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

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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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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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Best Performers this Split: The EU All Star Roster

ADC

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

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

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

Jungle

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

All Star

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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

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

Solo

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

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

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

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

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

Support

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

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

All Star

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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

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

Mid

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

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

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

 

Honorable Mentions

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

Jungle Anders ‘QvoFred’ Korsbo Benjamin ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight

Solo Dimi

Support Jordan ‘BigManTingz’ Theaker

Mid PrettyPrime

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

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

 

Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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EU SPL: The battle for DreamHack

This Saturday was a very important day for the EU SPL. Not just the EU SPL but the entirety of the SPL, as this Saturday was the fight for seeding for DreamHack. With EU being the dominant region this season, I am sure there were some players across the Atlantic paying some very close attention. With EU having their current dominance recognised by Hi-Rez with an extra spot at DreamHack, four spots were up for grabs this weekend.

Third/fourth seed

The most important spot in the entire EU SPL as it is the final golden ticket to DreamHack. This was being fought over by two teams, Eanix and Team Rival. Team Rival before Saturday looked like hot favourites to take that spot as they were one point ahead, had an easier opponent and had the head to head over Eanix. This meant Eanix would need more points than rival before they could start booking plane tickets.

Saturday changed this though when we found out that Adrian ‘Deathwalker’ Benko would not be able to play and that TheLittleLegend would be subbing in for him. It did not go well. TheLittleLegend did not perform considerably worse than the rest of Rival, but Rival as a whole did not look like the team they have shown themselves to be over recent months. They got destroyed both games, it was not even close. This is not something Rival fans should be awfully worried about as we have seen this sort of thing happen before. Smite teams have looked entirely different when they have had subs before and then just gone back to normal when their full roster is back.

This was great though from a viewer’s perspective because it meant that the NRG vs Eanix set took on real significance. If Eanix could 2-0 they would be 4th in the EU SPL and going to DreamHack. However, one does not simply 2-0 the back to back world champions. Eanix looked great and won the first game. The second game though was the NRG show.

The two things I would put it down to are Kennet ‘Ross’ Adapting putting in a monster performance on Thor and the Ne Zha pick for Eanix.

Adapting is no longer the undisputed best player in the world. That in mind though he is still one of the best; occasionally as well he will remind us just what he can do when he is feeling it. He is one of those players who are rare but inestimably valuable in both esports and sports who will occasionally just win you the game. All great junglers have a great Thor, Adapting is one of those great junglers. It is not quite like when Peter ‘DaGarz’ Gary was just not allowed the character, but Adapting on Thor will always bring the hype. He showed why against Eanix, running the game with a slash line of 8/1/6. His ability to be everywhere and the inherent damage within Thor’s kit allowed Adapting to be the omni-present terror to Eanix throughout this game.

Image courtesy of http://smite.gamepedia.com/Thor

I have often said in these articles that Ne Zha, while a good pick, will also be a heavily contributing factor in you losing some games. This turned out to be the case for Eanix this game. It is incredibly hard to win an SPL game when your jungler ends up 0/5/3. The pick seemed odd to me, you just performed incredibly well and beat NRG with a lower risk comp, why risk it all now?

There wasn’t a huge amount of synergy with the comp either. When you see a team pick a Ne Zha, often the first thing to look at is who is their mage? Who is going to instantly delete Ne Zha’s target? For Eanix it was a Sol, while very capable of deleting someone it is not the ideal pick. Her damage is oxymoronicaly sustained-burst, her ult comes out over time and a lot of the Sol burst comes from using Stellar Burst as well. This means things like Aegis or the Terra ult (something NRG was running) has a much higher chance of being able to save their life.

The only real synergy you could see from the rest of the team were the Hou-Yi and the Ares. Hou-Yi is one of the better ADC’s for the Ne Zha as the suns can be dropped right before the Ne Zha and his target land. While it is nice because there are not a huge amount of ADC ults which synergise with the Ne Zha, it again suffers the same problems as the Sol and doesn’t guarantee the deletion. Make no mistake when you run a Ne Zha you should be running it as a deletion comp.

