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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NA

How Dreamhack highlighted the ever growing gulf between NA and EU

How we got here

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

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

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

Where we are at now

na

Image courtesy of neogaf.com

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

Why?

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

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

How?

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

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

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

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

NA

Image courtesy of smitepedia.com

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

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

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

What this means for competitive Smite

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

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

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

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Team Allegiance: A Rising Force In NA

Spring Split Woes

Team Allegiance did not have the strongest of Spring Splits. They won five games, lost nine, and were the last team to be 2-0ed in a crazy run by Oxygen Supremacy in the Gauntlet. To put it simply, it was not the sort of split players of that caliber would be hoping for.

Team Allegiance has high caliber players, there should be no doubt of that. At the start of the split, the Allegiance roster looked like it had the potential to go far. They had rising stars such as Aleksandr ‘Oceans’ Brudnyi and veterans of the scene such as Kurt ‘Weak3n’ Schray and Jarod ‘Cyclonespin’ Nguyen. Not to forget Mike ‘PolarBearMike’ Heiss and Michael ‘Metyankey’ Fasciano. You have a group of players there who would not look out of place in pretty much any roster in the league. There also seemed to be a strong and vocal shot-calling component, having both Weak3n and PolarBearMike on the team.

The promise of the team did not materialize though throughout the Spring Split. The results were not there. Apart from eUnited, their performances against the top end of the league were not impressive. This led to PolarBearMike benching himself and while he did say there where other real world factors, he specifically notes that under-performing wasn’t the problem but “the way we handled it”.

It is worth noting at this point that Weak3n had already said early on in the split that the Spring Split didn’t mean much. The thrust of his argument was that the start of the season would be largely people adjusting to meta but most importantly teams would still be building synergy. He said this is the split where you would get a much better idea of the teams and how they are going to do throughout the rest of the season. Whatever you think of Weak3n (he is a very good player btw, despite what twitch chat has to say), you are undeniably wrong if you don’t think he has a very firm understanding of how the SPL works and how to build a successful team.

Summer Split Resurgence

Allegiance has looked great this split; they look like they are definitely a top three team in NA. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, four out of their five players have had a full season to get synergy.

Second, Neil ‘Neirumah’ Mah seems like a very strong pickup. James ‘ViviaNx3’ Murphy didn’t really get a huge opportunity so cannot speak on his level, but the team seems to think Neirumah is an upgrade.

Another of the big reasons for their current upswing in form is their objective control. In a recent interview with TGH, Weak3n explained that NA was behind because EU was “experimenting” much more. The most obvious way you can see Allegiance experimenting is by how frequently they run the Isis in mid lane.

Image courtesy of smite.gamepedia.com

 

The Isis has worked incredibly well for them. She gives them great early pressure in mid. Early pressure in mid is vitally important, especially in this meta. She is also an incredible teamfighter. The spirit ball is great burst and CC and can set up great engages and peel.  The silence and protection shred is one of the most underrated CCs in Smite. Her ultimate is ridiculous, probably one of the best if not the best tools in the game to deal with hard engage. It creates a massive area which is just far too dangerous to stand in because at full charge is one of the highest damaging abilities in the game, as well as giving significant damage reduction and a burst heal meaning that not just does the floor become lava, that carry you were trying to burst down is now incredibly safe.

What the ult is famous for though, and what Allegiance are using it for extremely effectively, is objective control. Another thing that has been lauded as being behind the EU supremacy recently. Allegiance has been using the Isis ult just to take the Gold Fury on cooldown. An example of this is in their win against Luminosity in 30 minutes Allegiance had four Gold Furies and a Fire Giant to their name. This is while being down two kills, once again proving kills<objectives.

Another reason behind Allegiance’s great results this split is the dominance of the right side of the map. Weak3n and Cyclone are running games like the old AFK days. The perfect example of this is the set they just played against eUnited. There is, of course, the now infamous pick of Arachne for eUnited. However, the performance by Weak3n, in particular, was impressive. Afterall, you can only play what is put in front of you. This great objective control they now have with a dominance of the right side of the map is driving them to success this split.

