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May Melee: Hangzhou Brings In Some Backup For The Tournament Arc

Spark May Melee

Alas, we finally hit the storied anime tournament arc in the Hangzhou Spark’s 2020 OWL season. While it is not the playoffs that we have envisioned quite yet, it will be a good opportunity to see how this year’s team can cope with actual stakes in place. This week, the Spark are set to go up against the Seoul Dynasty (Saturday @ 4:00 A.M. EST) in the Regional May Melee Tournament Quarterfinals to determine who will face the #1 seeded Guangzhou Charge in the Semifinals (Sunday @ TBD). Hangzhou comes into this match as the 4th seed alongside a new face at the forefront of their offence.

#4 Hangzhou Spark vs. #7 Seoul Dynasty

Alarm OWL

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

At one point in the season, the Dynasty looked like a formidable foe amongst many OWL teams. But in recent times, the team has been shaky as they have lost games they should have won and just barely squeezed by some others. With that being said, per tournament rules, the 2nd and 3rd seeds were allowed to choose their opponents in the quarterfinals. The #2 Dragons decided to face the #6 Spitfire and the #3 NYXL chose the #5 Hunters. This left the Spark to face the last-place Dynasty. On paper, this seems like a win-win situation for Hangzhou, but the higher seeds had their reasons not to play Seoul.

The Dynasty’s last victory came against the Dragons in Week 14. So, Shanghai decided to deviate to the Spitfire for potentially a better matchup. On the other end, fans still have not had an opportunity to see Seoul go up against New York this season. However, the Excelsior feel more comfortable playing the anti-meta, panda squad after their back-to-back victories against Chengdu in Week 12 and 13.

This presents the league with a third entry in the Spark-Dynasty matchup.

Both games have resulted in a 3-0 win with both teams taking a game each. The 3-0 specifically is quite significant to Seoul as seven of their eight games have been decided by that score. So, depending on what Dynasty squad shows up on Saturday: the result could be domination or utter collapse. Seoul has also been 3-0’d by every single Chinese team this season. So, there is a reason why they are the 7th seed in the tournament. And with Architect coming into the fray, things could get spicy for Hangzhou with their newfound teammate.

Anime Arc of the Week: Architect Reunites With Some Old Friends

Spark May Melee
Gif via Viz Media

While the preverbal “anime tournament arc” has already been tossed around, things have truly changed on an anime scale with the introduction of Architect. This news was broken by TGH early Monday morning after news hit of the SF Shock player’s departure from the team the day prior. Rumours started to circulate on where Architect may end up, but it all fit perfectly in the end when it was made official that the Flex DPS would join his former X6 Gaming teammates in Hangzhou.

Seoul also made a move to bring in Slime from the Titans, but the move may not give as an immediate impact as Architect’s has the potential too. This transfer makes the Spark far more potent than they have ever been. Architect’s flex capabilities far surpass every single player that has ever worn a Spark uniform. On top of that, he already has chemistry with the majority of the roster. This is a major stepping stone that Hangzhou is happy to step over.

If there was a perfect move for the Spark to make, it was this transaction. So, it makes a whole lot of sense as to why the franchise has tried to make this reunion a reality since this last off-season. Architect will do wonders for Hangzhou. With others like Adora and Ado also in the team’s back pocket, the Spark looks poised to make a significant improvement in their performances going forward.

While historically stating that a 3-0 is bound to happen versus Seoul is almost a guarantee: a tournament atmosphere is different. There is a chance at a guaranteed $40,000 for the tournament winners with a significant drop in winnings for the runner-ups. Steadfast consistency will decide the victor of this mid-season affair.

With a single-elimination stipulation, this ultimately gets as serious as it gets until the real playoffs begin.

Prediction: Spark win 3-2


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Featured Image Courtesy of the Hangzhou Spark

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