Hangzhou Spark (3-5) 0-4 Vancouver Titans (8-0)
The Hangzhou Spark kicked off their second stage with a tough match against the Vancouver Titans. The Titans went undefeated in Stage 1 before rolling easily to stage finals and defeating the San Francisco Shock in an exciting seven-map series. The Overwatch League’s undisputed powerhouse headed into the week looking to maintain that dominance, and the Spark would need to put up a good fight to match that energy.
The Titans, as they tend to do, proved too strong. Though Hangzhou put up a good fight, going toe-to-toe with them on many fights, Vancouver continues to reign supreme. The Titans took the series with a 4-0 victory.
Oasis: Vancouver 2-0 Hangzhou
Hangzhou moved quickly on City Center, claiming an early cap with help from their DPS lineup. With a solid debut performance from Sang-hyeon “SASIN” Song on Pharah, the Spark held off some crucial pushes from the Titans, allowing them to gain nearly 50% control before their opponents rallied and pushed them off. Unfortunately, they couldn’t reclaim the momentum. With Vancouver’s Chung-hee “Stitch” Lee leading the way on Soldier: 76, the Titans quickly dismantled Hangzhou’s attacks. Despite one more final stall from the Spark, Vancouver claimed the first round.
The Spark refused to go down without a fight, rallying for the second round on University. Despite an early cap from Vancouver, Hangzhou regrouped and pushed in, led by aggressive plays from SASIN and Xu “guxue” Qiulin. The two teams scrapped hard for control, and Hangzhou won some crucial team fights. In the end, the Titans successfully split up the Spark and ended the rest of their pushes before they could really began. Vancouver claimed the second round and the map.
Hanamura: Vancouver 3-2 Hangzhou
The Spark tried out an unusual composition for their first defense, including an Orisa, Pharah, Mercy, and McCree in the lineup. At first, it held solid, with the team guarding each corridor and managing to whittle down the Titans’ time bank. Eventually, Vancouver found their way in, breaking down the defense and claiming point A. With Kyeong-bo “GodsB” Kim switching to Bastion, Hangzhou prevented an outright snowball, separating and then taking down main tank Sang-beom “Bumper” Park to stop Vancouver’s attack. It didn’t take long for the Titans to regroup, and they moved in to claim the point with time to spare.
Hangzhou moved in aggressively for their first attack, only to fall apart just as quickly. Vancouver split guxue off from the rest of the team, taking him out and leaving the rest of the Spark to struggle. Once the team regrouped, big picks from GodsB on Zarya gave them the momentum they needed to push in and claim point A. Vancouver held tight to Point B, stopping each attack in its tracks, but guxue’s Reinhardt proved strong enough, and the Spark claimed the point in overtime.
Their overtime victory meant that only the Titans got a second chance at attack. Vancouver took full advantage of that, heading straight to the point and taking out guxue early. With that, they firmly booted the rest of the Spark off of point A and claimed the map with ease.
King’s Row: Vancouver 4-3 Hangzhou
After swapping out SASIN for Seong-wook “Ria” Park, the Spark were ready to take on King’s Row. They put on a spectacular attack, getting an early pick on Hyo-jong “Haksal” Kim and using the momentum to claim point A. They snowballed their way through the map, blowing through Vancouver’s defense and completing the map with three and a half minutes to spare.
Never one to be outperformed, Vancouver answered in kind. After claiming an early pick on GodsB and taking point A, they moved even quicker, never letting the Spark regroup. They finished the map with over five minutes left, setting a new record for completing King’s Row.
The Titans put on a similarly strong show for their second defense. With Stitch maintaining massive charge on Zarya, they prevented the Spark from taking a single tick, despite their huge time bank.
Knowing that their defense would need to be just as airtight, Hangzhou fought hard to whittle down Vancouver’s time. They did an excellent job, winning crucial team fights despite some powerful ultimates from the Titans. With only twenty seconds left on the clock, it nearly seemed like the Spark could breathe a sigh of relief. However, a massive Earthshatter from Bumper finally broke their defense, and the Titans cleaned up their opponents, taking both the map and the series.
Watchpoint: Gibraltar: Vancouver 3-2 Hangzhou
With the series lost, Hangzhou rallied for one last fight on Gibraltar. Their first defense was solid, and they slowed down the first push considerably. Strong showings from Hyeon-woo “JJANU” Choi and Jung-geun “Rapel” Kim gave the Titans the momentum they needed to break through to point A. Undeterred, the Spark regrouped and solidified their defense, whittling the time bank down to under a minute before Vancouver broke through to point B. Still, Hangzhou pulled it together again, this time stopping the payload just meters before the last point and preventing the Titans from completing the map.
Hangzhou’s attack proved solid as well. With massive Self Destructs from Ria enabling many team fights, they broke through Vancouver’s defense again and again, making it through the first two points and heading towards the end of the map. As the Titans strengthened their defense, both teams fought hard, and the payload inched towards the end. Ultimately, the Titans gained the upper hand, stopping them inches before victory and winning the series 4-0.
Facing the Titans
Despite what the score might imply, Vancouver had to work hard for their win. The Spark put up an excellent fight, particularly on King’s Row. Hangzhou has a difficult schedule this stage, but if they can go toe-to-toe with one of the league’s strongest teams, they just might come out on the other side with a better record than expected.
The Spark return to the stage on April 12, when they take on the Boston Uprising. Be sure to tune in to see if they can get their first win of the stage!
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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