code S seeds were handed out to the best players on the day, while everyone else who qualified were forced to go through the rigors of Code A. Obviously, you’d expect the four players to win those direct Code S spots to be the cream of the crop. And that was the case, for the most part. Rogue: Obviously. INnoVation: Sure. Solar: Not a huge surprise if he was playing at his highest level. Armani: WHAT?

Indeed, Armani managed to claim one of those precious direct seeds, defeating Dark (twice!) and Maru in order to do so. Alas, we don’t have much info on what the hell happened. Little could be gleaned from the banter of the group selections, with the precise events of the qualifiers left unmentioned. But the fact that Trap snapped up Armani suggests he is NOT a believer. That’s not to say that Armani is a poor player—he’s become a solid member of the GSL middle-class, even making a one surprise semi-final run in 2020. But, as his #16 standing in the Aligulac.com Korea rankings suggests, he’s not a player who you expect championship contenders like Trap to sweat. While I’ll agree with Trap’s implicit appraisal of Armani for now, I’d love for Armani to show us what let him score those massive upsets in the qualifiers.

Speaking of mysterious players, the third contestant in Group D is none other than sOs. Now, there’s a contingent of readers on TL.net who are convinced that the legendary sOs has been washed for years, and is just living on his reputation from a bygone era. There’s some merit to that viewpoint, considering that this season marks his first return to the Code S RO16 in around two years. Yet, has sOs made enough ‘random’ deep runs in major tournaments during that time to suggest that he’s still got a lot of fight left in him. Furthermore, various video vignettes often reveal that sOs’ fellow progamers are quite averse to playing against his unpredictable style. At the very least, the draft order shows he’s still more respected—or at least more loathed—than the likes of Zoun and Hurricane.

The fourth and final contestant in the group is Zest. There’s an ill omen for fans of the veteran Protoss: among the class of players consigned to mandatory military service this year, both TY and Stats have already been eliminated from their final Code S season (it’s not 100% certain with Stats, but it seems likely). Going out on top is certainly an attractive concept, but when you look across the history of sports, clinging on until you flame out is more of the norm. Even Zest himself has given clues toward this kind of anticlimactic finale, mentioning his reduced practice during the group selections.

Still, there’s more than ample reason to have a positive outlook for Zest headed into this group. He has the best recent major tourney result of any GSL player: a second place finish at IEM Katowice 2021. While his micro, macro, and multi-tasking vexxed viewers at times, there was nothing confusing about his ability to put wins on the board. Sure, warping in 12 Zealots when your opponent doesn’t expect is a bronze-tier tactic—but getting it to work against the best progamers in the world is why Zest is SC2’s galaxy brain.

Prediction: Unless Armani can reinvoke his mojo from the semifinals,this group will probably come down to PvP ability. In that regard, Zest and Trap have a significant advantage. Though PvP still deserves its reputation as an unpredictable match-up where anyone could win, there’s still plenty of skill separation at the top level. Over the course of the 2020/21 EPT Season, both Zest and Trap recorded over 70% match win-rates in PvP, while sOs only recorded a 57% in that same period.

That said, there are some interesting head-to-head quirks to consider. Trap is 7-0 against sOs since 2020. In that same time frame, sOs is 1-0 against Zest, having swept him in their meeting in December’s Super Tournament. As for Trap and Zest, it’s close to a wash, with Trap leading 11-9 in series.

What does all that mean? Ehhh, who knows.

Trap > Armani
Zest > sOs
Trap > Zest
sOs > Armani
sOs > Zest

Trap and sOs to advance.


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Source: https://tl.net/forum/starcraft-2/571915-code-s-ro16-preview-trap-armani-sos-zest

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Use this Cyper tripwire trick to lure enemies into your sites

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Cypher’s spy kit shines brightest on Split thanks to the map’s enclosed areas and choke points. This galaxy brain play proves that Cypher is the key to winning on split thanks to his strong options on the B site.

Valorant has 15 agents and all of them are equipped with abilities that may or may not work on select maps. For example, Sova often underperforms on Split since his arrows are best on maps with verticality. On Icebox, controllers lose much of their purpose as their smokes rarely come into play. However, these agents have their own map picks where they become absolutely invincible. Cypher enjoys a sky-high pick rate on Split due to his ability to choke entries.

His tripwires and camera help him keep the backlines secure, but he can be deadly on the defensive side as well. In high-ranked lobbies, this strategy may help you secure extra kills as Cypher.

Attach your tripwire from the B main entrance boxes towards the large wooden box. This is a unique angle that the enemy would likely miss spotting while rushing into the site. After that, place your cage in the middle of default and the wooden box. The purpose of the smoke is to trick enemies into finding a secure corner, a corner where you have placed your tripwire. As soon as the attackers tumble on the wire, you’ll have their positions exposed while they’re vulnerable due to the slight concuss. 

