HANGZHOU SPARK (9-6)
The Philadelphia Fusion had an unfortunate first week of the stage. They were dealt a crippling 4-0 blow at the hands of the Hangzhou Spark. The Spark have continuously been improving since the beginning of the season. They have many talented players on their roster, and their gameplay has become incredibly clean after the break. However, fans could not help but watch in confusion as Philadelphia seemed to give up halfway through the match.
Seong-Wook “Ria” Park outclassed Gael “Poko” Gouzerch on D.Va as he was continually eating Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee’s graviton surges. On top of denying the Fusion chances to engage, Ria’s self-destructs were taking out Philly left and right. Alongside Ria, Kyeong-bo “GodsB” Kim was constantly melting down the competition on Zarya while Xu “guxue” Qiulin swung away at anyone left on the battlefield. The Spark earned their victory this weekend, but with how poorly the Fusion played, it begs the question: what has happened to the former Grand Finalists?
THIS AIN’T IT, CHIEF
The Fusion’s GOATS continues to be one of the weakest in the league. With no changes being made to either their starting lineup or strategies, fans are becoming more and more frustrated. The Fusion were one of the more entertaining teams to watch last season. Fans fell in love with their aggressive playstyle, and that playstyle got them into last year’s Grand Finals. This season, they seem to have lost that wild edge that made them one of the top teams in the league.
During the off-season, Philadelphia made a lot of changes to their roster and staff. In theory, those changes were supposed to help them become more cohesive as a team. Three stages into the season and the Fusion are struggling harder than they ever have before. Some believe that it’s the meta’s fault for Philadelphia’s lack of success, but it is time for the team to start taking responsibility. Their inability to adapt is on them at this point, not the meta.
They have a Reinhardt specialist who has been missing in action since Stage 4 of last season. They have a Zarya specialist that they are holding in D.Va jail because they don’t have anyone else who is comfortable enough to play her on stage. With Simon “snillo” Ekström and Elijah Hudson “Elk” Gallagher out of commission as they compete in Korean trials with Fusion University, Philadelphia is left with little to no other resources. They’ve backed themselves into a corner that they are seemingly unable to get out of.
WHERE DOES PHILLY GO FROM HERE?
This loss against the Spark was harder to watch than the Fusion’s loss against the Florida Mayhem. While the Mayhem game was just a whirlwind of craziness, the Fusion were playing against a competent team this time around. There were so many missed opportunities that could have turned things around. The Fusion don’t just look messy; they look lost. It’s heartbreaking for fans to watch them on a downward trajectory. The roster is full of talent; fans know what these boys are capable of. Something needs to change, but whether that’s on a staff or roster level remains to be seen.
At this point, the least the Fusion could do is try. Try swapping in Joona “Fragi” Laine for Su-min “SADO” Kim; try putting Josh “Eqo” Corona on D.Va and Carpe on Brigitte; try putting Poko on his true signature hero. Think outside the box; if it fails, then it fails, but at least the team can walk away knowing that they tried something different to improve their performance.
LOS ANGELES GLADIATORS (10-6)
Wild, creative and not afraid of a fight, the Los Angeles Gladiators have made a name for themselves as one of the top teams in the league. Though they had a rocky start at the beginning of Stage 1, they have since climbed their way to the top. The Gladiators had a great start to the stage after beating the Dallas Fuel 4-0 last Friday. Unfortunately, the Gladiators would fall slightly short and be defeated by the Vancouver Titans 3-1 on Sunday. However, the fact that they were able to take a map off the undefeated (in the regular season) Titans is a testament to their strength as a team.
The Gladiators are an incredibly well-coordinated team. Their support line continues to be one of the best in the league. Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara and Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni are the most reliable support duo out there as they have played together for many years. Most support lines pale in comparison to them. BigGoose is also one of the best shot-callers in the league. Under his guidance, the Gladiators have risen to the top. With Lane “Surefour” Roberts back in the starting lineup, the Gladiators will be a force to be reckoned with going into this matchup.
PREDICTION: PHILADELPHIA 1-3 GLADIATORS
BOSTON UPRISING (7-9)
The Boston Uprising had a disappointing first week of the stage. Losing to both the London Spitfire and the Paris Eternal, Boston will have to go back to the drawing board to make a comeback this week. The Uprising are a formidable team, but deciding to try out a new support line halfway through the stage was a questionable choice.
Taking out Kristian “Kellex” Keller in favor of Renan “alemao” Moretto was a move that Boston fans were expecting two stages ago. Seeing alemao on the stage was a pleasant surprise, but the synergy between him and Minseok “AimGod” Kwon isn’t quite there yet. Boston also decided to start Zion “Persia” Yang this weekend. Both Persia and alemao struggled against the Spitfire and Eternal’s support lines. While they are great players, they’re going to need more time to learn how to work with the team if Boston wants another chance at the stage playoffs.
While their support line is in question, Boston fans can still rely on Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth, Kelsey “Colourhex” Birse and Jeffrey “blasé” Tsang. Both Colourhex and blasé are more comfortable on Zarya and Brigitte than Eqo and Carpe. The Uprising will be looking to come back with a vengeance after this weekend, and the Fusion will have to watch out.
PREDICTION: PHILADELPHIA 2-3 BOSTON
PLAYER TO WATCH: SADO
In both of these matches, SADO will be going up against two great main tanks. Both Fusions and Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye are known for their aggressive Reinhardt playstyles. While SADO might have Fusions beat in terms of his Winston, rOar is a better Winston than SADO is. SADO will have a tough time going up against these two and fans will be keeping an eye out to see how he does in comparison.
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