Terra

4.18: Terra, Skadi and Ratatoskr

The patch notes for 4.18 have been released. Instead of swinging the nerf hammer Hi-Rez has mainly just made some minor adjustments. One issue that is common in balance in pretty much all games is the proverbial see-saw characters seem to get stuck on. Either being far too strong or just completely out of the meta. With this in mind, Hi-Rez’s latest round of adjustments do seem to show a lot of restraint.

Terra

Terra

Image courtesy of smite.gamepedia.com

The big exception to this is Terra. Terra is getting hit by a big nerf. Removing the root on her Obelisk is a big change. While I like the small adjustments elsewhere, Terra probably needed a big nerf. She has such a bloated kit, with far too much AOE cc contained within it. The problem with her root stemmed from a few major issues.

Firstly, the sheer size of it. The amount of space she could control with the Obelisk was just obscene. The second reason is linked to the space control, that was the ability to place it down then proc it. Being able to have a huge area of the map where essentially an enemy team couldn’t walk was just too strong. It also set up a CC chain which was far too long. The root into the stun was oppressive; if the enemy team was grouping at all there was a good chance of being able to get a multi-person CC chain. It was also a great escape tool as she could drop it in front of her and then use two dashes while anyone near her was rooted.

If Terra was released today with Obelisk in its 4.18 state, it would definitely be considered a great ability. It still works as a heal, still gives Terra a second dash and a 30 percent slow, remaining a very nice form of CC. All her other abilities are great as well, having one of if not the strongest Support ult in the game as well as a ranged AOE stun and the possibility of two dashes. Terra just did way too much and she needed a big nerf. How good her kit is after this nerf proves that.

Skadi

Terra

Image courtesy of smitefire.com

Skadi is probably the God apart from Terra who was screaming for a big nerf. The Skadi Nerfs aren’t particularly huge. She has been hit in two key areas, being the early snowball and zone control. One of the biggest problems with Skadi is how much she can steam roll opponents early and when you are behind a Skadi life is practically impossible.

The nerf to Kaldr’s damage is mainly at the early ranks only being a 10 percent nerf at rank five. Permafrost has its area reduced slightly, losing four units at max rank. Make no mistake Skadi is still going to be very strong and S tier but maybe these minor nerfs will be enough to let her see some play instead of being an instaban. Overall I’m not sure the nerf really fulfills its purpose as Kaldr is the last thing to be maxed on Skadi. This nerf is clearly aimed at her early power, but her early power doesn’t come from the Kaldr dash damage. I do like the light touch approach even if it will take a couple of patches to get her to a reasonable level.

Ratatoskr

The Rat buff is interesting as it is rather minor. The problem with Rat especially outside of competitive play is how easy it is for him to just run games. When Rat gets ahead due to his high mobility and semi global he can be everywhere at once and is pretty easy to use. When he is in meta he dominates ranked games and snowballs out of control regularly.

While these buffs seem good, it will be interesting to see how they work out in practice. One of the things about buffing his protection shred on the basis of ‘it will empower his other abilities’ is that it is quite often the last ability he uses. This changes sometimes when he is counter-ganking, but quite often the combo is a dash into a stun to lock them down for the flurry. While this buff will undoubtedly help, I do feel it plays against the God’s synergy, considering his dash is what you want to open with seeing as your abilities reduce its cooldown.

Terra

Image courtesy of smite.gamepedia.com

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Hel

Hel: The new support meta

Hel

Hel has recently found her way back into the meta. What is unusual though, is that she has found her way into the support role. For a god who has been in the game since 2012, Hel has seen very little play in competitive Smite. There have been brief windows where she has been picked, but Hi-Rez for a long time has found it very hard to find the middle ground for Hel. She was either far too strong or far too weak; as such I wouldn’t be surprised if she had been banned more than she had played.

However, it looked like Hi-Rez had managed to make Hel strong again, but nobody seemed to notice. The current version of Hel was implemented into the game on the 1st of February, and didn’t see competitive play until the 5-6th of August at the NRG invitational. Considering that in EU this week she was either picked or banned in 5/8 games played, it is rather extraordinary she never saw play. There have not been many occasions where a character has not seen major changes or adjustments and had their value in the meta skyrocket so quickly.

There are a few contributing factors to why I think Hel was slept on for so long. Firstly, at the start of the year we were dealing with an early game meta. Hel has never been a character associated with early game, and for good reason. I think this in conjunction with the following reasons is the major reason she has only recently started seeing play.

Secondly, Hel is coming into prominence in the support role. Smite has traditionally never really seen healing supports as the meta. There have been notable exceptions such as Erich ‘Shadowq’ Grabowski and his Aphro pick in the support role. However, that was very much a pocket pick and never considered meta.

Finally, and I mean this in all seriousness, it’s Hel. Maybe, a new God released with the same kit would have featured sooner. However, Hel for a long time has been considered trash tier and even the Hel mains were coming out saying they felt she was weaker than her already pitiful state. Although, we all should have known better than to listen to Hel mains.

What makes her good?

