The Hangzhou Spark roared into the Overwatch League last week, coming out on the other side with two wins under their belt. Now that they’ve settled in, they’ll want to keep that winning streak alive. Will Week 2 treat them just as kindly? It’s time to take a look at what they’re facing.
Shanghai Dragons (0-2)
The Dragons put up a solid fight on opening day, showing the Spark that they weren’t the same team that went 0-40 last season. Strong performances from Min-seong “diem” Bae and Young-jin “YOUNGJIN” Jin caused Hangzhou trouble at the individual level, and enabled Shanghai to take a map off of them.
Despite this, the Spark utilized both their synergy and individual skill. Standout performances from Kyeong-bo “GodsB” Kim and Da-un “NoSmite” Jeong often served as deciding factors in team fights. The Spark ultimately took a 3-1 victory over the Dragons.
Los Angeles Valiant (0-1)
With a decisive victory under their belt, the Spark headed on to face the Los Angeles Valiant. The resulting showdown had fans of both teams on the edge of their seats, with fight after fight coming down to the wire.
The two teams appeared evenly matched and able to pick apart each other’s mistakes, leading to one of the week’s closest matchups. Some deadly Self Destructs from Sung-wook “Ria” Park, combined with the Spark’s flexibility in compositions, allowed them to come out on top. In a riveting five-map series, the Spark came out on top with a 3-2 victory.
Player of the Week: Sung-wook “Ria” Park
Ria’s D.Va play last week earned him plenty of attention. Throughout the two games, he and his teammates successfully coordinated several Self Destruct combos, netting him multi-kill after multi-kill. Fans have already started celebrating the ‘Ria Bomb,’ a callback to the Philadelphia Fusion’s similarly destructive ‘Poko Bombs.’ For an Overwatch League rookie, being compared to one of the league’s most notorious D.Va players is no small feat. He was able to go toe to toe with the Valiant’s star off-tank, Indy “SPACE” Halpern. If Ria can continue to build off of that momentum, he’ll be well on his way to securing his place among the top D.Va players in the league.
Fun Fact of the Week
The Hangzhou Spark’s parent company is Bilibili, a Chinese video sharing, streaming, and gaming website. The Bilibili logo, an animated television, appears as a representation of the team on Hangzhou’s match artwork.
Opponent 1: Houston Outlaws (0-2)
Week 1 revealed that the map five curse continues to plague Houston. The Outlaws suffered losses to both the Toronto Defiant and the Boston Uprising last week, leaving them hunting for their first win in a week where they face some challenging foes. With what the Spark have faced so far, they should be able to breeze through this match, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t come prepared.
The Spark’s composition flexibility is the key to victory in this matchup. So far, the Outlaws have proven uncomfortable with the dominant 3-3 meta, leaving them outclassed when their opponents break that composition out. If it comes down to a GOATS vs. GOATS fight, the Spark should have no trouble picking Houston apart. When the Outlaws allow their players to do what they do best, however, they become a bit more formidable.
Strong performances from Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin on Widowmaker and Dante “Danteh” Cruz on Tracer reminded fans what both players are known for, and it appeared to catch the Uprising by surprise at first. Luckily, the Spark have demonstrated prowess in changing up roles to fit the situation. As long as they don’t let the Outlaws get away with any surprises, they shouldn’t have too much trouble.
Prediction: Hangzhou wins 3-1
Opponent 2: London Spitfire (0-2)
Season 1’s reigning champions struggled through their first week, falling to both the Philadelphia Fusion and the Paris Eternal. Between their shaky start and the Spark’s victories, they’ll be looking to prove that they can still compete at the top tier. Though they’ll likely earn their first win in their Thursday match against the Washington Justice, their showdown with the Spark will be far more vital to their reputation. The Hangzhou squad should expect their opponents to come out swinging.
The Spark’s victory over Los Angeles indicates that they can compete among the best teams in the league. However, they had to fight hard for it, and one mistake could have flipped that last map in the Valiant’s favor. The Spark should celebrate their victory, but they can’t let it make them complacent. Despite their rough first week, the London Spitfire still boasts a roster full of individual talent. Add arguably higher stakes to the mix, and the Spitfire will prove bloodthirsty on Sunday. The Spark need to quickly take note of their strengths and weaknesses from the Valiant matchup and turn that knowledge around if they want to keep their record clean.
Prediction: Hangzhou wins 3-2
Player to Watch: Kyeong-bo “GodsB” Kim
With the way Ria lit up the kill feed, there’s no question about why he got so much attention last week. For each four-kill ultimate he pulled off, however, his team was there to enable it. In particular, GodsB’s timely Graviton Surges kept their opponents right where Ria needed them. His individual skill, combined with the Spark’s knack for ultimate coordination, should set up even more impressive combos in the weeks ahead.
Beyond his ultimates, however, GodsB has already proven himself an especially flexible player, easing between DPS and tank and standing out on both. During his time on X6-Gaming, he was often considered among the most promising talents in the Korean Contenders scene. So far, he’s showing signs that he can live up to that potential.
The Spark kick off their second week on February 22, when they face the Houston Outlaws. With the way they’ve been lighting up the stage so far, it’s definitely a match to watch!
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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