While it’s often expected for Cypher to play safely as the team rotates back from A, the agent can singlehandedly lock down a large area and get kills using this trick. The defenders can trust you with a whole bomb site if you know how to execute this setup flawlessly. This trick pairs best with Raze’s grenades and Killjoy’s nano swarm as well. The two agents can injure the dazed enemies after the trip exposes their locations.

What class is Cypher in Valorant? 

The information broker was released in the original Valorant roster as a Sentinel who keeps tabs on enemies from the sidelines. He’s a one-man surveillance network who can secure a large area on his own thanks to his information-gathering abilities. Cypher is a valuable agent in full lobbies where teammates can benefit from his map control and extensive intel. 

Recent buff deactivated Cypher’s equipment post-death, but his pick rate didn’t falter. The agent is still the top Sentinel in high ranked lobbies and professional Valorant games. 

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Source: https://win.gg/news/7865/use-this-cyper-tripwire-trick-to-lure-enemies-into-your-sites

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ESL Open Week #66: Stats, Clem, Solar win

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The second week of the ESL Open Cups for the 2021-22 ESL Pro Tour (and 66th overall) have come and gone: On Sunday, (Wiki)Stats marked his first win of the second season in Korea, while (Wiki)Clem defended his title in the European showdown on Monday. In the American cup, (Wiki)Solar celebrated his first successful overseas campaign of the season.

The top echelon of Korean Protoss players seem to have thing for EPT points. Their participation in these cups has been steady week after week, while their colleague’s spirits seem lacking in this regard. No wonder, then, that once more the warriors from Aiur dominated the competition on Sunday by taking three out of four top spots in the Asian cup. Stats had a pretty comfortable way to the finals, with (Wiki)MacSed and (Wiki)SpeCial being the only notable opponents he had to overcome to gain entry to the decisive bout. There, he clashed with (Wiki)PartinG, who had already stood in the finals in the previous week (eliminating Stats along the way). Unfortunately for PartinG, he had his hopes thwarted once again. Just like in Cup #65, the Big Boy won the first map, only to be crushed in the three subsequent games. Having defeated (Wiki)Has and (Wiki)Trap along the way, his PvP mojo seemed depleted.

While ‘the Clem Weekly’ really doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘the Big Gabe Weekly’, the Liquid player seems to have the will to make the new unofficial title for the tournament series a reality, having already secured the second win in the new season and laying a foundation for a long streak of victories. It was a hard-won triumph, for Clem had to contend with (Wiki)souL and (Wiki)HeRoMaRinE to reach the finals. But with his reputed weakness in TvT really not being as much of an issue anymore, the two Terrans were nothing the Frenchman couldn’t handle. On the other side of the bracket, another heavy hitter cruised through the bracket without breaking a sweat: the reigning world champion (Wiki)Reynor graced the cup with his presence and reached the finals without losing a map, disposing of (Wiki)GunGFuBanDa in the semis—already the second top four placement for the German this season. The Italian and his opponent from France rekindled their rivalry from last season, Clem winning the first map after a series of Bio pushes. Reynor struck back by taking a page out of Dark’s book and opting for Roach-Ravager, transitioning into Lurker-Viper and eventually winning the macro game in the second match. He followed this up by showing his range on the third map, taking a win with Muta-Ling-Bane. A wonky base trade scenario on Blackburn equalized the series, with Clem closing things out in another Bio-Mine vs. Muta-Ling-Bane match on the final map—it wasn’t the most exciting series these two have played against each other, but seeing this duel in a weekly cup sure is a fantastic thing for the fans.

After crashing out of the Korean/Asian cup early on, Solar made up for it with a dominating performance in the American ESL Open Cup one day later, going through (Wiki)Vanya, Has and SpeCial without dropping a map to claim the win. Has had already reached the semi-finals in the previous week, seemingly gaining some consistency. The same goes for Polish Protoss (Wiki)Gerald, who had appeared in the finals of Cup #65 and only narrowly missed out on repeating this feat, being eliminated by the Mexican Terran with a 2-3 score after himself defeating the defending champion (Wiki)MaxPax and Korean player (Wiki)NightMare. Taken together with his very solid performance in the World Team League on the weekend, the eXoN player’s form seems to be quite good at the moment, so another finals appearance or perhaps even a win look like they’re in the cards for him.

