Los Angeles Gladiators

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Los Angeles Gladiators
The logo for the Los Angeles Gladiators features a roaring white lion circumscribed inside a purple battle-scarred shield.
FoundedAugust 10, 2017
LeagueOverwatch League
ConferencePacific
DivisionWest
Team historyLos Angeles Gladiators
(2017–present)
Based inLos Angeles, California
Colors              
OwnerStan Kroenke
Josh Kroenke
Head coachDavid "dpei" Pei
General managerDavid "dpei" Pei
Affiliation(s)Gladiators Legion
Parent groupKroenke Sports & Entertainment
WebsiteOfficial website
Uniforms
Los Angeles Gladiators Jersey.svg

The Los Angeles Gladiators are an American professional Overwatch esports team based in Los Angeles, California. The Gladiators compete in the Overwatch League (OWL) as a member of the league's Pacific West Division.

Founded in 2017, the Los Angeles Gladiators are one of twelve founding members of the OWL and are one of two professional Overwatch teams based in Los Angeles (the other, the Los Angeles Valiant). The team is owned by Stan Kroenke and Josh Kroenke of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, who also own Gladiators Legion, an academy team for Los Angeles that compete in Overwatch Contenders.

David "dpei" Pei was appointed the team's first head coach and has led the Gladiators to a season playoff appearance in every season.

Franchise history[edit]

Team creation: Joining the Overwatch League[edit]

On August 10, 2017, Blizzard officially announced that KSE Esports, owned by Stan Kroenke and Josh Kroenke, had acquired the second Los Angeles-based Overwatch League franchise spot.[1][2] On November 2, as the twelfth and final franchise to unveil their branding, the team revealed the franchise would be called the Los Angeles Gladiators, as well as formally announcing they had partnered with Rob Moore's Phoenix1 (later renamed to Sentinels after the partnership) to help manage the operations of the team.[3] During the same announcement, they unveiled their initial 7-player inaugural season roster and revealed the players were picked from a conglomeration of professional Overwatch esports teams to suit an "aggressive and fun" playstyle the team hoped to emulate as a reflection of their personality.[4][5]

Early years: 2018–present[edit]

dpei was appointed the team's first head coach.

Los Angeles' first regular season match, played on January 10, 2018, resulted in a 4–0 sweep over the Shanghai Dragons.[6] They finished Stage 1 with a 4–6 record in 8th place. The team finished the Stage 2 in fifth place with a 6–4 record, including a 4–0 sweep over the Valiant.[7] The Gladiators finished Stage 3 with a 6–4 record in fourth place, which, gave the team the final stage playoff spot.[8] The top-seeded Boston Uprising, undefeated in Stage 3, selected the Gladiators as their first round opponent; on May 6, the Uprising swept the Gladiators 3–0.[9] The Gladiators finished with a league-best 9–1 record in Stage 4, including a reverse sweep over back-to-back stage champions New York Excelsior.[10] The team unexpectedly chose the second-seeded Valiant as their semifinal opponents;[11] the Valiant subsequently defeated the Gladiators in the stage playoffs by a score of 3–2.[12] The team ended the season with a 25–15 record – good for the fourth seed in the season playoffs. In their first playoff series, the Gladiators faced the London Spitfire. Los Angeles took the first match, 3–0, but they fell in the following two matches to the Spitfire, ending their playoff run.[13]

