Hangzhou Spark (3-3) vs LA Gladiators (1-4)
Final Score: Spark 3-1 Gladiators
Although the final scoreline may look one-sided, the majority of the maps themselves were not. The Hangzhou Spark looked shaky at the beginning, but eventually found their composure and looked solid.
Nepal: Spark 2-1 Gladiators
The first round on Village kicked off with a quick fight win from the Hangzhou Spark and they took the point. However, the Gladiators regrouped and won the next clash. Soon after, they flipped the point. The Spark quickly came back and a multi-man shatter from Xu “guxue” Qiulin enabled the Spark to wipe out the Gladiators. They took the point back. Though the Gladiators came back with their own ultimates and flipped the point once again after winning the fight. During the final fight, the point was flipped twice before the fight was decided. The fight itself ended with the Gladiators as the victors and they won the round.
Round two took place on Sanctum. It started with a couple of trades and the Spark’s pressure was enough to keep the Gladiators from contesting. The Spark were first to take the point, but the Gladiators quickly came back, won the fight and flipped it. Yet another very back and forth fight took place, but the Spark were able to grab the last few picks needed to take the advantage and then the point. The round moved to overtime, but the fight had already been won by the Gladiators and they retook control. Once again the round moved to overtime and in the third scrappy fight of the round the Spark were able to find the necessary picks to win. They ended up winning the round, tying the map.
Round three on Shrine started off with an initial pick onto Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye, forcing the Gladiators to have to back off. The Spark were the first to take control of the point. Late into the round, the Gladiators tried with their ultimates, but a two-man D.Va bomb from Park “Ria” Sung-wook kept them away. In overtime, the LA Gladiators failed yet again to win the fight against the Hangzhou Spark and the Spark won the map 2-1.
Hollywood: Gladiators 3-2 Spark
On Hollywood, the Hangzhou Spark started on the defense. After a very slow, and rather uneventful, first fight, the Gladiators could not come out victorious. They had to reset, and came back with ultimates. The Gladiators’ ultimates proved to be enough to take out the Spark, and they claimed point A. Hangzhou came back in full force with their own ultimates and stopped the Gladiators early into their point B push. However, it was only a brief pause, and the Gladiators returned and wiped out the Spark. Near the end of point B, the Spark stopped the Gladiators again after a fight win. With less than 30 seconds on the clock, the Gladiators were finally able to dismantle the Spark and finish out point B. The round went into overtime with the payload close to the end of the map, but the Gladiators had already won the fight prior. The Spark could not properly recontest and the map was completed.
The Gladiators immediately shutdown the Spark’s initial attack in round two, and they were momentarily pushed back to their spawn. Despite this, the Spark soon after found a couple of crucial picks. The Spark moved to take the point, but the Gladiators came back and won the following fight. After a long hold, the Spark finally got a big enough advantage to finish out point A. They utilized their momentum to win another fight at the beginning of point B. Partway through, though, the Gladiators’ Jung-woo “Void” Kang found three Spark members with his self-destruct, and the Gladiators won the fight. Hangzhou eventually came back, won the following fight, and got the payload moving again. The round went to overtime. The Spark, nearing the end of point B, maintained their composure and swiftly sent the Gladiators packing. Soon after, the Gladiators had a very convincing fight win at the beginning of point C. In the second overtime, the fight started out very back and forth. The Gladiators ultimately came out on top and won the map 3-2.
Volskaya Industries: Spark 3-2 Gladiators
The Hangzhou Spark started on defense on Volskaya. The round started with a lot of poking, but the Spark eventually found a pick onto rOar. Though, this didn’t keep the Gladiators from staying in the fight. They found the necessary picks, won the fight, and took point A. The Gladiators tried a fast take on point B, but the fight was very trade heavy, and the Spark had more overall manpower. The Gladiators had to reset. Hangzhou maintained their defense on the second point after a two-man self-destruct from Ria. In the next fight, both teams let out an array of ultimates, leading to an extremely back and forth fight. Despite this, the Gladiators eventually got enough of an upperhand to finish it out and take point B with 1:03 left.
In round two, the Gladiators wiped out the attacking Spark on their first attempt. The second try was full of ultimates from both teams, but the Gladiatiors’ were superior and they continued to hold their ground. On the Spark’s third try, they finally got the kills they needed to turn the fight greatly in their favor. They eventually took point A. The Spark rushed onto point B and won the initial skirmish. The Gladiators could only trickle onto the point, and could not turn it back in their favor. The Spark captured point B with 3:26 in their time bank, and tied up the map.
The third round put the Gladiators back on attack. The first fight started with a couple of trades, but the Gladiators were the team that had to back off. In overtime, a well-placed Graviton Surge from Kim “GodsB” Kyeong-bo assisted the Spark in wiping out a chunk of the Gladiators and they could not capture point A with the players they had left.
The Spark’s first attack in round four quickly broke down the Gladiator’s defense. They captured the one tick they needed and won the map 3-2.
Route 66: Spark 1-0 Gladiators
Map four had the Hangzhou Spark start on the defense. The Gladiators won the first fight after a couple of initial picks, and they got the payload moving. They moved the payload close to the end of point A, but the Spark convincingly won the following fight. With less than a minute remaining, a massive Graviton Surge from GodsB completely wiped out the Gladiators. The round moved to overtime, and the Spark won that final fight as well. In the end, the Gladiators could not push the payload to the end of point A.
On the attack, guxue found four kills in the first fight, and the Spark started down the first point. With the payload very close to its goal, the two teams took part in a scrappy fight, but the Spark came out victorious. They finished out the map, and won it 1-0.
Overall, this was a very standard series. For many, the Hangzhou Spark were the favorites to win. However, the LA Gladiators are not a bad team, so the scoreline is not surprising. The Spark can obviously still improve, but they seem to have cemented themselves as at least a decent team in the league, now sitting at 3-3.
Featured image courtesy of the Overwatch League
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