Something Hi-Rez Ajax mentioned in his progress report was how big the change to her Dark Stance 1 (Decay) was. The ability to clear from a safe distance was a game changer, especially in the support role. In the duo lane a Hel against good opposition should very rarely be allowed to use Repulse on the wave, without severely risking her life. For those of us who have played the game long enough, we have watched this play out a hundred times when your support picked the pre 4.1 Hel. It was soul destroying to watch your support get repeatedly froze, plucked or stunned in the middle of a creep wave as one of the squishiest characters in the game. This was also an issue in every other role, however this is possibly the biggest change allowing her to transition into support.

Hel

Image courtesy of Smite.Gamepedia.com

Her movement speed buff is incredible. Before CDR she has 50 percent uptime on an AOE 25 percent movement speed increase. With full CDR she only has a downtime of 1.2 seconds, considering that ability also has a HOT; to say the least it’s pretty powerful. Bare in mind that at full CDR, Lotus Crown will also only have a downtime of 2.2 seconds. At the moment this has got to be the highest utility ability in the entirety of Smite. The best way to think of it is like a near constant Heavenly Wings, but trading out slow immunity for a protection boost. Combined with her AOE Cleanse any team she is on is almost impossible to escape from and peel off your carries. She is a walking AOE relic bot.

Warrior junglers are something which I think have benefited Hel to some degree. With more Warriors being run in the jungle it is easier to make up for the front-line you lose from Hel support. Note how NRG played a Ravana jungle with the Hel support, meaning they had a Bellona and a Ravana who could more than fulfill the front-lining duties for the team. However, it is not entirely necessary as Obey showed running a Serqet with the Hel support. It is worth noting though that Serqet pick does make Hel a lot safer as Serqet is one of her natural predators. This was something clearly on Obey’s mind as they also ran one of her other biggest threats Osiris in the solo lane. Plus if you ask Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone Serqet is a support too.

This new version of Hel is an extremely powerful God in the meta and has incredible potential if played properly. The big question at the moment is whether or not the upcoming nerf in 4.17, which will reduce the movement speed she gives to allies from 25% to 10%, is going to knock her out of the meta. If I am honest, I think this nerf is a bit much and we are likely to see that movement speed moved back up slightly in following patches. At least I hope so, it’s been nice to see a support more concerned with empowering their own team rather than disabling the opposing team.

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ban

With the upcoming changes in Season 5, should another ban be introduced?

Repetitive drafts

One complaint you get from spectators in Smite is that teams have the same Gods being played over and over again. This is a complaint you get in a lot of MOBAs. You see it frequently in Smite and Hots. The things these MOBAs have in common are a reduced hero pool and less bans compared to the big two Dota and LOL. Smite has a decent hero pool of 91 Gods, while this doesn’t quite match up too LOL and Dota which are in the low 100s. It is not a bad start, maybe going into Season 5 when smite will have a roster of 100 or over is the time to look at adding the extra ban . Adding an extra ban will hopefully increase the amount of Gods that see play, because teams will have more bans to play obviously. The question is would this just mean we would see all the same God’s banned but just more, I think probably not. As once we get into 10 ban territory we start to move out of S+ and S tier gods. Thus allowing for more of the teams own flavour and thought process to be shown.

This would also filter into ranked as most of the time there is a definitive ranked ban meta. We all know the heroes who are going to be banned at the beginning of a draft and the ensuing riots and GG’s in chat that will follow if not banned. At least with three bans at the start, some flavour and thought could go into the bans, instead of the current cookie cutter.

This would also encourage wider God pools from competitive down to ranked. If a player is known to have a weak God pool then it would become much easier to ban them out. Under-performing because you were repeatedly banned out is not something any competitive team would allow for long. It also should reward teams with more strategies and who are fundamentally the better team due to having to be more versatile.

Ban

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

In ranked, God-spammers would be in a far more precarious situation. The fear of having your favoured God banned in that third spot would be significant. Also a third ban in the first phase would free up the second ban phase a lot more. Roles that haven’t picked could be targeted more because anything particularly powerful that has not been picked would probably already be banned.

Draft theory

Draft theory is something that would only really be noticeable in the competitive scene. Adding another ban just creates more variables and makes the draft a more interesting mini-game to watch. When you take more off the board early it creates interesting situations. One way this interaction works is through teams’ first picks. With first pick only picking one and second pick having two, the question of banning power picks takes real importance.

Is the second pick going to target ban in hopes of leaving multiple strong heroes on the board? How is first pick going to try and get value off that first pick? Is it going to be target banning the other team or trying to remove Gods they consider powerful regardless? While we see some this already, that extra ban just intensifies the game and adds more to depth to it as another phase would have to be added and probably the second ban phase having to come earlier.

It would also allow for much more focused comps, with the ability to ban out 5 Gods teams could really specialise their comp in a draft.  Being able to remove some of the bigger burst and then into anti-heal God’s if you are trying to build a healing comp would be incredibly helpful. Watching this unfold and how teams tried to hide their strategies deep into the draft is something that would be great to develop even further in the SPL.

