Hangzhou Spark (3-2) 3-1 Chengdu Hunters (2-3)
The Hangzhou Spark hit the stage for the first time during the Dallas Fuel Homestand Weekend. There, they started off with a match against the Chengdu Hunters, whose eccentric playstyle had gotten them some solid results this stage. The Spark have been trending upwards lately, and they hoped to keep their playoffs aspirations alive by bringing the Hunters down.
Sure enough, the match got them one step closer. The Spark pulled off a decisive 3-1 victory, inching their way towards a better map differential and getting that much closer to stage playoffs.
Busan: Hangzhou 2-1 Chengdu
Despite early picks from Chengdu’s Ma “LateYoung” Tianbin, the Spark stabilized in the first team fight, gaining early control on Downtown. However, the Hunters played carefully, giving LateYoung time to build up a crucial Graviton Surge. With that advantage, Chengdu reclaimed the point and settled in. The Spark tried to find their way back, but the Hunters fended them off each time, taking the first round.
Chengdu took control first on Sanctuary, with plenty of help from Ding “Ameng” Menghan on his signature Wrecking Ball. Despite that, Hangzhou pushed back in to take the point for themselves. Just as the Hunters returned with ultimate advantage, Seong-wook “Ria” Park negated their Graviton Surge, preventing Chengdu from finding their footing. The two teams brawled once more in overtime, but Hangzhou took the round.
The Spark moved in quick on MEKA Base, capturing the point first. From there, they tried to keep the fight on high ground. With main tank Xu “guxue” Qiulin leading the charge, Hangzhou held decisively and stopped Chengdu from gaining any control. The Spark won both the round and the map.
Temple of Anubis: Hangzhou 3-2 Chengdu
The Spark rolled out with a slightly unusual composition on attack, playing Jae-hwan “Adora” Kang on Genji and Kyeong-bo “GodsB” Kim on Widowmaker. Chengdu held the defense for a while before Hangzhou broke through, heading to point B with a little over five minutes to claim it. After figuring out their hero swaps, the Spark moved in to claim a tick, but the Hunters stabilized and pushed back. Undeterred, Hangzhou returned in force, finishing out the map with over two minutes on the clock.
Hangzhou started out with a solid defense. Though Chengdu ultimately took point A with support from Yi “JinMu” Hu on Genji, the Spark whittled down a good chunk of their time bank beforehand. They managed to stall it even longer on point B with a strong defense and patient ultimate usage. As the Hunters ran low on time, they went in for one more organized push, finally cracking through the defense. After an inspiring stall from the Spark, Chengdu finished the map with thirty seconds on the clock.
Due to their smaller time bank, Chengdu attacked first. However, they couldn’t find their footing against Hangzhou’s defense, and failed to make any progress with the time they had. This made it easy for Hangzhou to head in on their own attack. Though Chengdu’s defense started off strong, a Primal Rage from guxue disrupted them, allowing the Spark to take their first win on Temple of Anubis.
Blizzard World: Chengdu 2-1 Hangzhou
Chengdu started off with a solid defense on Blizzard World. They nearly full-held the Spark before they found the momentum to clear the point, finishing out point A with seconds to spare. However, the Hunters returned to form shortly after. With Jinmu on Hanzo and Zhang “YangXiaoLong” Zhihao on Widowmaker, they kept the payload from moving very quickly, and eventually stopped it in its tracks. Hangzhou’s attack stopped shortly before point B.
Chengdu’s attack provided more opportunities for YangXiaoLong to shine. He led the way on McCree, allowing the Hunters to capture point A quickly and start forward. They trekked on with ease, rolling over the Spark’s defense as they went. Though Hangzhou put up one more good fight, keeping them from reaching the end, Chengdu made short work of regrouping and heading back to finish out the map.
Junkertown: Hangzhou 5-4 Chengdu
The two teams scrapped hard on Hangzhou’s first defense, with especially impressive moves from Ria on Tracer. Once Chengdu found their groove, they started a steady trek forward, clearing points A and B with plenty of time. The Spark strengthened for the last leg of the map, however, pushing back the Hunters and keeping the payload moving back. Just as it seemed like they would be able to hold them off, Chengdu gained the upper hand in overtime, pushing through the Spark and finishing out the map.
On their own attack, Hangzhou came out swinging, letting Cai “Krystal” Shilong shine on Hanzo. Putting on a dominant push, they reached both points A and B with little trouble, and headed on towards the end of the map. Just before they finished, however, Chengdu reorganized and wiped them out, forcing them to regroup. Though it cut a chunk out of their time bank, Hangzhou returned to finish out the map with time to spare.
With little time to spare, Chengdu played aggressively on their second attack, taking down the Spark and starting forward. With Jinmu melting down Hangzhou on Bastion, they continued forward, clearing point A in overtime. Shortly after, the Spark dove their way towards the payload, clearing out the Hunters and ending the push.
The Spark had plenty of time and little distance to go for their second attack. Chengdu started off with a strong defense, making them work hard for it. However, aggressive play from Hui-chang “BeBe” Yoon on Roadhog cleared a path, and the Spark made it to the end, taking the series with a 3-1 victory.
The Road to Playoffs
With a series of solid wins under their belt, Hangzhou is shaping up to be a playoffs contender this stage. It won’t necessarily be an easy road, with matches against the Paris Eternal and Seoul Dynasty to close things out, but a post-match interview with guxue revealed that the Spark are feeling confident about their chances. As they finally begin to see the results they’re looking for, it’s getting clearer to see why they’re feeling optimistic.
The Hangzhou Spark close out their weekend in Dallas on April 28, with a match against the Paris Eternal. Tune in to see if they can make this an undefeated week.
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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