Week 20 of the Overwatch League presents the Hangzhou Spark with a fresh start, a new beginning: a means to “go agane”. The “second half” of the 2020 season does not present the Spark with a clean slate necessarily, but this is a new team in a sense. With the addition of storied coach Jisub “paJion” Hwang, the team now has more character in its front office.
The anticipated debut of flex DPS Architect has made many fans eager for the next opportunity to see Hangzhou play. This is not just a new half to the season, it is a potential renaissance for a stagnant organization. Since the conception of the roster, the Spark have never made an inter-OWL roster move outside of the Bilibili Gaming organization. With these moves, the team has made its first two changes, and significant ones at that. These are two moves to its core that stem from the two teams that made it to the Grand Finals last season. Big things are in store for the Pink and Blue.
New York Excelsior (11-3) // Anime Arc of the Week: Super Saiyan
Haksal changes everything.
The roster that boasts some of the best Damage players in the game now has one of the best flex DPS in Overwatch history. This was evident in his debut against the Seoul Dynasty. The NYXL were easily able to trounce the Dynasty 3-0 after a successful run from the Genji main. New York never took their foot off the gas and did not surrender a single point to the runner-ups of the APAC May Melee tournament. This will not be an easy task for the Spark.
In their previous matchup in Week 15, the Spark were able to take a map from the NYXL in a 3-1 defeat. That was a Haksal-less New York though. This team is a whole different beast and matches the hype levels of the original NYXL group from the inaugural OWL season. If anything, this will be a true test to see how this new Hangzhou matches up against the new flavour of the week. But that’s not discrediting the Excelsior: they can easily be the flavour of the year.
Architect versus Haksal, both on their new squads for a preverbal Finals rematch? If that’s not anime, then what is?
Prediction: Excelsior win 3-1
Guangzhou Charge (9-6)
On top of the already hype week for the Spark, the team faces their perennial rival: the Charge. The Charge have been on a surge lately, no pun intended. The Charge went undefeated in May and were able to secure the first seed in the May Melee tournament. It didn’t work out for the team however as they lost a heartbreaker to the Dynasty in the semifinals. With that being said, it is tough to gauge where the Charge are now situated in the league. For one, they did grind their way to the top seed in the APAC region. But on the other hand, their chance was squandered by the last-place seed. In fact, both Hangzhou and Guangzhou lost to Seoul, which put both teams in an interesting state.
The Spark have made their moves to improve, and deserve an opportunity to take a game in the season series. The Charge, however, looked like an elite squad during qualifiers and only lost by one map during the tournament. If anything, this will be another chance for Hangzhou to find their true place in the league with Architect and paJion now in the mix. If things don’t work out against the NYXL, then this matchup against the Charge should prove as a solid litmus test to see if they can at least be at the cusp of contender status.
Prediction: Spark win 3-2
Featured Image Courtesy of the @HammerKick_OW on Twitter
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