Balance

One possible knock-on interaction this gives is the mid-low tier Gods will be put into focus when it comes to balance. There will be more playtime and demand for the mid tier Gods as the top tier will be banned out. The greater demand should encourage Hi-Rez to look at some of the Gods who are weaker to try and make them viable again. Hi Rez doesn’t want Gods who are never played. We all know the curse of having one of your favourite Gods get buffed too heavily and realising it’s going to be a month or more before you get to play them in ranked again. This would also become more apparent because with five bans a really overpowered God should never make it through the draft. Overall another ban should through necessity, hopefully create a narrowing of disparity in God strength.

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B03

The end of relegation and the return of BO3s in the SPL

Hi-Rez has made some large changes to the way they are setting up the SPL.  The one I am most excited about is three set matches making a return.

When the current format of the SPL was being created Hi-Rez came to the community and asked what they would like to see. In a thread on Reddit, one of the things mentioned was the two game set. The reason behind this was that some people said saving BO3s and BO5s for LANs made them feel more special. I always hated that line of thinking – removing the excitement of deciding games from league play to artificially create hype for LANs just seemed self-defeating. Firstly, I don’t think it made LANs any less hype or made B03s more mundane. Secondly, we should be pushing for more, creating intensity instead of removing, encouraging bigger prize pools and having more on the line. In essence, we should always be asking for more, not less.

BO3s also allow for better competition. We have a bigger sample size within the set so the better team should be rewarded more often than in two game sets, instead of having one poor performance making it impossible to get the full points.

At LAN, we always hear about metas developing within the sets. This is always incredibly interesting to watch develop. With the return of BO3s we will have this in league play too now, hopefully creating more interesting matches, as the approaches of the teams and how they play will become more apparent as these meta unfold. Instead of having a lot of the cookie cutter pick and ban phases we have now, with the few exceptions of the occasional obvious target ban, sets are more likely to feel distinct from one another as teams adapt to each other. The BO3 format will also help this for another reason: not so much will rely on every game, teams can try something different or more targeted and if it doesn’t work they still have the potential to take all the points.

The biggest thing about this though is that the showcase sets will be just that, a showcase. Who wants Obey and Dig to be 1-1 and for that to be the end of the show? Not me, there was always a slight pang of disappointment when a great set went to a split. It always felt like watching the first two parts of a trilogy and never getting to see the end.

Relegations

No more relegations is an interesting prospect, one I am not sure I am entirely sold on from a viewer’s perspective. In any league from the EPL to the SPL as we have it now the two most exciting parts are the very top and the very bottom. Getting rid of relegation takes away the excitement from the bottom of the league. If we are honest, the scramble away from the trapdoor out of the bottom of the league was the most important part of the Pro League. Seeing as winning the league mainly just gives you seeding going into LAN, being at the bottom of the league and possibly losing your place in the league is far more stressful for players and interesting for fans.

BO3

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

 

I also question what a lack of relegation is going to do for team stability. With SPL spots being guaranteed to organizations for a year, what incentive is there to stick with players? One recurring complaint in conventional sports is the lack of patience and need for instant success shown by owners. Now with LANs around the corner every few months, if you don’t have a team that is competing at the top and have no fear of losing your spot, why not tinker?

Hi-Rez has not stated what they will demand of orgs in terms of player retention and they very well may have something in place to stop this.  However, they have already stated that they want to invest into the Challenger Circuit to create a large pool of the SPL ready talent. As there is no such thing as promotions anymore, this means it’s a feeder league. Hi-Rez has clearly made provisions to make Smite a more appealing investment for orgs and guaranteed players a 30k USD salary. I just hope they have not leaned too heavily in favor of the orgs and that one of the ‘certain obligations’ lined out by Hi-Rez is some sort of security for the players.


Top Image Courtesy of SmiteCentral.com

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maniaKK

What does Maniakk’s roster change means for EU SPL and SWC?

What it means for Obey

João ‘maniaKK’ Ferreira with his move to NRG has put a massive spanner in the works for Obey’s SWC hopes. There are two aspects to the way in which it affects Obey. The first is what they lose in maniaKK, who is one of the premier solo lanes in theworld. Since his return to the SPL at the beginning of the season he has been a force to be reckoned with. Of his caliber, he is probably the most aggressive solo laner in the SPL.

This is shown by his revival of Osiris in the solo-lane. Being one of the if not the solo laner who put Osiris back at the top of the solo lane meta. He is also incredibly mechanically gifted. Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone recently gave testament to this in a recent interview. iRaffer spoke about how in scrims being on 1 health was terrifying as maniaKK is pretty much unjukable. maniaKK also brings more in terms of intangibles but more on that later when we talk about what NRG are gaining.

maniaKK

Image courtesy of obeyalliance.com

Possibly what is a bigger problem for Obey is not what they have lost, but what are they going to get? At the moment there are three premier solo laners in Europe, Adrian ‘Deathwalker’ Benko, maniaKK and Harry ‘Variety’ Cumming.

The problem is two of them in the last two splits alone have left Obey, so that leaves Deathwalker as the only premier solo laner who hasn’t recently left Obey. I think I can say without too much contestation that Obey will not be getting Deathwalker any time soon.

