The sands of change are still settling after the bracket decimator that was the Summer Showdown, leaving a lingering cloud of ambiguity over power rankings and predictions and anything of that ilk. Nonetheless, figures are beginning to form in the dust, allowing us to place the most important match-up for each team. Starting from the bottom of the standings in APAC, let’s take a look.

#7 – Chengdu Hunters

Photo: Ben Pursell For Blizzard Entertainment

The Chengdu Hunters have not had a promising performance so far, only managing to scrape some meager wins earlier in the season. After questionable playoff decisions regarding the meta, they began the highly warranted search for a new head coach. However, at the time of writing, nothing public has come of this. Even so, with a new leader at the helm, they have the potential to take jabs at struggling APAC teams. Their schedule offers little promise of this, with their only shard of hope coming at the end of their schedule against a now struggling Hangzhou Spark (week 25). Barring extraordinary circumstances, Spark look set to only get better with their new additions. The only way I see the Hunters getting a win is by catching Seoul in a downswing, or by making key improvements now.

#6 – London Spitfire

Under Agape’s watchful eye, London has grown from a group of rookies to a team with considerable upset potential. Although they fell 3-1 to the Seoul Dynasty in the Summer Showdown, they will play three more times (weeks 28, 29) before the end of the season. If we see the same consistent improvement again throughout the next weeks, they could scrape out with a close win against Seoul. Give this team a favorable meta, and they can make it a confident one.

#5 – Hangzhou Spark

Photo: Ben Pursell For Blizzard Entertainment

The Spark surprised many with their performance after what were thought to be excellent additions in exactly the right places. Superstars Minho “Architect” Park and Yu “QoQ” Sung-jun were projected to elevate the Spark into the next tier, but they have barely scratched stronger teams, such as New York. We can hope that these losses are just down to internal problems, but their first match against Seoul (week 24) will tell us the most. Can Hangzhou show their full potential with their new players, or will it, like Tantalus’s Fruit, hang out of reach?

#4 – Seoul Dynasty

Awkwardly, Seoul’s best match-up varies on whether they feel like playing well or not. Inconsistency has plagued Seoul in the past, and although they have been stabilizing recently, their future is cloudy. In many cases, the first match is the most revealing. If they can take a win from a strong Hangzhou (week 24), it bodes well for the rest of their season. Instead, if we see a shaky Hangzhou, I would look ahead to taking a swing at the top two. Putting a dent in Shanghai or Guangzhou in weeks 25 and 26 and showing that they can stand up to the elite teams will be promising for the playoffs.

#3 – New York Excelsior

Photo: Ben Pursell For Blizzard Entertainment

New York ended the Summer Showdown on a bitter note. Even after having acquired two of the best Genji players in the world, they were not able to triumph in this meta, and were promptly swept aside by the Charge. This team has been fated to uphold the same standard for the best part of three years, but this final stretch is their chance to punch through and brighten their prospects for a trophy. Over the course of the next few weeks, they play everyone except Hangzhou, allowing them to spin or cut their own fate in the rankings. Their week 25 revenge match against the Charge opens an opportunity to put on a close match and trace an encouraging path for the rest of their matches.

#2 – Guangzhou Charge

After snatching the crown to become the kings of Asia, the future is glowing for Guangzhou. They showed a strong grasp on the meta and were able to exert the talent on their roster to take a assertive win over Shanghai. Even beyond this favourable meta, they stayed at the top of the table and kept the challengers at bay. Unfortunately, they likely will not be able to cross swords with the Dragons until the playoffs. Even so, a team like New York (week 25), sore after playoff shortcomings, will give them another chance to defend their position.

#1 – Shanghai Dragons

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

A star-studded team like Shanghai will not let their loss in the finals slide. They have become accustomed to the taste of victory and will not let it fade easily. With the backing of knowledgeable coaches, this team will only get stronger after this loss. As previously mentioned, they will not meet Guangzhou until their probable duel in the playoffs. Until then, their most interesting match-up looks to be against Seoul (week 25). If Seoul is in a comfortable meta, we could easily see this game go the distance, but Shanghai is not letting any metas slip away after their under-performance in the Summer Showdown.

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