The Ares does very much synergise with the Ne Zha though as it can burn multiple beads at once fairly consistently, allowing Ne Zha multiple targets for the Windfire Wheels. However, it is another big risk into your comp. With your LAN chances on the line it was a twist on the old classic by Eanix and they ran a go hard or stay home comp. Unfortunately they will be staying home. I may be a bit harsh on Eanix, but why risk your chance for LAN, cash and a free holiday to the beaches of Valencia on what is such a coin-flip of a comp?

First/second seed

There is a lot less to say about these two seeds. This is surprising as the top end of the EU SPL seems like a congested area with top seed being a hard-won trophy. The lack of talking points is because first seed was already secured for Dignitas and Obey beat them rather comfortably to secure 2nd seed away from NRG.

Obey did look great in this set though and that is something worth touching on. This Split has seen Dignitas and Obey switch positions in seeding and probably in performances as well. Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark recently said in an interview that Obey got over-confident and maybe took their foot off the pedal.

Image courtesy of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGYlz6PKsC8

It looks like they have their focus back now, as they were really impressive in their 2-0 over Dignitas. The only team who managed to do this all Split.

It is a bit hard to judge if this means Obey are back to their Spring Split dominance, where they showed themselves to be unquestionably a cut above the rest of the teams in the world. This is because, for Dignitas, it was essentially a friendly. They had nothing to gain and nothing to lose, except for possibly momentum and a bit of confidence. If you know though that you are hiding strats and not taking a series overly serious, it is not likely to knock your confidence very much.

So is this Obey coming back to form, or Dignitas just not showing up this set? As with most things in life I think compromise is the best answer. Obey look on the up but I would not expect any set between these two at DreamHack to look like this one. My main takeaway from this set is that it was just a bit of a disappointing way to end the EU SPL, as this looked like it could have been a blockbuster.

Top image courtesy of https://twitter.com/smitegame

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The EU SPL Games to Watch Out For This Week

Overview

This week on the European side of the SPL we have two games which could be very important for Dreamhack Valencia qualification. The four teams mentioned in this article are along with Rival the most likely to be going to Dreamhack. While it is still early in the Split and not many games have been played, all these teams are close at the top. Obey VS NRG and Eanix VS Dignitas would be great games just for the spectacle. However, with the added pressure of such a short split and such a competitive field, things are likely to get spicy.

NRG VS Obey

NRG vs Obey should be a very close set. We have the best team in the world for the past two years, pitted against the best team in the world from last split. This split could very well define how the EU side of the SPL turns out.

NRG

NRG have not been the dominating team of past seasons so far in Season 4. There have been multiple reasons given for this decline. The most prevalent to hear last split was they had taken their foot off the pedal. This theory came from the team admitting to having done so at the start of the split, in an attempt to avoid burnout. If you want evidence of potential burnout, you only have to look at Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone’s recent reddit post. In it he claims he does not enjoy Smite anymore and at the moment plays it purely for ‘business’ not for pleasure. While he puts this down to game-state, in particular Sunder, part of the evident frustration shown here may be due to burnout.

Image Courtesy of esportsedition.com

 

NRG are still a top-tier team though. They are still the mechanical monsters they have always been and have nearly three full seasons of an unchanged roster behind them. When you win two World titles in a row, that sort of stability is most definitely a plus. In Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ross, they still have, for my money, the best jungler in the world. A player also at least still in the conversation for best player in the world.

NRG play things pretty meta, so in regards to their picks, that’s what you should be looking for in the draft. More specifically though look for Athena to be picked up by iRaffer. Athena has been creeping back into the meta ever since the start of the Spring Split offline events. This is something we have seen iRaffer on a lot recently, but also something NRG clearly value quite highly. As when they opted for the Khepri over the Athena in Game 2 vs Rival, they made sure to ban Athena out.

Camasotz, a God who has burst, instead of crept, into the meta is also a priority pick for NRG. Noticeably in their set against Rival picking it 2nd both games.

Obey

Obey Alliance were incredible last split. The addition of Emil ‘Emilzy’ Nielsen was always going to make them stronger. Emilzy has always been a good player on mid-tier teams. Since he got his opportunity at Obey, he has shown he is a truly great player. Probably the best support in the world as it stands currently. At least that’s what the stats and his performances from the Spring Split suggest.

The big question after the way he ended season 3 was, how much was the loss of Harry ‘Variety’ Cumming going to effect Obey? They brought in João ‘Maniakk’ Ferreira and he has more than capably filled the big space left behind by Variety. Like the rest of the Obey squad, he had a dominating split in Spring. Seeing as they went from 2nd at Worlds to 1st at Master’s, beating NRG to get there; a team worth noting who dominated them in the SWC finals 3-1. I think Obey are more than happy with the results of roster changes.

Image courtesy of Smite.esportswikis.com

 

Again, Obey play things pretty meta, but like NRG there are some particular things to look out for. Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark has always been a fan of Jing Wei. With the recent buffs she has seen and her gradual re-entry into the meta, look for Ataraxia to play her. Cernunnos is also a pick to look out for from Ataraxia. We have heard a lot about how strong Cernunnos is, and Ataraxia is probably one of the SPL players who is best at showing that. Benjamin ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight may again pull out his Ne Zha, a God he favours more than most in the SPL. When it comes to Emil ‘PrettyPriMe’ Edstrom, you always have to look out for his burst mages, in particular the Vulcan. What he has recently been running with much success, more than a lot of the league’s other mid-laners, is Morrigan. This is something he has been running to devastating effect recently and will most likely, if possible, be picked up in this set.

Predictions

MY Fantasy Points will be going on the split in this set. However, both teams are so closely matched there is the potential for it to go either way over a two game series.

 

Eanix VS Team Dignitas

Eanix

Last split, Eanix was at the top end of the mid-tier teams. However, in between the Spring and Summer Split, they have cherry picked some of the better players from the lower ranked teams and look to be a genuinely top tier team this split. Dispatching The Papis, which was expected, but also splitting with Obey which is no mean feat.

The new jungler Daniel ‘Faeles’ Evans looked very strong through the Spring Split and has taken that form into the Summer Split. The best example of this is in Eanix’s split with Obey. In the game they won, Faeles went 3/1/13, having 100 percent kill participation. Nemesis is seeing a lot of love at the moment, and that is what Faeles played in that win over Obey. He has already picked the Serqet twice this split, so look for him to pick one of those two in this set.

Image courtesy of Eanix.gg

 

James ‘Duck3y’ Heseltine took over for Jeroen ‘Klaver’ Xaliea in the solo-lane. For those of us who have been watching since pre-season days, it is sad to see one of the old greats leave. However, Xaliea has not been the same solo-laner who used to embarrass solo’s and teams as a whole for a long time. He was the original Bakasura solo, instantly changing the scene with his realisation that Baka countered Chaac. Duckey has storied shoes to fill, it looks like he is up to the task. While not having the same level of innovation, his game play when compared to Xaliea’s of recent times definitely seems stronger.

Emil ‘Lawbster’ Evinsen and Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar have been teaming together for a long time now. They have also both been in the competitive scene since its beginning, both featuring in the Smite Launch Tournament. Lawbster doing far more than feature, actually winning the event with the original TSM. These two veterans should be a great base for this team to build from and power on through this split thanks to their vast experience. This is not to take away from their own personal skill, which both have in spades.

Pick wise there is nothing that should really surprise anyone. At least Eanix haven’t shown it yet. Picks you should be looking for in the Mid are Sol and Lawbster’s almost signature Poseidon. These have been Lawbster’s go-to picks so far this Split. With the recent play that Agni has been seeing, that is another very real possibility, as Agni most definitely is a signature Lawbster God. From Funballer, look for any of the following three: Hou-Yi, Cernunnos and Rama. He is dangerous on all of these Gods. Jordan ‘BigManTingz’ Theaker has played a different God every game this season, however he does have a proclivity for aggressive supports, so a Ymir and Ares may see some more play from him. Duck3y will be following meta and picking an early pressure Warrior most likely. However, if he is on Hercules, something special may happen, as he wrecks on Hercules.

 

Team Dignitas

Dignitas are a team of veteran bonafide superstars of the European Smite scene. The Spring Split was their first Split in the SPL as a team. It was nearly the perfect entry into the SPL, but it ended up being a case of always a bridesmaid never a bride for Team Dignitas. Coming second to Obey in the regular season and then getting rather handled in the finals of Smite Masters by Obey again. In all seriousness though, coming second is not a bad start to your team’s Pro League career. This is the Split to really look for Dignitas to kick on. Going from being a very good and promising team to a powerhouse of the scene. They have had time to gel and gain synergy between all the players, and there will be no doubt that this team has the potential to contend at the sharp end of World’s.

In Mid Lane we have Joakim ‘Zyrhoes’ Verngren. Zyrhoes has been in the competitive scene for a very long time. The man is a born mid-laner. If you need evidence of this, he started off as a jungler, but would bring Vulcan to the role. He also has incredible game knowledge as shown by NRG picking him up as their coach on their last World Championship run. Zyrhoes has been playing a lot of Sol in recent history and was doing it before she became a top-tier pick again. He has already played Sol twice this Split. As well as having also played Morrigan twice, look for those two to be his focus in this set.

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

 

Kenny ‘Arkyll’ Kuska was the biggest question mark in this roster when it was formed. Out of all the players on this roster he definitely had the least pedigree in the scene. However, he has more than justified his inclusion in this ‘super-team.’ Arkyll killed it last season and has been performing just as impressively this season. His slash lines this season have been 4/0/7, 5/2/8, 8/2/4 and 6/1/2, showing his stellar performances. Look for Rama and Hou-Yi, although he has been one of the hunters testing Jing-Wei in the SPL this season, making it a possibility.

Anders ‘Qvofred’ Korsbo had a great season last season. There was talk of him being the world’s best player and dethroning Adapting. Unfortunately for him and Jeppe ‘Trixtank’ Gylling, the off-season went incredibly poorly. However, Qvofred is another veteran of the scene who has shown his class numerous times. Qvo’s God pool is extensive, so with Qvo expect anything. So far he has stuck to the very meta Camasotz and Ravana; but his favourite has been the Nemesis, so expect to see at least one game of Nemesis this set.

Variety had an incredible end of Season 3 and has looked just as strong at the start of this Split. He has been dominating laners and is an intimidating match-up for most solo-laners in the league. Look for Variety to try and secure Osiris, something he has played three times already this season.

Trixtank is desperate to win big again. It is something which comes across in every interview he does. He won the Smite Launch Tournament, but the teams he has been on have struggled at LAN’s for the most since then. Trixtank made his name back in the day of warrior supports. For a while he was the most feared player in the world, especially on his signature Sun-Wukong. Things have changed since then. He is still a great support, but recently he has been playing far more defensive supports. This split he has only played the Geb and Khepri, look for more of the same.

 

Prediction

This could be another one which easily goes to a split. I reckon if it is going either way, it is going Dignitas’ way, they are probably the stronger team. However, Lawbster and Funballer would love to get one over Trix and Qvo as they were long standing teammates. Only splitting after the disappointment of the end of Season 3.

Summary

These are going to be close sets most likely. All of these teams will be going into these weeks sets knowing the importance of them, but also being reasonably confident of a win. This week will teach us a lot about EU. Are Obey going to be the powerhouses they were last split? How much has Team Dignitas improved? Something their toughest opposition of the split will give us an idea on. Are NRG getting closer to their old form? Or is it another lacklustre perfomance this split, by their incredibly high standards? All important questions that these important sets should give us a better understanding of.