This leaves Obey with only three realistic options for a like for like replacement. First of them is James ‘Duck3y’ Heseltine who is currently the solo laner Eanix who has showed a lot of promise in the solo lane. The next would be Ofer ‘N0Numbers’ Rind who is currently playing for Elevate. Similar to Duck3y in terms of potential and maybe it is time to give one of these players a chance at a genuinely top team.

That being said I do think that Eanix could keep pushing into the top echelon through the next split and maybe even break through completely. The other option is to go for Jeroen ‘Xaliea’ Klaver who is currently a free agent. Xaliea has about as much pedigree in the SPL scene as its possible to get. A player who has been around since the very beginning of the pro scene.

However, towards the end of his time in the Pro League he was not the dominating and innovative solo laner he had been before. This is not to say he can’t come back refreshed and even better, I mean maniaKK has to be the perfect example of how that is possible.

Either way whether they get one of these three or somebody else it has hard to see Obey not downgrading in the solo lane. Quite frankly the best players are already somewhere else and they would have to rebuild synergy with whoever the new member is going to be.

This also brings another issue to the forefront. Right now Obey’s biggest challengers for SWC look to be NRG and Dignitas who between them have two of the three best solo laners in Europe if not the world. This could cause serious problems when SWC comes around as Obey have proven they can compete at the highest level in any other role, with recent changes to their solo that will have to be proven there all over again.

What it means for NRG

I have spoken about the in-game aggression and mechanical ability of maniaKK already so now lets talk about something else he brings. His out-of game aggression. By this I mean his incredible confidence and LAN mentality. If you have been watching Smite for a while now you will have heard all about maniaKK screaming at LAN’s and getting as hyped as anyone in the Smite competitive scene has ever been.

An interesting insight interview iRaffer gave was how maniaKK’s trash talk is effective. iRaffer claimed he was one of the best at getting in peoples heads in the league.

Another factor is who maniaKK is replacing. Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov has not been performing to the high level he made us expect from him recently. iRaffer in his interview explained that Dimi has had to prioritize things like school over playing Smite.

Dimi is a great player but it is incredibly hard to stay at the very top end of a professional game. It is also tough to balance school and being a top tier gaming talent.

Lastly this gives NRG a new start. It represents a clean break from the recent disappointments NRG have suffered. iRaffer in his interview spoke about this saying it has helped pick up NRG and reinvigorate them after the disappointment of Dreamhack Valencia.

Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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Jungler

Have junglers really lost out in 4.13?

Overview

There has been a lot of talk recently about patch 4.13 hitting junglers pretty hard. Here we break down how much, if at all, junglers have been impacted. The major way the jungle role has been changed is through adjustments to health and XP totals in the jungle. The second way in which jungle has been effected is through a nerf to Bumba’s Mask.

XP Reductions

When you look at the XP reductions that have come into effect with patch 4.13, it does not look as bad as some people have been saying. While the XP reductions are pretty significant, what is more is what camps had their XP reduced. It is the neutral camps of the Fire Elementals and Oracles. While controlling these is a good way for a jungler to get ahead and advance, they are not secured farm and they are very unlikely to be soloed.

Oracles are normally a battle between the duo lane and the Fire Elementals will often be taken by whichever solo is more dominant. This is not to say that a jungler who is farming properly and hitting timers wont also be there, but they are not the bread and butter of the jungle. Will it hurt junglers having an objective that is normally split between 2-3 people getting a reduction in XP? Probably not, especially as I said earlier these are normally objectives shared by multiple roles. This means that we have to look at things in relative terms. While a jungler may farm up slower because of these changes, so is everybody else.

Health Increases

This is probably the change that for my money is going to make the most difference. Jungle buffs now take noticeably longer to do and solo. Taking longer to farm obviously reduces XPM and GPM, thus hurting your overall farm. However, how often are jungle camps really cleared solo anymore? Not often, your adc or mid is likely to be at red and your solo is going to be at blue. It is also usual, especially in the early game, to have someone at your speed with you.

With two members, jungle camps still fall relatively fast. Seeing as the buff that gets soloed the most is speed and that mainly gets soloed later in the game, it doesn’t really make a huge difference. As later in the game you still burst through them in an ability and a couple of AA’s.

At the top levels where everything is pretty much shared anyway, I don’t really see this making that much of a difference. The biggest time you’re going to feel this is when you have laners who don’t want the camp XP and won’t be sharing waves with you. However, even then I don’t think that situation has been made much worse than it already is by these changes.

Overall I don’t think this is going to make a huge change to junglers, but of all the changes I do think it will hurt the most. This is mainly because, as the role that takes most of its farm from camps, having them take longer to kill will obviously hurt them more.

Bumba’s

Jungler

Image Courtesy of smitegame.com

The five percent nerf to Bumba’s Mask is not really all that bad. Bumba’s was probably overtuned, and the nerf justified. In the early game especially, the sustain it would give you was pretty insane. Also as it is percentage based off camp health it has not really been nerfed all that much. With the camps getting significant health increases the difference in regen is not all that noticeable.

Conclusion

Overall I think junglers have little to worry about. Most of these changes either affect more than just the jungle role or are negligible if people are farming effectively. With that in mind, I think it will have a larger impact on the jungle role at the lower level of play compared to higher levels.

 

Top image courtesy of gamemascot.com

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map changes

Smite Patch 4.13: Will this patch and its map changes end the early game meta?

Smite patch 4.13 will undoubtedly affect Smite. Are these map changes the right way to go about mediating the power of early game comps and their snowball effect?  That is the purpose of these map changes, as Hi-Rez stated, saying that there is “a feeling that games are too heavily weighted towards the early game”.

They are probably not wrong; Anyone who has spent any time on Reddit over Season 4 can attest to the community’s attitude towards this. Hi-Rez’s approach is two-fold. Firstly, they are reducing the ability to snowball with significant XP reductions to neutral camps and objectives. Secondly, they are increasing the health and functionality of some of the structures.

Neutral XP

Smite patch 4.13This is the better of the two changes as far as I am concerned. The large amount of neutral XP on the map currently is one of the prevailing factors for the early game meta that has been prevalent throughout Season 4. Lane dominance has been strong as a result, and even small camps can make a substantial difference when added to a lead repeatedly. After any sort of pick or won team fight, there was usually so much XP left on the map through these minor objectives that the punishment for a death was just too steep.

Another change that has been made was a reduction in XP for the Gold Fury. This seems like a good change to me, as early Gold Furies can quite quickly snowball a lead completely out of control. Hi-Rez has made it clear in the patch notes that they recognized “XP gain is what allows a team to secure early leads (through Levels) and Gold is what allows teams to close out games (by being an item ahead)”. With this in mind, the large reduction in XP from the Gold Fury changes the nature of the objective itself, for the better in my eyes.

With this in mind, the large reduction in XP from the Gold Fury changes the nature of the objective itself, for the better in my eyes. No longer will the Gold Fury make a particularly large impact in the early game as 200-300 gold per person is not really going to affect your team’s ability to fight. The value of the Gold Fury is going to be cumulative, we are going to start to see it make an impact when a few have been picked up and we are dealing with a possible 600-900 gold advantage per person, or in conjunction with other objectives. It will become the sort of objective that enhances your mid to late game rather than snowballing an early game. I think this will be a good change.

Structures

The structure changes I am less thrilled about. I will start with the ones I do think are good though.

Firstly, I am quite a big fan of the respawn changes to Phoenixes. Having Phoenixes respawn at 5 percent health was less than ideal. It handcuffed teams to their bases and allowed for completely uncontestable objectives and periods of time where it was just impossible to fight, making for dull lulls in the game and a late game snowball of a sense. Also, it was far too simple for teams to just group near them at respawn and tap them then pull back with very little risk. I also like the fact they can now regen to 70 percent health. I think it is a nice middle ground between still having a defendable objective while also being penalized for losing it in the first place.

What I am less happy about though is the health increases of the structures. In particular, Phoenixes are being too heavily buffed. A 50 percent health buff seems too drastic to me. I also don’t think it helps deal with the snowball meta. I fear this will just promote turtling and make uncoordinated games far harder to close out. We have all been there: your team has Fire Giant, you’re sieging a Phoenix, you’re wondering how much TP you’re gonna get for this win, then you have people engaging before the wave gets there and an ADC who seems to hate structure damage.

The Phoenix is already a powerful structure, especially when it is not approached correctly, which I hate to say is a large amount of the time by a large amount of the player base. I don’t really see much siege potential at all without a Fire Giant. What I fear is that this does not create better games but merely drags out a game, not in a fun manner either. Nobody likes it when one team is clearly dominant but just can’t end and you spend 20 minutes having small periods of action but it’s mainly wave clearing, waiting for the Fire Giant to respawn and praying to God that your ADC stops pushing halfway up lanes with no wards by himself.

Conclusion

Overall, these are good changes to the Smite map. However, I much prefer the XP changes over the structure HP changes. At first, the numbers may not be perfect. As Hi-Rez acknowledged in the patch notes, they have to walk a tight rope between making things impactful in the early game but not having one mistake end a game. You want the early game to mean something because if it doesn’t that is just as bad as it meaning everything. It is a hard balance to find, as Season 4 has proven. While I doubt most of this will be perfect at release and numbers will need tweaking, I feel like it’s moving in the right direction.


Feature image courtesy of smitegame.com.

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NA

How Dreamhack highlighted the ever growing gulf between NA and EU

How we got here

The big story in competitive Smite throughout Season 4 has been competition. There have been two aspects in regard to competition. Firstly, competition has grown incredibly within the regions. Seed one through six are all capable of taking games off each other now in both regions. What is possibly the bigger story is that NA have fallen off a cliff competitively when it comes to LANs.

In every other season NA has been able to compete at the highest level. Admittedly NRG have been top dogs for the last two years, but between the rest of EU and NA there has not been much difference. However, at the very end of Season 3 things started to change. EU sent only two teams to SWC after not performing all that well at the preceding LAN. However, EU dominance started to show there as both EU teams went to the final. This was even more impressive as at the time Obey were not respected as the team they are now. The second team in EU was OrbitGG who didn’t go to SWC due to poor performances at the preceding LAN.

