One step at a time, the Shanghai Dragons have slowly climbed up the ranks as one of the most dangerous franchises in the league. Sitting at 9-7 overall (2-0 this stage), the Dragons are in a terrific position to solidify a playoff spot after Week 5. Two hurdles down already, Shanghai will have two more in the upcoming week.
WEEK 2 MATCH
Atlanta Reign: 0-4 (7-11 overall)
For a team yet to still find a win in Stage 3, the Reign continue to be a formidable opponent. After a cakewalk against the Valiant in Week 1, the Dragons needed to continue to grow confidence to prepare for the Gladiators in Week 3. Atlanta took up the fight early in a 2-0 victory on Oasis, then ran the next two maps into overtime versus Shanghai. Havana provided a tricky situation, where a Dragons’ weak offense was bested by their own stellar defense. Finishing the tiebreaker map with a dominant 2-0 victory on Nepal, the series featured a little bit of everything. The 3-2 victory over Atlanta not only propelled them to third in the Stage 3 rankings, but also led to a HOT Bren take that Shanghai will win the Grand Finals.
Player of the Game:
The box score and statistics may not show the true value that Seong-hyeon “Luffy” Yang brought during this series. The Dragons first attack showed Luffy leading charge, opening picks with his discord orb to gather five ticks total in two fights on Volskaya. An opening on Petja “Masaa” Kantanen pushed Shanghai forward at full force on Numbani.
WEEK 3 MATCHES
Los Angeles Valiant: 2-1 (5-12 overall)
A resurgence here in Stage 3 has almost doubled the Valiant’s record, but Week 1 didn’t make the Dragons hesitate. Shanghai pounded Los Angeles in the first three maps for a quick victory, shutting them out in two of those maps. The lineup has been untouched since Russell “FCTFCTN” Campbell was picked up in the offseason, and Young-jin “Gamsu” Noh easily outplayed him in their matchup. One can argue that the most vital piece on Shanghai’s roster, Jin-hyeok “DDing” Yang, didn’t play to his utmost potential. Both teams have now seen each other in the new meta, so don’t be surprised if either team throws a curveball (like Shanghai ACTUALLY playing GOATs). The Dragons won’t have any issues, though, as they’ll have another dominant victory (3-1 or 4-0) over the Valiant.
Min-seong “diem” Bae still holds true to his second place spot in Final Blows per 10 Minutes, but now has a new top five statistic. The Widowmaker king now ranks fourth overall in Eliminations per 10 Minutes, averaging 20.99.
Los Angeles Gladiators: 3-1 (12-6 overall)
Moving from one Los Angeles team to the next, the Gladiators will be the team that the Dragons will focus on in Week 3. Fans may recall the Stage 2 Week 1 matchup where Shanghai was dominated after Busan, but that was almost a different team. The first match in the ‘new meta’, the Dragons hadn’t quite found their flexibility on heroes and maps and stuck with the standard GOATs vs GOATs matchup.
Fast forward to Stage 3 Week 3. The Gladiators have gone 8-2 since their last meeting, including a 3-1 loss to Boston and barely escaping the LA Valiant with a 2-1 win. Shanghai has moved to 6-2, losses to the NYXL and San Francisco, and improved against the Shock in the playoffs with just a couple days’ notice. The Dragons bode well against repeat matchups, and it’s likely they’ll exploit that against LAG. Shanghai will have a hot start again but will become reverse-swept in the process, 3-2.
Player to Watch:
Although diem has slowly become one of the deadliest players in the league, he’ll match up with another sneaky Widowmaker that’s been on the rise recently: Lane “Surefour” Roberts. Now that The Dragons are more comfortable in DPS lineups, the two could go head to head for one of the most thrilling regular-season Widowmaker matches to date.
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