Even months of canceled matches can’t dull the Hangzhou Spark. Though the team has had to persevere through homestand cancellations in China and abroad due to the coronavirus, the boys in pink are finally ready to return thanks to the Overwatch League’s online tournament model.
In 2019, Hangzhou were a pleasant surprise after the team found their footing and committed to a starting roster. Despite all odds, they ended last season in fourth place after an impressive postseason run.
The team is often known for its cheerful social media posts and bright pink jerseys. But on the Overwatch League stage, they’re all business. In 2020, the Spark likely want to prove that they’re the top dogs in the Pacific East division.
Main tank Xu “Guxue” Qiulin returns to the Spark this year to carry the frontline by himself. Though he had an impressive showing in 2019, he may be forced to flex off his best heroes to comply with Hero Pools. Off-tank Park “Ria” Seong-wook will also return in 2020 after earning high praise from fans and analysts last year. Substitute off-tank Song “SASIN” Sang-hyeon was quietly added to the Spark roster early last year, but 2020 could be his chance to see more extensive Overwatch League playing time.
After a great performance at the 2019 Overwatch World Cup as a part of Team South Korea, main support Park “iDK” Ho-jin is ready to carry Hangzhou’s support line again this year. Steadfast flex support Yoon “BeBe” Hui-Chang will be there to back him up. Hangzhou’s support line was one of the team’s biggest highlights last year. Now, the duo will have more help.
The Spark decided to promote two support players from their Overwatch Contenders China team, BiliBili Gaming, to help round out their roster. Main support Liu “M1ka” Jiming and flex support Tong “Coldest” Xiaodong will join the support line in 2020. This may be a genius decision considering the amount of flexibility required in the Hero Pools era.
If the Spark’s support line was a consistent bright spot in 2019, the team’s DPS lineup was a strobe light. When they were on, they were on fire. But on the days they were off, it cost the team precious wins. Despite that fact, most of the individually talented players are coming back in 2020.
DPS duo Kang “Adora” Jae-Hwan and Kim “GodsB” Kyeon-Bo will likely see large amounts of playing time this year. Substitute DPS Park “Bazzi” Jun-ki will also come back. The Spark also made a last-minute addition in Overwatch League veteran Cheon “Ado” Ki-Hyeon, who’s played for the Shanghai Dragons and Washington Justice.
Even if the Hangzhou Spark continue the impressive play they showed off in 2019, they’ll have to elevate their teamwork to truly contend with the best teams in the league. Hangzhou did well at the end of 2019 thanks to the league’s pivot to role lock, where their support and DPS lines could truly make a difference. Without many changes to the roster, though, that may not be enough in 2020.
The existing roster will have to dig deep and flex to different heroes as metas adapt due to Hero Pools. With the addition of Ado to the DPS lineup, that section should be fine. Guxue will have to find new talents beyond his usual Winston and Reinhardt to carry the team as their sole main tank. Despite these stacked odds, the Hangzhou Spark will likely be battling the Shanghai Dragons for Chinese team dominance once again.
The Hangzhou Spark play their first game of the season against the Chengdu Hunters on March 28 at 5am CT.
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