Allegiance look like they could become a real force to be reckoned with this season. They have it all, talent, veteran leadership and importantly at the moment what seems like a willingness to adapt. There is also the fact that within in NA one of the best teams in Eager looks a lot weaker than last split. Not only have they lost the synergy they had developed over the previous seasons, the players they have got in seem to be of a lesser caliber.


Top Image Courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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Why is North America Falling Behind in Competitive Smite?

As Ryan ‘Agro’ likes to point out, Smite has never been this competitive. Although I would like to add a caveat to that: not between regions.

We have seen the most competitive split ever this spring, with top five teams in both regions taking games off eachother. Then we came to the first LAN in the Gauntlet and saw Europe’s fifth-seeded team take the whole show, while in North America the Challenger team Oxygen Supremacy did far better than anyone expected. However, between regions, it has been a very different story.

The two major regions in Smite have always been NA and EU, and between them, competition has

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

normally been very strong. Apart from 2017 SWC, we have always had multi-regional finals. However, recently that competition has not been there. EU dominated SWC 2017, although only sending two teams, and they both made it to the finals. It is important to note though, that NA did send more teams to Worlds because of a dominant showing at the previous LAN. In the last two LANs, though, it has been very noticeable that a gulf is developing between the two regions. Any time there has been an EU-NA showdown, it has been a blowout for EU, with rare exceptions.

 

Look at Dota, LoL, Starcraft, Counter-Strike and even Heroes of the Storm – EU is the stronger region. Smite has never been this way, until now.

We have also had genuine inter-region competition, as we do not have the Korean overlords to quail before in terror. Recently, this competition has gone to the wayside. As I said earlier, the only competitive set between regions we have had in the last two LANs is probably the 5th seed out of EU vs NA 2nd seed.

The most hype games Smite has to offer will always be the big region showdowns, between metas and players who don’t normally collide, coming face to face.

Playstyle

What reason have we been given for this sudden fall from grace?

The EU teams were very diplomatic and have repeatedly said that NA teams just haven’t figured out or caught up on the new meta. This is noticeable in the picks, most notably Cabrakan. Quite simply, EU doesn’t really rate the God. Yes, he is good and has lock-down but he isn’t the only one who provides that. There was also Skadi, again favored more by NA than EU. While NA sees her as a must-have, EU sees her as a very powerful but unnecessary God.

The major difference between NA and EU has always been that EU is a much slower paced region. Personally, I think that has always made a bit more sense as a game plan. As fast-paced, high-octane games make sense against people who are going to be out of position and late rotations, this is not mine and your ranked games. When you have the opposite, early aggression is much more likely to be punished and far harder to pull off, as you will have to put yourself out of position and leave yourself open to counter-rotations to get the value for your ganks. Plus, the harder and more you commit to a gank in regards to health and cooldowns, the less likely you are to be able to. In the immortal words of Thom ‘F.’ Badinger, “get the stuff after the stuff.”

This is one thing I feel was never fully analyzed regarding NRG. We have heard numerous times about how when they were in their prime, it was like a switch was flipped at 16 minutes and from then on they steamrolled teams. One of the major reasons for this, I feel, is that they knew they were the better team.

Why risk the volatile world of early aggression? Because you know that if you group up when everyone has a couple of items and is ready to perform their role in the team fight, you can win it. Also, a team fight won at that point in the game gives you a powerful gold fury, lots of XP and gold for the kills and incredible map pressure.

I feel a lot of the NA vs EU playstyle can be summed up in the fact that NA look for picks to dictate and win the game, whereas EU obviously takes them if they see the opportunity, but really they try not to lose the game and rely on superior team fights and late game as the win condition.  To put it simply, EU seems far more objective focused.

Looking Forward

Image courtesy of neogaf.com

NA doesn’t look like its going to get any stronger soon, but maybe these LAN’s have been the wake-up call. However, the NA teams are now back into transition mode. There have been significant roster changes in the middle to the bottom of the league, as well as the fact that Eager has parted ways with their Solo and Jungle. That is a scary, albeit maybe necessary, thing for the top seed. Who is going to replace them?

