After a couple of close games in their debut, the Hangzhou Spark are back at it again this week with another two-game weekend. This week, the Spark will be facing the Shanghai Dragons (Saturday @ 4 am EST) and the Guangzhou Charge (Sunday @ 6 am EST).
Here’s a look at what’s to come for Week 9 for the Spark.
Hangzhou Spark vs. Shanghai Dragons
The Spark now face their toughest opponent of the season. As the top-ranked Chinese team in the league, Hangzhou have a perfect opportunity to show if they are the Top 5 team they set out to be this season. While their first two games against the Hunters and the Charge seemed close, this should be the very first test for the team to see if their lack of roster changes were worth it. On top of that, Watchpoint host Soe’s cat, Nori, has decided the league’s fate and has banned Wrecking Ball, McCree, Mei and Brigitte. This seems like a pure setup for the coming-out party of the Spark’s Dive composition.
guxue will be back on his signature Winston alongside Ria‘s D.Va. GodsB will continue to play his Tracer, while maybe also having an opportunity for a Widow duel with one of the Dragon’s hit-scan players. And with the potential return of Genji, we could see both Adora and Ado fight for that spot, or Bazzi could potentially see some time on Doomfist if the team decides to run that instead of Genji.
On Shanghai’s side of things, the team went 1-1 in their first week including a 3-0 loss to the Hunters. This should not discredit the talent on their team, but it does raise some questions on what the team is planning going into week 2. Just like the Spark, the Dragons have four Damage players at their disposal, including a 5th with Diya on a two-way contract. The Spark seem to be set on running GodsB with a rotating chair at the Projectile position. On the other hand, Shanghai ran Fleta and LIP last week with no real indication on if that was their bread and butter for the season. If the Dragons do fall apart once again, it’ll be at the hands of their DPS picks as Hangzhou could be in their prime with a Winston and D.Va Dive comp.
Regardless of this, Shanghai is the better team on paper. If they stick to their guns and use last week’s games as learning lessons, they could very well outplay the Spark.
Prediction: Dragons win 3-2
Hangzhou Spark vs. Guangzhou Charge: The Redemption Arc (Anime Arc of the Week)
After a close game that came down to a C9 on Nepal: Village, the Spark have a perfect chance at redemption against Guangzhou. As fellow TGH writer Tiffany Purcell explained in this week’s power rankings, “The Charge…had the least convincing performance and ended up with the worst map differential of all the Chinese teams”. This could bode well for Hangzhou. Going into the final team fight in Map 5 last week, both teams had an even chance at winning the game. The Charge were just able to stagger the Spark well enough to keep them off the point, especially with Mei as a meta hero last week.
With Mei and McCree both banned, the Charge will have to resort to other heroes, which could deliver a beautiful Widow matchup between Happy and GodsB. The Damage carries alongside how well guxue and Ria can coordinate on their best heroes should decide how this game pans out.
Week 9 presents the Spark with a new mindset after performing a reverse sweep on Chengdu, coming close with Guangzhou and playing Shanghai the day before. The Spark should have a good chance at playing even better against the Charge with those games under their belts. And if anything, Hangzhou finally has the chance to drop the weights of every meta they’ve been forced to transition to and play their game on Dive.
Prediction: Spark win 3-1
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