Importance of the NRG Invitational

With the NRG Invitational beginning tomorrow, it’s time we take a look at why it’s a welcome addition to the Smite Pro League.

Breaking up the grind

Playing an esport professionally isn’t just playing games. For those who have followed the scene, you should be well aware of the amount of time SPL players spend Scrimmaging and watching VODs daily. This grind can start to take its toll on players and wear them down as the season progresses.

Now obviously players are grinding for a reason. These people dedicate so much time because they want to be the best at their craft, and ultimately walk away as a winner. That being said, sometimes losing isn’t so bad, as Kurt “Weak3n” Schray has said. Bummed out because Team Allegiance didn’t make the Summer Finals at DreamHack, Weak3n has been enjoying his time away from scrims and using it to reset for the upcoming split.

The SPL is tough because players don’t get a regular off season like football or baseball, it just isn’t plausible for the scene. Players only have a few weeks in between splits before it’s time to grind again, especially the teams who win. That’s what makes the NRG Invitational so important. It’s extra time off for some of the players, and for others, it’s a way to enjoy the game without the grind. It’s very comparable to an All Star game like in professional sports.

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Showing off the stars

As aforementioned, the NRG Invitational is just like an All Star game. The captains were picked based on the top four placed teams at the Smite World Championship, and most of the best players in the league are competing. It’s a great way to expose the stars of the league because of how jovial the LAN will be. Of course, the players still want to win, but not without having a little fun.

What is awesome about the format is that it isn’t just 5v5 conquest. The teams will be competing in four different game modes on Saturday for seeding come Sunday. First will be “Mage Madness”, which is a 5v5 standard Clash where the teams are restricted to Mages only. Next is “Three Amigos”, a 3v3 standard joust where the teams must select a Hunter, Assassin and Warrior. Third up is “Multiplicity”, a standard Assault where each team plays 5x a single God. Finally, “Pick Your Poison” is a 5v5 conquest where each team drafts their opponents’ Gods.

This format allows the fans to see the true skill of the players they’re watching. It’s fairly comparable to the Skills Competition in the National Hockey League, where the All Stars compete showing off their abilities in mini games such as Hardest Shot. This allows fans to root for seeing something amazing from any player instead of rooting simply for the team they support most. It brings a different type of fan interaction that is very much welcome in the scene.

More Smite Pro League

NRG Invitational

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At the end of the day, fans are still getting what they want, and that’s some 5v5 standard SPL conquest. Sure the rosters may be a bit jumbled, but that just adds to the fun of it all. Everyone still has a favorite player or team they’ll be supporting this weekend.

What we could be getting with the NRG Invitational is important to the scene. We may end up with a small glimpse of the new Meta for the Fall Split, although that could be a stretch as players don’t really want to give up strategy. Due to players being less familiar with each other, these matches won’t be as heavily team based as true SPL matches. This will allow the raw ability to shine through as players won’t have the same type of communication they would with their own squads.

An interesting thing that could come out of this would be an improvement from North America. Again, this is a stretch, but with the NA players being on the same team as European players, it’s possible that they can pick a few things up from the comms. Most importantly, however, is that the NRG Invitational will be the last time we get to see two time Smite World Champion Peter “Dimi” Dimitrov compete this Season. NRG has replaced the Solo Laner, and we as fans are fortunate enough to have one last look at him before he steps into his new role as Coach of NRG.


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NRG Invitational draft recap

With the draft all done, and the rosters set, the NRG Invitational is looking to be a fun tournament before we get started with the Fall Split. Which of the captains drafted the best?

NRG Invitational

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Minotaurs

Craig “iRaffer” Rathbone of NRG had the first pick in the draft, and with the jungle being such an important role, who better to grab with the first pick than the king himself, Kennet “Adapting” Ros. Not only does he bring a familiarity in being Raffer’s NRG teammate, but he’s considered the best player in the world, and is known to have strong shot calling.

He stayed in Europe with his next pick, and grabbed the Dignitas mid laner in Joakim “Zyrhoes” Verngren. Raffer’s first two picks gave him a lot of strength in two very important roles in this meta. With how late games are going, Mages play a very important role. Zyrhoes also showed his dominance on The Morrigan during DreamHack, a God considered to be the best Mid Mage currently.

Forced to move to North America for his next two picks, Raffer stayed with the same squad, eUnited, taking Ben “Benji” McKinzey and Maksim “PandaCat” Yanevich. Both are very solid players that never look like they’re being outmatched in lane, and very often will win the lane.

