This term was used for the Summer Showdown preview and once again, the Hangzhou Spark are in another twilight zone position. Following a 3-0 performance against the Dynasty in Week 24, the Spark are poised to clutch, at least, their first tournament win in the organization’s history.
That is if they can stop history from repeating itself.
Seoul Dynasty (8-11) // August 8
For the May Melee tournament, the Pink and Blue walked into the bracket holding 3-0 victories against Dynasty three weeks prior and the Spitfire just a week before it started. At the Countdown Cup: the situation is identical.
Before the Summer Showdown, Architect, QoQ, and M1KA had a successful debut against the NYXL. Previous to Countdown Cup, the Spark swept the Spitfire in Hwang “paJion” Ji-Sub debut as Head Coach.
All these similar situations unfortunately led to a 3-0 loss in the quarterfinals of the bracket.
However, going back to the coaching change, this shake-up is more significant than many would think. Right before the Countdown Cup, Hangzhou made the bold move of parting ways with their only Head Coach in history, Mu-ho “Mask” Lee, and replacing him with assistant coach paJion. Late in Mask’s tenure, there had been criticism on how lineup changes were not being utilized properly and how the team has played stagnant often this season. This was on top the language system the Spark have been utilizing since day one that seems egregiously unnecessary. According to Aron Garst of the OWL’s news team’s interview with Mask, the Spark’s issues stem from this system.
“Our base language is English,” Mask explained. “We use simpler terms in Korean and then we use terms that are shorter in Mandarin.”
Going beyond that Garst explains how convoluted the language scheme is.
“English is used for location commands (“We’re going up to the second floor”), Korean for things like ultimates (the Korean word for “hammer” is used as a shorthand for Earthshatter), and Mandarin for things like retreating and regrouping.”
paJion’s coaching style may have not had a direct translation to the dominant win last Saturday, in fact, the team may have done very little differently. But just having a new head at the table is big enough change to motivate a squad.
Anime Arc of the Week // The Big 3
With paJion coming in as a different face of the front office, things will change no matter what. Perhaps this language system even has a chance to improve under a new set of eyes. Following the success against the Spitfire, paJion has had a week with the team to improve on how they played and communicated against London. This is a chance to alter what fans have known to be Hangzhou mentality and move forward rather than falling into mediocrity as the team has done time and time again after a positive match. A strong victory against an upcoming tournament opponent has plagued the team’s actual tournament status twice this season. Though, perhaps the number 3 is Hangzhou’s lucky number.
The third tournament of 2020. The third different organizational structure of this season. Three maps to win the first series. Three series wins to win the Countdown Cup.
Is the third time the charm?
Prediction: Spark win 3-2
Featured Image Courtesy of the Hangzhou Spark
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