Stage 2 of the Overwatch League for the Valiant was a test of courage and patience. A disappointing 4-6 stage record and rumors of instability within the team had fans and pundits wondering what was happening with CEO Noah Whinston’s squad. Would the Valiant share the same fate the Immortals Counter-Strike: Global Offensive squad saw when that team saw a modicum of success, imploding even with some of the best talent in the scene?
Not a chance.
Whinston wasn’t having it and made some significant changes to the roster just before the start of the third stage.
With rumors swirling around now former Valiant flex-player Kang-jae “envy” Lee regarding punching his coach and an inability to get along with his teammates, Whinston released envy on April 2. Ted “silkthread” Wang was traded to the Gladiators, Christopher “GrimReality” Schafer went from player to coach and Benjamin “uNKOE” Chevasson was acquired from the Dallas Fuel.
The moves paid dividends.
The Valiant went 7-3 during this past stage and earned itself the No. 3 seed for the playoffs where they faced the New York Excelsior losing 0-3 in a “closer than the score looks” fashion. And while they players and staff were disappointed with the loss, there was a bigger picture being looked at by the team.
During the post-match press conference, Brady “Agilities” Girardi explained why he feels the team is performing better during Stage 3.
“Changing the roster really helped. We still play hard, but now we have a better time laughing and having fun,” he explained. “Even if we are losing, we don’t put our heads down anymore because nobody is yelling or getting that upset. This team has way more fun and because of that, we are able to handle pressure better than we did before.”
The change in team chemistry is clear. Agilities commented that a lot of that change has to do with GrimReality simply being on the coaching staff.
“We feel the coaches and staff get us now,” Agilities said. “They still push us hard, but I feel like they understand us more and let us be who we are. It’s a big reason we are winning more.”
The results are there and if how the Valiant reacted to the playoff loss is any indication of their new mindset, Stage 4 could be more of the same for this improved squad.
The Valiant currently sit in fifth place in the overall standings with the top sixth going to the league championship playoffs after Stage 4.