Raffer went with power in his first two picks, and reliability with his next two. Both PandaCat and Benji can be left alone while Raffer and Adapting do their own thing and they won’t need to worry about them. The same can be said with Zyrhoes, but along with that he brings a threatening mid lane, especially when paired with Raffer and Adapting. The Minotaurs look to be a very formidable team for the NRG Invitational.

NRG Invitational

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Titans

Nathanial “Ataraxia” Mark of Obey Alliance had second pick, and went with his NRG selection, just as Raffer did. Ataraxia filled his solo lane with Peter “Dimi” Dimitrov, the now Coach of NRG. That coach aspect is important, because as Dimi hasn’t looked like he has in the past, you can’t count out his knowledge of the game, and his ability to adapt.

Ataraxia then went with long time teammate Emil “PrettyPriMe” Edstrom, in a shocking twist that nobody saw coming. But don’t get confused, this isn’t just about picking his friend. PriMe has been considered one of the best mid lane players in the world for some time now, and this pick gives the Titans an incredibly powerful duo when it comes to damage output. One that knows how to play together and can maximize damage.

Ataraxia was then forced to North America for his last two selections. His first selection was Derek “Wubbn” Gibson, which was a player that maybe wasn’t on the radar of fans. Make no mistake, Wubbn was selected for his ability to make plays out of the Support role. He’s played with Jacob “Wowy” Carter for a long time, and has a certain comfort level to not have to watch his carry as much. It’s safe to assume that Ataraxia wanted someone he knew would let him do his own thing and not stay glued to his side from not knowing each others’ tendencies.

Suharab “Mask” Askarzada was the last pick, and it was a good one. With the Titans needing a North American jungler, taking Mask, who may be the best in North America, was a no-brainer. He has a large God pool, and knows how to win because of his experience with Luminosity. The Titans ended up with three players who are going to be able to set up for their carries perfectly. Look for Ataraxia and PrettyPriMe to farm kills in these games.

NRG Invitational

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Juggernauts

John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter from Luminosity Gaming captains the Juggernauts, and had the third pick. Following the trend set before him, Barra went with yet another NRG player, mid lane Andre “Yammyn” Brannvall. Yammyn is a former World Championship MVP, and is still one of the best mid lane players in the world. Just like the Titans, this gives the Juggernauts a powerful damage dealing duo.

Next Barra went tried and true and took Rosario “Jeff Hindla” Vilardi, his long time lane partner with Luminosity. Familiarity will play a role with the NRG Invitational, and who’s more familiar with Barra than Jeff? Jeff is one of the most selfless supports out there, and is always willing to sacrifice himself for the team.

Barra’s next two picks were from the same team as well. Anders “QvoFred” Korsbo and Harry “Variety” Cumming both found their way onto the Juggernauts from Team Dignitas. Qvo is fresh off being the DreamHack MVP, and Variety is considered one of, if not the top solo laner in the world. Having these two players together isn’t something any of the other teams can match.

The Juggernauts should have the least amount of communication issues out of everyone. Jeff and Barra hold down their lane, Variety calls Qvo when he needs him, and Yammyn just blows people up in mid lane. This is a team that if put together in the SPL would have a legit shot at winning worlds.

NRG Invitational

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Manticores

Rounding things out is Maxwell “Aror” Jackson from Team AI. With the fourth pick, Aror was “stuck” with reigning World Championship MVP Emil “emilitoo” Starnman. Getting Emil gives the Manticores a very aggressive duo lane, one that should be very exciting to watch early game.

For Aror’s second round pick he went with Benjamin “CaptainTwig” Knight, an aggressive jungler who is hard to control when he gets going. He was the Spring Split Masters LAN MVP, and is one of the top junglers in the world. He brings a diverse God pool, dipping into warriors like Ravana and Odin.

Aror’s last two picks stayed in North America. First he went with the same familiarity we saw out of all the other teams, and grabbed AI teammate Jeremy “TheBest” Dailey for the mid lane. Each team went with players they were comfortable with, so this is no different for the Manticores. Next Aror took Ismael “KikiSoCheeky” Torres from Trifecta, who had an outstanding DreamHack, and showed he’s one of the best Solo laners in North America.

The Manticores were the only team that went with three players from North America, trying to prove that NA can still compete.


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NRG Invitational

A mock draft for the NRG Invitational

The Summer Split just ended with Team Dignitas taking the DreamHack Valencia final. The fall split won’t start until September, but to kill time we have the NRG Invitational.

