With Stage 3 comes a fresh start for the Philadelphia Fusion. The Fusion had a lackluster second stage, but with Grand Finals being hosted in Philadelphia this year, they will be more determined than ever to prove they have what it takes to go the distance. However, recent changes in the Fusion’s backup roster might complicate things this stage.
Elk and Snillo
This past weekend at the Atlantic Showdown, Fusion University dominated and were rightfully crowned as the true kings of the Atlantic. Mere hours later, they announced that the team has decided to trial in Korea. Fusion University has been a powerhouse in North American contenders for the past four seasons. Moving onto Korean Contenders is a new move for the team as they will test their skills against some of the best upcoming players in the world. However, this move is worrisome for the Fusion in one significant way. The only two-way players on the roster, Elijah Hudson “Elk” Gallagher and Simon “snillo” Ekström will not be available to sub in for the Fusion should they need it.
During stage one, Isaac “Boombox” Charles fell ill, and Elk had to make his Overwatch League debut in his place. Philly struggled during the time that Boombox was sick; should another player fall to an illness, the only person available would be Joona “Fragi” Laine. While fans would love to see Fragi back on the stage again, this would not be an ideal way to welcome back everyone’s favorite Finnish main tank. The Fusion are determined to focus on their core roster this season, and while this move is worrisome, things should ultimately be fine so long as no one falls ill.
Hangzhou Spark (8-6)
The Fusion’s first and only game of the week is against the Hangzhou Spark. The Spark have had an exciting ride so far this season. Initially, they impressed viewers with their flashy playstyle during Stage 1. Hangzhou’s tank line has looked particularly impressive as time has gone on. Seong-Wook “Ria” Park made a name for himself with his multi-kill self-destructs, putting him on par with Gael “Poko” Gouzerch. The “Poko Bomb” was sensational last season, but this season Poko’s bombs have not been up to par. His D.VA play continues to be one of the strongest in the league, but as a whole, the Fusion have been severely struggling with GOATS.
Communication and coordination have been at the forefront of the Fusion’s problems since the season began. Neither Josh “Eqo” Corona nor Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee have adjusted that well onto the roles of Zarya and Brigitte. On top of that Su-min “SADO” Kim has been struggling with the role of main tank as well, much to the displeasure of fans. Both he and Eqo are often punished for being out of position by other teams; if Eqo goes down, SADO is usually quick to follow. In comparison, the Spark’s GOATS is much more organized. They are also more willing to flex onto various types of compositions. Their organization and creativity will prove to be a challenge for the Fusion going into this match, but it is important to remember that Fusion thrives when they are cast in an underdog role. Notorious for taking things to Map 5, the Fusion should be able to come out of this series with a win under their belt.
Player to Watch: Poko
Going up against Ria, Poko will be the player to watch during this series. Easily a fan favorite, Poko is beloved for his zany personality and playstyle. He is one of the more consistent players on the Fusion and is a force to be reckoned with. Ria has been a shining star on the Spark’s roster, and will definitely give the Fusion trouble, but Poko should be able to go toe-to-toe with him and help the Fusion take home that first win of the stage.
Prediction: Philadelphia 3-2 Hangzhou
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