Thursday Night Smite: Improving the Smite Pro League
This past Spring Split introduced what Hi-Rez is calling Thursday Night Smite. It refers to last match of the day on Thursday nights. I’m a big sports fan, so when I first heard about TNS I thought it would be a great way to get more people to watch Smite. Football has Sunday Night Football, among others because of their strict three day game schedule. The NHL has Wednesday Night Rivalry. It’s only natural for an Esport to jump on the bandwagon and have a dedicated featured match of the week the same way.
Unfortunately this didn’t exactly pan out. Thursday Night Smite was simply a name. There wasn’t any fanfare with the match, and it just blended in with all the other games that day. Truthfully, that’s a shame. TNS has the potential to bring in new Smite fans if they just make some changes to create something truly entertaining.
The big starting point would be a pregame show. It doesn’t need to be this crazy hour long show like other sports, just something to separate the match from the other matches before it. Perhaps they could give the match a set time that doesn’t change based on the previous matches ending earlier then expected. Have someone serve as a host, and then have a revolving door of others at the desk to break down the upcoming match. Someone like Hinduman would fill the role nicely.
Lane Matchups and Rivalries
The pregame should involve things like lane matchups. Go into detail about Steven “Zapman” Zapas up against John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter in lane, and their past matches against each other. What would be really big for Smite would be a sense of rivalry between players.
Cody “djpernicus” Tyson and Kurt “Weak3n” Schray had a bit of a rivalry, and everyone knew they weren’t too fond of each other. This past split we saw a rivaly develop between SoaR gaming and eUnited because of the roster issues with Ben “Benji” McKinzey in the solo lane. Something like this could help draw fans to the match, and create an atmosphere that didn’t really exist.
Team Analysis and Featured Players
In depth team analysis would also be welcomed. A way to take a look at what the team has already accomplished in the past and in this split would give fans loads of insight. Luminosity Gaming has some world champions on their roster, so talking about their experience vs. a team like Flash Point would really give fans an idea of what type of match they’ll be watching. It would really help hit home an upset when the team that wasn’t supposed to win takes a game or two.
Featured Players of the Game would be a great way to have fans connect with players. Maybe the games before their Thursday Night Smite match, Obey Alliance’s Benjamin “CaptainTwig” Knight didn’t really look like himself. Break down some clips from those matches and point out a few things he could do differently in the Thursday Night Smite match to correct some mistakes. On the flip side, maybe Kennet “Adapting” Ros went off in his previous matches, and there are a few plays that allowed him to snowball to victory.
The Post Game
Hi-Rez already does a pretty good job when it comes to post game analysis. They have casters that know the game very well, and do a good job for the most part. It would be nice for them to truly go in depth in the post game to show why something worked. Show why the Ravana jungle forces a team to play a certain way to make sure they don’t lose farm.
Typically they have one or two clips where there was a turning point, but these matches take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes on the regular. In that time there are so many things that need to happen for the one team fight at the end of the game to go one teams way. It would be nice to go over how exactly teams are getting to that point.
Player and Coach Interviews
Again, this is a thing that Hi-Rez does well, but it’s something that they should really stress with Thursday Night Smite. Usually we’ll see them grab the captain off the winning team and he’ll say a few words and be done with it. What should be done, however, is an interview of the Focus Player, win or lose. This would bring a whole separate insight into what these players are going through after a win or loss.
It’s also important to hear what the coach has to say. At the Masters LAN we saw matches that were battles fought between the coaches and their picks and bans. Having an interview with a coach would allow the fans to get a grasp on what their favorite teams are planning on doing in future games, and their thought process behind certain picks or bans that maybe you didn’t agree with.
At the end of the day, these changes are to bring in new fans to the Smite Pro League. It would take a lot of work, and a lot of production, but it would create something brand new for Esports fans. The Smite Pro League is growing and is quickly becoming one of the most watched Esports leagues. Something like Thursday Night Smite could be enough to get a new viewer to notice on the front page of Twitch, and become hooked.
It’ll need some dedication from the Esports people at Hi-Rez, along with all the Pro Players dedicating some extra time to the Thursday night match. At the end of the day however, they all have a common goal, and that’s to make the SPL the best it can be. Who knows, maybe Hi-Rez could even increase the drop rate on that SPL Bellona skin. Not for me, I have it, but ya know, for all the other fans who are missing out.
Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios