The Washington Justice were always going to have an uphill battle coming into the second half of the 2019 season. The team has only managed to pick up two wins out of their 15 games so far, one of which was against the Florida Mayhem, the only team below them in the standings. Of the seven teams Washington is slated to face in Stage 3, only two — the Guangzhou Charge and Houston Outlaws — are even in the bottom half.
Week 1 in Review
The Justice only had one game in the first week of the stage against the Dallas Fuel. While the result was a decisive 0-3 loss, there were bright spots to be found. Nikola “sleepy” Andrews had an excellent night, cranking out both healing and damage on Zenyatta. Hyang Gi “Sansam” Kim also showed off several large Self-Destructs and a few clutch Graviton Surge catches. (In a highlight of the evening, he caught Dylan “aKm” Bignet’s Grav at the exact moment Lucas “NotE” Meissner canceled Corey “Corey” Nigra’s.)
The game wasn’t a complete sweep, as Washington held Dallas to a draw on Volskaya Industries. However, the Justice had a minute and a half on the clock for their last attack, and still weren’t able to secure the 33% capture of point A needed for a victory.
Washington’s recurring problem seemed to be a lack of decisive action on the battlefield. In multiple fights, they went in with advantages, but couldn’t secure kills. This usually led to protracted battles that Dallas eventually won. In addition, Junhwa “Janus” Song was the first death in multiple fights, including one where Minseok “OGE” Son dropped an Earthshatter directly at his feet. There is light at the end of the tunnel for the Justice, but progress towards it is inconsistent.
Hangzhou Spark (9-3)
While the Spark started the season slow, they came into Stage 3 with a signature “bang,” sweeping the Philadelphia Fusion 4-0. It seems they’ve finally integrated China’s World Cup stars Qiulin “Guxue” Xu and Shilong “Krystal” Cai into the majority Korean roster. Along with perennial playmaker Ho-jin “iDK” Park, they’ve made Hangzhou a force to be reckoned with.
It seems unlikely that Washington as we see them will do much against this lineup. Janus has had trouble against more consistent Reinhardt players, and Guxue is among the best. A team as well-coordinated as Hangzhou should have no trouble capitalizing on Washington’s hesitance and taking an easy win.
Prediction: Spark 4-0 Justice
Los Angeles Gladiators (10-6)
On paper, the Gladiators are the most formidable opponents the Justice will face this stage. They took an unexpected sweep off the Dallas Fuel last week, despite the two teams’ similar records. While they eventually fell to the Vancouver Titans, they did take a map off the northern juggernauts.
The Justice do have a couple of chances this stage to take wins, but the Gladiators would be the most unlikely one. Nothing’s impossible in pro Overwatch, but one of these shields has weathered far more battles than the other, and it’s not the one with the stars and stripes.
Prediction: Gladiators 4-0 Justice
Player to Watch: Hyang Gi “Sansam” Kim
Sansam made several impressive plays against Dallas and was instrumental in some of the Justice’s best moments. If this week’s matches are as heavy on 3-3 compositions as last week’s, his skill on D.Va will prove invaluable. However, the triple-triple comp also relies heavily on team coordination — which Washington has markedly lacked. If the Justice are to make any progress this week, every player on the roster will have to be at their best at once.
Follow Rainee on Twitter @Jezi_Belle for your daily dose of bad puns and emotional over-investment in Overwatch League and its players.
Follow The Game Haus for the latest on all things sports and esports:
Twitter: TGH Esports
Facebook: The Game Haus Esports