The Gladiators struggled early on in the 2019 season, losing four of their first five matches, and did not qualify for the Stage 1 Playoffs.[14] The team hit their stride in Stage 2 with a 6–1 record and claimed the fourth seed in the Stage 2 Playoffs;[15] however, they lost in the quarterfinals to the New York Excelsior, 0–3.[16] The Gladiators' performance dropped in Stage 3, as they were only able to amass a 4–3 for the stage and missed out on Stage 3 Playoffs by one spot.[17] With the implementation of an enforced 2-2-2 role lock by the league in Stage 4, Los Angeles won three of their first six matches in the stage. The Gladiators closed out the season with a 3–1 victory over the Los Angeles Valiant at the Valiant's homestand weekend at The Novo, giving the team an 18–11 overall record and the fifth seed in the season playoffs.[18] The Gladiators began their playoff run with a 4–3 victory over the Hangzhou Spark in the first round, marking the team's first ever playoff series win, including stage playoffs, in franchise history.[19][20] The win advanced the team to the first round in the upper bracket, but they fell 2–4 to the Vancouver Titans, sending them to the lower bracket.[21] Los Angeles' season came to an end the following match, when they were swept 0–4 by the San Francisco Shock.[22]

During the postseason, controversy arose among Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) and management organization, Sentinels. Sentinels CEO Rob Moore filed suit against KSE, alleging that KSE executive Josh Kroenke had violated a verbal joint venture agreement between the two sides.[23] In the aftermath from the lawsuit, it was announced that KSE and Sentinels would part ways, and KSE would officially take over management of the Gladiators on October 1, 2019. KSE would build up their own esports front office to manage both the Gladiators and a Los Angeles-based expansion franchise in the Call of Duty League.[24]

The offseason leading up to 2020 saw several major coaching and roster changes, as David "dpei" Pei returned as the head coach and general manager, while only three players who were on the roster in 2019 would remain on the team (Aaron "Bischu" Kim was traded to the Guangzhou Charge in the middle of 2019 but returned to Los Angeles in the offseason as a free agent). The revamped Gladiators made their 2020 debut on February 8 in Dallas, Texas. With the Overwatch League switching to a "homestand" format for the new season, every team would be traveling to play in each others' locations throughout the season. Since the Gladiators had not taken part in the 2019 Dallas and Atlanta homestands, this marked the first time the team would ever play a match outside of Los Angeles. The team dropped the series to the Vancouver Titans 3-2.

The Gladiators were scheduled to take part in a series of homestands throughout China, however due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the team instead traveled to South Korea for training. Shortly after it was reported that South Korea had become at the time the second most-infected country during the pandemic, the Gladiators quickly returned to Los Angeles and would self-isolate themselves within their team house. With every team facing a similar scenario, the Overwatch League announced the cancellation of all homestand events in March and April.[25] The league also announced that all matches played during these months would be held in an online format. After seven weeks, the Gladiators would finally play their second and third matches of the season, defeating the San Francisco Shock 3-1 and losing to the Seoul Dynasty 3-0. The Overwatch League later announced the online format would permanently replace homestand events for the remainder of the 2020 regular season due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. The Gladiators released a statement explaining the team's support for this decision, and have since remained in Los Angeles to participate in their online matches.[26]

The Gladiators placed as the 7th seed in the Overwatch League's first midseason tournament, the "May Melee." They defeated the Washington Justice 3-0 in their first game before being eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Philadelphia Fusion.

Team identity[edit]

On November 2, 2017, the Los Angeles Gladiators brand was officially unveiled.[3] The name and logo, a roaring lion head in a battle-hardened shield, were selected in spirit of the original superstars of sports and entertainment (as well as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum), the gladiators of ancient Rome, whose ferocity and "willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice captured the hearts of millions of people of all backgrounds for centuries". Continuing with the gladiator theme, the team colors were announced as purple and white, inspired from the royal colors of the Roman emperors that the gladiators fought for. In addition, the written logo was revealed with a contrasting color used intentionally for the connected letters L and A in "Gladiators", to highlight the Los Angeles location of the team.[27]

As an addition to their branding, the Gladiators began using the slogan "shields up" on social media, possibly a reference to the frequent use of shields by the ancient Roman gladiators as a means of defense. As a result, fans of the team have often chanted "Shields up" during the team's matches. When asked what the slogan meant to him in an interview, head coach David "dpei" Pei stated, "It's kind of like defending your team, like being there for your team … I think that's what kind of epitomizes the Gladiators' saying 'shields up.'"[28]

Zayde Wølf's song "Gladiator" was used by the team during their last entrance of the 2018 playoffs. The song became popular with the team's fans, and since then it has been used by the team for almost every single one of their entrances at the arena.

