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Week 14: Echo Gives The Hangzhou Spark Some Flare

Week 14 Spark

The Hangzhou Spark secured their first high profile win with the help of the newly introduced Echo last week against Seoul. The Spark rolled through a struggling Seoul team who had previously been beaten 0-3 in their last two matches leading into their matchup with Hangzhou. Going into this week, the Spark have a second chance to make up for lost ground as they go against arguably the top team in the league: the Shanghai Dragons. (Sunday @ 4:00 A.M. EST)

Hangzhou Spark vs. Shanghai Dragons

Shanghai Dragons

Photo: Stewart Volland for Blizzard Entertainment

The only other team in the league that have handed the Hangzhou a 0-3 loss is this week’s matchup: the Shanghai Dragons. In the first two bouts of the year, the Dragons have manhandled the Spark. Shanghai has taken every single map against Hangzhou this season. Against other opponents, the team has not let go of that standard as they lead the league in sweeps with a total of 7. The only other team that is even close to that number is the NYXL, who the Dragons defeated last week 3-2.

Even with both losses, that is not to say the Spark have fought hard in their previous matches against Shanghai. In both games, Hangzhou has been able to force the third round on the opening Control map. And on top of that, the team has not been full held on any map versus the Dragons so far. The aspect that has been holding the Spark’s game back against is their ability to finish with the Payload in hand.

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Week 14 Spark
Gif via Konami Cross Media NY, Inc.

The Spark had very similar issues going against the Dynasty in Week 12, barring a few differences. On Busan, Hangzhou was taken aback after Seoul took the map 2-0. Volskaya Industries was an even map, but the Spark were not able to finish fast enough. This lead to the Dynasty taking the map 3-2. On the final map of the game, the Spark were not even able to make to the second point of Dorado which cost them the series.

However, this was all before the era of Echo.

In their rematch, Adora brought out the Echo and immediately changed the game for the Spark. Suddenly, the team’s dive was working. Echo’s duplication ultimate was Hangzhou’s catalyst towards the remarkable win against a team they ultimately struggled against just a week prior. The team even full-held Seoul on Eichenwalde behind Adora‘s Echo. Through that, Hangzhou was able to pull off a 3-0 victory against a perennial top 5 on TGH’s Power Rankings.

If this is any indication of how a single hero can change a team’s composition, then it is a strong one at that. In their first two games against the Dragons, the Spark seemed lost as they attempted many different rosters and team lineups. This time around, however, Hangzhou has a “reverse Uno card” of sorts with Echo coming into the fray. And if the Omnic had that much of an impact against the Dynasty, who’s to say that Hangzhou’s wildcard can’t make a difference against the OWL’s most dominant franchise at this very moment.

The Dragons are far beyond most of the league in terms of talent and execution. However – if the Spark play off of their momentum from last week, they can make it a worthwhile duel.

Prediction: Dragons win 3-2


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