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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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.

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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

Photo by nrg.gg/smite

 

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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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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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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

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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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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

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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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