Live From Hangzhou!
Lights, camera, cosplay! The Overwatch League returns to LAN events this weekend with their first Chinese homestand in Hangzhou, hosted by the pick-clad anime protagonists in the Spark. For the first time since March of 2020, Overwatch League players will play on stage, in front of a crowd, and fight for the final few spots in the APAC June Joust qualifying matches.
While western audiences don’t have anything planned for the foreseeable future, simply watching the stream and seeing OWL teams play in front of adoring fans brings back fond memories and hope for the future.
We’re slowly getting back to normal, slowly returning to the things we love the most about Overwatch esports, and for now, we can simply enjoy what the APAC region will have to offer in these upcoming homestands. Enjoy the crowd, enjoy the game, and enjoy the stakes of the teams who still have things to prove.
GUANGZHOU VS PHILADELPHIA
One of the most surprising things about the June Joust was the absolute opposite trajectories the Guangzhou Charge, and Philadelphia Fusion followed this past month. In the May Melee, one team was a terrible mess who managed to squeak out only one win; the other wouldn’t drop a match and found themselves sitting comfortably in the qualifying match for the year’s first tournament.
Then in June, Philadelphia found themselves floundering against their opponents in the NYXL and Chengdu Hunters, starting the Joust 0-2 and leaving fans with their heads scratching as to what could’ve possibly happened within the last few weeks. The Charge, on the other hand, found a new resurgence, mostly behind the plays and moves of damage players Se-hwan "ChoiSehwan" Choi and Ou "Eileen" Yiliang.
However, the Fusion still have some magic, they still have some power to showcase, and that came in the form of Josue "Eqo" Corona, who made his hotly anticipated season premiere in this match. Showcasing his ever-lasting talent and coolness, Eqo helped lead the team to an easy 3-0 victory of the Charge. A dominant victory with only one map tie, Philadelphia keep their hopes alive and puts Eqo back on the map with a starting spot on the team.
SEOUL VS CHENGDU
In what was the tightest match on Friday, Chengdu and Seoul duked it out for one of those final positions for the June Joust, with both teams needing to snag a win here to stay in the running. In what could be summed up as a tale between experience vs rookie jitters, this five-map series showcased the huge gap in mentality between the storied veterans of the Seoul Dynasty and the fresh-faced newbies of the Chengdu Hunters.
While Seoul essentially got to play a live match from the comfort of their homes, Chengdu’s newest rookies on the team had to undergo their first experience of playing in front of a crowd at the Overwatch League level, and that stress made it incredibly difficult for Chengdu to really have a footing to win the series. While there were the usual heroics from Huang "leave" Xin on Echo, it wasn’t enough to drag Chengdu back from the deficit they experienced during the match. Seoul kept up the tempo, Dong-eon "FITS" Kim gave a great performance, and overall, the game became a slobber knocker of a match.
LOS ANGELES VS HANGZHOU
It’s not easy playing against the home crowd team, and it's certainly not going to become any easier when your squad barely even knows how to play the game together. Yes, the LA Valiant are officially a free win service for any time in dire straights looking to improve their score or give their fans a match that they can at least check out with waning interest.
Watching the LA Valiant play Overwatch is a miserable experience to be entirely honest with you. Yes, some of their players know how to aim a mouse, but that’s probably not the bar that needs to be cleared here. It’s kind of sad that this is a match that was featured at such a hotly anticipated homestand because if it weren’t for the bright pink lights darting the crowd the whole time, most people probably might’ve fallen asleep.
What else is there to say about the LA Valiant at this point, other than having a conversation on whether or not this team could beat the 2018 Shanghai Dragons as the worst OWL team of all time. Good for the Spark for cleaning up an easy with efficiency in front of the home crowd, but man is it brutal to watch the Valiant have to play. Like a kid brother who your mom keeps insisting has to hang out with you and your friends, the LA Valiant are more a nuance you have to get through than an Overwatch League team at this point.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment