Super Regionals

EU Super Regionals: Winners and losers

Elevate

Elevate have come into form at the exact right time this season. While looking decent for most of the season, this split they have come into their own. They started off the split really strong, with a string of solid victories. However they tapered off a bit towards the middle and end of the split.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

Popular opinion probably marked them least likely to qualify for SWC out of all the European teams going. However, everyone had to reevaluate that after they took Obey to a game five in the semi-finals. Ultimately they managed to qualify through groups, proving that they are a very strong team and now a dark horse for the SWC.

The big story about Elevate is that they by far looked their strongest running double hunter and three guardians. This is the setup that got them an SWC spot, where they look capable of beating any team on the planet. The only question that remains is, by SWC, will other teams have figured out how to beat it, or will Elevate have any other strategies?

NRG

One of the big story-lines this season has been about NRG not performing to their usual high standards. If this time a year ago you had said that NRG would have gotten their SWC spot by coming through the Gauntlet and group play, not many people would have believed you. Yet here we are. NRG had to fight extremely hard to secure their spot at SWC this season.

While NRG by their own standards have been sub par this season, you cannot say that about their groups performance. They looked like the strongest team there and showed probably some of the best and most consistent play we have seen out of them all season. At least now we are in the much more familiar territory of NRG, looking like a very serious contender for Worlds.

Rival

Rival once again showed at Super Regionals that they are a far better team on LAN than they are online. If we are honest, what team wouldn’t want it to be that way? As long as you qualify who cares where you place online.

They no doubt looked like the best team at the LAN and must have given themselves a huge confidence boost heading into Worlds. On their way to winning Super Regionals, they beat what many would have called the best two teams in the world: Dignitas and Obey. If that doesn’t give you belief (something the Rival players have never seemed to lack), I don’t know what will.

Dignitas

What a sad story it is for Dignitas, so impressive all season long, just to completely crumble at Super Regionals when it matters most. Jeppe ‘Trixtank’ Gylling and Anders ‘Qvofred’ Korsbo must think they are reliving a nightmare. As they went through a similar story last season with Orbit, looking incredibly strong online then not qualifying at Super Regionals.

It’s hard to say what happened with Dignitas. Everybody knows they are a far better team than what their performance at Super Regionals showed. Nobody would have expected them to only win against Noble; nobody really expected them to go into groups in the first place.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of team-dignitas.net

The only explanation people have had is that after that game two against Rival where they lost after taking down three Phoenixes, their heads dropped. Their confidence and morale dropped. Then, going into groups, they had two tough games early which they lost and thus deepened the problem.

Overall it is a shame to see a great team lose like that. Dig is a team full of players you would love to see compete on the world stage. Let’s not forget Harry ‘Variety’ Cumming set this team up with the intention of winning Worlds. That is why he left Obey, he didn’t see them as capable of winning at all. Trixtank and Qvo left their team because of the disappointment of not qualifying last year. So it must be gut wrenching for them to look so strong all year and then over the course of five days have it all fall apart.

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tank

The tank meta: Are defensive items too strong?

The direction of the meta

One thing Super Regional’s highlighted is how strong defensive items are right now. The strength of defensive items in my opinion is directing the meta. We are back in a tank meta, which if we are honest is never really a particularly fun one. Smite is far more interesting when it’s about high risk/high reward plays, something a tank meta doesn’t truly display.

You only have to look at the compositions Elevate used to book their spot at World’s: three guardians and two adcs. There are other reasons outside of itemisation for that such as the strength of Artio and the high base damage of guardians like Cabrakan. Itemisation is a large part of it though and you can see it in a lot of other comps and the prominence of warrior jungles.

The tanky jungle

Right now even if teams are not running guardians in the jungle, it is a warrior or a full tank assassin instead. Two of the most prominent assassins in the game are Ratatoskr and Serqet currently. However, for the first time in the jungle role, these characters are being played full tank.