ESL Open Cup winners earn $200 in prize money and 10 ESL Pro Tour points. Players who finish second earn 5 ESL Pro Tour points and $100. A top 4 finish guarantees at least $50. Edition #67 of the ESL Open Cups will take place on the 18th (Korea) and the 19th of April (Europe and America).

by TheOneAboveU

Korean Server Cup #65 (Click for full bracket)

European Server Cup #65 (Click for full bracket)

Americas Server Cup #65 (Click for full bracket)

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Source: https://tl.net/forum/starcraft-2/571911-esl-open-week-66-stats-clem-solar-win

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Position 5 Faceless Void is making waves in North American Dota 2 pubs after patch 7.29

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Dota 2 Siddharth “Gopya” Gopujkar

Faceless Void is typically played as the carry and has been seen in the offlane role too. But patch 7.29 has made him a candidate for the position 5 support.

Image: JimESC

Over the years, Dota 2 has seen some insane exchanges in roles. Support Invoker, core Io, support Gyrocopter, support Luna, core Shadow Demon, and the list goes on. Add to that list – support Faceless Void!

If a million guesses had to be made, support Void would be in them because we have only 120 heroes, but it would be one of the last guesses. Dota 2 patch 7.29 has added the potential to turn one of the hardest carries in the game, who terrorized patch 7.27 along with Sven, into a support. The artist to introduce this new concept into Dota 2? The 11k support, Kim “DuBu” Doo-young, who plays for Undying.

What makes Faceless Void a good support in the new evolving meta? Let’s take a look at his changelog from patch Dota 2 patch 7.29.

Position 5 Faceless Void Skill Build

The key skill that makes him viable as a support is Time Dilation. The skill, which lasts for 11 seconds, does 13 DPS per cooldown. So any hero that uses four spells in a team fight and gets hit with Time Dilation will 572 magic damage, besides having their cooldown timers tick 60% slower. And there is also a 10% slow per extended cooldown, which can make heroes with a lot of spells crawl. Think about it – one press of a button in a team fight and enemy heroes are slowed, take damage and have their cooldowns extended. Does not sound bad!

A thought that might occur is that this can be done on a core Void as well. But that isn’t the case, because the support Void maxes out Time Dilation at level 7, something a core Void cannot afford to do. And the effect of the max Time Dilation will be felt early on in the game, when teams do not have a dispel against it. If the skill isn’t maxed out early (like on a position 1 Faceless Void, who maxes it out the last), by the time it gets to level 4, the opposition team is bound to have BKBs, Eul’s Scepters or another dispels. After Time Dilation is maxed out, DuBu gets all points into Time Walk, which gives the hero the ability to get in and out of fights more easily with the low cooldown.

It isn’t just Time Dilation that makes Faceless Void a good support. There is, of course, his signature spell – Chronosphere. Void’s ultimate is one of the best lockdowns in the game and as long as your team has a few heroes that can dish out damage in the Chrono, it is a spell that can have game changing effects, even on a support Faceless Void.

Position 5 Faceless Void Itemization and Talents

DuBu tends to prioritize Meteor Hammer as the first major item on the Faceless Void support. Depending on the game, an Urn of Shadows is also an option, which can later be turned into a Spirit Vessel. The Meteor Hammer is a guaranteed stun after if timed correctly with the end of the Chronosphere. It also gives him the ability to push out waves and cheekily go in and out of vision with Time Walk while pushing towers. After Meteor Hammer, the invent choices are quite open ended depending on what the team needs – Spirit Vessel, Pipe, Solar Crest or any other team fight item that might help.

The ideal support talents for Void are 1-1-1-1. Damage is not to be prioritized and all possible resources should be invested in staying alive and getting off good Time Dilations and Chronospheres. It might sound weird that getting off a good Time Dilation isn’t the easiest thing, but when you are building your hero around it, you can’t just Time Walk in and use it at the start of the fight. It will be completely useless. A support Void will have to wait in the Shadows to see which skills are being used before jumping in and using Time Dilation for it to be put to maximum use. It can be a pretty handy tool against heroes like Queen of Pain and Anti-Mage, when they jump in using their Blinks.

Dota 2 analyst Gustavo “Bowie” Mattos is convinced that the support Void can work and posted a Twitter thread about it.

Undying finished third in the Upper Division of the NA DPC League last season and are quite close to being a tier 1 Dota 2 team. Their first game in season 2 is on the 15th of April against the newly promoted team, The Cut. DuBu has won all four games in his pubs with the support Faceless Void, but it will be interesting to see if he and his team think it is good enough to be experimented with in a professional game.

QuickPoll

Do you think Faceless Void can be a good support becuase of the changes in patch 7.29?

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Siddharth “Gopya” Gopujkar

A Mechanical Engineer who is as interested in the mechanics of DotA 2 as every machine he studies. Pursuing his Master’s at the Michigan Technological University.

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Source: https://www.gosugamers.net/dota2/news/54224-position-5-faceless-void-is-making-waves-in-north-american-dota-2-pubs-after-patch-7-29

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