 

Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

 

Smite Gauntlet: What Did We Learn?

Bellona’s Back!

Bellona, in the online portion of this split, was nothing to scream and shout about. She had a pick/ban rate of 16.36%, a win rate of 50%, and a relatively low KDA of 1.8. Bellona, however, returned to take a prominent place within the Gauntlet meta over the weekend. With a pick/ban rate of 42.42% and a staggering win rate of 88.89%, it was a bit of a surprise as she is not one of these typical LAN monsters, such as the Anhur, who gains a lot from the 0 ping environment. Her abilities are easy to hit regardless of ping (barring the exceptional). She has been seen lately as a bit of a counter pick, as the disarm on her 3 can really hinder basic attack based gods. However, AA gods were not the story of the Gauntlet.

The favoured Hunter, Skadi, is the most ability-based Hunter Smite has ever seen. With power and penetration being the preferred build with very little, if any, attack speed being picked up. Ability based Junglers dominate the meta and the Kali pick we did see was far from expected. It is worth noting that the Bellona was also drafted in that game, perhaps in an attempt to protect the Kali from that disarm, although that is hard to say considering Adrian ‘Deathwalker’ Benko’s tendency to pick the Bellona this LAN anyway.

Image courtesy of SmiteFire

One criticism of Bellona is that she can be low impact. Her burst damage is easily interrupted, a disarm is all well and good but there is better CC, and the ultimate is rather telegraphed. But at the Gauntlet, any claims about low impact and the ult have been dismissed by Deathwalker. Look to game two against NRG when they were fighting for their life being down 0-1. He gets a great ultimate at the left Phoenix setting up the defence against a Fire Giant team, setting Rival up to not lose a Phoenix in that push.

Then the coup de grâce when Deathwalker single-handedly wins his team the game. Left Phoenix down, tank dead and you’re facing a full Fire Giant back to back World Champion team. I mean the game should be over, but in steps Deathwalker with a three-man Eagle’s rally right to the dome of the Support, ADC and Mage. GG Rival and then we all know what happens next.

One thing to point out here is that while that ultimate was great, it should never have been allowed to happen. This is clear from when we hear the NRG comms in their games against eUnited and them screaming ‘safe way!’ repeatedly, when they are making that same rotation to mid Phoenix.

One reason why Bellona showed her potential this LAN is that she is great in every part of the game. Her laning phase is great, and even if you can interrupt her Bludgeon it is still amazing. One reason for this is because of the Season 4 Death’s Toll. The loss of power for increased sustain is great for solo laners with AOE autos. If you go to interrupt the Bellona you will get hit, meaning she can group the minions. Then, Bellona is healing for 48-56 health per auto depending on whether or not she is hitting you, as well as the wave. That means over a wave she has nearly got a full health pot worth of healing. Considering most solo laners will start 4 health pot 4 multi pot early on she is gonna out clear you anyway and doesn’t need to worry about tanking the wave that much.

With that sort of laning phase, it is easy to get Bellona ahead or at the very least stay even. Once that happens, you have a Warrior with strong autos, a decent amount of burst from Bludgeon (serious burst if you are ahead), who is also incredibly tanky when you consider the blocks on her dash and the ability to stop the highest damage characters in the late game from doing their damage thanks to Scourge.

There is also the incredible zoning potential of her ult. You are not going to want to take a team fight down 35 protections from the other team! Let’s not forget her passive giving her movement speed and protections from being hit or hitting you! Bellona has been slept on recently, but with the recent performances in the Gauntlet, most notably on Deathwalker and Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov, do not expect that to be the case going into Masters and the Summer Split.

 

Itemisation

The biggest point of note in Itemisation is how much Spear of Desolation was picked up in the Gauntlet compared to the online section of this Split. Spear of Desolation is a great item for Mages. It has so many of the stats you want giving a decent chunk of power at 90, CDR, and penetration.

