|Founded||August 10, 2017|
|Team history||Los Angeles Gladiators|
|Based in||Los Angeles, California|
|Head coach||David "dpei" Pei|
|General manager||Brenda "bsuh" Suh|
|Parent group||Kroenke Sports & Entertainment|
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.
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. 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. 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.
Los Angeles' first regular season match, played on January 10, 2018, resulted in a 4–0 sweep over the Shanghai Dragons. 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. The Gladiators finished Stage 3 with a 6–4 record in fourth place, which, gave the team the final stage playoff spot. 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. 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. The team unexpectedly chose the second-seeded Valiant as their semifinal opponents; the Valiant subsequently defeated the Gladiators in the stage playoffs by a score of 3–2. 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.
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. The team hit their stride in Stage 2 with a 6–1 record and claimed the fourth seed in the Stage 2 Playoffs; however, they lost in the quarterfinals to the New York Excelsior, 0–3. 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. 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. 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. 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. Los Angeles' season came to an end the following match, when they were swept 0–4 by the San Francisco Shock.
In the preceding offseason of the 2020 season, 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. 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 franchise in the Call of Duty League, which was later revealed as the Los Angeles Guerrillas.
The Gladiators finished their 2020 season with 11 wins and 10 losses to claim the sixth seed in the North America region. On September 4, Los Angeles advanced to the season playoffs after 3–2 win over the Toronto Defiant in the North American Play-in tournament. In the first round of the North American playoffs, the Gladiators were swept by the Philadelphia Fusion, sending them to the lower bracket. They lost to the Florida Mayhem in the first round of the lower bracket, which eliminated them from the playoffs.
In the 2021 offseason, the Los Angeles Gladiators competed in the SteelSeries Invitational winning the tournament against the Boston Uprising 3-0.
On November 2, 2017, the Los Angeles Gladiators brand was officially unveiled. 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.
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.'"
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.
Los Angeles Gladiators roster
|Los Angeles Gladiators head coaches|
|dpei||David Pei||November 2, 2017||–||3 years, 176 days|||
|Season||P||W||L||W%||MW||ML||MT||MD||Pos. (league)||Pos. (conf.)||Playoffs||Earnings|
|2019||28||17||11||.607||67||48||3||+19||5th||4th||Lower Round 2||$325,000|
|2020||21||11||10||.524||43||39||5||+4||9th||5th||NA Lower Round 1||$85,000|
All-Star Game selections
Main article: Gladiators Legion
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.
On December 4, 2019, Gladiators Legion announced they would disband after two years of competing in Overwatch Contenders.