The reason these two are so prominent is because defensive and hybrid items are so incredibly strong right now. Both of these Gods’ kits lend themselves to being run full tank more than pretty much any other assassin in the game right now.

tank

Image courtesy of smite.gamepedia.com

Serqet has high base damage, incredible mobility, strong CC and an ult which does true damage. This makes her perfect to run full tank as even without the power scaling she still puts out huge amounts of damage. At the same time it makes her a nightmare to kill. One of the Serqet’s biggest problems has always been when transitioning into the late game. How does she use her ult and not die? The couple of seconds when you are just stuck immobile on an enemies head has always been extremely dicey. When you are full tank you are no longer worried about this and only forfeiting a minimal amount of damage.

Ratatoskr, just like Serqet, has high base damage, incredible mobility, a myriad of cc while also bringing protection shred. Ratatoskr also has to be very close to get his damage off, and late game had issues engaging with his ult, as after knock up he would pretty much have to dash straight out. A full tank Rat however can stick to his targets far longer. With the amount of CC and chase potential he has when you can no longer burst him, he becomes an absolute nightmare. With his protection shred, the lack of power or penetration being built doesn’t hugely hurt his early game damage too.

 

Itemisation

Two of the items behind this surge in tank assassins are Ancille and Gladiator’s Shield. These items are just ridiculously good on junglers. Firstly they cost 2000 and 1700 gold respectively, giving you an extremely strong early power curve. This is very important in the jungle where you want to be dictating the pace of the game and making the enemy sing to your tune. To put this in perspective, both those items together only cost 700 more gold than a Deathbringer.

tank

Image courtesy of smite.wikia.com

They are not really good items for their cost, they are just really good items in their own right. Together though what they provide is eye-watering for the price. For 3700 gold you get 20% cdr, 35 physical defense, 50 magical protection, 55 physical power, 2.5 percent hp and mana return on your abilities and a 30 unit one second silence when taking magic damage. These items just give far too much for their price.

Another issue is the lack of pen in this build; but when your Titan’s Bane only costs 2150 gold and gives you a flat 33 percent pen, it really is not an issue. You just continue this power curve of great and cheap items.

When you also chuck in the combo of Hide of the Nemean Lion and Thorns, the power of these full tank junglers really starts to become clear. Thorns thankfully has been reduced to a five second duration from its previous eight. However, these full tank junglers can still kill an ADC pretty quickly. When you are reflecting 50 percent of damage before mitigation and 25 percent of basic attack damage back, there is no option but to run. If you are going any kind of crit build and had a full tank Ratatoskr with Thorns up, you would die without him having to hit you himself. When you consider at the moment both a jungler and solo laner running Hide and Thorns, things start to get a bit silly.

Conclusion

Right now we live in a world where three members on each team are building nearly full tank every game. Something needs to be done about this, although it won’t be easy. This is because defense across the board is incredibly strong in Smite and has a considerable power creep in recent times. We also have Gods like Ratatoskr and Serqet who lend themselves so well to being built in this way. The genie is out of the bottle in that regard, although the problem isn’t that Ratatoskr and Serqet can build like that. The problem is that the tank meta is crowding out a lot of the other playstyles.

In my opinion, a few things do need adjustments. Mainly, the cost of Gladiator’s Shield and Ancille. The damage Thorns reflects probably needs to be reduced by about 10 percent too.

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Super Regionals

Super Regionals: The NA favourites

Super Regionals are right around the corner. While normally Super Regionals is the showpiece event of a Smite Split, in the Fall Split it sort of becomes a Super Gauntlet. The big prize at Super Regionals is not winning it but qualifying for SWC. Honestly I don’t think there is a NA team out there who wouldn’t take the deal right now for a SWC spot. It’s where the biggest prize pools and by far the most prestige is.