Image courtesy of Smite Wiki

Item’s do this occasionally when they are new, they don’t get picked up during the online phase as all scrims are dedicated to the game they are playing that week and they want to get their builds right. As much as the pro’s play the game, they know what works and it will take some time to oust their preferred items from the build. Especially more than the average player, builds are made around timings and pros have a better understanding of how a change in one part of the build effects another. When we have these breaks between the season and LANs it gives the pros time to experiment more in scrims as they aren’t worried about the set in two days. The big bonus of Spear of Desolation is being able to build CDR and Penetration at the same time.

The big bonus of Spear of Desolation is being able to build CDR and Penetration at the same time. The drawback was always the expense of the item, with other pen items being 450 gold cheaper in Spear of the Magus and Obsidian Shard being 300 gold cheaper. Never mind it’s not giving as much pen. However, it seems the pros have decided it is worth the investment. Most are building Spear of Desolation in the third item slot. This means that by your third item as a Mage you have 20 pen due to the 10 also on boots, 10% CDR, and a large power base, especially as a lot of people are building it with Bancroft’s Talon an item which is coming back into favour with recent buffs.

This is also a reason for Spear of Desolation’s entrance into the meta. The low cost of Bancroft’s allows your third item to be slightly more expensive. Most people are building another pen item on top of this later in the game, meaning you end up with more pen overall. Although Alexandru ‘Wlfy’ Lefterică showed this is not necessary, starting Book of Thoth and going a fourth item Rod of Tahuti in Rival’s second game against Eanix. He went top damage with the same build on Thoth as well as in the second game vs Soar. Pulling top damage numbers twice shows that he wasn’t hurting from the lack of pen. It is worth noting there weren’t many dedicated magical defense items built by Eanix that game.

Bancroft’s has seen a resurgence and is worth a quick mention as well. I say quick, because the reasons are obvious: the item is great. At its max effectiveness, you get 200 power 40% Lifesteal and you only pay 2300 gold for it. Also, now you don’t need to be dead to get max effect of the item. Being capped at 25% means you get a lot more use out of this item as the passive is strong when you are healthy enough to still fight.

EU Stronger than Ever

Team Rival

Rival looked very strong at Gauntlet and obviously not the biggest upset of the week considering Oxygen Supremacy’s incredible run. They were however not many people’s favourites to face off against NRG. Then to take that a step further by beating NRG! Although as I have alluded to and will go into more detail later they shouldn’t have. Smite like life, however, is about seeing an opportunity and taking it, something Deathwalker definitely showed in their game two against NRG.

What was probably the most impressive was the way in which they dispatched Soar. I was not expecting their victory, if they got one, to be so comprehensive. The first game, while not always leading in term of kills, they always led in the more important stats of gold and experience. Of the 70 players at the Gauntlet only 17 managed a KDA of above 3 barring their support the remaining four players of Rival all managed this showing this was definitely a team performance.

Stand-Out Performers

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Aleksandar ‘iceicebaby’ Zahariev, apart from having a great IGN, was also the MVP of the Gauntlet. I don’t think I am being unfair when I say nobody saw that coming. He more than tripled his Spring Split KDA of 1.31 with a KDA of 4.5 at Gauntlet. The Bulgarian Jungler looked dominant on his three main picks of Susano, Thor, and Serqet. Particularly the Susano where he has a combined slash line of 26/6/21. While Susano was definitely the most successful Jungler at Gauntlet with a win rate of 76.92 iceicebaby piloted the God incredibly well. His K/D on the God of 4.33 compared to the Gauntlet average of 2.27 proves this point. Look out for him at Masters we may have a new superstar from the Jungle to talk about.