It was at the Gauntlet though and Smite Masters where we really learned just how big the gap had grown between the two regions. It was dominant from EU just putting NA to the sword. Nothing epitomised this more than the way in which Rival handled Soar (now SpaceStationGaming).

Where we are at now

na

Image courtesy of neogaf.com

EU was known to be stronger than NA; however there was hope that the gap would shrink. Day one of Dreamhack Valencia put such vain hopes to rest. In the three sets between NA and EU only one game went to NA. What was more telling was the way in which EU won. It was brutal, NA were made to look like one of the minor regions. 4th seed in EU, Team Rival, absolutely took SSG, the first seed from NA, to pieces. The way in which that happened makes me confident that Eanix, EU’s 5th seed, has a better chance of winning SWC than any team in NA.

Why?

NA have little success in Moba’s. In pretty much all Moba’s NA are significantly behind the rest of the competition. A few theories are banded around but I don’t put a huge amount of stock in any of them.

Firstly, you hear that ego hinders NA teams; they think they are all better than they are, don’t play for the team and big egos clash. This doesn’t make any sense to me for so many reasons. I mean is John ‘Barracuda’ Salter’s ego getting in the way of LG competing internationally? I think not. You occasionally hear that NA doesn’t take competitive gaming seriously and conventional sports are much more popular. EU is no different, conventional sports are far and away dominant over esports. Most people don’t really know about competitive gaming as a thing. I honestly couldn’t give you the reason, but it is a trend which is hard to ignore.

How?

More focused on Smite I can’t tell you the core problem, but I do have some ideas as to symptoms of the issue. The big thing here that everyone notices is how much more objective focused EU are than NA. I think one of the best ways in which we have been shown at Dreamhack so far is through mid lanes and supports.

The first time this is apparent is in the Rival vs SSG set. Game 2 was won through objective control. The Ra pick by rival was huge. Firstly, it takes away one of Andrew ‘Andinster’ Woodward’s favourite picks. Secondly, it gives you a great ultimate for objective secure. Then SSG backed themselves into a corner with the Hades pick. They had zero objective secure. Up to 20 minutes the game was close but Rival were behind in kills, but had three Gold Furies.

Take away those Gold Furies and SSG are in a dominant position in the game instead of slightly behind. Their objective play was just sloppy as a whole that game though. When they lost a Gold Fury because five people backed at the same time, it was infuriating. This is something that has been known since the game was in open beta. I mean this is not EU playing amazingly but NA playing pretty poorly. Rival were also taking Gold Furies in the face of SSG. This is because of their dominant objective secure.

Look at game number one in the NRG vs Dignitas set. Dig have a Sol in the mid lane and NRG had a Vulcan. While Sol’s objective secure is not bad it just can’t compete with a Vulcan. Dignitas recognise this though, so Jeppe ‘Trixtank’ Gylling starts with a HOG.

NA

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This allows them to really compete and contest at Gold Furies. It shows the thought that EU are putting into making sure that they don’t fall behind in the objective game. Something NA clearly are not doing at the moment. Notice how he didn’t go HOG when NRG had a Morrigan in the mid lane, showing that this is a thought process based around big mage ults.

NA also seems to be one step behind when it comes to Meta. One way in which this has risen to prominence is how little they value the Sobek. Sobek has been dominant this LAN. Objective wise he is one of the best supports. If you are baiting a Gold Fury he is great as anybody who comes near has to fear the pluck into your entire team. Same goes for anybody trying to contest. You could be one second away from being flung into the entire opposing team.

On top of that he probably has the best ult for securing objectives, with Lurking in the Waters, slowing anybody who comes in, doing huge amounts of damage to players and objectives. For example, when Trix went HOG on Sobek he alone could probably burst the Gold Fury from 30 percent down in a second or so. If you look at the only NA team to win a game, it was when Sinjin ‘Eonic’ Thorpe was playing the Sobek. NRG noticed this though and started banning out the Sobek vs Trix.

What this means for competitive Smite

Nothing good comes from this ever growing divide. Smite competitively is hamstrung in one major regard. We have no serious Asian scene. In particular, Korea does not recognise Smite as a competitive game. Having Korea as a region in a game is beneficial for so many reasons. Korea takes esports more seriously than any other region in the world. For those of you who do not follow any other esports, the best way to describe this is to mention Kespa. That is the government body specifically designed to deal with esports, who even go as far as hosting their own ‘Kespa Cups.’ Korea drag every other region up as they are so professional and take esports so seriously that to keep up everyone must try to emulate. Korea is very invested in their esports scene.

Missing those benefits hurts competitive Smite, but now not having Korea becomes even more of an issue. Only having one region who is competitive will get boring very quickly. If it stays this way, there will be no inter-region competition at LAN’s. Inter-region competition is the most exciting part about big LAN’s. When that disappears, interest in major events falls rapidly.

At the end of the day if NA doesn’t up their game soon everyone suffers.

Top Image courtesy of twitter.com/SmitePro

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Best Performers this Split: The EU All Star Roster

ADC

Kenny ‘Arkkyl’ Kuska has to be the stand out ADC for EU this Split. This must be incredibly pleasing for the French ADC, mainly because he was the one player people were questioning when Dignitas, the new ‘super-team’, was formed. This Split though he definitely put in an all star performance.