Right now as an outsider looking in, I would say the best free agents in NA are the two Eager just released. The dream scenario would probably be that Eager convinces Andrew ‘Andinster’ Woodward that he really wants to jungle again. I do not think that is very likely though as Andinster seemed committed to making Soar work in his interviews. The whole Soar team has stated that they are not particularly worried about how things are going right now, but are looking to the future with what they think is a very solid line-up.

The easiest fit for Eager is probably Andy ‘Elchapo’ Leon and Arthur ‘Uzzy’ Asherov. As the first seed, do you really want to be picking up players who were just dropped from the 7th seed? I think not.

Realistically, I think the best chance for Eager would be feeling out Brooks ‘Cynosure’ Matty. However, IMOG is a team I personally rate very highly and I think it would be hard to convince him out.

So it looks like while NA is rebuilding there is a good chance of the EU teams pulling further ahead.

One thing to take note of here is that the two players most likely to play their own meta, so to say, are Divios and DJ Pernicus. However, Divios very often sets solo lane meta and the Guan pick which didn’t work at Masters has definitely worked before.

eUnited hs also made a very significant change: They have removed their Jungler from the team. Replacing a Jungler in a team is one of the hardest positions to do so. There are multiple reasons for this: Firstly a Jungler requires synergy to some degree with every lane. There is also the disruption to the three man core of Mid, Support and Jungle which really dictates the flow of the game. Louis-Phillipe ‘PainDeViande’ Geoffrion has shown time and time again his ability to replace players. He isn’t quoted as saying “I love kicking people” for no reason, although with a scarcity of top level Jungler’s and 1st and 3rd seed looking for one, things could get tricky.

What this means is that 1st and 3rd NA seeds will be in a period of rebuilding. The last few LANs have show that it was growth and not consolidation that was needed. The thing is all top-tier teams have one thing in mind: SWC. Winning regional LANs and doing well in the league are all great, but everything though pales in comparison to the importance of Worlds. So making these changes may hurt in the short-term but does give them enough time to get ready for the main event.

Often, pro’s will say that they do not watch a huge number of games outside of their region. Obviously, when it comes to LAN, they research their opponents. However, this, in my opinion, will change now. If I was coaching an NA team I would be taking a lot of tips from EU right now. They are clearly ahead, if it is just a matter of NA being behind in meta then clearly the way to go is ‘follow the leader’. There is a good argument for NA being behind in meta. Either way, unless something changes, be it meta-shift or an NA catch up, we are likely to see another SWC in European hands.


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Smite Gauntlet NA Team Spotlights: Bookies Favourites

eUnited

Overview

eUnited is going into the Gauntlet as the highest seeded North American team. The single-elimination format of this tournament gives them a huge advantage. It is also worth noting that in the entirety of the Spring Split, eUnited only lost one set, which came to Allegiance, a team they are unlikely to be facing and who very recently had to replace their support.

Players

You can’t mention eUnited without mentioning Louis Phillipe ‘PainDeViande’ Geoffrion, or General Pain, as he is more commonly known.  He is a great support but he is more commonly known and lauded for his leadership. He has guided this team in all its iterations, highs and lows, going from SWC 2016 runners up, to relegations the next split, then back to 3rd place in a very competitive region this split.

However, this is not a one man army. Khaos, a relatively unknown player when he first got picked up by Pain, has developed into one of the most consistent mid laner’s in the league. Khaos’ most successful God’s this season have been Vulcan and Poseidon, having a win rate of 66 percent on both. Most impressive stat wise has been with Vulcan, pulling a KDA of 5.8

Another God to watch out for is Zhong Kui, a God who is going through a minor resurgence and one Khaos has a history of playing. The pick lacks slightly in direct burst damage but makes up for this in AOE damage and by bringing a tankiness to the mid lane not available in any other viable pick.

 

General Pain motivating the troops! Image courtesy of Redbull.com

Ben ‘Benji’ Mckinzey, eUnited’s solo laner, joined mid-way through the season and hasn’t missed a beat. This is helped by his history with the team – re-finding synergy is easier than totally starting from scratch.  Look to his dominant performance on Osiris against Luminosity in week six, where he went 3-0-7 doing 4k more damage than anyone on his team.