DeathWalker had a great Gauntlet and is one of the major reasons behind the Bellona resurgence the first part of this article was dedicated too. I have made clear how I think without Deathwalker, Rival do not win this Gauntlet. He also has the most interesting pick of the Gauntlet. A solo Ah Puch – nobody who hadn’t been scrimming Rival or is very close to the scene would have been expecting that pick. That is something which would be met with hails of ‘report!’ In most ranked games! Yet, while they lost the game, it wasn’t the Ah Puch which was to blame. The way Deathwalker navigated the early game on one of the easiest Mages to kill in the game is something worth taking note of. This begs the question what else is he likely to pull out at Masters?

NRG

There has been a lot of talk about NRG being knocked off their perch. It is a little too early to be saying that as far as I am concerned. They should have 2-0ed Rival and they only didn’t due to a pathing error. An error as I said earlier, their comms suggests they are not likely to repeat again. Then considering what Rival did to Soar it is more than probable that NRG would have also walked away from that set victorious. The eUnited set was not just NRG booking their place at Masters it was a statement. From one man in particular Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ros. Who decided he wanted to remind us all why for the past two years he has been considered the best player in the world!

eUnited Set

The first game was even through 20 minutes with eUnited actually slightly ahead. Then it just became the Adapting and Dimi show, going 11/0/12 and 8/0/14 respectively with Adapting doing 26k damage. To put that in perspective, the Zhong Kui did 16k. That is another thing often overlooked about NRG during their drafts.

That draft was beautiful at shutting down a Zhong Kui. The Nemesis pick is obvious and its benefits have been espoused numerous times. What was drafted around it was what made it so great. The Scylla Nemesis combo makes it impossible for a Zhong to get a decent ult off. After the Judgement from Nemesis, you have the root chunking 20-30 percent of a Zhong’s health and then the unmissable damage in the Crush which takes off the same or more again. So without even needing to ult the Zhong is on his heels.

Admittedly, the Bellona pick came before the Zhong and it just happened to work out very well for eUnited. The Hou-Yi also zones the Zhong out as he isn’t walking through that and living to tell the tale. This made it nearly impossible for Zhong Kui to be Zhong Kui as he was relegated to a back-line mage.

The second game had NRG dominate the kills throughout although eUnited did a good job utilizing the map to keep it even. That is until the 20 minute mark. Then again, NRG just blew the game open. From minute 20 to 24 they turned a 3k gold lead into a 8 k gold lead. There were impressive performances from multiple players from NRG this game Dimi with top damage on the Erlang Shen going 1/2/17 doing everything you could ask of your solo laner, as well as André ‘Yammin’ Brännvall going 7/1/12 and the ADC Emil ‘Emilitoo’ Stärnman putting in a solid 4/1/8.

However, the main man was Adapting going 13/4/10, not participating in two of his teams kills for an overall kill participation of 92%. Adapting is unreal when he plays at his best. He also shot calls for his team which shows that there is more to this Jungler than mechanical prowess. If I was going to be facing NRG at Masters that set against eUnited is the last thing I would have wanted to see. Not only will NRG have a chip on their shoulder, but they will be the bottom seed from the two major regions in the game. The King is back and has got to be feeling himself after those performances in the final two games they played. This really should have been their 7th straight LAN victory and I wouldn’t be surprised for them to take number 7 when they get to the main event.

Looking to Masters!

Considering the last SWC finals was an entirely European affair, and this LAN, made up of the mid-lower tier teams, was dominated by Europe, the question of the stronger region seems to be pretty self-evident at the moment. Eager and Luminosity will have to play incredibly and put in a great performance to upset the European dominance. Bare in mind that Obey beat Eager in the Semi-Finals of Worlds to go through, and since then have only gotten better. Although, the Anubis pick which went 1-2 in games won in that set for Eager probably hampered them. As I reckon they had a better than 50 percent chance in a straight up game, especially as the first game went horribly for the Anubis. Putting yourself behind in such a pressure cooker of a set is more impactful than normal. LG and Eager are both great teams who could very easily walk away from Masters with a win. My money though is on EU to bring another trophy back across the Atlantic with them.


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