Hangzhou Spark (5-2) 3-1 London Spitfire (6-1)
The Hangzhou Spark began their playoffs journey by taking on the Atlantic Division champions, the London Spitfire. Hoping to ride the momentum of their victory over the Seoul Dynasty, the Spark looked to put up a good fight and have a chance at a semifinals run.
In an electrifying series, they did just that. The Spark showed up in full force, stopping the Spitfire at every turn once they found their groove. With a dominant showing, they took a 3-1 victory and moved on to semifinals.
Oasis: London 2-1 Hangzhou
The Spark quickly took control on City Center with some early picks, but it didn’t take long for the Spitfire to reclaim it for themselves. Despite trading kills with Hangzhou throughout, London held the point into overtime before the Spark flipped it back in their favor. As Hangzhou’s overtime began, the Spitfire moved back in for one more attack – however, they left the point at a crucial moment, allowing the Spark to take the round.
Keeping up the momentum, Hangzhou took first control on University as well. They held strong, gaining 83 percent control before London flipped the point. As the two teams traded kills and control, they both ended up triggering overtime. However, London flipped the point last, just in time to take the round.
As the two teams took the attack to Gardens, Cai “Krystal” Shilong rolled out on Bastion, hoping to duplicate the success he’s found with that strategy. However, London had the Spark’s number, and they continuously focused Krystal to take him out of the fight early. By the time Hangzhou finally decided to switch tactics, London had firmly established the upper hand. The Spitfire held control from beginning to end, and took Oasis with a 2-1 scoreline.
Blizzard World: Hangzhou 3-0 London
Early picks on the attack allowed Hangzhou to get through London’s defense with ease. Clearing point A with around five minutes in the time bank, they rolled on towards point B. A two-kill Self Destruct from Seong-wook “Ria” Park helped clear the way for them to finish the next leg of the map. The Spitfire’s defense strengthened a bit on point C, forcing the Spark to regroup. However, they had plenty of time to do so, and they pushed back in to finish out the map.
The Spark proceeded to look impeccable on the defense. Managing their ultimates and playing patiently, they pushed back against anything the Spitfire threw their way. Their victory ended up simply being a matter of time, as they full-held London on point A to win the map.
Hanamura: Hangzhou 1-0 London
Hangzhou kept up their airtight defense on Hanamura. Though the Spitfire initially made some progress on point A, the Spark ultimately regrouped and pushed them back off once they had cleared the first tick. As time ran down, London couldn’t find their footing, and Hangzhou broke down each of their attacks. In the last few seconds, Kyeong-bo “GodsB” Kim caught the Spitfire in a Graviton Surge, preventing them from even triggering overtime.
Knowing their defense would have to be legendary, London started off strong. They shut down Hangzhou’s first attack decisively, leaving them to search for another way in. After a bit more brawling on point, another two-kill Self Destruct from Ria gave them the edge they needed. They made short work clearing out the rest of the Spitfire and gaining the point progress they needed to go up in the series.
Watchpoint: Gibraltar: Hangzhou 1-0 London
London played hard out of the gate on attack, getting the payload around the first corner before Hangzhou started playing a more aggressive defense. Once the Spark found their groove, however, they once again put on a show. Their defense held London just after the tunnel, and the Spitfire couldn’t find the edge they needed. Hangzhou full held them a third time, stopping the payload just before point A.
From there, taking the series was quick work. The Spitfire fought them every step of the way, forcing down the time bank, but Hangzhou pushed through nonetheless. After one more fight just meters before the end, the Spark came out on top, winning both the map and the series.
On to Semifinals
With their victory over the Spitfire, the Spark move on to semifinals. There, they’ll face the top seeded San Francisco Shock, who moved on after defeating the Shanghai Dragons. Though the Shock look as confident and powerful as ever, the Dragons made them work for their win, and broke their record-breaking map win streak in the process. Between that and how well the Spark played in quarterfinals, the two teams have set the stage for a very entertaining match.
The Hangzhou Spark’s playoffs journey continues on May 11, when they take on the San Francisco Shock. Tune in to see if they’ll be the team to take down a Stage 2 juggernaut.
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 London Spitfire.
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