Hangzhou Spark (1-1) 1-3 Vancouver Titans (3-0)
After a decisive victory over the Philadelphia Fusion last week, the Hangzhou Spark set their sights high as they sought to take down the Vancouver Titans. Despite their loss in Stage 2 finals, the Titans are still highly regarded, and still have not dropped a series in the regular season. The ever-improving Spark looked to end that streak once and for all.
Unfortunately, Vancouver continues to reign supreme. Though the Spark put up an incredible fight and forced their opponent to work hard for their win, the Titans’ clutch power served them well. In an exciting and challenging series, the Titans came out on top with a 3-1 victory.
Oasis: Vancouver 2-0 Hangzhou
Early picks on the Spark’s support line gave Vancouver the initial edge on Gardens. They quickly made themselves comfortable on the point, repelling each of Hangzhou’s attacks. As they got close to completing the round altogether, main tank Xu “guxue” Qiulin led the Spark’s charge back in, getting the crucial picks required for his team to capture the point. Though they held there for a little while, it didn’t take long for Vancouver to regroup and push back in. They quickly flipped the point back and completed the round in their favor.
Moving to University, Hangzhou started out strong, taking Sang-beom “Bumper” Park out of the fight early and scattering the rest of the Titans so that they could claim the point. They held there for a while, repelling Vancouver’s attacks, but forward play from Min-soo “SeoMinSoo” Seo gave the Titans room to move back in. From there, Vancouver stabilized, pushing Hangzhou back towards their own spawn as they built control. The Spark returned for one more overtime fight, but Vancouver came out on top, taking the map with a 2-0 scoreline.
Horizon Lunar Colony: Hangzhou 3-2 Vancouver
The Spark’s defense started off strong, as they carefully picked apart Vancouver’s first attacks. By the time a huge Earthshatter from Bumper gave Vancouver the momentum to take point A, they had less than a minute left. Hangzhou quickly regrouped to prevent a snowball onto point B, and went on to stabilize their defense. Though the Titans ultimately finished the map, they had to fight Hangzhou hard to get there, and they still had a defense of their own to complete.
Vancouver’s defense started off well, as they interrupted Hangzhou’s push and sent them back to spawn. Once the Spark regrouped, however, they moved in and split up their opponents before capping point A with more time. Moving quickly, they successfully snowballed point B, completing the map with over five minutes in their time bank.
With a smaller time bank, the Titans moved quickly on their second attack, storming point A and playing Hangzhou closely. They took a tick of progress before SeoMinSoo’s Graviton Surge was negated by Seong-wook “Ria” Park. With that advantage, the Spark pushed back, ultimately holding them off despite an impressive Self Destruct from Hyeon-woo “JJANU” Choi.
With plenty of time and little progress to make, Hangzhou moved in carefully on their own attack. After scouting out the Titans’ defense, they moved in and made short work of it, easily claiming the map and tying up the series.
Numbani: Vancouver 3-2 Hangzhou
Starting off on attack, Hangzhou attempted to take the fight to the Titans on high ground. Vancouver fought back easily, sending them back to spawn and strengthening their defense in the process. Though the Titans held on tight to point A, the Spark managed to claim it just in time and started a slow journey forward. Vancouver’s defense proved strong at every turn, but Hangzhou managed to reach point B as well. From there, the two teams brawled hard as the payload inched forward. Just as it seemed that the Spark would complete their attack, Vancouver rallied once more to fend them off, ending the push just meters before the end of the map.
Keeping up the heat, Vancouver pushed in quickly on their own attack, making short work of the Spark’s first defense. Once they had captured point A, however, Hangzhou regrouped, keeping the fight stuck near spawn. By the time the Titans made real progress towards point B, they had less than a minute left on the clock, and they barely reached point B in time. Once again, the push towards the end of the map was hard-fought, with Hangzhou’s defense looking solid until the last possible second. As overtime began, however, Vancouver turned the fight in their favor. The Spark stalled once more, but Vancouver ultimately completed the map in one of the most nail-biting fights possible.
Havana: Vancouver 1-0 Hangzhou
Hangzhou opted to keep their defense close to the spawn doors, stopping Vancouver from even reaching the payload at first. Despite this aggressive tactic often not working for very long, the Spark kept their opponents at bay for quite a while before giving up some progress. As the Titans finally broke through and started their journey forward, they had barely a minute to spare, and the Spark regrouped quickly. After one more fight, Hangzhou came out on top, stopping the Titans’ payload push just before point A.
With such little distance to travel, it seemed almost certain that the game would at least go to a fifth map. However, Vancouver opted for the same aggressive defense, keeping them trapped in spawn as the time bank dwindled down. Once the Spark won a decisive team fight, they started forward carefully, with Vancouver fighting them every step of the way. As overtime began, JJANU negated a Graviton Surge from Kyeong-bo “GodsB” Kim, giving Vancouver the advantage they needed. They pushed the Spark off the point, clutching out the map and winning the series 3-1.
A Little Bit of Redemption
Despite the final score, Spark fans can be satisfied with the performance their team put on. Last time Hangzhou and Vancouver faced off in Stage 2, the Titans walked away with a 4-0 victory, despite some valiant efforts from the Spark. Taking a map this time is certainly something to be proud of, but with both Numbani and Havana coming down to the wire, this game could just have easily swung the other way. In the end, Hangzhou took perhaps the strongest team in the league to task, and that bodes well for the rest of the stage.
The Hangzhou Spark return to the stage on June 15, when they face off against the Washington Justice. Tune in to see if they can begin a new win streak.
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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