Hangzhou Spark (3-3) vs Toronto Defiant (4-2)
NEPAL: Spark 1-2 Defiant
Things started great for the Spark on Shrine. The Spark were able to cap the first point quickly. With a graviton surge and self-destruct combo from Kyeong-bo “GodsB” Kim and Seong-Wook “Ria” Park, they were able to get a major pick on Seung-hyun “Ivy” Lee. This pick caused the Defiant to lose confidence, and they were unable to group up afterward properly. This allowed the Spark to maintain control of the point and they took Shrine easily. Unfortunately for the Spark, things started to turn in the Defiant’s favor on Village. After getting caught off-guard by a creative rotation on the Defiant’s part, the Spark lost Jun-Ki “Bazzi” Park early on in the team fight. This pick allowed the Defiant to overrun the Spark and cap the point.
Xu “guxue” Qiulin initiated the Spark’s first push to cap with a questionable earth-shatter. Luckily the Spark were able to capitalize on it as Toronto did not have sound barrier available to save the team. Once they capped the point, the Spark moved the fight up to the high ground. There, GodsB had a massive graviton surge that captured five people, but the Spark were too spread out to get any value out of it. Their poor positioning allowed Toronto to wipe them and they were able to flip the point back in their favor; in the end, Village would ultimately belong to the Defiant.
Finally, on Sanctum, Ho-jin “iDK” Park got a great boop on Gyeong-mu “Yakpung” Jo and Do-hyung “Stellar” Lee before the point unlocked. The Spark managed to maintain their hold on the cap until 25% before the Defiant were able to flip it. Even though Guxue picked off Joo-seong “RoKy” Park and Stellar with primal rage, the Spark were unable to capitalize on those kills, despite Ivy wasting graviton surge. IDK had another great boop on Stellar and Ivy, but Kang-jae “envy” Lee shut down IDK who did his best to hold the point. The Defiant ended up taking Nepal 2-1.
KING’S ROW: Spark 1-3 Defiant
King’s Row would see the Spark defending first. Although BeBe got the first pick on RoKy, the Defiant still managed to roll through the Spark’s defense. The Defiant were extremely successful in keeping the Spark staggered on King’s Row. This allowed them to easily push the payload all the way to the end of the map.
For attack, the Spark decided to get creative with their team composition. Quad DPS is not something that the current meta allows to happen very often. With BeBe on Hanzo, GodsB on Pharah, Bazzi on Widowmaker, and Ria on Soldier, fans tentatively accepted what was happening on their screens. If there is anything that the Chinese expansion teams are great at, it’s making creative compositions work in their favor. While GodsB got two kills in his rocket barrage, Stellar managed to kill him which briefly caused the Spark to pull back. With one last aggressive push and a critical pick on Se-hyeon “Neko” Park, the Spark managed to cap the point.
Unfortunately for the Spark, running quad DPS would not be enough. Eventually, Hangzhou reverted back to GOATS, but this move would not work out for them either. With mere seconds left until overtime, Guxue died with shatter and the rest of the team followed suit. Ria did his best to stay on cart for as long as possible, but the Spark were unable to get back in time. The Spark lost King’s Row 1-3.
VOLSKAYA: Spark 2-2 Defiant
On Volskaya, the Spark would end defending first again. Although Ria had a great self-destruct that ended up taking down two members of Toronto, the Spark still managed to lose the point. Ria really stood out on Volskaya; he managed to eat two of Ivy’s gravs, the first one on Point A and again on Point B.
Unfortunately, the Defiant kept getting excellent value out of all their ults. Constantly getting key picks on iDK, the Defiant were able to cap the second point quickly. When it came time for the Spark to attack, they decided to go with Winston Goats on their attempt to push. It took quite some time, but the Spark were able to eventually cap Point A with a hail mary attempt in which the team used every ultimate they had. After capping, Guxue would switch onto Reinhardt, and the Spark once again struggled to push past the Defiant’s defenses. Unfortunately for the Spark, Envy dropped a disgusting self-destruct on them that resulted in the death of four players. Envy was quite proud of his successful self-destruct and fans couldn’t help but laugh along with him as he celebrated with a little victory dance. The Spark would only succeed in capping Point B after using all of their ultimates in a second hail-Mary attempt.
The Spark’s final chance at attacking on Volskaya would not work out in their favor. With their time bank working against them, the Spark were only able to get one tick during their last push. Miraculously, even though the Defiant only needed that single tick to secure their victory, the Spark were somehow able to hold them back. The map ended in a draw 2-2
RIALTO: Spark 3-4 Defiant
After drawing on Volskaya, fans could tell that the Spark were feeling the pressure of possible defeat. Their opponent’s confidence broken, the Defiant easily rolled through the Spark’s defenses and pushed the payload all the way to Point C.
Doing their best to rally back, the Spark managed to push the payload to Point A. Things quickly turned sour for the team as Guxue got too aggressive and took Envy into the canal with him, leaving his backline defenseless. In an attempt to save him, iDK found himself alone and out of position. Managing to speed his way back into the backlines, RoKy followed him, and a hilarious Lucio Battle ensued on the sidelines as the Defiant took out the Spark one by one. With the Defiant spawn camping, the Spark decided to sneak around Toronto and get back to pushing the payload. This move confused the Defiant and the Spark, gaining back their confidence, ended up pushing the payload to the end.
With one last shot at attacking, the Spark faced an unusual loss early on. Somehow, iDK managed to die while wall-riding around one of the buildings. His death caused the Spark to take pause and regroup, leaving them with even less time to push. They managed to get the payload just shy of Point A, which is pretty admirable considering their time bank. Unfortunately, the Defiant proved to be too strong for the Spark, and the Spark ended up losing Rialto 3-4.
Unfortunately for the Hangzhou Spark, this is the end of their stage one journey. With this loss. The Spark are officially out of the running for playoffs. Although Hangzhou had a disappointing end to what started as an extremely promising stage, Spark fans should be proud of what the Spark managed to accomplish. Next stage, the Spark will take what they learned and hopefully come back stronger than ever.
Follow me on Twitter: @Sybil_OW! I’m always happy to discuss anything I’ve written! You can also “Like” The Game Haus on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles written by other TGH writers!