Hel

Hel: The new support meta

Hel

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

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

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

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

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

What makes her good?

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

Hel

Image courtesy of Smite.Gamepedia.com

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

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

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

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Misfits and G2 face off in the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split Finals

EU LCS Summer Finals positional breakdown

Sunday, September 3, G2 will face off against Misfits for the title of Europe’s top team. The winner receives the honor of hanging their banner in the rafters, and representing Europe at Worlds as the number one seed. The loser misses out on an EU LCS title, but will still travel to China as Europe’s second seed. This best-of-five will be a battle for glory, and it is shaping up to be a showdown.

G2 finished the regular season with an 8-5 record, good enough to secure second place within Group A. Fnatic took two series off of them, while Unicorns of Love, Misfits and Roccat each took one. G2 won their quarterfinals match-up versus Splyce 3-2, much closer than fans expected. They moved on to slaughter H2K 3-0 in the semifinals. This will be G2’s fourth finals in their four splits. If they win, it will extend their reign in the EU LCS to four splits, two years straight.

Misfits actually finished the regular season with a 6-7 series record. They were able to place third in Group A, one spot below G2. Misfits’ only win over a top six team came against G2 in week three. Fnatic, H2K, Splyce and Unicorns of Love did not lose series to this team. Misfits has upset their way into the finals by skunking Unicorns of Love 3-0 in the quarterfinals, then dominating Fnatic in semifinals 3-1. This is Misfits’ first appearance in the finals in their first two EU LCS splits.

Hussain is Misfits' coach at the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Both of these teams have earned their way into the ultimate showdown by stepping up in the playoffs. G2 has had ups and downs throughout this split. They came into the summer season as heavy favorites, since they had no roster changes, and they made it into the finals of Riot’s Mid-Season Invitational.

However, G2 held a 3-3 EU LCS record going into Rift Rivals, proceeded to perform worst at Rift Rivals with a 1-5 record, then returned to Europe to close the season 5-2. These last two weeks of play have shown G2 return closer to form. They had secured wins against Splyce and H2K during the cross-group play, so G2 was not necessarily unfavored in their playoff match-ups. Splyce pushed them to the limit of their five-game series, and a successful Baron steal in game one tilted H2K beyond repair.

Youngbuck is G2's coach at the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Misfits has had a more extreme path to this summer’s finals. They came into the split surrounded by questions about their choice to replace KaKAO with Maxlore in the jungle. Misfits had finished second in Group A last spring, and finished fourth place in playoffs. This seemed to be a suitable finish for the newcomers, at the time.

Summer Split has actually been worse on paper. Misfits’ dropped to third place in Group A, finishing with a losing record. They had not beaten Unicorns of Love or Fnatic during the regular season. Misfits came into playoffs as severe underdogs, but they have silenced critics so far. This summers playoffs have shown tremendous improvement over their spring run.

In the end, someone has to lose. One of these teams will lose momentum in this final series. In the final stretch, either G2 or Misfits will slip up and create an opening for their opponent to take the series. Heading into their bout this weekend, here is how these finalists match up, lane by lane.

TOP

Expect is G2's top laner at the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

G2 Expect

KDA: 3.5, 4.9           (reg. season, playoffs)

CSD15: +5, -1

DMG%: 23.7, 20.0

KP%: 69.7, 69.7

Alphari is Misfits top laner in the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

MSF Alphari

KDA: 3.2, 9.1

CSD15: -3, +13

DMG%: 20.4, 23.8

KP%: 62.8, 70.2

Alphari has made much more tangible improvements coming into playoffs. Considering he faced off against UOL’s Vizicsacsi in quarterfinals and FNC’s Soaz in semifinals (first and third All-Pro), Alphari’s statistics are impressive. He had been much more pro-active in joining the rest of his team for fights; but, more importantly, his split-pushing has been crucial. Alphari’s strength so far during playoffs has been denying his opponent’s opportunities to join fights, pulling them into the side lane to answer his push.

Expect and G2 have had a slightly different top lane experience. In their series versus Splyce, G2 was unable to contain Wunder in the side lanes. The two top laners went back and forth with their pressure throughout five games. H2K’s Odoamne was held down, though. Expect dominated all three of those games.

