After completing the next step in the Dragons’ redemption story, the Stage 3 champions have the hardest stretch of matches in Stage 4. Currently sitting 12-9 and eighth in the standings, Stage 4 is the final proving point to Shanghai being considered a legitimate contender for the title. With Shanghai’s opponents having a combined record of 90-58, the Dragons have little room for errors with a surging Valiant and Charge teams.
TOUGHEST MATCH: SAN FRANCISCO SHOCK (8/9)
Not only are the Shock and the Dragons scrimmage partners, but this matchup will be the fourth dual this season between the two teams. Although Shanghai overcame the league’s doubts with a Stage 3 title, they were almost reverse-swept in the process. This speaks to the Shock’s strength in adjusting quickly and countering opponents at a moment’s notice. With Shanghai competing in three matches prior against San Francisco, the Shock are going to be well aware of the Dragons’ schemes and tactics.
To the Dragons’ advantage, San Francisco’s scouting will have to start at square one with the addition of Min-chul “Izayaki” Kim. With Seong-hyeon “Luffy” Yang popping off in the Stage 3 Playoffs, many are unsure how Shanghai will balance the two main supports.
EASIEST MATCH: TORONTO DEFIANT (8/2)
The Defiant made some moves in Stage 3 that seemed to propel the team forward (on paper). In contrast, Toronto became another team added to the “0-7” list. An early Stage 4 matchup that puts two opponents on Toronto’s Week 1 schedule, it will likely be that Shanghai are more prepared in this matchup than their foe. The Defiant may have the opportunity to gather momentum on Hollywood, arguably Shanghai’s weakest map. In Shanghai’s depth of having Kang-jae “envy” Lee, Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim and (maybe) Min-chul “Izayaki” Kim on the bench, the Dragons may have this matchup on lockdown before it even starts.
CRITICAL MATCH(ES): SEOUL DYNASTY (7/29 & 8/15)
Directly competing for one of the top six spots in the Season Playoffs, map differential may be irrelevant. Currently, 13 maps ahead of Shanghai with the same record, a win in both of these games would likely let the Dragons slide into the League’s top six ahead of Seoul. Not facing off prior to this matchup, the new 2-2-2 meta raises many questions for both teams. Who will play as Shanghai’s second tank alongside Young-jin “Gamsu” Noh? Seoul usually put in lineups where their players main in a 2-2-2 situation, but will they focus on Pharmercy or a Sombra composition? Jehong “ryujehong” Ryu is considered one of the stronger Ana/support players in the League, and players of the sort have given the Dragons trouble in past (Young-seo “KariV” Park). These matches will be essential for both team’s final season playoffs push.
SHANGHAI DRAGONS STAGE 4 SCHEDULE:
7/24, 9:15 PM PST: Vancouver Titans
7/29, 1:00 PM PST: Seoul Dynasty
8/1, 7:30 PM PST: Toronto Defiant
8/9, 7:30 PM PST: San Francisco Shock
8/15, 7:30 PM PST, Seoul Dynasty
8/17, 1:00 PM PST, Paris Eternal
8/25, 12:00 PM PST, Hangzhou Spark
When you analyze the toughest Stage 4 matchup for the Dragons and don’t include the Hangzhou Spark or the Vancouver Titans, the future looks bleak. Combine that with the 2-2-2 role lock, and the prominant Stage 3 Dragons have a questionable future. A 4-3 record will make it tough to dodge play-ins, and any slipups against the Defiant or Eternal (reminder of the Charge & Valiant) will be devastating.
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