This is a tournament sponsored by NRG Esports, where the captains of the top four teams at the 2017 Smite World Championship draft a team from the rest of the pro players. Craig “iRaffer” Rathbone of NRG, Nathaniel “Ataraxia” Mark of Obey Alliance, John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter of Luminosity, and Maxwell “Aror” Jackson of AI (given team control when Zapman left) will serve as captains.

This is a mock draft of how I believe the players will be selected based on their performances during the Spring and Summer splits. This mock draft will reflect the players most deserving of the spots, instead of players being drafted because they’re friends with the captains. Assuming this will be a snake draft based on placement at SWC, the draft order would be as follows:

Round 1: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer

Round 2: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror

Round 3: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer

Round 4: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror

The rest of the rules are as follows:

NRG Invitational

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Round 1

Aror

With the first pick in the draft, it’s safe to assume the best player in the world would go first. There’s been a lot of argument as to who that may be as of late, but Kennet “Adapting” Ros has long held the title of King and will likely go here, to the surprise of nobody.

BaRRaCCuDDa

Following suit, typically the next best player available would go here, as nobody is trying to fill any holes in their team at this point. It’s hard to say that Anders “QvoFred” Korsbo isn’t the next best player available. In fact, if he were to go ahead of Adapting, it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Ataraxia

The first two picks being junglers may force the hand of Ataraxia here. With the talent pool of junglers dwindling, it may be too much for him to pass up on his teammate Benjamin “CaptainTwig” Knight, but that would fill his team up of players from Obey, meaning he couldn’t pick any more of his teammates.

iRaffer

With nobody else needing a jungle player, Raffer is free to wait until his last pick to select one. He’s now allowed to start picking from any role he likes. With the way he performed at DreamHack, Adrian “Deathwalker” Benko solidified himself as one of the best players in not just his role, but in the world.

Round 2

iRaffer

Having back to back picks in a snake draft is really good. Raffer can end up with both players he was looking at selecting now, and not have to worry about them being sniped. Raffer’s squad needs a hard carry, and who better than his long time lane partner Emil “Emilitoo” Starnman. Both of Raffer’s next picks would need to be North American players.

Ataraxia

With the way the rules are, Ataraxia would need to pick a player from NRG, and with three already off the board, that leaves just Andre “Yammyn” Brannvall and Peter “Dimi” Dimitrov. They play for NRG, and they’re both really good players. Ataraxia is going with Yammyn here because nobody wants to face Yammyn. Just like Raffer, Ataraxia will need to fill the rest of his team with players from North America.

BaRRaCCuDDa

With the previous pick, Barra now would only have mid lane and support open. It would be pretty difficult to pass on a player like Emil “PrettyPriMe” Edstrom in this situation. This would make it so Barra’s support had to be from North America.

Aror

With Aror having the turn picks with two in a row here, he should take the best player available. That would likely be Harry “Variety” Cumming from Team Dignitas, who is one of the top two solo laners in the world, so it’s best to take him before someone else can.

Round 3

Aror

Aror’s squad is now missing the top damage dealing roles, ADC and mid. He’ll need to take at least one North American player with his last two picks, so best to do it here and take the best available. Andrew “andinster” Woodward was the best performing mid laner in North America this split, so it makes sense for Aror to take him here.

BaRRaCCuDDa

Barra is forced to take an NA support here, or take Dimi. He might as well grab a support so Ataraxia doesn’t take him away. The likely pick would be Connor “Jigz” Echols. Sorry sextank fans.

Ataraxia

Ataraxia needs an NA support, and an NA solo. Alec “fineokay” Fonzo is a top performing rookie in the SPL, and would be well deserving of this selection

iRaffer

Raffer now gets to finish his team first. It doesn’t matter which role he decides to take here, so best available North American player for jungle goes to Alexander “Homiefe” D’Souza. His performance during the Summer Split showed he was deserving of this spot.

Round 4

iRaffer

Raffer would then close it out with the best available North American mid laner. At this point, it’s kind of a toss up, but Tyler “Hurriwind” Whitney had a good Summer Split and made it to DreamHack. He would fit well here.

Ataraxia

The best available NA support would likely go to Rosario “Jeff Hindla” Vilardi with Sinjin “Eonic” Thorpe leaving the scene.

BaRRaCCuDDa

Barra is “forced” to take Dimi with this pick. Best forced pick ever.

Aror

Aror rounds things out needing an ADC. Kenny “Arkkyl” Kuska is the best available hunter remaining and would round out Aror’s team nicely.

