Above Photo taken by Robert Paul; Courtesy of Activision Blizzard
This past Sunday marked the end of the Summer Showdown seeding rounds, and now we’re ready for the real thing. The teams have chosen their opponents and will be preparing vigorously to earn some cash, as well as some wins onto their season standings. After winning the May Melee, the Shanghai Dragons have gone undefeated and taken the top seed, earning a spot in the Semifinals. The other six teams will start in the Quarterfinals on Saturday, and work their way through the bracket to try and get that $50,000 grand prize.
QF: Guangzhou vs Chengdu
Like Shanghai, Guangzhou finished the stage undefeated, but were dropped to the second seed due to map differential. Fortunately, they got the first choice of their quarterfinal opponent between Seoul, Hangzhou, and Chengdu, and chose the winless Chengdu Hunters. This season the Charge are 3-1 against the Hunters, including a win in a close four map set with the Chinese roster on Saturday. Chengdu’s sole win against the Charge was a dominant 3-0 sweep in April, so they are capable of big performances. However, given their more recent performances with the current meta, I can’t see the Hunters pulling off the upset.
QF: New York vs Hangzhou
With the second pick, the New York Excelsior chose to face the Hangzhou Spark over the Seoul Dynasty. This may come as a surprise to some, considering the heartbreaking six map set NYXL lost to Spark only a week ago, as well as the three map stomp over Dynasty a week before that. Maybe they’re more confident with no hero bans. Maybe they saw Hangzhou’s losses to London and Shanghai and saw their weaknesses. Or maybe they just want revenge. After another brutal loss to Guangzhou, they’re going to need a pick-me-up, and it should come here.
Prediction: New York
QF: London vs Seoul
The London Spitfire were left with the Seoul Dynasty, or as some call them, the old London Spitfire Spitfire. Having three of the Spitfire’s former championship players in Junyoung “Profit” Park, Jaehui “Gesture” Hong, and Seungtae “Bdosin” Choi, the Spitfire want to show they made the right choice in letting them go. Coming into the knockout round, London has made waves. Gilseong “Glister” Lim has continued to impress, along with his usual DPS partner, Sangjun “Babel” Park. London has also shown the ability to experiment, including at one point subbing out their entire roster against the Shanghai Dragons. While it didn’t work, it’s good to know they always have something up their sleeves. They certainly have the talent to make for a good contest, but for this match, I see the old guard taking the crown.
SF: Shanghai vs London/Seoul
If the Dynasty are able to beat the Spitfire, they will have another rematch of the May Melee finals, where they were reverse swept by the Dragons. Shanghai has beaten both of these teams in the seeding stage, and have shown great consistency through most of the stage, as long as they run the same starting six. During the last tournament’s finals, the Dragons were down 3-0 until Main Tank Euiseok “Fearless” Lee came in to save the game with his Winston play, earning player of the match. In a similar situation last week, Off-Tank Jun Woo “Void” Kang and potential Rookie of the Year Jae Won “Lip” Lee came off the bench to reverse sweep the Chengdu Hunters. As long as they stick to the six players that won them the May Melee, they should easily make it to the Summer Showdown finals regardless of their opponent.
SF: Guangzhou/Chengdu vs New York/Hangzhou
While Charge seem to be a clear favorite to make it to this round, Excelsior and Spark will be much more of a toss-up. Guangzhou played both teams in the seeding stage, and won both games in brutal five map slug fests. Their standout players in these games have been Jeong Woo “Happy” Lee & Gicheol “Cr0ng” Nam. Happy’s return to the starting lineup was influenced by the current meta involving mostly Ashe, with occasional Widowmaker play. Cr0ng has shown proficiency on Sigma, comparable to the man he replaced, Hong-Jun “Hotba” Choi who now plays for NYXL. If these two, along with the rest of the team, continue to show their top form, they should be able to go to the finals no matter who they face on the way.
The Summer Showdown finals will show two of the best teams in the world, and my predictions say it will be the teams that went undefeated in their seeding matches, The Shanghai Dragons and Guangzhou Charge. While they haven’t faced off this month, Shanghai has a perfect 9-0 map record on the season against Guangzhou. While the Charge have impressed, they haven’t had a dominant win against a higher ranked team like Shanghai or New York, despite going undefeated in both tournament seeding stages. It would take a lot to finally match the Dragons, but for now, they don’t seem like the team to do it.
Prediction: Shanghai wins the Summer Showdown