Both players look comfortable on Gnar and Jarvan IV. These champions include damage and tank items, hard engage, level six power-spikes and decent wave clear for splitting. Alphari had a monster game on Rumble against UOL, while Expect has won all three of his Cho’Gath games during playoffs. On the flip side, Expect’s Renekton fell flat in game four against Splyce.

During the finals, G2 could try to corner Alphari off of Gnar and Jarvan. He has not shown a single Cho’Gath game this summer. Alphari has also shown a tendency to pull out Kennen, Camille or Kled, but he never quite played to their potential. Sure, Alphari could play Renekton or Rumble, but these picks are currently exploitable in the tankier meta.

Expect has a similar champion pool, except he has had success on the Cho’Gath pick. He is a slightly better Renekton, but a slightly worse Rumble, based on the regular season. Expect also prefers Jayce to Kennen, but did not win either of his two games. Finally, Expect’s Galio had a huge impact in G2’s game against Ninjas in Pyjamas, but that was back in June.

If Alphari is able to take a Gnar or Jarvan pick, then Misfits will have an advantage. Their playoffs have looked much more substantial than their regular season, and much of it has to do with Alphari’s denying his enemy’s ability to join skirmishes. Expect is a player who loves to move around the map to enable his carries, whereas Alphari’s teammates tend to not need him as frequently. If G2 draft the Cho’Gath, it may play right into Misfits’ current strengths, as demonstrated by Fnatic’s prioritization for Soaz last week.

JUNGLE

Trick is G2's jungler in the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

G2 Trick

KDA: 3.4, 4.8

XPD15: +465, +278

DMG%: 14.0, 14.5

KP%: 71.7, 68.9

Maxlore is Misfits' jungler in the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

MSF Maxlore

KDA: 3.7, 9.6

XPD15: -107, +194

DMG%: 14.3, 11.6

KP%: 68.0, 74.0

Misfits and G2 play somewhat differently around their junglers. Trick loves to farm. He has always had a knack for taking camps quicker and more frequently than his opponents, while his lanes remain self-sufficient. Maxlore is more likely to attempt to make an impact in his early levels by ganking.

Trick used Sejuani to full effect in G2’s win over H2K, and Jankos could not effectively answer. Maxlore had a similar effect with his Zac in Misfits’ win over UOL. Expect these two champions to be picked or banned in the finals. Trick has not looked comfortable in his four Zac games, and Maxlore lost his only regular season Sejuani game. Both junglers are willing to pull out Gragas.

Maxlore is widely considered more of a carry jungler than Trick, but do not forget that Trick was five for five on Kha’Zix during the regular season. Otherwise, Maxlore has won games on Kayn and Rengar during playoffs, so far. His most picked champion in the regular season was Lee Sin. While both of these junglers have drafted Elise when she was not banned, neither looked effective with her. Trick’s playoff Elise was game five versus Splyce, which went over 50 minutes. Maxlore ended the regular season one for three with the Spider Queen.

Over 15 EU LCS playoff games, Elise and Jarvan IV have been the most banned jungle champions (nine and five, respectively). Jarvan IV can be flexed into the top lane, which contributes to his 87 percent presence in playoffs. With these two gone, Gragas has been the most picked (11), followed by Zac (five) and Sejuani (five).

Since so many AD carries and mid laners are seeing bans, the draft may not see much jungle diversity, especially since Maxlore is not afraid to pocket pick. If Trick and his team can properly track, counter-jungle and counter-gank Maxlore, that may be a key to taking down Misfits.

MID

Perkz is G2's mid laner at the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

G2 Perkz

KDA: 4.0, 3.9

CSD15: +2, -7

DPM: 579, 663

KP%: 70.8, 71.4

PowerOfEvil is Misfits' mid laner at the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

MSF PowerOfEvil

KDA: 4.2, 12.1

CSD15: +4, +8

DPM: 622, 587

KP%: 75.5, 81.7

PowerOfEvil has had an incredible playoff performance. He has had huge impacts on every single game. Perkz was a bit shakier in G2’s series against Splyce, but completely ravaged H2K over three games. This mid lane match-up is sure to be intense.