 

There has been some controversy over Benji this split. What makes this so interesting for the Gauntlet is that the controversy directly impacted another team: Soar. Due to Benji leaving Soar for eUnited halfway through the split, and in my opinion far more reasonable situations regarding Soar’s subs, Soar was forced into forfeiting their set against eUnited. Considering there are only two points between these teams, this could very well be split defining stuff.

Maksim ‘PandaCat’ Yanevich is a player to watch at Gauntlet. Look for teams to be built around his signature Artemis which is likely to be seen at least once this LAN. eUnited is known for their co-ordination and PandaCat is known for his Artemis.

This combines to make the inherently dangerous ‘protect the carry’ strategy more than viable for this team. Watch out for his Hou-Yi, he has been killing it on that God this split. He has a KDA of 4.1 on this God, double what he has on any other God. Pandacat has a decent KDA of 2.57 overall but that does not speak for his ability to run games. His average damage of 16524 which is fourth highest in the league for ADC.

Lucas ‘Varizial’ Spracklin in his sophomore year in the SPL is proving his potential. He is only 16 and maybe that shows in what is often his biggest criticism, over-aggression and playing poorly from behind. However, this kid will make plays and often shows he has potential to be a jungler of the very top tier. He has the stat line to prove it as well averaging a very respectable 4.08 Kills/Game and 7.33 Assists. This puts him up towards the top end of Junglers in the League.

 

Soar Gaming

Andinster’s last LAN in the Jungle. Image courtesy of Esports.smitegame.com

Overview

Hailed as one of the new super-teams coming into the split, they disappointed throughout the first half. To come into the Gauntlet in second seed is a huge achievement from where they were. What should give the most hope to Soar Gaming fans is their recent 2-0 over In Memory of Gabe (IMOG). They will most likely be facing IMOG for the right to play eUnited.

The nature of their 2-0 is the real cause for hope. The first game was dominating, with a great start from Alexander ‘Homiefe’ D’Souza on Awilix. The synergy between his pulls and Andrew ‘Andinster’ Woodwards Ra snipes were breathtaking at times, most notably, wiping Eonic off the map after a beautiful blink, pull and snipe combo. They then came from behind in the second game to take the victory, showing a resilience and skill-level of a very impressive team.

Players

Is this the Andinster show? For those of us who have watched the Smite competitive scene for a long time it is hard to see it any other way. The mechanical God who has either been the best player in the world, or one of them, since Season 0 is now a mid laner! Not many of us outside the scene saw that coming.

In my opinion, Andinster has looked great in mid. Even when Soar struggled at the beginning of the season, it would have been unfair to pin that on Andinster. As I said previously, his mechanics have always been beyond impressive. This makes the switch to mid-lane more understandable. As mid can punish you and your team hardest for mechanical mistakes.

Mid can punish you and your team hardest for a mechanical mistake, simply due to how many mages have their damage stacked in their ult, as well as the prevalence for long range and line abilities. This is also shown by how often he picks Ra, which might be one of his only potential drawbacks, a possible reliance on the character. However, as always with LAN’s, there has been a break where pocket strategies and new God’s will have been practiced. Andinster could come into the LAN better than we have seen him yet. He is only going to get better the longer he plays mid.

Homiefe is a top-tier jungle. He is also one of the major reasons this squad was seen as a new super-team.  The fact Andinster was willing to step out the jungle for Homiefe illustrates this best. It is not only his team which think he is a great Jungler. Look to Kurt ‘Weak3n’ Schray who in one of his videos claims, not only will he ‘potentially’ but in fact ‘probably’ be the best ‘jungler in the game’ at some point. It’s high praise when a rival jungler claims you have the ability to be the best in the world.

What is to be expected from Homiefe? Like a lot of the best jungler’s, he likes to set the pace of the game. This is shown by his three most played gods being in order Thanatos, Thor and Awilix. Homiefe has some impressive stats. His stat line for the split is 45/35/82 (K/D/A). When we compare that to the leagues average of 41/34/79. Bear in mind, this is with 2 less games played, due to forfeit as well as a rocky start to the split for Soar.