 

This is a mock draft. I could have every team completely wrong, but if I were doing the picks, this is how I’d do it. The draft is Wednesday, July 26th so tune in!


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Takeaways from day one of DreamHack

Europe is better than North America

Ok yes, we already knew European teams dominate, but they’re all pro players. You have to give them the benefit of the doubt coming into the LAN that they’ll at least be able to compete. Well, maybe from now on we won’t be doing that. Apart from Trifecta, who lost a heartbreaking game two versus NRG (I think. RIP stream) none of the other two North American squads even put up a fight.

Games one and two between Trifecta and NRG were exactly what fans of the SPL were hoping for. Trifecta put on a show in the first game and was able to take it from the defending world champs. Then NRG showed why they’re so good, and climbed back from a 15k gold deficit to win game two and force a third game. This is where Europe began to steamroll the North American squads.

In seven total games played between the regions, NA won one time. Spacestation Gaming, the team that most people pegged as the saviors for NA, dropped their first two games relatively easily against the 7th seeded Team Rival. Not exactly what you would expect out of the top NA team. Then Luminosity gaming followed up with a disappointing performance of their own, although they were playing Obey, so any team could lose 2-0 here and we wouldn’t be terribly surprised.

Takeaways

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Resurgence of Odin

Odin hasn’t been a top pick in current meta. Osiris, one of the most popular gods, has a passive that completely counters Odin’s ult. That didn’t stop Ismael “KikiSoCheeky” Torres from locking in the Odin directly against the Osiris. And then he proceeded to be the biggest pain in the neck to the squad of NRG. Kiki was on the Odin in both games one and two, where he posted a slash line of 5/0/16 and 5/2/14 respectively. This led to NRG banning the Odin away in game three.

Team Rival then banned Odin away from Spacestation Gaming in game one of their set before their jungler, Aleksandar “IceIceBaby” Zahariev, pulled it out in game two. He completely controlled the jungle, dominating on the warrior for a 7/2/4 slash line, leading his team to a round one victory. The next we saw of the Odin jungle was the very next game, where Benjamin “CaptainTwig” Knight, of Obey Alliance, showed his prowess on the God, putting up a 5/1/13 score, prompting Luminosity to ban it away in the second game.

Odin brings a lot of early game aggression to the table, and that momentum can be carried late into the game in this meta. That coupled with his ultimate, which forces the enemy team to get the Phantom Veil Relic in place of something else, really shows why Odin can be a force. We also saw his ultimate used as a disengage both offensively and defensively, both for escapes and protecting objectives on the map.


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DreamHack preview: Luminosity Gaming

Luminosity Gaming has long been among the North American favorites. Here are a few reasons why they have a shot to return to glory at DreamHack.

Experience

Luminosity is a team that is very familiar to the setting of a LAN. Each player on the squad has an abundance of experience over the course of the last year, including a trip to the Smite World Championship. This may not seem like much, but it’s a big deal when it comes to nerves and being able to perform under pressure.

John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter and Rosario “Jeff Hindla” Vilardi both have a SWC title under their belt and have played together for years. This type of experience isn’t rivaled by many players throughout the league, and can’t be replaced. Throw in their mid lane player Woonyoung “Baskin” Kim, long time solo laner and former Cloud9 teammate, and you’ve got easy chemistry. This is a squad that led the entire SPL in kills with 228, an average of 16.29 per game.

Objective Control

In recent splits, the European teams have become known for their objective control, especially when playing against the North American squads. Perhaps recognizing this, Luminosity Gaming has taken strides at improving their objective control, finishing the Summer Split with 32 Gold Fury kills. That number is good for second in the SPL. They also secured the Gold Fury first 11 different times, for a 78.57% rate, good for first in the SPL. As we saw this split, teams securing the first Gold Fury were winning at an absurd rate.

They also had the lead when it came to the big objective, the Fire Giant. The secured the second highest FG total in the SPL at 15, and finished first with 12 first Fire Giants at a rate of 85.71%. Being able to secure the first Fire Giant in the current meta is enormous. It’s enough for a team to go for the jugular on a team far behind, or it can be a big enough boon to even the score up after a slow start to a set.

Luminosity Gaming

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The “Sextank”

BaRRaCCuDDa and Jeff Hindla. Those names alone give Luminosity a shot at winning in Valencia. Jeff Hindla is one of, if not the most selfless support in the SPL right now. He’ll walk into DreamHack with the fewest kills among North American supports, but the second most assists, and third in the entire SPL, at 146. On top of that, Jeff in known to ditch his old friend Barra in the duo lane early, so Barra can farm up and be prepared for the late game.

