The 2019 Los Angeles Gladiators: New Shield Who Dis?

LAG wins! / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Meet the Gladiators

  • Lane “Surefour” Roberts
    • Surefour returns for a second season with the Gladiators. He demonstrated his DPS prowess during All-Star week, winning the Widow 1v1 challenge. His deep hero pool and affinity for Zarya bodes well for a GOATS meta.
  • João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles
    • Whether he was wielding a dragon blade or Doomfist’s gauntlet, Hydration consistently racked up kills in season 1. More importantly, he is the first OWL player to release a holiday album.
  • Gui-un “Decay” Jang
    formerly Kongdoo Panthera

    • Decay and Kongdoo Panthera placed 2nd in the second season of Korean Contenders. His hero pool overlaps with Hydration and Surefour, with a notable exception: Tracer.

Aaron “Bischu” Kim / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

  • Aaron “Bischu” Kim, Off Tank
    • Besides off tank, Bischu wears many masks for the Gladiators. His energetic personality made him a perfect candidate for interviews on behalf of the team and league. More importantly he played the role of English/Korean interpreter during games. As the Gladiators add four new Korean players to the roster, this last skill is sure to get some use.
  • Jun-woo “Void” Kang, Off Tank
    • Void joined the Gladiators during stage 4 at the rumored request of Fissure. They had previously played together on Cloud9 Kongdoo. While the Gladiators ended stage 4 with a 9-1 record, Void spent most of the stage finding his footing with the team (57% map win ratio to Bischu’s 68%, in the same period of time). Of all the returning Gladiators, Void’s role in the upcoming season is the most up in the air.
  • Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye, Main Tank
    formerly Kongdoo Panthera

    • Whether he likes it or not, rOar (that’s an ‘o’ not a zero) has big handsome main tank shoes to fill. His aggressive tank play is not unlike Fissure’s, which worked well in the Gladiator’s first season. However, while Fissure was known for his Winston, rOar’s go-to is Reinhardt a better fit for GOATs.
  • Byung-ho “Panker” Lee, Main Tank
    two-way player with Gladiator’s Legion

    • A popular pick-up for the Gladiators, Panker is the only two-way player on this team. It’s too early to tell how he will affect the team. He’s notably absent from the Gladiators roster video. He may only appear should rOar be unable to play, or the team may bring him in intermittently to mix things up.

Benjamin Ville Aapeli “BigGoose” Isohanni / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

  • Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara and Benjamin “BigG00se” Isohanni
    • It’s hard to talk about one Glads support without the other. The Finnish players make up what is considered one of the best support duos in the league. Through the Gladiators’ ups and downs, they held steady throughout season one. Shaz healed his team more than other Zenyatta in the league. Meanwhile, BigG00se spent most of the season on Mercy boosting, resurrecting, and dealing a surprising amount of damage.
  • Riku “Ripa” Toivanen
    formerly Team Gigantti

    • So what happens when we add a third Finnish support into the mix? We will have to wait and see. Ripa, who played for Team Gigantti after Shaz and G00se left, has been suspended for 5 games. If the GOATS meta persists through Stage 1, we may see him play alongside the Shaz and G00se. Or Gladiators coaching may have the trio swap around based on maps.


Kevin “Kez” Jeon, General Manager

David “dpei” Pei, Head Coach

Timothy “Tim” Albanese, Assistant Coach

Seetoh “JohnGalt” Jian Qing, Assistant Coach

Carl “PCC” Daubery, Performance Coach

Shang-yeon “Shibainu” Han, Korean Translator

Learn more about the new members of the LA Gladiators staff

OWL 2019

Many outlets place Gladiators within the top five OWL teams. However, with so many changes in the second season, it could be anyone’s game. As head coach dpei puts it on Twitter:

“While it’s great that people have us high in power rankings, I think everyone should level their expectations because I view us as a completely new team.”

However, if the Gladiators are to be successful, I believe it will be due to a few factors.

Pre-Built Roster

In season 1, the team included two sets of players from the same team (iRemiix and Bischu from Kungarna, Shaz and BigG00se from Gigantti) and later added a third (Fissure and Void from Cloud 9 Kongdoo). Season 2 brings three new Kongdoo Panthera alumni Decay, rOar, and Panker. Ripa also rounds out the Gigantti support trio. By relying on these pre-existing connections, hopefully less time will be spent building trust, which leaves room for them to focus on higher levels of play. Of course, they’ll still need to make connections outside their former squads.

Big Brain Bamboozles

I don’t expect plays as wild as the Great Bamboozle every week. However, since the first one worked so well I wouldn’t be shocked if they don’t float something unique once a stage. With fewer games overall, there may be more room to practice unseen strategies. And with a hero pool as deep as the  Gladiators they have room improvise.

The Bischu Factor

As previously mentioned, Bischu is core to the Gladiators with his split role as tank and interpreter. When Fissure joined the Gladiators in stage 2, Bischu began his bilingual role. And while much of the focus was on the new tank Fissure, then-DPS Asher also found new footing in the team. Asher, who had previously seemed off on his hunt, was enabled to be a better team player. Bischu noted that interpreting and playing is challenging. But if its a skill he’s been sharpening, we may see the Gladiators with a new set of fangs with Decay and rOar.

Can the Gladiators in deliver in 2019? According to head coach dpei, “We have the potential to be first or last, but it’s completely up to us and the work we put it.”

We’ll get our first glimpse of that potential on February 14th. The LA Gladiators are up against the Seoul Dynasty (playing against former main tank Fissure) in an opening game you don’t want to miss.

Shields up, Gladiators!


Daniel is life long game player and day dreamer living in St. Paul, MN. He holds a Masters in Writing for Children and Young Adult from Hamline University and writes scripts for both comics and plays. He enjoys playing competitive Overwatch, even if he isn't so great, and enjoys hosting friends for couch co-op gaming. Check him out on Twitter!
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