Personnel[edit]

Current roster[edit]

Min-seok "OGE" Son was traded to the Gladiators from the Dallas Fuel prior to the 2020 season
Los Angeles Gladiators roster
Players Coaches
Role No. Handle Name Nationality Previous team
Damage 20 birdring  Kim Ji-hyeok  South Korea  London Spitfire 
Damage 18 kevster  Persson, Kevin   Sweden  Team Doge 
Damage 7 MirroR  Trịnh, Gia Huy   Vietnam  Uprising Academy 
Damage 77 Jaru  White, Jason   United States  Team Envy 
Tank 2 OGE  Son Min-seok  South Korea  Dallas Fuel 
Tank 27 LhCloudy  Tiihonen, Roni   Finland  Paris Eternal 
Tank 16 SPACE  Halpern, Indy   United States  Los Angeles Valiant 
Tank 31 Bischu  Kim Hyung-seok  South Korea  Guangzhou Charge 
Support 0 BigG00se  Ville, Benjamin   Finland  Team Gigantti 
Support 52 Shaz  Suovaara, Jonas   Finland  Team Gigantti 
Head coach
  • David "dpei" Pei

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (TW) Two-way player
  • (I) Inactive
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injury/Illness

Latest roster transaction: June 20, 2020.

Head coaches[edit]

Los Angeles Gladiators head coaches
Handle Name From To Span Ref.
dpei David Pei November 2, 2017 2 years, 236 days [4]

Awards and records[edit]

Seasons overview[edit]

Season P W L W% MW ML MT MD Pos. (league) Pos. (conf.) Playoffs Earnings
2018 40 25 15 .625 96 72 3 +24 4th 2nd Quarterfinals $200,000
2019 28 17 11 .607 67 48 3 +19 5th 4th Lower Round 2 $325,000
2020 11 5 6 .455 21 23 3 -2 13th 7th TBD $0

Individual accomplishments[edit]

All-Star Game selections

  • BigGoose (Benjamin Isohanni) – 2018
  • Fissure (Baek Chan-hyung)[a] – 2018
  • Surefour (Lane Roberts) – 2018
  • Bischu (Aaron Kim) – 2018
  • Decay (Jang Gui-Un) – 2019

Academy team[edit]

