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Hangzhou Spark: Stage 3 Week 1 Preview

With the midseason break wrapping up and the Overwatch League coming back to life, the Hangzhou Spark will soon turn the stage bright pink once again. After reaching semifinals in Stage 2 playoffs, the Spark can feel confident in their growth as a team. Still, they have a reasonably challenging schedule ahead, so they’ll look to start off strong for the second half of the season.

Opponent 1: Philadelphia Fusion (8-6)

Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.

After reaching semifinals in Stage 1 playoffs, the Fusion experienced a bit of a slump in Stage 2. They quietly finished out the stage at 11th place in the standings, walking away with a 3-4 record. It’s worth noting, however, that the Philadelphia boys have an arguably easier schedule this time around. They’re evenly matched with most of their opponents, giving them a chance to show that they still have what it takes to make it to the Grand Finals in their home city. The Fusion will no doubt look to prove themselves from the very beginning, and the Spark will need to avoid being the first step in their comeback.

At first glance, it would seem that the Spark have the edge in this matchup on the basis of both teams’ trends. Dropping from the league’s top teams into the middle of the standings doesn’t bode well for the Fusion, who have been fairly quiet between stages. On the flip side, Hangzhou’s upward trajectory shows that whatever changes they’ve made are working. Though the Spark have also been quiet recently, a recent tweet from head coach Mu-ho “Mask” Lee indicated that he’s confident in the direction his team is going.

Still, a team being quiet doesn’t mean they aren’t working hard. The Fusion often thrive in the underdog role, and they’re undoubtedly hungry to prove their naysayers wrong. In terms of skill and consistency (or often inconsistency), the two teams seem pretty evenly matched, but the Spark will need to stay focused and avoid underestimating their opponent if they want this win. After all, the Fusion have their reputation as the kings of map five for a reason.

Prediction: Hangzhou wins 3-2

Player to Watch: Ho-jin “iDK” Park

Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.

Stage 2 gave iDK a chance to make a name for himself as one of Hangzhou’s stars. With his aggressive playstyle and Reddit-worthy plays, he’s establishing himself among the league’s most notable support players. The first game of the stage will definitely give him the chance to get back into the groove and pull off some impressive boops. More notably, however, is the fact that he’ll go up against Philadelphia’s Alberto “neptuNo” González. Whether pushing ahead as Lúcio or breaking out his famed battle Mercy, neptuNo is an aggressive support player in his own right. The resulting head-to-head will no doubt be one to watch, and fans of both teams can expect flashy performances from their support specialists.

The Hangzhou Spark return to the Overwatch League stage on June 8 for their match against the Philadelphia Fusion. Tune in to see if they can kick off the second half of the season with a bang.

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Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.

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