After an exciting May Melee bracket, the Overwatch League returns this weekend and alongside it, the return of the Hangzhou Spark. The team has been on a two-week break after a 1-3 start to the season. This week also adds on the added caveat of Hero Pools. Reinhardt and Tracer do takeaway two strong options for the likes of Kim “Guxue” Kyeong-bo and Park “Architect” Min-ho. This, however, does present Guxue with a window of opportunity to take over as his signature Winston as we saw during their win against the Charge.
Guangzhou Charge // 1-3
Right at the start of the preliminaries, Hangzhou has a chance to grab a confidence-boosting second win against the Charge. During their first clash in Week 3, Hangzhou was able to grab their first win of the season: a 3-0. On top of that, the team excelled under their new coaching regime which included 18-year-old rookie Shy‘s continued dominance.
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) May 1, 2021
Shy was able to rack up an astounding 55 eliminations and 33 final blows as Ashe which led the team to a definitive win. Shy did also play Tracer for a chunk of the match, but that does not mean the hero’s absence means much for his viability during the June Joust.
Can the Charge Compete?
The Charge has not looked too hot early into this season with a matching record of the Spark. Their only win on the season was a shaky 3-0 victory against the last place Valiant. During their match against the Spark, they gave every opportunity for Shy and the team to show off which led to the 3-0.
Prediction: Spark win 3-1
Shanghai Dragons // 3-1
While the match against the Charge may be a way for the Spark to gain the right footing going into the June Joust: the Dragons could very easily be a roadblock. The runner-ups of the May Melee–and the East region’s top dog–Shanghai is also looking to start the Joust off right with a successful Week 6.
During their Week 3 matchup, Shanghai’s chemistry did seem a bit off but improved as the match went on. On the other side, this was just the first game following the firing of head coach Hwang “paJion” Ji-sub for Hangzhou. This resulted in a closer game than many expected as it went to a map 5. The team exceeding hit their stride when Lee “LIP” Jae-won subbed in to carry the team to a 3rd victory.
The Dragons do stand atop the APAC standings following their May Melee run, but there were many shifting variables during these teams’ last match. This suggests that a #1 vs #13 seed in the league standings could end very similarly despite the records.
As previously explained, Shanghai did find a way to make it to the May Melee finals against the Dallas Fuel. But, this current team also faced a Spark team that still has not established themselves yet after the Week 3 debut of Shy. While Shy‘s dominant carry did not result in a win against the Dragons, the potential for it to happen seems to be there.
An Attack on Titan Episode 1-like Impact of a Debut
A reoccurring segment of the Hangzhou Spark weekly previews last year was the “Anime Arc of the Week”. With the organization’s continued partnership with the Railgun anime: it is only fitting to continue to do so.
The Chinese hitscan phenom played lights-out against a flustered Shanghai squad. During his hard-fought debut against Dragons in Week 3, Shy had a whopping 63 eliminations and 37 final blows to his name.
The composition of Shy on McCree/Ashe with either the Double Bubble tank duo or Dive duo did look viable in Week 3 and should carry into this weekend’s games. From the looks of it, Shy‘s one-year hiatus from Contenders to scrim with the Spark last season has easily paid off. He has quickly adjusted to playing with the versatile Architect just as GodsB has: if not even better.
Shy, after a single game, has elevated the team more than even the likes of Architect’s debut last season and now Hangzhou has both at their disposal.
Can The Spark Prevail?
It will be a tough matchup against the Dragons, but with Reinhardt gone, the Spark won’t have to worry about struggling with the Rush meta. Guxue on Winston and another strong performance from Shy may just be enough for the Spark to bring this to another map 5 scenario. The Spark have had 2 weeks to work on their chemistry off-stream, so now is the time for Hangzhou to put their money where their mouth is and see if they have what it takes to compete against the best in their region.
Prediction: Dragons win 3-2
The Spark play the Charge on Saturday at 5 AM EST and the Dragons on Sunday at 5 AM EST.
Follow Jordy on Twitter: @JRDNGRCA for everything Hangzhou Spark related!
Featured Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.
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