You’ll hear it from time to time that BaRRaCCuDDa has plot armor. He always seems to come out ok, no matter the situation. That’s all well and good, but it’s been a while since Luminosity has actually won anything. That’s where this guy comes in. He doesn’t have the best stats in the league, averaging just over 3 kills per game and 6.5 assists. That means nothing when it comes to Barra however, he’s the type of player that can turn it on when his team needs him. The level of consistency that he plays with is unparalleled in the SPL, and no matter the lead, no matter what part of the game, teams better be on the lookout for BaRRaCCuDDa.


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DreamHack preview: Spacestation Gaming

North America’s best hope, the newly named Spacestation Gaming aims to take Valencia by storm. Here are some reasons they have a shot to make something happen.

Consistency

Spacestation started off this split extremely strong, tied with Luminosity and Team Allegiance at the top of the standings. Following a 2-0 loss to Luminosity, fans and analysts started saying that SSG was in the middle of the pack, and would be fighting for a spot in DreamHack. That was wrong, and SSG remained at the top of the standings for the rest of the split, continually putting down teams when they were playing “must win” games.

This consistency carried into the matches themselves. They were never too high and never too low throughout their sets. This can be seen in their set during Week 4 against ALG. This set had serious implications for DreamHack, and both teams desperately wanted the 2-0 victory.

Game 1 began with SSG in the lead, but ALG brought the game back. Often times in this situation you’ll see teams fold under the pressure, and collapse. SSG were able to stay focused and retake control of the game and pull it out. In game 2 ALG began by dominating Spacestation. Slowly but surely however, SSG clawed their way back into it, and thanks to  Andrew “andinster” Woodward, were able to snatch game 2 and get the 2-0 victory.

Statistics

Spacestation put up stats this split. Each player on the roster finished in the top two in North America in KDA in their respective roles. This includes Connor “Jigz” Echols, andinster and Alexander “Homiefe” D’Souza, who finished first in their roles. They also had the highest team KDA in North America.

This trend continued when it came to deaths per game. Each player finished in the top five in the league, with Homiefe, Alec “fineokay” Fonzo and Conor “Vetium” Roberts tied for 5th. Jigz led the way with only 1.2 deaths per game, which is incredible in a role that is expected to protect its team, even at the expense of their own life.

Spacestation gaming

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Homiefe

For anyone who watched this split, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Homiefe was the best jungler in North America this split without any competition. He finished with a KDA of 5.02, second only to his Mid Lane andinster. That KDA was good for the best in the Jungle role by more than two, as he topped Brooks “Cynosure” Mattey’s 3.01.

Homi also finished second in kills per game at 4.5, as well as 5th in deaths per game with a measly 1.6. He also participated in a total of 78.2% of his teams kills, which was good for 4th in the league. Homi also had an insane first blood rate, at 42.86%, good for six total first bloods.

It wasn’t just about stats for Homi however. His play this split is what helped put Spacestation over the edge. Again, looking back to the all important game against ALG, Homi was incredibly disruptive on the back line. His pressure not only prevented ALG from fighting as a team, but it allowed his team to win team fights before ALG could react. DreamHack is just over a week away, and Spacestation is looking prime to make a deep run on the back of Homiefe.


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Top gods in each role heading into DreamHack

Solo Lane

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This split has been all about Osiris and Bellona in the Solo Lane, but when it comes down to it, Bell is the way to go. Her clear is insanity from the get go. Bludgeon allows her to clear the wave quickly at level 1, and deal a ton of damage to any god caught by the hammer. It works especially well when being ganked by multiple gods, and puts in work against them. Scourge, her 3, gives her a crazy amount of sustain when paired up with Death’s Toll, which keeps her in lane longer than most Solo laners. It also has a disarm that works well in this meta against gods like Osirs, Cernunnos, Sol, and Rama. These gods have been played a lot, and the 2.25 second disarm at max level from Scourge can create a hole for a team to attack.

She passes Osiris here because of her mobility. Shield Bash blocks incoming damage, as well as gives her a small escape, which can be enough to allow a player to turn a fight. Her Ultimate is another big factor. Eagle’s Rally can be used as an escape multiple different ways, and it’s incredible the amount of plays that can be made off of it. A leap that gives a boost in protections, as well as a stun and physical power can be absolutely lethal in late game team fights.

