A Fresh Start

The Los Angeles Valiant took me under their wing, developed who I am as a player and gave me so many amazing opportunities that I never had before. They gave me a chance at pro gaming and I’ll always be grateful for that, I know the mistakes I made and how to improve on them in the future.

When Valiant first picked me up, I had never really played on a professional team – besides trialling for a short time with Counter Logic Gaming. I played on stage for the first time wearing the Valiant jersey and I learned so much from that experience.

My overall experience with the Los Angeles Valiant was positive, though obviously, as time went on, it became less than ideal for me in terms of my playing time. For the last stage with Valiant, I didn’t get as much playtime as I did during Stage 1, mainly due to coaching staff decisions and preferences.

As my playtime started decreasing around Stage 1’s halfway point, I started to feel awkward, unsure of what I could provide to the team moving forward. I wouldn’t say I was frustrated, but it did put a dent in my confidence as a player; it was affecting my motivation to improve and play the game.

The team began to segment itself, split between the main roster players and the ‘sister team’, the ‘Inside LA Valiant’ series depicts this pretty accurately. That split amongst the players was prominent and was unhealthy for the team overall since it created two distinct identities where ideally, you only want one identity as a team.

I identified with the sister team and I made many close friends with people on that sister team, who I miss dearly now that I’ve moved on. Since leaving, I’ve heard that things are improving a lot over there.

The trade proposition came around one day when I had a group meeting with Noah, the coaching staff and the LA Valiant management. In short, they told me that they were going to start shooting my name around to other OWL teams.

When they told me, I immediately felt really empowered and I gained a huge surge of motivation; I wanted to work harder than I had before and I wanted that chance at a fresh start on a new team. I did some talking of my own to my agent and I secured myself a try-out with the Los Angeles Gladiators.

The transition from Valiant over to the Gladiators has been really smooth, certainly a smoother transition than I thought it would be when I initially tried out for the team. The most difficult part was probably going from having my own apartment – where I had my own bedroom and bathroom – to living in a team house.

Other than that, I was integrated into team practice really quickly. I’m rapidly synergizing and gelling with the team as well, which is all due to the help and support I received from the coaching staff; they appreciate that I’ll need a little bit more playtime now so that I can get used to how the team plays.

Something I’ve noticed on this team is that everybody is a lot more talkative and open when it comes to feedback and what we could do differently. We’re constantly looking for changes we could make that would help us improve – which I prefer – especially the increased involvement of the coaching staff during scrim time.

At Valiant, I always wanted more direct feedback, I wanted to be told by my coaching staff exactly how I could improve. It was like that for a while, but as I started getting less playtime, I stopped getting that feedback, I wasn’t getting the direction I needed to improve. The Gladiators’ coaching staff have been giving me exactly that and for me, that’s the biggest difference.

However, the most supportive people of all have been the fans. Even though I’ve transferred to the ‘rival’ team of LA, they’ve been super supportive and want the best for me; it’s one of the most heart-warming and heartfelt things I’ve experienced in a while.

Obviously, I always want to improve my mechanical skill, but the most important thing right now is communication. Coming from Valiant, a team with multiple ethnicities, cultural and language barriers, I learned how to communicate pretty decently. Here at the Gladiators, it’s kind of the same scenario.

I want to be able to communicate more effectively when those language barriers are present because Overwatch League is international; to be able to communicate in that way is super-beneficial. I also want to improve my overall game sense, to a point where I feel a lot more confident as a player and in my own play.

Instead of simply putting in 90%, I want to put 150% into every aspect from now on; whether that be in practice, at home, on stage, just in general. I’ve even started taking a lot of notes on my phone, so I can look at them and make sure I don’t forget anything, I want to continue improving at a steady rate.

Our goal as a team, for this stage, is to make the playoffs. I definitely think we have the potential to do that, considering we have insanely talented players. Everyone’s attitude towards improvement and open feedback will be important; nobody has an ego that prevents them from improving.

With this fresh start, I’m more motivated than ever to grind and improve, I realized I could have put more effort in when I was at Valiant. I acknowledge that now and I plan on never making the same mistake again.

Image Credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

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