Achieving the inaugural franchise win in Stage 1? Check. Qualifying for Shanghai’s first Stage Playoff in Stage 2? Check. Although a young team can only travel so high, the Dragons’ schedule sets up another possible one-up in Stage 3. Shanghai will need to focus match-by-match, one at a time in order to accomplish this goal. Week 1 will be instrumental to build momentum, and it is a crucial matchup that decides the tide of the rest of the Stage.
Los Angeles Valiant: 3-11 overall (3-4 in Stage 2)
June 6, 8:30 PM EST
Despite the Valiant improving an atrocious 0-7 Stage 1 record by going 3-4 in Stage 2, the franchise made some moves between Stages 2 and 3. Los Angeles traded away main-tank Pan-seung “Fate” Koo for three Florida Mayhem players, where one may have a starting lineup spot. Russell “FCTFCTN” Campbell has the best chance to be a starter, being a main-tank to fill the empty spot for LA. FCTFCTN has OWL experience with Houston last season, as well as playing on FaZe Clan and the US World Cup team. Caleb “McGravy” McGarvey and Johannes “Shax” Nielsen may sub in during more DPS-centered lineups, but that is unlikely due to the Valiant’s depth in DPS players.
Thankfully for the Valiant, they have had almost a month to prepare for the upcoming matchup with their new squad. Fans may remember that it only took 17 days for Shanghai to gather their first convincing win with Young-jin “Gamsu” Noh in the lineup (against Chengdu), so do not consider a lack of cohesion to be a factor. Instead, look at the Dragons’ ability to be extremely flexible, especially against low-tier teams. Two wins versus Chengdu, one versus Houston and who could forget the thrilling upset against the Spitfire? Despite losing in the end, look back at how Shanghai ran toe-to-toe most of the way with San Francisco, arguably the best team in the league.
A 7-7 overall record may not show it accurately, but Shanghai should be considered in the top half of the league. In the end, this match will be another thrashing by Min-seong “diem” Bae and Jin-hyeok “DDing” Yang. A loss though? It may mean the difference between a fifth-seed and ninth come Stage 3 Playoffs. The Dragons will play the Valiant again in Week 3, and teams like Guangzhou or Atlanta may repeat Los Angeles’ strategies to take over Shanghai.
Prediction: Shanghai will be fine, stealing the show 3-1.
Player to Watch: DDing
DDing has been exceptional so far in his rookie campaign, and the start of Stage 3 should be no different. Whether he runs Sombra, Pharah or any other DPS character, he’s carried the Dragons to several wins with picks. Despite LA’s depth in DPS players, Shanghai’s core is certainly stronger with his consistency.
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