It is time to look at the Tank line in the finale of the “Where is Every Member of the Original Spark Lineup”. For the majority of the 2019 season, the frontline for the Spark were possibly one of the more recognizable pieces of their lineup. Xu “Guxue” Qiulin and Seong-Wook “Ria” Park were seen in countless amounts of highlight tapes.
Whether it was Guxue’s Primal Rage’s or Ria’s multi-kill Self Destructs, Guxue and Ria were seen as a force very early on in Hangzhou’s infancy. Lo and behold, however, many forget that there was another player in the Tank lineup that was announced alongside Guxue and Ria in November 2018. That player was Da-un “NoSmite” Jeong.
As previously mentioned, not many remember the time NoSmite played with the Hangzhou Spark. NoSmite only had sporadic appearances during the early stages of the GOATS meta while sharing Reinhardt duties with Guxue. For his origins, NoSmite was a part of the X6-Gaming team that the Spark rounded up which included the likes of Hui-chang “BeBe” Yoon and Tank partner Ria.
While Guxue made a name for himself during the 2018 Overwatch World Cup, Hangzhou signed NoSmite as a counter-balance as he had previous experience with the team’s only Off-Tank. Despite this, Guxue would take over as a dominant number Main Tank player which gave NoSmite no opportunities for playtime.
Coincidentally, the Spark announced on June 26, 2019, that NoSmite would be joining Hangzhou’s farm team, BLG, on a two-way contract. This would be the few last times NoSmite would be in the sightlines of OWL fans as from there on Guxue was the sole Main Tank of the Spark.
Official: @Hangzhou_Spark players Nosmite and Bazzi turn into two-way players for Contenders S2.
Both players have arrived at the team house of BLG, the academy team of Hangzhou Spark. pic.twitter.com/tUuYqYABeN
— OW Beacon (@OWBeacon) June 27, 2019
The radio silence continued into the offseason as when Hangzhou announced their 2020 roster, NoSmite where nowhere to be found. No continued two-way contract announcement, not even a farewell social media post. Then, on November 23, 2019, the Paris Eternal announced the signing of NoSmite on their Twitter.
🚨 Check your corners before watching this announcement 🚨
— Paris Eternal (@ParisEternal) November 23, 2019
Ironically enough with no Spark highlights featured. Only an X6-Gaming Earthshatter play. After a solid season with Paris, however, the Eternal announced on October 23, 2020, that NoSmite would not be joining the team for the 2021 season. NoSmite has not been able to land a roster yet as of the writing of this article.
Many associate the Spark name with Main Tank Guxue. But Ria is up there as an integral part of the team’s inaugural season. From his clutch plays on D.VA during the GOATS meta to Sigma in the playoffs, Ria was almost, if not as good as Guxue in the clutch. Ria came into the team alongside the aforementioned NoSmite from X6-Gaming. As the only Off-Tank player on the squad, it was solely Ria’s responsibility to hone the position. While Sang-hyeon “SASIN” Song was brought in later in the season to help with the Spark’s flexibility, Ria did hold his own during much of the 2019 season.
During the 2020 season, most of what Ria brought to the table continued to be the standard for the Korean. On June 19, 2020, however, the Off-Tank player announced he had suffered a wrist injury and could not compete indefinitely.
치료 잘받고 좋은 모습으로 다시 나타나겠습니다. I’ll take a good rest and come back with a good look good.
— Ria (@Ria_970922) June 19, 2020
This, in turn, forced the Spark to sign a replacement in Sung-jun “QoQ” Yu. With a successful start to his OWL career, QoQ slowly became a mainstay for Hangzhou in the long run. He did share some time with SASIN, but this caused Ria’s playtime to drastically drop. He essentially became a D.VA specialist be the end of the season. When the offseason rolled around, Ria was unfortunately on the chopping block as the team announced multiple releases on October 18, 2020. Ria was able to find a new home with the Washington Justice alongside former Spark and X6-Gaming teammate BeBe on November 22, 2020.
Guxue is easily the cornerstone of the Spark. From the very start of his rise to prominence, it was easy to see that “The Primal Blade” would instantly be the leader on whichever team he landed on after the 2018 OWWC. Formerly of LGD Gaming, the Spark brought in both Guxue and his World Cup teammate Cai “Krystal” Shilong after a breakout performance by Team China. Guxue was possibly the most hyped up Winston main from the APAC region since Gong “Miro” Jin-Hyuk.
And did he live up to much of the hype.
The majority of his debut season consisted of GOATS. While so, Guxue was one of the few members of the Spark that generally adapted well to the meta. As Reinhart, the Korean Main Tank helped the team to a semifinals finish in Stage 2. The team only losing to the eventual winners: the San Fransisco Shock. When the Winston pick was viable, Guxue was there at the very top of the statistics. There was no stopping the Spark’s Tank from continuing his momentum from the World Cup.
The 2020 season continued to be solid for the Tank player. Despite the ongoing issues around the world, Guxue maintained similar performances when the Spark were able to play. While the team did not place higher than their 2019 4th place finish, the team did adjust their roster substantially. While many have come and gone in 2020, going into 2021, Hangzhou has made it clear that their team revolves around Guxue. The roster they have set up compliments his aggressive playstyle. Guxue is the only member of the Tank lineup left from the inaugural roster. Therefore, the Korean Tank must continue to hold onto that legacy for the 2021 Overwatch League season.