Jungle

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After seeing some time off, Susano has made his climb back to the top of the Jungle meta and for good reason. His mobility is the best in the game, with a possible exception to Serquet. His Storm Kata is a great way for noobs to be annoying. But when in the hands of a pro, can be used in many different ways. Allowing free poke, and then an escape from the one ability, and being able to chain it together with his other abilities and auto attacks make for a good start.

Wind Siphon has the ability to create displacement in team fights. One perfectly executed Wind Siphon could end a team fight as it begins by separating a team, especially the squishies. Pair those two abilities with Jet Stream, and not only is Susano tough to lock down, but he’s tough to get away from. And just when you think you’re out, in comes Typhoon to knock you up preventing what you thought was an escape.

Mid Lane

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The Mid Lane doesn’t really have a pick that just screams at you to ban it like Bellona, Osiris, and Susano. Not right now at least. With that being said, Thoth is the god most likely going to be cherished in the Mid Lane come DreamHack. Due to his third ability, Glyph of Pain, Thoth has insane clear potential from afar. It may take him a bit to get online, but once he does, he can start clearing the wave and poking the enemy team without being able to hit him back. He’s also very safe with Evade and Punish, which is a solid escape dash though the Glyph of Pain but then can be used as a stun.

What Thoth is really known for is Final Judgement. It is an ult not unlike others, packed with a high amount of damage for things like objective secure. What Final Judgement brings differently, however, is the charge up, and ability to cancel mid charge. It can be used as a fake out or distraction, opening a window, or creating separation from the enemy team. It can also be fired fairly quickly to do things like steal objectives or pick off an enemy god trying to escape.

Support

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The support role has turned into a place for hybrid gods. Guardians who can play both offensively and defensively. No god is better at that then Fafnir. He has great early wave clear that can also punish an enemy god standing too close to a wave with Cursed Strength. His stun can be used to both set up kills and prevent them. He also has one of the strongest abilities in the game with Coerce. This ability buffs the damage and attack speed of the player it’s used on, allowing hunters to shred towers late game.

This is enhanced with his Ultimate, Dragonic Corruption. When used, it can separate an enemy team in the middle of a team fight, and allow your team to lock down players caught in the wrong position. It adds a stun to his leap, Underhanded Tactics, as well as making his Coerce into an AoE ability, allowing him to buff the whole team. He’s also one of the few support gods that can secure kills on its own.

ADC Role

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Most hunters can be played currently and are considered viable. Rama, however, stands out from the pack. His damage late game is disgusting, and is boosted by his two steroid abilities, Astral Strike and Pick Me Up. He has insane tower shred and an annoying escape in Rolling Assault, that can be turned into an offensive opportunity if played correctly.

What Rama is truly known for is his Ultimate, Astral Barrage. Rama gains complete immunity while being allowed to snipe players from a good distance away dealing a large amount of damage. SPL players don’t typically struggle with these shots and can play it perfectly as either a finishing move, objective stealer, or even initiator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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SPL Summer Split: North American All Star team

With DreamHack around the corner, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the Summer Split, and the players who deserve to be part of an All Star team.

Solo Lane All Star

This one is tough to choose. We saw strong play out of the Solo lane this split, but the All Star selection comes down to two players. The Short Lane veteran Jarod “CycloneSpin” Nguyen, and the newcomer Alec “fineokay” Fonzo.

Cyclone returned to form this split, posting the highest KDA out of the Solo lane at 3.88, as well as posting the 4th fewest deaths per game out of every player at 1.5. He was a rock for Team Allegiance, and always looked good, even in their losses. If Cyclone can continue this play, ALG will have a good shot at making Worlds.

Even with how well Cyclone played, the rookie fineokay deserves the All Star nod. Joining Spacestation Gaming (SoaR at the time) in the middle of the Spring Split, fineokay has shown he’s not to be treated like a rookie. He finished second in KDA behind Cyclone in the Solo Lane, and just behind him at 1.6 deaths per game. Yes, Cyclone had the better stats, but what doesn’t lie is the record. fineokay helped to propel his new team to a first place finish in North America.

Jungle All Star

The Jungler of choice for the SPL All Star squad is much easier than the Solo Lane. Alexander “Homiefe” D’Souza of Spacestation Gaming was an absolute monster this split. There were discussions whether Suharab “Mask” Askarzada or Homiefe were the top Jungler in the world. That was answered this split, and it’s Homiefe.

