Hangzhou Spark (5-2) 0-4 San Francisco Shock (7-0)
After bringing down the London Spitfire, the Hangzhou Spark headed to semifinals, hoping for a chance at the championship. They would need to face a formidable foe to get there, however. The top-seeded San Francisco Shock have looked downright dominant through Stage 2, and they barely slowed down in their quarterfinal match against the Shanghai Dragons. Without a doubt, the Spark would have their work cut out for them.
Unfortunately, it seemed they weren’t up to the challenge. The Shock continued to roll their way to finals, barely giving Hangzhou a second thought. In a very one-sided match, San Francisco took a 4-0 victory.
Busan: San Francisco 2-0 Hangzhou
The two teams headed straight to the point on Sanctuary, where an early pick on Xu “guxue” Qiulin allowed San Francisco to take control early. As they settled in, they easily picked apart each of Hangzhou’s attacks, taking their main tank out early and leaving them helpless. The Shock held control from beginning to end and took the round with ease.
The Spark played more aggressively on MEKA Base, forcing the Shock to fight a little harder. Still, San Francisco took the point first and held on to it tightly. Though the fight was a little closer, San Francisco still never lost control, and took both the round and the map.
Blizzard World: San Francisco 3-0 Hangzhou
Hangzhou started out strong on the defense, holding in a stalemate for a while before the Shock finally broke through. As the Spark regrouped, San Francisco pushed forward aggressively, allowing the payload to move uncontested while they fought further up. Still, the two teams scrapped hard, and Hangzhou brought the time bank down a bit before the Shock reached Point B. From there, though, San Francisco made short work of the defense, clearing Point C with plenty of time left.
Hoping to match San Francisco’s pace, the Spark pushed in quickly on the attack. They made some progress on Point A, but a solid Earthshatter from Matthew “super” DeLisi stopped them in their tracks. With that help, the Shock stabilized, eventually full-holding the Spark on Point A.
Hanamura: San Francisco 1-0 Hangzhou
San Francisco held Hangzhou hard at the first gate, but the Spark broke through after a few minutes. They claimed a tick on the point before super took down guxue, forcing them to fall back as their attack fell apart. The Shock strengthened their defense from there, once again full-holding the Spark on Point A.
As the Shock began their attack, they seemed to be caught off-guard by guxue flexing onto Winston. With Hangzhou’s main tank on his preferred hero, they put on a much stronger defense, pushing back the Shock’s attacks again and again. Once San Francisco broke through, though, it didn’t take long for them to make the progress they needed to win the map.
Watchpoint: Gibraltar: San Francisco 4-3 Hangzhou
Hangzhou started out strong on the defense, slowing the Shock’s progress towards Point A. Big plays from super helped San Francisco get through, however. They headed on towards Point B with little resistance from the Spark, clearing the way forward with ease. Hangzhou stalled it out once more near the end of the map, but San Francisco finished out the map with over three minutes on the clock.
Hangzhou initially made good progress on their own attack, but San Francisco beat back. From there, they held the Spark at spawn, ticking down the time before Hangzhou broke out. By the time they reached Point A, overtime had already begun, but they worked with the momentum they had. Punishing the Shock’s aggression, they strengthened up, clearing Point B with ease and finishing out the map in overtime.
The Spark couldn’t get very far in their second attack, with San Francisco holding them at the spawn. Though they got out just in time, the Shock’s defense strengthened, and they stopped shortly after the beginning of the map. This made it that much easier for the Shock to roll out with Min-ki “Viol2t” Park on Widowmaker, taking down the Spark’s support line and finishing the map.
With that tough ending to the stage, the Spark are done with Stage 2. They can definitely be proud of their progress since Stage 1, and making it to semifinals is a solid ending. With a clearer idea of what’s working and what they need to work on, they can enjoy the longer break and come back swinging for Stage 3.
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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