Perkz does seem a bit more aggressive in the laning phase, which can help or hinder G2 in this series. It will depend on how well his team members support him. Champions like Cassiopeia and Leblanc are perfect for Perkz’s playstyle. PowerOfEvil feels more calculated with trades and farming, but truly shines when he can roam and support his teammates. This is one of the main reasons that Orianna is by far his best champion this summer.

These two have played a combined 17 Orianna games, averaging a 17.6 KDA. Cassiopeia has been picked eight games, banned four games, so far in playoffs (80 percent presence). Both Perkz and PowerOfEvil recently crushed UOL’s Exileh with mid lane Lucian. PowerOfEvil has a worse summer record on Syndra (three wins over eight games), but two of those wins have come in two playoff games.

Throughout playoffs, Leblanc, Cassiopeia, Lucian and Orianna have each been banned four to five times over 15 games. G2 and Misfits could try to pinch the mid lane champion pool beyond that, but they would sacrifice crucial bans for the bottom lane. There are four marksmen, four supports, two junglers and four top laners (including Galio and Jarvan) with higher ban rates than the first mid lane champion.

Therefore, this mid lane match-up will mostly come down to execution. Will Misfits give Perkz enough room to play aggressively on Cassiopeia or Leblanc? Could G2 give over PowerOfEvil’s cherished Orianna? Will either of them have the guts to draft Lucian, or will they be willing to whip out an unexpected pocket pick?

BOTTOM

Zven is G2's bottom laner in the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

G2 Zven

KDA: 5.2, 7.1

CSD15: +4, +1

DPM: 556, 659

KP%: 61.7, 71.4

Hans sama is Misfits' bottom laner at the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

MSF Hans sama

KDA: 4.3, 11.3

CSD15: -1, -2

DPM: 469, 575

KP%: 70.0, 76.0

During the regular season, this bottom lane would be a completely one-sided match-up. But this is playoffs, and Hans sama has stepped up in a major way. Almost all of his statistics have improved, mostly with respect to team fighting. Hans sama has been much less of a clean-up AD carry, but much more of a damage-per-second threat.

Zven, on the other hand, has always been a threat. During the regular season, he was named second All-Pro for his heavy damage contributions in G2’s team fights. Historically, G2’s bottom lane gained larger advantages during laning phase. But, with the current state of the meta, scaling marksmen dominate the space. Zven is happy to assume that position.

AD carry champions are receiving multiple bans every game. Kalista has been 100 percent banned (15 bans over 15 games). Tristana has been 100 percent pick or ban (10 bans and five picks). Xayah has been third priority with seven picks and three bans (67 percent presence). Both Zven and Hans sama have shown strong Tristana performances throughout the Summer Split.

Splyce and H2K targeted Zven much heavier than UOL or Fnatic pressured Hans sama in the draft phase. So far, G2’s bottom lane has locked in Ashe, Caitlyn, Varus, Tristana and Sivir over eight games. Misfits has picked Tristana three times, Xayah three times and Ashe once.

This could be a weak spot for Misfits if G2 decides to pinch the marksman role. Hans sama has not played a single game of Kog’Maw, Sivir or Twitch this summer, while Zven has shown them at various points. For example, if Kalista, Tristana, Xayah and Caitlyn are banned, and G2 picks Ashe, what would Hans sama play? Varus was his most played champion in the regular season with 11 games and a 63.6 percent win rate.

At the end of the day, the power of these two will come down to team fight execution. Do not expect Zven or Hans sama to break open some huge lead in the laning phase. It will more likely revolve around how they position with regard to enemy crowd control. With champions such as Jarvan IV, Gragas, Sejuani, Alistar, Rakan, Thresh and Elise being such high priorities, the AD carry position is a huge liability. They need to shred down tanks, kite safely and output as much damage as possible.

SUPPORT

Mithy is G2's support at the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

G2 Mithy

KDA: 5.1, 5.1

KP%: 69.2, 73.1

WPM: 1.43, 1.56

WCPM: 0.37, 0.34

Ignar is Misfits' support at the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split finals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

MSF Ignar

KDA: 3.9, 6.1

KP%: 70.0, 76.0

WPM: 1.56, 1.32

WCPM: 0.47, 0.31

The Summer Split first All-Pro support faces off against the Spring Split first All-Pro support. Ignar has had a quiet split, following his explosive performance in spring. Known for his surprise roams and play-making, Ignar has returned closer to form since Misfits entered playoffs. His Blitzcrank has earned bans, and Thresh and Rakan are among his top-picked champions.

