While it’s Week 8 for the OWL, this weekend marks Week 1 for the Hangzhou Spark. Long have fans anticipated the debut of the Chinese Overwatch League teams and their moment has finally come. With the adjusted schedule pitting regional teams against each other, the Spark will be facing the Chengdu Hunters (Saturday @ 6 am EST) and the Guangzhou Charge (Sunday @ 6 am EST) in their first two matchups of the season.
Here’s a look at what’s to come for Week 8 for the Pink and Blue.
Hangzhou Spark vs. Chengdu Hunters
Presumably, the Week 6 Hero Pool should be used for this week barring any changes after this preview is posted. With that being said, guxue‘s signature hero, Winston, is locked for the team’s debut. guxue still has plenty of experience with other main tanks though and should be good to go after many weeks of scrims. This specific aspect could make the match a close race.
In terms of the Hunters, neither Chengdu nor Hangzhou have made any indication of what the team’s strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to hero picks. Fans obviously know about last year’s shenanigans with the Hunter’s triple damage set up and Ameng‘s Wrecking Ball play, so something wacky could always be in play when it comes to Panda-faced squad. Leave will also be making his OWL debut and will be a big factor in this match against the Spark’s best damage players. The Chinese region of Overwatch has always been know for their innovation when it comes to team compositions and unique strategies, so many are intrigued at how the Hunters will play in the Hero Pool era of the OWL.
When it comes down to it, it could be a battle between unorthodox play and the metagame. The Spark look ready as Reinhardt and D.Va combo has looked strong early in the season. Chengdu might not have a full grasp yet on what works and what does not when it comes to anti-meta compositions and that could lead to a narrow victory for Hangzhou.
Prediction: Spark win 3-2
Hangzhou Spark vs. Guangzhou Charge
If anything, this match will be spicy with NeptuNo on board. That’s not to say that the resident trash-talking Battle Mercy will be playing all the minutes, but this match will be an early indication on if NeptuNo can continue to back his current reputation. Off of that, the first big match-up to look at is Ria/guxue vs. Rio/Cr0ng. Ria dominated last season with some beautiful D.Va clutches while Rio played consistently, but not showy. If a Reinhardt-D.Va frontline is what is in store for the Spark this weekend, then Rio needs to play a much better main tank role if he wants to stop Ria in his tracks. With guxue also present, Rio will need to be at the top of his game while also ushering in Cr0ng’s debut.
From the frontline to the backline, both teams seem to have interesting situations when it comes to choosing their healing pair. The Spark, on one hand, have their Korean bread and butter with iDK and BeBe, but they have also added the wild cards of Coldest and M1ka. Based on the Week 6 Hero Pool selection, Lucio is banned, so this could be a perfect chance for Coldest to showcase his signature Zenyatta pick alongside a Mercy or an unconventional Brigitte, as we have seen in Contenders.
On the other hand, The Charge have brought in NeptuNo to shake things up in Guangzhou. Chara has been a solid main support for the Charge, but just like Rio, has never really stood out in the league. As Guangzhou work towards building a mixed-nation roster, NeptuNo provides that experience from one of the OWL’s most potent mixed teams: the Philadelphia Fusion. The decision on who plays from both teams will be key in this match up.
If fans thought the Chengdu matchup would be close, then this match could be even closer. This match features one of the league’s best Widowmaker’s, Happy, going up against one of the top main tanks, guxue, and it will be a sight to behold. While it will be close, one team should be able to read the other eventually if both play close to meta.
Prediction: Spark win 3-1
Anime Arc of the Week: guxue’s Rise to the Top
As an homage to the Spark starting their own recurring comic/manga this season, every Spark preview will feature an “Anime Arc of the Week”, as it feels fitting for the aesthetics of the team. Hopefully every comic update from the team can coincide with how each TGH Spark preview unfolds.
CHAPTER 0 : THE MATCH WE LONG FOR pic.twitter.com/6AZIoFdmL5
— Hangzhou Spark (@Hangzhou_Spark) March 24, 2020
With that being said, after a few shaky starts to each stage last season, guxue finally has the chance to make himself known as a consistent main tank this season. The Spark has been given all the time in the world to prepare for every scenario and guxue should be ready for anything that comes at him. With his top hero being banned this week, the Spark’s #1 main tank will be the player to watch as these two matches will showcase his prowess on other tanks, and if he is solid on those characters. There is no doubt that he’ll be a top tank once again when a Winston meta drops into Hangzhou’s lap.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment
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