The Hangzhou Spark dug deep into its anime roots this season by promoting their upcoming matches with a weekly comic strip akin to that of Japanese manga or Korean webtoons. While the production of the manga did end part way through the season, the comic was a perfect setup for the new wave of talent Hangzhou were able to bring in post the manga’s creation. Each chapter was a unique way to tell the lineage and happenings of every original player and member of the organization.
The behind-the-scenes look at scrim results in Chapter 2 was something fans don’t see often in the Overwatch League.
Chapter 4 introduced in-game highlights through the medium of the comic. This included the one-of-a-kind aspect of the players cosplaying as their signature heroes within those scenarios.
While Chapter 8 featured a numerical typo in the English translation, it nonetheless showcased a great clutch by Kyeongbo “GodsB” Kim.
The wholesome family arc for Sungwook “Ria” Park in Chapter 11 was something that would usually be reserved for a documentary-type video, but perfectly fit the tone of the manga. This chapter made the players feel human while also addressing Ria‘s wrist injury that plagued him for much of the season.
Chapter 13 was also a surreal way to not only end the manga but led to the real-world implication of introducing Architect as the team’s new face of the franchise. The speculation after the publication of Chapter 13 was rampant. It was a great way that Hangzhou created hype behind their newest signee.
Overall, the comic found a rare opportunity to connect with fans beyond the typical media production in esports. It blended both the dramatization of “The Overwatch League is an anime” and the down to earth aspects of the team’s comradery beyond the game and the implications around it. This seemed like the only way Hangzhou could show their particular flair to the rest of the league.
And Hangzhou is the only team that could have pulled it off.
This past weekend marked the Hangzhou Spark’s final game of the 2020 regular season. In total, the team was able to finish 11th in the league with a 12-11 record. This includes a 4-1 record going into the postseason in their final five series’ of the season. On top of that, the team was also able to secure second place in the latest OWL tournament: the Countdown Cup.
Much of these ups and downs were chronicled in comic format.
From the end of the manga-era and into the playoffs, the Spark have still been able to utilize the same art-style for their pre-game promotional images. While the story-telling has taken a hiatus, for now, there is no doubt the manga would be welcomed back with open arms for the 2021 Overwatch League season.
In honour of the second regular season in team history coming to a close, the fine folks at The Game Haus have complied every comic strip the Spark have produced this season into one package.
Here is the Hangzhou Spark’s 2020 Manga in its entirety:
Tune in to the OWL on September 5, as the Spark start their 2020 playoff journey as the 4th seed in the APAC bracket.
Featured Image Courtesy of the Hangzhou Spark
“From Our Haus to Yours”