With that being said the strongest contenders for SWC from NA are eUnited, SpaceStationGaming, Luminosity and Trifecta. However, it is going to be hard for more than two of those to qualify. This is because after the Regional Semi-Finals it is going to go to cross region group play, of which only two of the six teams will qualify. We already know NRG, the back to back world champions, are going to be in that as well as two from Dignitas, Obey, Rival and Elevate. With how the regions have matched up against each other this Season I’d say we are most likely going to see four EU teams at SWC. This just puts added pressure on the B05 they will play against their own region.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of lol.gamepedia.com

 

eUnited

eUnited have to be one of the favourites to qualify from NA. They have been on a tear this Split. With the recent losses of Alexander ‘Khaos’ Greenstein and what many viewed as the teams figurehead in Louis-Philippe ‘PainDeViande’ Geoffrion, it is a shock to many how well they performed this Split. When you consider that these were two of the core players that took them to a second place spot at SWC, their current form is all the more impressive.

Ben ‘Benji’ Mckinzey has looked phenomenal for eUnited this Split and with the current importance of the Solo side of the map, this has created a great platform for eUnited in their games. This has also helped Lucas ‘Screammmmm’ Spracklin perform. He has always been considered a very talented player, but he was often seen as inconsistent, gracefully falling behind on occasion. This Split has been a different story though, as eUnited’s results will tell you he has been consistently top level.

Luminosity

Luminosity this entire season have been around the top end of the NA SPL. They are a talented roster from ADC to solo lane, but where I think their biggest strength will come from is the duo lane. The experience that John ‘Barracuda’ Salter and Rosario ‘Jeffhindla’ Vilardi have is matched by few in the SPL. They have been competing since the days of weekly’s and are both SWC Champions. What is more incredible though is that if you include Launch Tournament, Barracuda has never placed lower than third in the four World Championships we have had. Jeff is only missing the Launch Tournament placing.

If anyone understands what it’s like to play in a pressure series when it’s all on the line, it is these two very talented veterans of the Smite competitive scene. Overall Luminosity is a very solid team which I expect to do well at Super Regionals.

SpaceStationGaming

SSG is one of those teams that is absolutely stacked full of talent, but has never quite fulfilled everyone’s expectations.

The big talking point this Split was about the return of Steven ‘Zapman’ Zapas to the SPL. The verdict I think most people have reached is that although a bit of ring rust showed at the beginning, he has been good, but not great. The problem when it comes to Zapman is that because he is such a favourite among the community and has this reputation as the swashbuckling ADC, unless he is getting penta’s left, right and centre there is always a slight pang of disappointment. He is a player who is known to thrive off high pressure and LAN environments though.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of smite.esportswiki.com

A big part of their season, and something when we look back will be focused more heavily on, is the jungle role. Should Alexander ‘Homiefe’ D’Souza be the jungler instead of Andrew ‘Andinster’ Woodward? In all honesty I don’t know, but for me probably not. There is every possibility I’ve looked at the past through rose-tinted glasses but before there was Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ross there was Andinster.

When Andinster was a jungler, he was either the undisputed best player in the world or very close. When Adapting was viewed as just unplayable, Andinster for most peoples’ money took second or third place in their power rankings. Homiefe is undoubtedly one of the stronger junglers in the NA scene, and Andister, particularly this Split, has put in some great performances from the mid lane. Both of them playing well in their respective roles isn’t the question here. Whether it is the most efficient use of resources is the real question.

While he has been great this Split from the Mid I don’t think many people are putting Andinster as one of the best mids, never mind players in the world at the moment. The same can be said about Homiefe in the jungle. Admittedly part of this may be from just how far behind NA has fallen this season, and as I said earlier it may be my rose-tinted glasses; but I don’t think Andinster in the mid lane has been the most efficient use of SSG’s resources.

