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The Hangzhou Spark upset the Chengdu Hunters at their live homestand, winning 3-1. On the path to a perfect qualifying round, the Spark faced tough opponents in the Shanghai Dragons and Chengdu Hunters. After sweeping the Dragons, their last match in the June Joust qualifiers was against Chengdu, a team known for skilled talent in 2021. Both of these teams have showcased entertaining games so far, but those previous matches don’t hold up to this contest. Hosting the game within the city of Hangzhou, the Spark fans got to see their team defeat a tough opponent live. That is why this match is the match of the week.

The Spark vs. the Hunters

The match started with both teams walking onto the stage, with the Hunters needing a 3-0 sweep to qualify for knockouts. After the Spark introduced everyone on their roster for the fans, the starting six were revealed. Those six included Zheng “Shy” Yangjie and Xu “Guxue” Qiulin, two key players still in great form from the June Joust. On the Hunters’ side, the surprise player on stage was Liu “Kaneki” Nian, seeing some of his first playtime in the qualifiers.

The first map was Ilios, which proved to be a good indicator of the entertaining match to come. The duels between Huang “Leave” Xin and Shy on Echo were key to every fight on the map. Off of a great Reaper ultimate from Kaneki, the first round of Ilios went to the Hunters. However, the Spark regained control in tough positions and won the next two rounds to win the map. On the second map, Volskaya, the Hunters rebounded off of their first map loss. Without swapping anyone on the roster, their attack was better, leading to a tied series.

Map three was Numbani, where both teams faced off with their dive compositions. With Reaper and Echo, these dive compositions are focused on clean engages. After a good start to their defense, the Hunters couldn’t stop the Spark from finishing the map with a little time in the bank. The Hunters then attacked and finished with a better time, but that wasn’t the end. Hangzhou pushed the cart more than halfway to the end with only a minute left, leaving Chengdu with a tough challenge. Hangzhou held them at first and won the map, then they moved on to match point. Lastly, the fourth map, Rialto, finished in classic Rialto style. The Hunters attacked first, pushing the cart almost all the way. But, the Spark proceeded to push it further to win the match.

Hangzhou proves to be a tough opponent in the East

With this win, they finished their qualifiers undefeated. All Hangzhou needed to do to make the Hawaiian part of the June Joust was defeat the New York Excelsior. Before that, the Spark needed a win streak to improve on their mediocre results in the May Melee. With the new starting roster the team is gelling together, even in front of a live crowd. Even after a disappointing loss to the NYXL shortly after, the progress they made was needed to stay competitive in the East. The Spark showed that they can fight against the best and have a chance to win in the near future.

Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming as long as I can remember, with my first ever game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played game being Borderlands 2 (3000+ hours). Some other key favourites of mine are Transistor and Night in the Woods, but I spend stupid amounts of time playing Overwatch. I have a BA Honors in Film Studies, and want to continue to be part of film, gaming and writing.
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