Mithy, on the other hand, has maintained a steady presence within the EU LCS. His performances allow G2’s carries, Zven in particular, to stay safe and dish damage. For this reason, two of his most played supports are Tahm Kench and Lulu. However, Mithy has come up huge on Alistar, Trundle and Braum in playoffs. G2 was able to take down Splyce in quarterfinals off the back of an expert flank executed by Mithy.

The gameplay dynamic between these two should be interesting. Ignar may be torn between babysitting Hans sama through a tough laning phase and roaming with Maxlore to impact the map. Mithy may decide to answer the roams, leaving Zven vulnerable in the bottom lane. It will heavily depend on the drafts.

So many bans could be targeted towards carry roles that picks like Rakan, Thresh and Alistar may be left on the table. That being said, Ignar and Mithy have both shown strong recent performances on enchanter supports, such as Janna and Morgana. G2 did find more success against H2K by giving Trick and Expect the primary engage tools, while Mithy played protectors, such as Tahm Kench and Braum. However, Misfits tend to rotate their players’ roles more frequently.

This finals match-up could actually be heavily influenced by the support role. A pivotal Blitzcrank or Thresh hook, a crucial Morgana Black Shield, an Alistar Headbutt-Pulverize; any of these could be a season-winning moment. This is not just another series to put under a team’s belt. This is the 2017 EU LCS Summer Split Finals, and it could be one for the League of Legends history books.


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Player Statistics: GamesofLegends.com, OraclesElixir.com

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Trending in EU LCS: Week nine

Consistency remained in the EU LCS from week eight into week nine. Many of the draft priorities stayed at the top. Gnar, Cho’Gath, Rumble and Camille were major picks for the top lane. Junglers included Zac, Elise, Maokai, Jarvan IV and Gragas. Zoning mages, such as Taliyah, Syndra and Orianna dominate the mid lane when Leblanc is banned. Bottom lane duos continue to ban Caitlyn and Kalista, while locking in supports who possess heavy engage.

The teams more-or-less performed as expected. All but one series ended in a 2-0 victory for the team higher in the standings. Ninjas in Pyjamas secured another game win. Game one between Unicorns of Love and Splyce had a gold swing over ten thousand. Roccat blew a 3,000 gold lead against Fnatic. Otherwise, the better teams took their leads and closed out the games.

Like every week, though, there are some elements of the game that are shifting. Trending in the EU LCS is back with your weekly dose of Europe’s ups and downs on the Rift.

TRENDING UP

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the upswing after week eight of the EU LCS. They may have won a key series against a tough opponent. A teammate may have put the team on their back to keep it together. Maybe a particular champion pick was able to shine.

Xayah is trending up in EU LCS week nine

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Xayah

Caitlyn and Kalista have become pick or ban in Europe. Out of week nine’s thirteen games, these two marksmen were picked or banned in every single one. When they were both off the table, Xayah actually rose to priority. The Rebel was drafted in nine out of thirteen matches (69.2 percent), and she was banned in just one (7.7 percent). This 76.9 percent presence is even with Tristana’s, who was picked or banned in ten games.

Xayah has maintained an overall 50 percent presence in the EU LCS this Summer Split. Her ultimate, Featherstorm, is valuable in a tank-centric meta, due to her temporary invulnerability. In most cases, she is paired with a Rakan support. The tandem-released champions augment each other’s abilities, which makes them an attractive pair in the draft. In week nine, Xayah and Rakan were drafted together five times. However, EU LCS supports also chose Trundle once, Morgana twice and Thresh once with a Xayah AD carry.

Kayn is trending up in EU LCS in week nine

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Kayn

While the jungle has been dominated by tanks on patch 7.15, Kayn entered the mix more in week nine. Pridestalker had picked up The Shadow Reaper immediately after he was unlocked in competitive play. Caps tried him out in the mid lane in week eight. Kayn’s popularity continues to grow, as he was picked three times as a jungler, and banned three times last week. His presence in six out of thirteen matches equates to 46.2 percent.