On February 15, 2018, the Gladiators formally announced their academy team would go under the name "Gladiators Legion" for Overwatch Contenders North America, as well as revealing their 6-player Season One roster led by head coach Gannon "RaptorZ" Nelson.[29][30]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Fissure was selected to the 2018 All-Star Game whilst a member of the Gladiators, but was transferred to the Seoul Dynasty in the offseason period prior to the All-Star Game and, thus, would represent the Dynasty while participating in the event.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Webster, Andrew (August 10, 2017). "Blizzard's Overwatch League continues to expand with new teams in London and LA". The Verge. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  2. ^ Wolf, Jacob (August 10, 2017). "Cloud9 buys London, Kroenkes grab L.A. Overwatch League spots". ESPN. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Khan, Imad (November 2, 2017). "With the Gladiators announced for the Overwatch League, all twelve teams are now set". ESPN. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Newman, Heather (November 2, 2017). "L.A. Gladiators To Feature 'Aggressive, Fun' Playstyle In Overwatch League". Forbes. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  5. ^ Carpenter, Nicole (November 2, 2017). "Players from Cloud9, Kungarna, and Team Gigantti make up the LA Gladiators roster". Dot Esports. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  6. ^ Donigan, Wyatt (January 15, 2018). "Dynasty survives Fuel, Valiant tops Shock, Gladiators squashes Dragons as OWL regular season begins". ESPN. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  7. ^ Waltzer, Noah (March 8, 2018). "Seoul Dynasty keeps unbeaten Stage 2 going with win over Shanghai Dragons". ESPN. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  8. ^ Tahan, Chelsey (May 6, 2018). "Here is everything you need to know about the Stage Three playoffs". Overwatch Wire. Archived from the original on October 21, 2018. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  9. ^ Waltzer, Noah (May 7, 2018). "New York Excelsior earns back-to-back stage titles". ESPN. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  10. ^ Nash, Anthony (June 8, 2018). "Good, bad, and ugly from the Gladiators' reverse sweep of New York". Overwatch Wire. Archived from the original on October 21, 2018. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  11. ^ Baker, Harry (June 16, 2018). "The Gladiators have picked the Valiant as their Stage Playoff opponent". Overwatch Wire. Archived from the original on October 21, 2018. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  12. ^ Donigan, Wyatt (June 18, 2018). "Los Angeles Valiant beats New York Excelsior in Stage 4 final". ESPN. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  13. ^ Baker, Harry (July 14, 2018). "London reverse sweep two back-to-back series against Gladiators, head to semifinals". Overwatch Wire. Archived from the original on October 21, 2018. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  14. ^ Erzberger, Tyler; Rand, Emily (March 13, 2019). "Overwatch League power rankings through Week 4". ESPN. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  15. ^ August, Charlotte (May 6, 2019). "Overwatch League Stage 2 Playoff Primer, Part 1". ESTNN. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  16. ^ Amos, Andrew (May 10, 2019). "New York Excelsior and Vancouver Titans set to meet in Overwatch League stage 2 semifinals". Dot Esports. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  17. ^ Stenzel, Zach (July 11, 2019). "How Will the Gladiators Fare in 2-2-2 Role Lock?". The Game Haus. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  18. ^ Richardson, Liz (August 26, 2019). "Overwatch League season playoffs update: Stage 4, week 5". Dot Esports. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  19. ^ "Gladiators, Titans win on Day 1 of Overwatch League playoffs". ESPB. Reuters. September 6, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  20. ^ Cuevo, Chris (September 5, 2019). "LA Gladiators' rOar Has a Message for the Vancouver Titans". InvenGlobal. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  21. ^ Richardson, Liz (September 8, 2019). "Vancouver Titans and New York Excelsior advance in the Overwatch League postseason". Dot Esports. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  22. ^ Richardson, Liz (September 12, 2019). "Atlanta Reign, Los Angeles Gladiators eliminated from Overwatch League playoffs". Dot Esports. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  23. ^ Wolf, Jacob (August 2, 2019). "Sentinels CEO sues Kroenke Sports & Entertainment over Echo Fox purchase". ESPN. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  24. ^ Wolf, Jacob (September 17, 2019). "Kroenke Sports & Entertainment parts with Sentinels, to build own esports front office". ESPN. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  25. ^ "The Overwatch League - Article Page". overwatchleague.com. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  26. ^ Gladiators, Los Angeles (March 31, 2020). "Regarding the #OWL2020 update:pic.twitter.com/ygxpDnd99l". @LAGladiators. Retrieved May 19, 2020. External link in |title= (help)
  27. ^ Vejnovic, Tatjana (November 2, 2017). "Blizzard Announces Final Team for Overwatch League". Overwatch Wire. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  28. ^ Akshon Esports Overwatch (February 19, 2018), Overwatch League Team Signs RunAway Player - The Meaning Behind Shields Up | Akshon Recap, retrieved November 6, 2018
  29. ^ Tahan, Chelsey (February 15, 2018). "LA Gladiators reveal their Contenders team: the Gladiators Legion". Overwatch Wire. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  30. ^ "MEET THE GLADIATORS LEGION". Los Angeles Gladiators. February 15, 2018. Retrieved July 13, 2018 – via Overwatch League.

External links[edit]