Homi boasted a KDA of 5.2, which was a whole 2 points higher than Brooks “Cynosure” Mattey of Trifecta. On top of that, Homiefe finished 2nd in NA with 4.5 kills per game, and 5th with just 1.6 deaths per game. He also participated in 78.2% of Spacestation Gaming’s kills, good for 4th highest in North America.

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Mid Lane All Star

Just one split off of his first pro split spent in a new role, who would have thought the best player out of the Mid Lane would have been Andrew “andinster” Woodward? We saw flashes out of the Spring Split whenever Andi would play Ra, but he turned it up during the Summer Split, and showed why he was once considered the best player in the world.

Andi was a Jungler when he was known for being the best, but he has shown that it was more about his skill at Smite then his ability in the Jungle. Andi had the highest KDA in the North American SPL this split at a whopping 5.36 as he carried Spacestation to the top. He also finished second in the league in deaths per game at just 1.3.

Support All Star

The closest race when it comes to All Star in a specific role has to be out of the Supports. Between Connor “Jigz” Echols and Sinjin “Eonic” Thorpe, we had some impressive guardian play.

Jigz captained his newly named Spacestation gaming to first place in North America while posting the highest KDA in his role at 4.62. He led his team by example when it came to deaths per game by leading the league with 1.2. Everyone on Spacestation gaming finished top 5 in that category, and everyone died fewer than 1.7 times per game.

Eonic led the resurgent Trifecta to a strong 10-4 record, good enough for second in North America. He was right behind Jigz in KDA posting a 4.28 stat line. He finished first in the SPL in assists per game with an insane 10.5, as well as third in deaths per game at 1.4. Eonic also participated in 77.2% of his teams kills, good for 6th in the SPL.

ADC All Star

This split saw Steven “Zapman” Zapas step away from the Smite scene. The stage was set for someone to fill his shoes, and Evan “Snoopy” Jones stepped up in a big way. For reference, he played Vulcan ADC and dominated with it, so there’s that.

Snoopy posted a solid 4.76 KDA in the Carry role, as well as leading the league in kills per game at 4.9. He also fell into the group of players that died just 1.6 times per game. Snoopy stepped up for SPL fans in the absence of Zapman, and now he’s got a shot to step up for North America come DreamHack.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

SPL Summer Split: Last shot at DreamHack for NA

We’re finally here! There are three enormous games this weekend, each with DreamHack ramifications. Which teams are going to be heading to Spain?

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Team Allegiance vs Trifecta

The first game of the day could lead to a complicated breakdown in the standings. Trifecta currently sits tied for second with Luminosity Gaming. Because of that, losing doesn’t immediately eliminate them. They will need a lot of help if that were to happen though, so the simple way out would be for them to just win 2-0, and end the discussion there.

Should Trifecta lose 2-0, then they will end up tied with ALG, who would win the head to head, and tied with Luminosity, if Luminosity lose 2-0, who they split against. Because of this, there would be a three-way tie for one or two spots, depending on how the Spacestation Gaming versus eUnited set plays out. Either way, there would be a tiebreaker between the teams and three best of one’s would be played to determine who gets the remaining spot(s).

For Allegiance, however, this will be much more difficult. ALG needs to take a 2-0 victory over Trifecta if they want to have a shot at DreamHack. Anything less and they’re eliminated. ALG also needs eUnited to lose. Should eUnited win 2-0, and Luminosity gets a split, then anything ALG does wouldn’t matter. A split with SSG would give eUnited 11 points, tied with Trifecta, possibly Luminosity if they get 2-0’d, and ALG. Or Luminosity and Spacestation gaming could just win, and ALG would qualify simply with a 2-0, but they still need help.

At the end of the day, this one is a complete toss up. Both teams desperately need a 2-0 to see the rest of the day play out and feel comfortable. I’m going to call a split, I don’t see it being any different.

Spacestation Gaming vs eUnited

The previous set will have some implications here based on the final results. However, if Spacestation wins this one 2-0, then it’s simple. SSG will qualify first place in North America for Dreamhack, and eUnited will be done for the Summer Split. It gets a little more complicated if they split, but not for Spacestation, as they qualify with just 1 more point.

Although SSG is closest to qualifying, they still could end up in a bad spot should they drop this set 2-0. eUnited would be tied with them, and have the head to head. And should Trifecta and Luminosity earn the 2-0 in this scenario, then that would be it for SSG. Again, a lot needs to happen, but it’s still a possibility.

