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London Spitfire: Stage 1 Week 2 Preview

Expectations for London were high coming into the first week of season 2, but their performance left viewers puzzled. What happened to the championship-winning Spitfire that were seen at the end of last season? If London hope to break out of the bottom of the rankings, they’ll need to dramatically adjust their playstyle to fit the current meta.

Last Week’s Recap

Philadelphia Fusion: 2-0

The Fusion came into this match hoping for revenge against their championship opponents, and revenge is exactly what they got. The Spitfire looked utterly hopeless when playing triple tank – triple support compositions against those of the Fusion. London came into their own on Volskaya Industries, where they opted for unique offenses with quad-DPS lineups that successfully dismantled Philly’s defenses. However, London couldn’t keep the momentum going into the final game, ultimately ceding the match to Philadelphia 3-1.

Player of the Game: Carpe

Carpe’s Zarya Stats Against London

Carpe was Philadelphia’s X factor throughout their matches against London. Boasting 93 eliminations, 83 of which as high energy kills, Carpe’s Zarya consistently kept London in check during their engages. When the Spitfire have a rematch against the Fusion in Stage 2, they’ll need to make a concerted effort to target Carpe first and foremost.

Paris Eternal: 1-0

The battle of Europe was a hotly anticipated game, with both the Spitfire and the Eternal looking to stake their claim as the best of Europe. Contrary to many analysts’ predictions, Paris blew London out of the water. Simply put, London continued to struggle running mirrored 3-3 compositions as they did against the Fusion. Their attempts at disrupting GOATS by running Hee Dong “Guard” Lee on Sombra proved similarly ineffective. Perhaps some Eternal player’s experience running these compositions in the EU Contenders scene gave Paris the edge in this match? Or, perhaps London is simply ill equipped to deal with the league’s current dominant strategy.

Player of the Game: Kruise

Kruise’s Lucio Stats Against London

Kruise put up astonishing statistics as Lucio over the course of this match, dealing nearly as much damage as he did healing. He excelled from a playmaking standpoint as well, sustaining Paris throughout pushes where London had a clear edge. When London and Paris face off again in stage 2, London must find ways to disrupt the Eternal support line in order to end fights quicker.

Preview for this Week

Washington Justice: 0-1

The Justice came into the league with their first week (actually, their entire first stage) looking particularly rough due to the strength of their opponents. However, London’s lackluster performance during Week 1 suddenly has the match between these two teams looking like a much closer game than once anticipated.

Courtesy of Washington Justice, art by Patrick Pedroza (@thepeeetrick on Twitter)

Washington’s performance against NYXL wasn’t spectacular, but they did show that they have a few tricks up their sleeve. On Horizon Lunar Colony, the Justice proved that they could successfully run GOATS into opposing GOATS comps as well as more disruptive lineups. London’s map wins typically come when they aren’t forced to run 3-3, but Washington has shown that unique compositions might not be a definite key to success here.

To win against Washington, London should focus on punishing positioning errors and forcing ultimates. Against NYXL, Justice players like Gi-do “Gido” Mun often had questionable ultimates that contributed to lost team fights. If London can exert pressure on DC’s support line and draw out unnecessary ultimates, they’ll fare well in this match. But if they continue to brute force mirrored GOATS brawls, the match could go either way.

Prediction: London wins 3-2

Hangzhou Spark: 2-0

The Hangzhou Spark have truly started this season with a bang. A 3-1 debut over the Dragons followed by a 3-2 win over the Valiant have tied Hangzhou for first in the league. Hangzhou have shown excellence in a meta where London has stumbled out of the gate.

The Spark’s true strength lies in the synergy of its members. Plays like Seong-Wook “Ria” Park’s multi-kill self-destructs are only possible because of the setup and coordination of his teammates. These synergies extend beyond GOATS lineups as well, as showcased in the Spark’s dominant performance on Point A of Dorado running double sniper against the Valiant.

Courtesy @Hangzhou_Spark on Twitter

Judging by last week’s games, it’s difficult to see a situation in which London comes out on top against Hangzhou. To compete against the calculated precision of the Spark, London need to come prepared with strategies of their own to disrupt the Spark before they can snowball team fights. Unfortunately, the display that London put on last week doesn’t yield much hope for this outcome, regardless of the heroes being played.

Prediction: Hangzhou wins 3-1

Player to Watch

Hee Dong “Guard” Lee

London Spitfire Guard Announcement
Courtesy of the London Spitfire

When London subs in Guard, it communicates to their opponents that they should expect to see Sombra-centric compositions coming from the Spitfire. But, what matters most is how well London’s opponents can adapt to this telegraphed play. At its highest point, subbing in Guard can single-handedly win London maps, as seen on King’s Row against the Eternal. But once the opponents adapt, Guard’s impact can be completely nullified, as shown against Paris on Route 66.

In typical London fashion, what needs improvement is consistency in Guard’s impact. If the Spitfire can coordinate around his rapidly charging EMPs and backline pressure, they have potential to reliably gain advantages in team fights. But if they don’t capitalize on Sombra’s full potential, or if their playstyle around Sombra becomes too predictable, they will unquestionably fall to more traditional 3-3 compositions. Keep an eye on Guard this week to see how he plays around his team and how his team adapts to play around him.

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