Xerxe picked up a win against Splyce, while Shook went 1-1 against Misfits. Altogether, this brings Kayn’s jungle win rate to 50 percent in the EU LCS. His flexibility to choose between assassin and bruiser forms brings a level of unpredictability to the game. He can be feast or famine, though, demonstrated by an average game time of 29:32 when Kayn is in the jungle (compared to the league average of 34:10).

TRENDING DOWN

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the downswing after week eight of the EU LCS. They may have lost a series against an underdog. A teammate may have faltered over several games. Maybe the meta is shifting and a playstyle is being left in the past. These elements are downward trending in the EU LCS.

Splyce is trending down in EU LCS in week nine

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Splyce

Week nine’s 0-2 loss brings Splyce’s game record to 14-13. Of their 14 wins, only two were secured against teams above them in the standings (Unicorns of Love in week three). Game one against UOL went pretty well against last week, until Xerxe stole the Baron. Splyce had accrued up to 3,000 gold over the Unicorns by 17 minutes, but could not recover from the lost Baron.

Game two was a much more convincing loss. The team composition seemed straight-forward. Sejuani should provide the initial engage, along with a Braum ultimate, if needed. Cho’Gath layers his crowd control and nukes down a primary carry. Azir and Tristana output the damage from the back-line. However, when looking at UOL’s composition, there is not an ideal target to engage upon. Nidalee and Leblanc have dashes. Maokai and Trundle are too tanky to be popped. Xayah is briefly invulnerable with Featherstorm. The Unicorns closed it out in 34 minutes, and the kill score was only 7-2.

While they did decisively beat Mysterious Monkeys 2-0 in their series earlier in the weekend, Splyce should not be satisfied. Misfits has won three games against teams ranked above them. As of week nine, Roccat has won five games against the top four EU LCS teams. Of course, Splyce won their series against Misfits and Roccat this split. But, as far as their performance against Fnatic, G2, UOL and H2K, Splyce is on par with these teams. If Splyce want to qualify for Worlds, it will require them to play up to other top teams, particularly their Group B counterparts, UOL and H2K.

Misfits is trending down in EU LCS in week nine

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Misfits

Misfits fans are let down again, as they finish week nine with a 2-3 game score. They hardly put up a fight against a revitalized G2, then they dropped a game to Ninjas in Pyjamas later in the weekend. Misfits is put in a similar position to Splyce, as their game score this split is 14-16; they are solidly third place in their group, and only three of their game wins are off of the top four teams. With Fnatic being much more dominant in Group A this split, Misfits have slumped compared to their inauguration last spring.

As mentioned last week, Misfits’ problem is their mid-late game. Roccat have surpassed them in OraclesElixir.com’s mid-late game rating. They tend to lose leads off of poor decision-making while Baron is on the board. Only Ninjas in Pyjamas has a more dramatic falloff between comparing early game ratings and mid-late game ratings. This is particularly troubling when taking into account that UOL, Fnatic, H2K and G2 do best in the mid-late stages of the game. Just like Splyce, Misfits need to play up to the level of the top four teams if they want a shot at qualifying for Worlds.

Braum is trending down in EU LCS in week nine

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Braum

It has been a little under the radar, but Braum has been picked much less frequently so far this patch. In patch 7.14, Braum had an 84 percent pick-ban rate. So far, Braum has only seen five picks and four bans, equal to 50 percent draft presence. His priority is below Thresh, Rakan and Alistar. Most teams are prioritizing jungle, AD carry and mid lane bans, so many support players are able to take the high priorities. The flexibility of building Ancient Coin is not as attractive on this champion, which may be one of the reasons he has fallen in priority. It is fully possible that this champion will bounce back into higher priority, but week nine was a low point for him.

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Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Champion Statistics: GamesofLegends.com, OraclesElixir.com

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Cho'Gath is trending up in week seven

Trending in the EU LCS: Week seven

Week seven of the EU LCS saw patch 7.14 in full force. It was apparent that the teams were still getting a read on the meta. The drafts and gameplay were unpolished. Prioritizing power picks was different between series. How those picks were used in-game shifted throughout the weekend. Here are some elements that are currently trending in the EU LCS.