We’ve already covered the four-way tie possibility for eUnited should they split. They could also end up in a three-way tie with Trifecta and ALG, where ALG would have the head to head with both teams, and presumably move on based on that. They could also end up tied with Luminosity, should LG lose 2-0, Trifecta do anything but lose, and eUnited split. eUnited would then have the head to head with LG, having beat them 2-0 in Week 4.

Having covered every scenario here, I’m going to call another split. With the way these teams are playing right now, it’s still way too close to call.

Luminosity Gaming vs AI

Only one team here needs to be covered, and that’s Luminosity. LG has the final set of the day, and they have the luxury of qualifying before they even play. Should Trifecta at least split, and SSG win 2-0, then LG is going to DreamHack. Should SSG split, however, Luminosity will need to take one game off of AI.

Luminosity is the only team that isn’t playing a squad with a shot at DreamHack this week, but there’s still a possibility they can get beat 2-0. As previously mentioned, that could still result in them heading to DreamHack, however there’s a much more entertaining scenario. They could end up in the aforementioned four-way tie between LG, Trifecta, ALG, and eUnited, which would be crazy as an SPL fan. They could also end up in a three-way tie with Trifecta and ALG, which would again be entertaining as a fan.

Unfortunately, we shouldn’t expect any of that to happen. Luminosity is filled with veteran talent, and they’re going to take the 2-0 and qualify for DreamHack. It’s going to be as simple as that.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

3 takeaways from the SPL Summer Split before DreamHack

There’s only a week left in the SPL before we know all the teams qualified for DreamHack. We’ve seen a lot of good Smite played, but here are a few things we’ve learned:

Europe keeps getting better

During the Spring Split, we saw the dominance of Obey Alliance. They stepped up and became Europe’s best team, followed closely by NRG and Dignitas. This split, we have seen Dignitas take the lead in the standings, and not only be the first team to qualify for DreamHack, but already clinch the 1st seed out of Europe. We’ve also seen NRG split with the mighty Dignitas squad, and Obey alliance split with NRG. Rival has continued to show they’re a top team in the world and have pulled a split with Obey themselves.

Not only have the top teams performed, we’ve seen the bottom teams show they’re capable as well. Eanix have put themselves in a decent position, with a chance to make DreamHack if they can pull off a 2-0 against NRG and if Elevate manages to split with Rival. Elevate, despite losing their star jungler, has shown that they’re still not a push over and are capable themselves. Burrito, having lost all 6 sets they’ve played, has still shown that the ability is there for them. They’ve taken a lead against many of the EU teams at some point, and with more SPL experience, can learn to hold and grow that lead into wins.

The most intriguing thing in EU right now just may be The Papis. After trying for so long to break into the SPL, they’ve finally done it and have shown they deserve to be there. Not quite with their record, but with some of their performances. Typically you’ll see the bottom two teams only pull points off each other out of Europe, but not for The Papis. They’ve taken splits from Elevate, as well as Rival, a team looking poised to make a run into DreamHack. With some more SPL experience, The Papis may be the new EU powerhouse.

North America is still a mess

I mean that in the best possible way: North American is still a mess. Coming into Sunday of Week 4, there was a grand total of zero teams qualified for DreamHack. After Sunday, there are still zero teams qualified. Without comparing them directly to EU, it shows just how deep the talent pool in North America is. Anybody could show up and beat anybody on a daily basis. It’s good for competition, and it’s good for the SPL.

Luminosity gaming started the split appearing to be the lone team on top of North America, but as of late the rest of the pack has caught up. After Luminosity there’s four strong teams with Allegiance, Spacestation, Trifecta, and eUnited all fighting for the three DreamHack spots. Each team has had their moment of pure dominance during the Spring Split, and each team has looked like the best team in NA. Week 5 is going to be insane and with five teams fighting for the three spots, we’re in for a show.

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

The production of the streams has improved

It’s not directly related to the players or teams, but it’s still important if the SPL wants to compete with the big esports. I wrote an article a little while back, detailing how Thursday Night Smite could be a big deal for the SPL. Whether or not Hi-Rez saw it, or at least saw the feedback from it, they’ve improved in areas they needed to.

They have increased coverage of the games when the time allows it, going into detail on player match ups and lane match ups. They’ve focused on recapping the game, and taking a look at where some things went wrong or right for teams, as well as in depth analysis of picks and bans both before and after games. Hi-Rez has always done well with interviewing players after games, but they’ve seemed to even improve on that.

The Summer Split has been a lot of fun for SPL fans, and Week 5 is going to be crazy. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out before we head to DreamHack.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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