Connor ‘Jigz’ Echolz is the captain for the team. For those who watch a lot of Twitch streams, Jigz the troll may not seem like your immediate thought for captain. However, that is ranked and this is competitive. This is a guy with a proven pedigree when it comes to a Smite brain. You only have to look to him being picked up as a coach for the old TSM roster to see that.

Jigz this season has been doing far better on the aggressive supports than the defensive ones this season. His Fafnir over five games remains unbeaten with a  KDA of 6.6. Compare that to his Geb which has yet to see a win in three games this season, averaging a KDA of 0.4. So look to Jigz to play more of that offensive style of support, on which he is having a lot of success.

Connor ‘Vetium’ Roberts is a strong ADC and like all carries will be integral to his team’s success at Gauntlet. Any of us who have played the game are aware how often it can come down to how the ADC’s perform, simply due to how much of your late game damage is focused around this role. Vetium can bring the damage. The first game against IMOG I referenced earlier in regards to Homiefe, was also a dominating performance by Vetium. He managed to pull out 21 thousand damage on Skadi. For comparison, the next closest in the game was at 11 thousand.

Oddly he has a surprisingly low number of kills per game only averaging 2.58. However, his assists are high averaging 6.33 pulling his KDA to 3.14. This puts him near the top of the pack for ADCs and is an indicator of his class. Look for Vetium to be taking advantage of pre-nerf Skadi (Gauntlet will be played patch 4.5.) While not as synonymous with Artemis as Pandacat, also look for him to pull that out at some point. He is currently undefeated over three games on Artemis with a KDA of 8.2. Considering how much pressure any Artemis is going to have focused on them, that is incredible.

Alec ‘fineokay’ Fonzo joined Soar halfway through the split. He has been very impressive since doing so. His stats speak for themselves. Fineokay has died less times than games he has played! He has the second highest assists in the league for solo lane at 9.63 a game. He is only being beaten out by the resurgent João ‘Maniakk’ Ferreira, who plays for Obey the top seed in the world right now! One of the most impressive things about fineokay is his god pool. During this split, not once has he played the same God in both games.

Towards the end of the split a definite style has emerged, with Terra being his most picked God and Guan Yu coming second. One thing worth noting is how strong he looked on the Vamana and Amaterasu as well. This shows he is not pigeon-holed as a player who can only play healers. He can be aggressive and in your face too. The healing picks are just exceptionally strong at the moment and Soar since the start of the split have prioritised having at least one, if not two healers. Those are the two God’s to look at though for fineokay as I think Soar will be looking to utilise the healing meta, as they have all split, before the nerfs of 4.6 come in to effect.

 

In Memory of Gabe

Overview

In Memory of Gabe are a bit of a dark horse when it comes to this Gauntlet. The reason for this is, they are the only team I don’t expect to make it to Masters but would not be surprised if they did. They started the split great but as their opposition got harder and other teams came into form they slowly slipped down the table. The big set for them is the Soar set. It seems obvious, but if they beat Soar they will be facing eUnited a team they split with in week six. More than that though, it at the very least guarantees them a BO1 against the EU Finals loser.

Anything can happen in a best of one, it’s a game of who blinks first. To get to that they have to go through Soar, where picks and bans will be more important than usual. Brooks ‘Cynosure’ Matty has a disgustingly good Serqet. Soar will be aware of this, especially as it relates to their healing comps and is a character which must give Ra mains nightmares. Look for Soar being tentative to pick the Ra before they see a Jungler. They may just ban out Serqet, although in the set between these teams the Hun Batz first pick for IMOG twice made this unnecessary. If I was IMOG I would be looking to bait out that Ra into Serqet. Cynosure just looks so strong on it. Combined with how eage

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r Andister has been to pick up the Ra the bait may not be impossible.

Players

Eonic is a great support. For old school Smite fans it is more than a bit nostalgic to see him back in a playing role, with his old Cog Red ADC Evan ‘Snoopy’ Jones. Eonic is one those players who brings far more than what we, the fans see. The best way to show this is by looking at just how many teams have brought Eonic on as a coach.

