Shanghai Dragons (3-4) 3-2 London Spitfire (3-3)
The Shanghai Dragons headed into their Sunday game hoping to redeem themselves after a crushing defeat to the Dallas Fuel. They took on the London Spitfire, who sat just above the cutoff line for stage playoffs. Facing off against a team that would fight hard to keep themselves in the championship race, Shanghai had their work cut out for them.
The Dragons proved that they could still pose a challenge to a potential playoffs team. In a series that came down to the wire, Shanghai held together, regrouping after some tough maps and breaking through. In a dramatic series, the Shanghai Dragons took a 3-2 victory.
Nepal: London 2-0 Shanghai
The Spitfire started off strong on Sanctum, taking early control of the point. Isolating individual Shanghai players, they picked the team apart bit by bit, leaving them unable to put forward an organized push. A quickly-built Graviton Surge from Joon-yeong “Profit” Park stopped the Dragons before they even returned to the point, allowing London to wipe them out again before they could push in for a proper fight. As London built up their control, Shanghai regrouped, reaching the point for one more organized fight. Despite their best efforts, however, London reigned supreme, and took the point uncontested.
Regrouping for the second round, Shanghai quickly took the advantage on Village, with two early picks from Young-jin “Gamsu” Noh giving them a quick edge. As they settled in on the point, their defense proved solid. They managed to hold the Spitfire off until nearly three-quarters of the way into the fight, where a vital early pick on Gamsu gave London the advantage they needed to wipe out the team. Shanghai struggled to regroup afterwards, and the Spitfire were able to isolate and eliminate team members as they built up their own control. In the last team fight, a massive Earthshatter from Jae-hee “Gesture” Hong incapacitated most of the Dragons, giving London all they needed to stave off the attack. With a win on Village, London took the map 2-0.
King’s Row: Shanghai 3-0 London
After bringing in Jin-hyeok “DDing” Yang, the Dragons were ready to take the fight to King’s Row. They showed off a clean attack, pushing quickly through to claim the first point before London regrouped to hold them at the choke. After the two teams poked and prodded for a while, an EMP-earthshatter combo from DDing and Gamsu allowed Shanghai to wipe the Spitfire out and head on to point B, claiming it with plenty of time to spare. London solidified their defense for the last leg of the map, holding the Dragons back as time started to tick down. With Gamsu at the helm, Shanghai pushed back, making it through London’s strong defense and finishing out the map.
The Dragons’ defense looked strong from the beginning, as they repelled London’s first attack and prevented them from rolling through. With Min-seong “diem” Bae looking especially strong on Zarya, Shanghai kept London back again and again, leaving them with fewer options as the clock ticked down. After one more hard fight, Shanghai successfully full held the Spitfire, taking the map 3-0.
Temple of Anubis: London 1-0 Shanghai
With halftime out of the way and Joon-hwan “GuardiaN” Cho subbing in for DDing, the Dragons headed off to the third map. They began the round on attack, rotating onto high ground and hitting the point early. However, the Spitfire stabilized to hold them back, and kept up a tough defense through the round. Shortly before the last team-fight, Jong-seok “NUS” Kim accidentally activated his Sound Barrier early, putting London at a disadvantage. The Spitfire ended up not needing it, and they kept Shanghai back, ending the round without the Dragons claiming a point.
With little work to do and plenty of time to do it, London moved patiently on their attack. Moving up to the same high ground as Shanghai, they scoped out the competition and then moved decisively to split up the defense. An early pick from NUS on Seong-hyeon “Luffy” Yang gave the Spitfire the advantage, and their general organization as a team gave them a quick 1-0 win.
Route 66: Shanghai 3-0 London
Shanghai brought DDing back for the fourth map, and it certainly made a difference when it mattered. The Dragons pushed in quickly through London’s close defense, overwhelming them and heading on. The payload moved smoothly through to point A, with Young-jin “YOUNGJIN” Jin leading the way on Brigitte. Shanghai remained dominant through point B, shutting down an early attack from the Spitfire and heading on with ease. Just when it appeared that London would take the advantage and halt their progress, DDing snuck around the team-fight on Sombra and back-capped, getting the payload to point B. The Spitfire were clearly shaken by this mishap, and they struggled to regroup while Shanghai powered through to the end. They managed to pull things together shortly before the Dragons reached the finish line, allowing them one more attempt at the defense. Shanghai proved too powerful to stop, however, and they completed the map.
Shanghai’s defense looked just as strong, and London struggled out of the gate, spending plenty of their time bank just getting through the first bend in the road. By the time they finally got the momentum they needed to power forward, barely a minute remained, and they would need to move quickly. Before they could, an early pick on NUS by Gamsu turned things back in Shanghai’s favor. With that momentum, they prevented the Spitfire from reaching the first point, taking a 3-0 win and forcing the game to a fifth map.
Ilios: Shanghai 2-1 London
Shanghai substituted YOUNGJIN out and brought Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim back into the fray for their last fight. Though the two teams appeared evenly matched throughout the round on Well, London claimed early control of the point and managed to hold it into overtime before the Dragons finally got the edge they needed to take it. Both teams flexed their DPS muscles, with diem shining on Widowmaker and Profit earning crucial kills on Hanzo. Ultimately, London reclaimed the point and won the round.
With an early cap on Lighthouse, London seemed poised to keep up their momentum. However, Shanghai moved in quickly to grab the point back, and nearly completed the map without losing it. With some vital sniping from Hee-dong “Guard” Lee on Widowmaker, the Spitfire gained the advantage, and they settled in on the point while the Dragons regrouped. A two-kill Pulse Bomb from Profit helped London’s case as they came closer to finishing things out, but Shanghai pushed back in one more time and grabbed the point back, winning the round and sending the teams to the Ruins.
Both teams returned to a standard 3-3 composition for the last round. With Gesture leading the charge, London decisively took the point, appearing ready to finish things out on a strong note. Besides a brief moment of Shanghai control, the Spitfire held tight, putting a stop to any attack. Just as they moved into overtime, the Dragons roared back in one more time and successfully overwhelmed them. Despite London’s best efforts to reclaim the point, they couldn’t organize quickly enough, and the Shanghai Dragons took both the map and the series.
A Strong Ending
Despite the fact that Shanghai has already been eliminated from a chance at playoffs, their victory has some heavy implications. With their loss, the Spitfire drop below the cutoff line, leaving the Guangzhou Charge poised to claim a spot in stage playoffs and moving both the Seoul Dynasty and the Houston Outlaws up towards another spot. Every map counts now, and the Spitfire could very well be out of the running unless they pull out a strong showing against the Dynasty next week. The Dragons, for their part, are done for the stage, finishing things out with a 3-4 record. Though they didn’t make playoffs, winning their first game will be remembered as one of the stage’s highlights, and defeating the Season 1 champions is a fine way to finish things out. It’s time for the Dragons to take a breather and get ready for the action in Stage 2.
Follow Darby on Twitter @soundchecck! She is happy to talk about anything she’s written! You can also get in touch with her on Discord (soundchecck#7242).
Featured image courtesy of the Shanghai Dragons.
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