Conclusion

Overall as I said at the beginning of the article, I think for NA teams to qualify for SWC, they are going to have to do it in the semi-finals. If I were putting my money on results it would be that eUnited are going to beat Trifecta. Then Luminosity are going to beat SSG, although that will be a close series and it could go either way. But I am 60-40 on LG’s side.

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EU Super Regionals: The favourites

Super Regionals this year on the EU side has got to be the most stacked Smite LAN we have ever seen. This year EU has been far and away the dominant region. Combined with how competitive the SPL has gotten on both sides of the Atlantic, this has got to be the strongest roster. When you think about NRG having to go through Gauntlet and being the lowest seeded team in this LAN, it shows you how good the competition is. Despite all this there are two teams who have slightly separated themselves from the pack this Season. That is Dignitas and Obey and they are probably the favourites to take Super Regional’s and World’s at the moment.

Obey

Obey came second last season at SWC, and have only gone from strength to strength since then. In the Summer Split Obey were hands down the best team in the SPL; this was despite having what many people would have called their star player, Harry ‘Variety’ Cumming, leave to form his own roster.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of smite.esportswikis.com

This has been a theme of Obey, Solo laner’s considered among some of the top in the world keep leaving Obey on the basis that they want to join a team they think is capable of winning SWC. To prove how solid Obey as a squad look, at no point has this seemed to hinder them. In fact in the Summer Split after they lost Variety they won the EU SPL. This Split after losing João ‘Maniakk’ Ferreira they have done the same again. This Season they have had Maniakk and Jeroen ‘Xaliea’ Klaver return to the Pro League and have looked in better shape than when they left. Although Obey have lost two world class Solo Laners since last SWC they apparently always seem to have another one waiting in the wings. After coming second at SWC last year and being so impressive this year, you do have to wonder what Obey would have to do to convince their solo laners to stay.

Obey have the two things needed to create a top level team: top level talent and great synergy. In every role their players must be considered in the top five in the world and with the potential to be unplayable if they are on form. They also work very well together, and are all extremely innovative. Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark, Emil ‘Emilzy’ Nielsen and Ben ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight are all known as extremely experimental. Ataraxia has always been the ADC making new builds and is famously the creator of the Unicorn build. Emilzy is well known for his theory crafting and was the first player to bring out the Amaterasu support. Twig was one of the first people to bring out the warrior jungles on a regular basis and the full tank assassins. Obey’s ability to innovate and stay ahead of the meta is a huge weapon in their arsenal.

 

Dignitas

Dignitas, formerly known as Variety’s New Team, were a super team created at the beginning of the year with one purpose in mind, winning SWC. From the start they looked good, although in the Summer Split it was a story of Obey and then everyone else.

In the Spring Split however Dignitas were the dominant team and it looked like they were firmly on the way to accomplishing their goal of winning World’s. However, this Split they have been just behind Obey in terms of performance and results.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of team-dignitas.net

Players like Jeppe ‘Trixtank’ Gylling and Anders ‘Qvofred’ Korsbo are desperate to relive the success they had at Launch Tournament and win the final LAN of the year. They have been near the top of the pro scene since its inception and have been consistently on teams viewed as capable of winning SWC. They are both also players who at certain points throughout their careers have been seen as the best player in the world.

 

 

It is this sort of pedigree and experience that Dignitas will hope to capatalise on, to win Super Regional’s and propel themselves to World’s in good form and high on confidence.

 

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map

What the Season 5 map changes mean for Smite

A lot has been said about Smite’s map and most of it has not been positive. It appears that Hi-Rez have listened and for Season 5 we are going to have a new map. From the little we already know, it looks like a lot of the community’s gripes have been addressed.

What we know already

The biggest complaint about the map has always been that it’s too small. One of the problems this creates is that it makes rotations go unpunished as you are not sacrificing farm going from lane to lane. As it currently stands it takes less time to clear and get to another lane than it does for new lanes to meet.