It was not the mechanical skill of Arkkyl that was being questioned though. As in his relatively short time in the SPL he had put in some great performances. Rather it was consistency and how he would manage on a top end team, as there is little doubt that his current roster was a big step up. When on a weaker team, it is often a lot easier to show glimpses of your quality rather than prove it every week. This is down to your team being more likely to be behind and if you are known as one of the best players on a weaker roster you are likely to get a lot more focus.

Arkkyl has more than proved himself to be up to the challenge. Last Split he showed he could be consistent and had some performances which hinted at his potential. However, this Split he has been consistently excellent. He has a KDA of 5.91, 3rd highest in the league. The statistics back up how great his play has been even more, he also has 61 kills the 5th highest in the league. This shows that it is not by being passive that he has such a high KDA but through pro-active aggressive plays.

Jungle

Nobody is going to be surprised at the who MVP in the Jungle for the Summer Split is, it is Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ross, the King is back. He is not just the MVP for the Jungle though he is probably the MVP for the whole of Europe. This guy would make it onto any all star roster, he is probably the best player Smite has ever had.

All Star

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Adapting’s stats this split are eye-watering. He tops KDA at 7.85, which is 1.78 higher than his closest competitor, who just so happens to be his mid-laner. He also has the most kills in the entirety of the SPL with 84. This is 16 higher than anyone else’s and over 23 higher than EU’s closest contender Arkkyl. If you think I have run out of ridiculous stats for Adapting, think again. He also has the highest kill participation in the league at 85.12 percent. All this while managing to come in second in deaths per game at 1.21, only slightly losing out to once again his mid laner!

What else is there to say about Adapting? He has just been tearing up the SPL since he joined. He is so good, he was getting called the best player in the world while this team were still in the Challenger Cup. Last Split it was very much a debate about who the best player in the world was, this split not so much. I’ll end how I started, the king is back!

Solo

It was hard to pick a solo for this all star roster, as the top three in EU have all had excellent performances from their solo-laners. They are all very close in overall performance, so when stuck lets the stats decide!

Harry ‘Varitey’ Cumming just beats out the other two to take his spot in this all star roster. Varitey is someone who has not always been rated as highly as he is now. However, in recent memory he has been lauded as one of the best solo-laners the SPL has to offer, and rightly so.

It is rather simplistic but I see my Solo-Laners in two categories, the Ryan ‘Omega’ Johnson kind who are looking to destroy you in lane. They are forcing you to base at every opportunity, taking your buffs and essentially trying to ground you into the dirt. These Solo laners are bullies in every sense of the word, doing everything short of taking your lunch money and sticking your head down the toilet.

The second kind are in the Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov role who are more willing to take losing match ups to help a draft and are more macro focused. (this is not to say Dimi will not stick your head down the toilet and take your lunch money Smite-wise but it is not all he does) Variety is definitely in the first mold of Solo laners, being especially dominant on Osiris, undoubtedly one of the best in the league on that god.

This is shown by him having the highest kills in Europe for a solo laner on 47. Variety also has the highest KDA for any solo-laner across both regions at 4.59. Showing he is not just aggressive but incredibly successful at it. Another hallmark of a great solo laner is their farm generation or GPM and again Variety tops Europe at 509, putting him 2nd across the entire SPL. An all star set of stats from an all star player.

Support

Step forward you unsung heroes, ye valiant few who die for others sins. Who among these brave and undervalued players of the SPL stands a top the pile? Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone has just edged out all the others this Split.

Stats are a strange thing to examine when it comes to supports, as their deaths can often come from others mistakes or be the best play to make. Kills are also not something that most supports are going for, often being much happier to give it to a carry on the team.

All Star

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However, there are some more reliable stats. GPM is one of them, finding farm on a map when none of it’s yours has always been an art form of the support. Admittedly with the power of Travellers Shoes and Watcher’s gift this has become easier in recent times. In this stat iRaffer came second in the league at 474. What supports really pride themselves on though is assists. Here iRaffer outshone the rest of the league with 152 assists at a rate of 10.86 a game.

Some people may say this is skewed with just how high the amount of kills NRG as a whole was getting but with a participation rate of 74.42 percent which is towards the higher end of the league. Personally I think it is even more impressive. This is because it shows how iRaffer was such a big part of getting these kills and why he is on my all star roster.

Mid

NRG feature again in this all star roster with their mid laner André ‘Yammyn’ Brännvall. He has been consistently one of the best mid laners in the world for the last two years. This Split has been no different, he has been exceptional.

There are a lot of things on which we can judge a mid laner. Is it their damage output? This is an important factor, as mid laners are the aoe damage dealers for a team. Is it kills? Another important factor but counter-intuitively mages are not the ones to finish off kills a lot of the time with their burst ults. Instead they weaken a team while the more mobile characters sweep in and mop them up. Is it GPM? Well seeming as a mid laner shares most of their farm it seems a hard thing to put at the top, being so dependent on whether or not your jungle and support are taking it. In all these stats though Yammyn is near the top of Europe showing how good is play is.

