Spark- 3 Gladiators- 1
Despite the impressive debut from Gui-un “Decay” Jang, Los Angeles was bested by the defending champion London Spitfire earlier this week. With stage playoffs on the line, the Gladiators needed to take advantage of a Spark team struggling to regain their impressive Week 1 form.
Nepal: Spark- 2 Gladiators- 1
On Nepal, Hangzhou’s rookie main tank Xu “guxue” Qiulin overwhelmed the Gladiators own rookie Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye to gain first control on Village. Despite the setback, Los Angeles responded quickly to win the next fight without any ultimate investment.
Village was dominated with incredible aggressive Reinhardt exchanges between rOar and guxue. After a key blocked Earthshatter from rOar in the final fight, the Gladiators took control of the point and claimed the first point of Map 1.
Now on Sanctum, both team’s opted for Winston based 3-3 compositions to maneuver the deadly pit. Ho-jin “iDK” Park’s boop of Jun-woo “Void” Kang’s DVa opened up a capture for the spark. At 99%, Los Angeles regained control, but the ensuing teamfight would see Gui-un “Decay” Jang switch to Soldier 76 in an effort to continue contesting for his squad. Hangzhou claimed Sanctum to tie the map at 1.
With series momentum on their side, Hangzhou wasted no time gaining the advantage on Shrine. ROar had been focused incessantly by the Spark leaving no real opportunities for the Gladiators to respond. Hangzhou took map 1 with great confidence.
Hollywood: Spark- 2 Gladiators- 3
Guxue remained in for the Spark for their defense on Hollywood. A clear emphasis was put on removing rOar from the fight before pushing forward against the Gladiators assault. This pressure resulted in mistakes from the Gladiators’ main tank and an inability for the rest of the Glads to properly take advantage of their early ultimate pools on Hollywood.
Despite the tank pressure, Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara played magnificently for the Gladiators. His efforts and Transcendence usage saved teamfights through Hollywood Boulevard as Los Angeles claimed all three points of map 2.
Now on defense themselves, an aggressive failed push from the Gladiators nearly cost them. After their reengage, LA regained control of the situation and preceded to hold back the Spark’s assault of point A.
After finally losing control of the payload, Hangzhou returned to their aggressive focus of rOar. Desperate to halt the Spark push, LA reengaged before the Spark’s second checkpoint. A key Graviton Surge from Kyeong-bo “GodsB” Kim caught the Gladiators off guard and decisively turned the advantage in favor of the Spark.
Despite the advantage, LA’s response to Hangzhou’s overtime push was too much for the Hangzhou to handle. Los Angeles claimed Hollywood to tie the series heading into halftime.
Volskaya Industries: Spark- 3 Gladiators- 2
Opening Volskaya on Attack, Los Angeles opted for a DPS heavy comp with rOar on Wrecking Ball. Fans were elated to see Decay on Widowmaker instead of his usual Zarya pick. The comp found success but heading into Point B, LA swapped for their 3-3 composition moving forward.
Hangzhou showed more impressive combo management than LA on their point B defense. After an early elimination of rOar yet again, Decay committed his Graviton Surge and found little effect before Seong-Wook “Ria” Park’s Self Destruct would pair with Jun-Ki “Bazzi” Park’s Shield Bash to eliminate rOar once more. The combo would push the Gladiators back and force another teamfight before LA’s eventual capture of point B.
On Hangzhou’s attack, both squads shifted from Reinhardt to Winston. As the fight progressed, a key Primal Rage from rOar saved his life and devastated the Spark’s push. After losing Decay at point A, Los Angeles had to give up ground to the Spark’s next attack. Hangzhou’s capture snowballed into a quick cap of point B and sent the Gladiators back on attack with only a minute to work with.
After a stifled first engage, Hangzhou rolled over the exhausted Gladiators final attack on Volskaya. With only one tick needed to claim Map 3, Hangzhou claimed the map and the series lead in short order.
Route 66: Spark- 1 Gladiators- 0
With Stage 1 playoffs on the line, Los Angeles needed a victory on Route 66 to force a fifth map. Beginning on attack, the Gladiators made short work of the Spark defense to gain a decisive ultimate advantage for their next engage.
Despite the early advantage, LA’s ultimate usage left a lot to be desired. Hangzhou’s positioning on the high ground made it difficult for LA’s attack to find any notable success. After being full held on Route 66, Los Angeles had to answer with a stellar defensive hold of their own before falling to a 1-4 record.
Between Ho-jin “iDK” Park’s sneaky Teleporter usage to start the attack and Guxue’s flanked Earthshatter, Hangzhou decisively claimed Map 4 and now sit in a contending spot for Stage 1 playoffs.
Los Angeles struggled greatly against Hangzhou’s focused aggression towards rOar. With 3-3 an integral part of Stage 1 success, the Gladiators really struggled with balancing the protection of their Reinhardt with his own aggression. Without successful utilization of a key playmaker of the composition, the Gladiators would fall, behind the loss of their primary damage sponge.
Guxue’s continued usage through the series shows communication barriers are falling. With an entire series under his belt, Hangzhou may return to Week 1 form just in time for Playoffs.
Featured/Player Images Courtesy of the Overwatch League
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