This creates multiple problems, but one of the most apparent is the lack of identity junglers have in Smite. A recurring complaint is that compared to other MOBA’s, junglers feel like a second mid rather than an actual jungler. For a while now we have known Smite as having two genuine laners in an ADC and solo, and then the core centered around mid lane of jungle, support and mid. They spend so much time together that instead of feeling like their own roles, it more feels like a combined role which plays different parts in a fight.

map

Image courtesy of Reddit.com/r/Smite /u/Gehlen_

The larger map should help solve this problem to some degree, as rotating around will now be more likely to cost farm on the map, simply due to travel time. As of right now, there is just so much farm clustered around the mid lane which is available without cost that the tri-lane is inevitable. In competitive play we keep hearing that ADC’s are pretty much being left alone, this is one of the reasons why. Warriors from solo can impact and get to the farm around mid quicker and are much better at contesting it early.

The larger map should also help junglers because if people are naturally more spread out, ganks become a more powerful tool. Anyone who plays a lot of Assassins knows that they really thrive when they can isolate people. Turning a 1v1 into a 2v1 is more impactful that turning a 3v3 into a 4v3. Also Assassins for the most part are burst damage, close range squishy targets. So it becomes a lot harder to do what they want to when there are multiple people peeling and there is enough damage to blow them up. If there are more ganks the SPL should also become even more fun to watch.

Another reason for the lack of identity junglers face is that they have no way of being stealthy. How can a jungler hide what side of the map they’re on when they have to constantly dip into waves for XP and all the entrances to the jungle are in the sight of the other team. At least part of this has been addressed as now there are entrances into the jungle which are completely hidden.

What we don’t know

As of now all we have really been given are the dimensions of the map, so there is a lot to still be addressed. We have been told that there will be at the very least new jungle paths and gameplay changes.

What can new jungle paths offer us? Firstly, we could no longer have straight line paths directly from lane to lane. The effect of this would be to artificially make the map bigger, as rotations will take longer. Secondly, they could make the jungle feel more dangerous. The jungle in Smite at the moment is not a particularly dangerous place if warded correctly. The jungle lanes are massive, and there is not a huge amount of mystery in them. By that I mean with decent wards, it’s incredibly easy to have all the major pathways and entrances covered. You know where everybody is or could be, making the jungle a less punishing place than it should be. Especially with how much space there is in them and numerous escape routes.

Other gameplay changes they could make have to do with farm and how it functions. Clear is king in smite, with how the map currently functions early pressure in mid is just far too important. To emphasize that point we are currently in a late game meta, but still the priority is early pressure. Look at the resurgence of Raijin. He is regarded as one of, if not the strongest mid right now. What is the single best thing about Raijin, his early clear. We have also seen ADC’s and mid laners starting together in mid while supports solo duo in Season 4. If that doesn’t highlight the value of mid clear I don’t know what else will.

There are a few things which make the mid clear so important. One of them is how much farm there is around mid and how quickly you can get to it. Another is that the mid wave meets five seconds before any other wave, so not only is it closer but you have a head start. A lot of the stress over mid lane pressure comes from these two reasons. So with the new jungle paths and gameplay changes maybe we will see camps take longer to get to from mid and waves meeting at the same time.

Another big gameplay change we could potentially be seeing is how splitting camps works. As it currently stands splitting a camp actually generates farm out of thin air. This is another reason why you want the mid lane pressure so you can go split all the valuable camps around it. It is also one of the reasons why junglers are attached at the hip to their mid laner. In a competitive setting you just can’t give up the 33 percent extra farm gained from splitting a camp. It’s like trying to play without last hitting, you are just going to fall behind. If you are splitting every camp, you need to also be getting waves, otherwise you are just going to get massively behind in the jungle.

Conclusion

What we know so far about the new map looks good. One of the things holding Smite back for a long time has been the map, both in competitive and casual play. So it is great that it looks like Hi-Rez are really doing something different with the Season 5 map.