This is not take away from him as a player with his assists per game sitting at 9.43 and a KDA of 2.23. They are both towards the top end of the league especially when we compare him with mere mortals. We can’t all be Emil ‘Emilzy’ Nielsen with a KDA of 10 from the support role (is this kid for real!) Look for Eonic to play strong laners who are great at defending their team. Sylvanus and Khepri have worked  well for him this split and fit that mould perfectly. Do not be surprised to see him pull out a Sobek, at some point either. A God he is played for a very long time and he is very impressive on. One reason for this is that Eonic walks the line of aggression and peeling for his carries with Sobek’s myriad of crowd control better than most.

Snoopy had a rough last season. The tag line with Snoopy was always that he is the best sub to ever grace the scene and could play anywhere. Last season burst that bubble, epitomized when he and Soar parted ways, as the Snoopy Solo experiment didn’t work. This isn’t to say Snoopy can’t play other roles, It is impressive the level he displays in them. However, ADC does seem to be his best role. Despite his complaints about it.

What is he likely to pull out at Gauntlet? Like every other ADC look for a Skadi. He has also shown a very good Medusa this season winning 2/3rds of his game on it, with a KDA of 2.9. Before Jonathan ‘Marvalz’ Maher there was Snoopy when it came to Rama snipes. This season he has played it twice with no wins and a KDA of 0.1. This is not typical, fear those snipes. One final point on Snoopy is: expect the unexpected. This is the player who out of nowhere, brought out the Mercury ADC at LAN, shocking everyone.

Cynosure was a revelation to the SPL. All eyes were on the Jungler coming out of the SCL, wondering could he hack it in the SPL? Most were expecting great things. However, It wasn’t Cynosure that I was talking about just then, it was Andy ‘Elchapo’ Leon. Cynosure is the one who came good though. In every measurable statistic that matters, Cynosure comes out on top. Most notably his KDA of 3.39 more than doubling  Elchapo’s. This is not to hate on Elchapo but simply to show how impressive Cynosure has been. Stats will also be skewed based on the fact Noble have had a tough season. Not this much though. The transfer from SCL to SPL is not easy. Cynosure has made it look so.

This is an 18-year-old in his first season on PC just killing it, he will only get better. As I mentioned earlier Cynosure’s Serqet is nasty! Look for that to get pulled out at LAN especially into the opposition he will be facing. In week Six we saw a focus on Hun Batz with IMOG first picking it in both games against Soar. However that did not go too well, and the next set saw a Susano and Chang’e picked up. So there is a good chance we will see some variety in the jungle picks.

Hurriwind for so long was a nearly man. Teetering on the edge of the SPL. He was a sub for a long time and then did the rounds on some lesser teams. Thom ‘F.’ Badinger spoke on cast openly this season about how a large part of the community including himself, did not think he was good enough. That’s all changed now, which was the thrust of F.’s point. Hurriwind like all good-mid laners can hit the big-boy ult. He was showing us that particularly at the beginning of the season.

He has also expanded his god pool to include Medusa. Although as anyone who has been hit by Medusa’s abilities will tell you, she is a mage who for some reason has hunter autos. Hurriwind’s most played God’s this season are Janus, Zeus and Ra. One of those three, most likely the Janus will be picked up by Hurriwind at some point during the Gauntlet. Hurriwind has the mechanics to make Janus (the God who can walk through walls!!!) look even more broken.

Last but not least, Mark ‘Whalrus Maloney’ the solo laner. Whalrus has had a strong season, at times absolutely running away with games. He plays an aggressive style of solo lane. He enjoys lane bullies or at least has the most success on them.  This was very noticeable towards the back end of the split where he put out dominating performances on Vamana, Osiris and Thanatos. Cabrakan is a strong God right now, however it has not worked out too well for Whalrus this season. Most notably going 0/8/3 against Luminosity Gaming and picking up just one win in three games with it. Although it is worth noting that was against Luminosity and the game in question had more than one member of IMOG struggle.  Under the pressure of LAN conditions this may point towards Whalrus focusing on the Vamana, Thanatos and Osiris. As Whalrus has had serious success with those Gods, particularly the first two with respective KDA’s of 4.8 and 8.

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