After a successful Week 6, The Hangzhou Spark are ready to host the Overwatch League’s first Homestand of 2021. All four Chinese teams will come to Hangzhou this weekend to compete in the June Joust qualifiers.
Looking at the venue and stage, seeing the teams arriving, Spark takeover of the city skyline, etc., makes me so excited for the @Hangzhou_Spark homestand event this weekend!
— Jon Spector (@Spex_J) June 2, 2021
Following a bounce-back weekend for the team where they stunned both the Guangzhou Charge and the league-leading Shanghai Dragons, the team looks to take that momentum onto the stage where they will have home-field advantage. For this weekend’s Homestand, the Spark are matched up against the Los Angeles Valiant and the Chengdu Hunters. If the Spark want to continue their rise in the East division, they will have to shed off two teams who are both currently below the knockout cutoff.
Los Angeles Valiant // 0-6
If last week’s game against the best team in the APAC region made any type of statement, it’s that the Spark have found their identity and are running with it.
And for a winless Valiant squad: that’s not a bear they want to poke and prod at.
On a positive note, LA did manage to draw a map on Volskaya Industries against the Dragons, but apart from that, the chemistry is unfortunately not there. On the player side of things, there is a massive discrepancy between the team’s main tanks specifically.
Han “Silver3” Haibo unfortunately is not playing up to OWL standards so far in his rookie season. While his signature hero may be Wrecking Ball, his Ball mishaps has not helped the struggling squad. Silver3 leads the team in deaths with 95 in just 20 maps played. Compare that to the worst team in the West–the Spitfire–and main tank Hadi Daniel “Hadi” Bleinagel has 87 deaths in 28 maps played on his most-played hero: Reinhardt.
On top of that, if you compare that to Xu “Guxue” Qiulin’s numbers, who played lights out with off-tank Shin “BERNAR” Se-won in Week 6, it’s not even close. Guxue has only fallen victim to dying just 59 times in 23 maps played. And when you compare both Silver3 and Guxue’s Winston stats against the Dragons in the past two weeks: Guxue posted only 15 deaths with 45898 damage blocked while Silver3 died 17 times with 29380 damage blocked.
That is also not taking into account the additional 22 times Silver3 died on Wrecking Ball while Guxue stuck on Winston the entire match.
Anime Arc of the Week // The Hidden Spark Village
For Hangzhou, this will be the team’s first opportunity to play on-stage since the Shanghai Masters tournament before the season started. If the odds were not stacked against the Valiant enough, they will have to face a Hangzhou roster fueled on the hometown crowd. On top of that, the LA Valiant–as a “Chinese” organization–does not even have a city in China to call home.
Not many expect the Valiant to do much this season. And while they can pull out a draw against one of the best teams in the OWL, it will be tough to replicate that against a heavily surging Hangzhou roster in front of a sea of roaring fans.
Prediction: Spark win 3-0
Chengdu Hunters // 4-2
Just as it was in Week 6, the Spark’s 2nd match of the weekend will prove much tougher than the first. Hangzhou should easily be able to use the first match of their Homestand as a–no pun intended–spark plug going into a pivotal match against the Hunters.
The team has a chance to get all the home crowd jitters and nervousness out of the way in their game against the Valiant and use that energy as they face the Hunters. Chengdu is currently tied with Philadelphia for third place in the East region. Hangzhou can alter that a bit, however, with a win against the Hunters. This would make both squads 4-3 on the year. For the June Joust, in particular, the Hunters are currently 1-1 after losing a 3-0 match to the Dragons but pulling out the win against the Fusion in Week 6.
Against the Dragons, it was all about the “Main Tank Difference”. Koo “Fate” Pan-seung was competing at playoff levels and Qiu “GA9A” Jiaxin could not match it. That’s not to say that the GA9A is bad by all means, it’s just that the on-and-off Dragons so far this season decided to show up against the Hunters in Week 6. GA9A and the rest of Chengdu did show up against the Fusion, however. This is where the Chengdu Dive came out in full force.
— Chengdu Hunters (@ChengduHunters) May 31, 2021
Dive vs. Dive
The most intriguing part about this week’s matchup between the Spark and the Hunter’s will be the Dive vs. Dive and the minor differences between both Dive comps. Against Philly, Chengdu’s dive looked among the best in the league. The classic Winston/D.Va Dive alongside a Reaper and Echo was working for the Hunters. Ironically enough, that same four-stack of heroes was what led the Spark’s 3-0 victory against the Dragons.
With that, the matchup between Huang “Leave” Xin and Zheng “Shy” Yangjie will be one to watch as both players are early contenders for MVP and Rookie of the Years respectively. Both players dominated on Echo in Week 6 and it will be interesting to see how both teams rely on them amongst other differences in team structure.
Speaking of differences, the Hunters also have the team’s iconic Wrecking Ball pick up their sleeves. This is paired with a strong four-player rotation on the Support backend that has been Chengdu’s bread and butter. For Hangzhou’s flex opportunities, Shy has found much success on the McCree and Ashe on top of his Echo and Park “Architect” Min-ho is always there to adapt if the Reaper does not fit the bill.
The Spark have their hands full with the Hunters as always. But if they can play to the standards they did against the Dragons, then this rejuvenated Spark team looks unbreakable.
Prediction: Spark win 3-2
Featured Image Courtesy of The Overwatch League.
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