The stats we are left with and which Yammyn does top the league seem to show a lot more to me. These are KDA and and deaths. Mages are probably the squishiest class in Smite. Incredibly low protection and health scaling, combined normally with a lack of mobility. They are also put into the most contested area of the map meaning there is the constant threat of death. So for Yammyn to only have 15 deaths is an impressive feat. When you combine that with the fact that he has the highest KDA in the league for a mid at 6.07 far above the 4.53 of Emil ‘PrettyPrime’ Edstrom (the man who would replace him in this list) and joint 2nd highest kills, it gets all the more impressive.

 

Honorable Mentions

ADC – Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark

Jungle Anders ‘QvoFred’ Korsbo Benjamin ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight

Solo Dimi

Support Jordan ‘BigManTingz’ Theaker

Mid PrettyPrime

If you would like to know what an NA version of this would look like, look no further my colleague Brendon has you covered! http://thegamehaus.com/2017/06/30/spl-summer-split-north-american-star-team/

A quick shout out to @BluesVult who’s spreadsheet was the source for a lot of these stats.

 

Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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Three things the Summer Split taught us about the SPL

The early game meta is here to stay

It looks like Season 4 of Smite will be defined by the early game meta. It has persisted through the first two Splits of the season and with only one more split to go it is not likely to change. However, this should be qualified, by the fact that it is not quite as pronounced as it was in the Spring Split. Games in the SPL are going much longer, something Mike ‘PolarBearMike’ Heiss pointed out in a recent tweet.

There are two reasons it is here to stay. Firstly, the map, it caters itself to this early game aggression. PBM has a great video on his YouTube explaining this from the perspective of an SPL player.

One of the reasons PBM gives for this is that, the core of the map has been around for a very long time. As such, the players have gotten much better at exploiting the map as they have gotten better and due to playing on the same core for so long.

This leads to the other reason why the early game meta is dominating at the moment. Players and teams improved, becoming better at holding onto leads. As such playing compositions which give you a lead early on are more powerful as SPL teams capitalise on leads much better than before. It is far harder to hold out for 40 minutes and have Kali win you the game like a famous game from Thomas ‘Repikas’ Skallebaek. Obviously the easiest way for Hi-Rez to counteract this is still through map changes.

NRG are still not the force they once were

This is one that a lot of people may be confused about, as NRG were not the dominating team seen in previous seasons last Split. NRG’s history of dominance in not just Europe but the entirety of the Smite scene means one split is not enough to say their era of dominance is over, more data is needed.

Last Split Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone spoke about how at least at the start of the season, NRG were taking things a bit easier to avoid burning out. This was often suggested as a reason why NRG were not performing to their usual standards. This is not to say NRG are performing badly or aren’t still a great team. It is just NRG used to be head and shoulders above the rest of the competitive Smite scene, setting records we are unlikely to see matched. This is the visual representation of NRG’s performance in Season 3.

View post on imgur.com

People suggested that taking their foot off the pedal meant they were slow to catch up to meta or maybe even just a bit rusty. Those excuses are no longer viable. This is unless perhaps burn out has occurred within the ranks of NRG, or some players just aren’t enjoying the game right now. This is something iRaffer admitted too, in what has become an infamous Reddit post about Sunder. Maybe with all the success and the recent complaints about the Smite meta, it has been harder to get as motivated. Something which could very much change going into the Fall Split, as that is the Split leading into SWC. If getting the three-peat and another chance for cash doesn’t motivate them, I’d be very surprised.

Another factor is that the competition is far better this year. It is not as if NRG are playing badly but the new-look Obey is an incredibly strong team, while Dignitas is looking stronger than the old Orbit team. Throughout the league, especially in Europe there are a lot of really high quality teams.

However, saying all this, there is still a not so small part of me that expects iRaffer to lift the golden hammer again this year. I don’t know if it’s because my mind now sees it as routine, or i’m just too nostalgic for my own good, but I have a sneaking suspicion the three-peat is on.

The competition is real!

This is something that has featured in other parts of this article, but deserves its own segment. The competition levels in the SPL have just risen and risen throughout Season 4. While at the end of the Spring Split the gulf between NA and Europe was exposed, there is hope that over this Split that gap will shrink. I think it is still likely that Europe are going to dominate, though hopefully not as much.

Within the regions though the competition is fierce. I think one thing that illustrates this point quite nicely is when you look at 6th place in both regions. Team Allegiance and Elevate are not bad teams, in fact they are good teams who are getting better. This season is the only season in Smite where we would have teams of that caliber so far down the standings.

Look at the top of NA as well, last split Luminosity looked definitively like the best team in the region. This split they just squeezed into the final LAN spot, one point ahead of eUnited in 4th and only two points ahead of Noble in 5th. Noble was a team everyone was writing off at the beginning of the split.

In Europe, the region that got an extra spot to Dreamhack, we had 2nd-4th being fought over up until the last day of competition. Things are really heating up heading into World’s next split. I genuinely think in Europe that the top five teams will all be going into next split thinking they have a realistic chance at being SWC champs.

Image courtesy of tentonhammer.com

 

Top Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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