If you want to know more about the problems the map creates and have some insight into upcoming changes check out Michael “PolarBearMike” Heiss’ great video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIdjaukI-54

It really is the best resource out there at the moment to understand how and why the map is played as it is currently. Also all the changes we have seen so far are ones that PBM suggests in this video, so if you want a feel for what else might be coming this video is great for that too.

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Gauntlet

Fall Split Gauntlet: Biggest takeaways

The three-peat is on

The biggest story coming out of the Smite Gauntlet was always going to be whether or not NRG were going to be heading to Super Regionals and possibly SWC after. There is no need to go into much detail about NRG’s season so far, except that it is falling far short of the incredibly high bar they have set since their entrance to the Pro League.

It was hardly the sort of performance that is going to fill NRG’s fans with confidence ahead of Super Regionals. This is mainly because of how much they struggled against The Papis, a Gauntletteam who only won three out of the 14 games they played in the Fall Split. Without being disrespectful to The Papis, if in six weeks time NRG are trying to prove that they are the best team in the world, they should probably be making lighter work of a team of The Papis’ caliber.

If one thing has been made clear from the Fall Split and Gauntlet it is that the switching out of Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov for João ‘maniaKK’ Ferreira has not been an immediate answer to NRG’s issues in season 4.

With all that being said NRG are still the best team the Smite competitive scene has ever seen. As Ryan ‘Aggro’ Bailey said, in Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ross they still have the best player to ever play the game. So, it would be premature to say NRG’s days at the very top are done. But at the moment it looks like a lot needs to happen over the next six weeks if we are going to see Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone lift the golden hammer again.

Beware the NA Challenger team

Once again at a Smite Gauntlet the team from the NA Challenger Circuit had a great run and nearly caused a serious upset. SPL Gatekeepers had an incredible run last Gauntlet and this Gauntlet Salsa Squadron did the same. They knocked out two SPL teams and took Noble to three games, losing in an incredibly tight game three. Considering Noble went 2-0 against Vigilant to go to Super Regionals, I think it is fair to say that Salsa Squadron were not outclassed by any NA team there.

This does mean more than just the interesting trend that has developed from the last two gauntlets on the NA side of the bracket. Particularly in the context of the changes we are seeing to competitive in season 5, in particular the shrinking of the SPL to six teams instead of eight. Quite clearly there is a lot of talent in the Challenger Cup. However in season 5 there is going to be no direct route up to the SPL. While the changes are great in terms of providing stability and investment to the SPL, there is clear value in having a fluid league. I just hope that this is something that Hi-Rez bare in mind and a middle ground is found between stability and investment for the SPL and its players, while encouraging talent from the bottom up.

ALG and the end of an era

Gauntlet

Image courtesy of eslgaming.com

With ALG coming dead last in the NA SPL and then being knocked out 2-0 by a Challenger Cup team, it is hard to see that roster returning for season 5. Hi-Rez have come out and said they are going to be rewarding organizations with spots who have supported the SPL. So it’s not impossible to think that ALG the org could get a spot but I would be very surprised if Hi-Rez would be willing to boot out any of the rosters that placed first through sixth. Especially with the amount of hysteria that follows even the slightest mention of Kurt ‘Weaken’ Schray. With all the changes that Hi-Rez are implementing they are going to want to avoid any unnecessary attention.

This probably means it’s the end of the Weak3n and Jarod ‘Cyclonespin’ Nguyen jungle-solo partnership. While everyone knows twitch chats’ feelings about Weak3n, it should not be forgotten how incredible him and Cyclonespin looked in the AFK days. Cyclonespin’s Hun Batz from the solo is probably one of the most dominant things I have ever seen in the Smite pro scene, and Weak3n was a big part of that and more than impressive in his own right. It will be interesting to see where they go from here, because I am sure there is already a few teams looking at ALG’s squad with certain players in mind.

