Hangzhou Spark (1-1) 3-2 Boston Uprising (2-1)
After a tough loss to the Vancouver Titans, the Hangzhou Spark looked to get their first win of the stage against the Boston Uprising. The Uprising have looked sturdy so far this stage, taking down some solid opponents in the Atlanta Reign and the Toronto Defiant, but they also looked far from unbeatable. After playing one of the best teams of the league last week, the Spark hoped to find a more even opponent this time around.
Sure enough, the Spark had the momentum and the motivation they needed. The two teams scrapped back and forth for five maps, making it as close as they possibly could. In the end, however, Hangzhou took the win with a 3-2 victory.
Oasis: Hangzhou 2-1 Boston
The first map of the night marked the Overwatch League debut of Cai “Krystal” Shilong. He had a chance to shine on University, lighting up the kill feed along with Kyeong-bo “GodsB” Kim. With the pair at the helm, the Spark showed off a dominant performance, holding control of the map from beginning to end.
Boston regrouped for City Center, capturing the point first and holding it until around ninety percent completion before the Spark could push through and claim it for themselves. Though Hangzhou held on nearly to half completion, some standout performances from Kelsey “Colourhex” Birse gave the Uprising the momentum they needed. Moving back in, they wiped the Spark and reclaimed the point, ultimately taking the map.
Gardens gave the Spark a chance to truly unleash Krystal on the Uprising. The DPS player settled in on Bastion, dominating the fight despite Boston’s best efforts. Unsure of what to make of it, Boston struggled to find footing, and Hangzhou once again held the point the entire time, claiming Oasis.
Temple of Anubis: Boston 3-2 Hangzhou
The fight continued on Temple of Anubis, a map that Hangzhou has yet to win this season. Starting off on defense, they held back Boston’s first attack, despite solid performances from Jeffrey “blasé” Tsang on Tracer and Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth on Wrecking Ball. A well-timed Minefield from the latter gave Boston what they needed to crack the defense and claim point A. Hangzhou strengthened their defense to face the Uprising on point B, and managed to hold them for quite some time. Unfortunately, they stepped away from the point in the midst of a crucial team fight, allowing Boston to complete the map.
Hoping to keep up the good work, Boston’s defense started out strong. Some solid plays from GodsB and Jae-hwan “Adora” Kang allowed Hangzhou to break through, however, and they claimed point A with plenty of time to spare. Boston regrouped for a strong defense on point B, however. By the time Hangzhou finally got the upper hand, only a few seconds remained on the clock, and they finished the map with a minute in their time bank for the second attack.
A minute wouldn’t be enough. Boston’s defense was strong enough to keep the Spark from claiming a single tick on the point, making the Uprising’s second attack a simple task. With Fusions returning to Wrecking Ball, they pushed through with ease, claiming the map.
Blizzard World: Boston 3-2 Hangzhou
Blizzard World gave Boston’s Richard “rCk” Kanerva a chance to shine on Sombra. Nearly every single team fight was enabled by him moving in with a massive EMP, giving the Uprising the edge they needed to claim point A. They moved through the entire map with little resistance, completing it with over two minutes left in the time bank.
Still, GodsB brought out a solid Sombra of his own during the Spark’s attack. His scouting, combined with an interesting rotation around the back of the point, gave Hangzhou the upper hand, allowing them to claim point A. Although Boston put up a tougher fight through the rest of the map, the Spark made it through, with their last team fight enabled by a strong EMP-Earthshatter combo.
Once again, however, Hangzhou found themselves with little time on their second attack. That small time bank, combined with yet another big EMP from rCk, stopped them from making any progress on the point. That made it easy for Boston to move back in on their second attack, claiming the tick they needed despite a valiant defense from the Spark.
Junkertown: Hangzhou 1-0 Boston
Hangzhou brought Krystal back in for the last push, which proved a good decision. He fought as hard as he did on Oasis, leading the way in a solid defense from the Spark. Despite Boston’s efforts, they couldn’t break through, and the payload stopped for them shortly before point A.
Knowing they couldn’t let the Spark gain much ground, Boston opted for an aggressive defense right out of the gate. Hangzhou broke through with little trouble, however. With two quick team fights, they reached Boston’s limit with ease, taking the match to a fifth round.
Lijiang Tower: Hangzhou 2-1 Boston
Keeping in mind that Hangzhou had won the first control map, Boston hit Lijiang Tower ready to fight. Two early picks on the Spark’s support players allowed them to gain early control of the point, where they settled in. Just as overtime kicked in, however, Hangzhou broke through the defense to claim the point for themselves. Boston found themselves unable to recover, and Hangzhou held them back, ultimately winning the map for themselves.
Boston regrouped for the fight on Command Center. With an especially strong performance from Min-seok “AimGod” Kwon, they came out on top in most of the team fights. Though Hangzhou claimed control of the point for a brief moment, Boston proved dominant for the second round, claiming the map and sending the fight to a third round.
With the game coming down to the wire, the two teams fought it out on Garden. Boston seemed to keep their momentum from the last round alive, claiming early control of the point and holding strong. Once again, however, Hangzhou gained the upper hand, largely due to some sneaky boops from Ho-jin “iDK” Park. The Spark headed in, claimed the point, and staved off Boston’s attacks, winning both the map and the series in the end.
A Bright Debut
With a pretty tough stage ahead of them, Hangzhou desperately needs every win they can get, and pulling one out over the Uprising is a good start. In particular, the game gave Krystal a much-needed chance to show his skills on stage. Whether or not the Spark plan to utilize him more, he attracted plenty of attention in the match, and he proved that he could be an excellent tool in the Spark’s arsenal if they go that route.
The Spark return to the stage on April 19, when they take on the Guangzhou Charge. Be sure to tune in to check out if they can establish a winning streak.
Follow Darby on Twitter @soundchecck! She is happy to talk about anything she’s written! You can also get in touch with her on Discord (soundchecck#7242).
Featured image courtesy of the Hangzhou Spark.
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