After finishing out their stage in Week 4 and failing to make it to playoffs, the Hangzhou Spark have had a few weeks to rest and get ready for Stage 2. They’ll look to improve on last stage’s 3-4 record, but they’ll need to overcome some tough opponents in order to make it to playoffs this time. Without further ado, it’s time to take a look at their week ahead.
Opponent 1: Vancouver Titans (7-0)
The Spark get tossed directly into the fire from the beginning, as they take on Stage 1’s champions. The Titans have yet to lose a match this season, going undefeated in the regular season and rolling into stage finals with ease. With a powerhouse roster, some airtight synergy and a hard record to argue with, the Titans are undoubtedly the team to beat this stage. Although the San Francisco Shock took them to task in stage finals, Vancouver still came out on top, leaving fans with a burning question – who will be the first team to topple the Titans?
If the Spark want the honor, their coordination needs to be airtight. Throughout Stage 1, their primary weakness lay in their strategies falling apart at the seams, giving their opponents opportunities to pick them apart before they could follow through. When facing a team as organized and aggressive as the Titans, the Spark don’t have room to make mistakes like that. They’ll need to move consistently as a unit and quickly identify holes in Vancouver’s movements, punishing the Titans before they get punished instead. It’ll be a tough fight, but the Titans have gone to map five enough times to show that they aren’t unstoppable. If the Spark play confidently and maybe break out a surprise or two, they’ll put up a good fight.
Prediction: Vancouver wins 3-1
Player to Watch: Xu “guxue” Qiulin
It took some time to integrate guxue into the roster, but it seems that the Spark are confident enough now to keep him in the starting lineup. Hangzhou’s main tank still attracts plenty of attention, but his role will be especially interesting in this week’s game. He’ll be facing off directly against Vancouver’s Sang-beom “Bumper” Park, who spent last stage building a reputation for his incredibly aggressive playstyle. It should be especially interesting to see how guxue and Bumper compare to each other in the one-to-one matchup. If the Spark can rally around their main tank and let him shine the way Vancouver does with Bumper, the two tanks could put on an electrifying show.
The Hangzhou Spark return on April 7 with their match against the Vancouver Titans. Tune in to see if they can start things off with a bang.
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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