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AMC

AMC: The rise of the bee

The rise of AMC

Recently something very unexpected has happened. AMC has taken a prominent place within the meta. AMC was always considered too risky for competitive or even casual play. With his lack of escape, the fear was that he was just too much of a sitting duck, reserved for the occasional pocket pick from the likes of Evan ‘Snoopy’ Jones.

This was a real fear when you think about what he brings in the shape of incredible early clear, a quasi-permanent AS buff and high ability damage; so in hindsight it does seem strange that he was ignored for so long. If I’m honest I think it was partly a case of everyone (including myself) believing the rhetoric a bit too much. However, on top of this I think there are more tangible reasons why AMC is particularly excelling in this meta.

Itemisation

AMC

Image courtesy of Smite.gamepedia.com

One of the big things that is allowing AMC to flourish is how much teams are valuing Hide of the Urchin currently. It has been a very long time since we have seen mages and hunters building defense, going back to the days of Kukulkan (Ao Kuang back then) mid being the norm.

This is huge for AMC as it allows him to survive burst damage and use the MS from his hives as a pseudo-escape. Pretty much all mids currently are building Hiding of the Urchin, but AMC’s are regularly building it from the ADC role as well.

There is also another reason why it helps AMC that carries are building defense. He still does ridiculous damage. One of the problems with building Hide of the Urchin is that you’re probably going to have to sacrifice an AS item. That isn’t a problem for AMC as his hives give him a 50 percent AS buff in a 90 unit radius.

Early clear and late game meta

SPL teams are putting a big priority on early clear as a way of controlling jungle at the moment. This is noticeable in the resurgence of Raijin and the early stacking in mid.

AMC has ridiculous early clear. His level one clear is strong but he really starts to shine at level two. Once he hits two he can full clear the wave in seconds. Dropping Honey into a Swarm to apply the bees will kill a wave in a matter of seconds. This frees up the AMC’s team to rotate and look for more farm all over the map.

However, the games are also going late at the moment which suits AMC just fine with his 50 percent AS buff. There are few Gods in the game who fit the bill quite like AMC if you are looking for a God who can clear early and is a powerhouse in the late game.

The solo focus

Solo laners in the SPL must be in some form of shock at the moment with how much they are getting focused. Long gone are the days of solo island and this has allowed mids and ADC’s in particular to thrive.

There are lots of reasons why solo is getting focused so heavily at the moment but for the purpose of this article it is just enough to know that it is happening. This means that while Mid-Laners are still sharing most of their farm, they are not getting focused as much as they have in previous seasons. What this means is that AMC is eating less ults to the face and if people are diving him he normally has a jungler and support to peel.

AMC

Image courtesy of https://twitter.com/smitegame

In the duo lane though it is practically dream land for AMC. With all the focus on the solo lane, AMC is just allowed to free-farm with barely a whiff of a jungler. In a 1v1 laning environment there are very few equal to an AMC. So he is propelled to late game with his ability to clear and farm jungle quicker than most hunters. As well as making the opposing ADC’s life much harder with his incredible boxing ability and ludicrous burst damage.

Conclusion

While there are numerous reasons for an increase in AMC’s pick rate, the largest reason in my mind is a change in attitude. At the moment we are seeing a big upswing across the board in hyper carries who were seen as too risky and squishy returning to the meta. The willingness to build defense particularly in regard to Hide of the Urchin has given the likes of He Bo and AMC a new lease on life.

It will be interesting to see how the recent changes to Hide of the Urchin change this though. If I’m honest I don’t see a huge amount of change coming. The nerf to Hide wasn’t huge, what it has done though is make the stacks even more important, with the intention of it not being ubiquitously bought, but to fill further into its niche of a ‘win-more’ item. Even if the community thinks the nerfs are bigger than this, you will see these hyper carries but just with different items. My guess is Spirit Robe will now be the choice from behind.

 

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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.

Top image courtesy of forums.2p.com

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