Trending Up

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the upswing after week seven of the EU LCS. They may have won a key series against a tough opponent. A teammate may have put the team on their back to keep it together. Maybe a particular champion pick was able to shine.

G2 are trending up in week seven

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

G2

G2 continues its climb in the standings with a 2-0 week seven, beating H2K and Vitality. Granted, both series ended 2-1, but wins are wins. This week moves G2 up to a 6-3 record to secure second place alone. G2 had a lead over 2,000 gold in all but one game. Even in their losses, they did not go down without a proper fight. This is a good sign for G2 fans. With these last few weeks having playoffs and Worlds implications, G2 should continue on this upward trajectory.

Cho’Gath

The Terror of the Void holds a 100 percent win rate in top, and a 60 percent win rate as a jungler in the EU LCS. Pair that with a 61 percent draft presence for top lane, and a 72 percent presence for jungle, and it is clear this champion is a high priority on 7.14. His recent buffs allow him to clear the jungle easily, while maintaining high health without directly building health items. Unless Riot nerfs this Cho’Gath soon, expect him to stay in the meta.

Maokai is trending up in week seven

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Maokai jungle

Another tank who did well in week seven, Maokai jungle has caught on in the EU LCS. Zac, Elise, Sejuani, Cho’Gath and Gragas were all prioritized higher than Maokai. However, only Kha’Zix had a higher winrate with three or more games. Maokai was picked or banned in 39 percent of games, and had a 67 percent win rate. His saplings can be a nuisance when sprinkled throughout the jungle. Maokai’s ultimate, Vengeful Maelstrom, can be a powerful initiation or disengage tool. It also aids around objectives by zoning the enemy team. Maokai has been flexed into the top lane in other regions, but not this week in the EU LCS.

“ARAM compositions”

The 7.14 meta has developed into what casters and analysts are calling “ARAM compositions.” EU LCS teams are drafting champions that will thrive in five-versus-five team-fighting environments. Tanks are becoming common in top lane, jungle and support positions. Teams generally strategize around powerful engage tools. Mid laners preferred area-of-effect mages. Caitlyn, Kalista, Varus and Tristana were the highest priority AD carries. Most wins this week came from whichever team could initiate and execute the best fights against their opponents.

Trending Down

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the downswing after week seven of the EU LCS. They may have lost a series against an underdog. A teammate may have faltered over several games. Maybe the meta is shifting and a playstyle is being left in the past. These elements are downward trending in the EU LCS.

UOL is trending down in week seven

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Unicorns of Love

Strangely enough, Unicorns of Love have not benefited from this new “ARAM” meta. They lost both series in week seven to Roccat and Fnatic. Both series were lost 2-1, which is not the worst case scenario, but the Unicorns did not look good. They opted into fights over and over without giving proper respect to their opponents. Fabian “Exileh” Schubert was an inconsistent element for the team. One game he finished 10-5-10 as Talon against Fnatic. Another game he finished 0-6-2 as Vladimir against Roccat. There was a particularly peculiar solo death under Roccat’s mid lane turret that garnered attention. With every series coming closer to playoffs and Worlds qualifications, the Unicorns will need to shore up these weaknesses.

Shen

Shen’s priority was disproportional to his impact in week seven. While he was picked and banned in 39 percent of games, he lost all three games where he was picked. Shen players seemed to fall far behind in the top lane, and then have limited utility through the end. Gnar, Jarvan IV, Cho’Gath and Renekton looked much more useful. Since the nerf to Shen’s ultimate, he seems a bit lackluster. It is much more difficult to pull off the “submarine” strategy with divers and Orianna. This pick should lose priority moving forward.

Zyra is trending down in week seven

Image from na.leagueoflegends.com

Enchanter and mage supports

With the rise of tanks comes the fall of enchanters. In 7.12, the EU LCS saw Rakan, Zyra and Lulu have decent priority and win rates. After one week of 7.14, Zyra and Lulu have fallen off. Braum has risen to number one priority (94 percent pick-ban rate). Alistar has seen some play (17 percent pick-ban rate), as well as Taric and Trundle (one game each). Moving forward, this may change as the meta takes shape. Knight’s Vow, Righteous Glory and Locket of the Iron Solari are all popular support picks right now.

Top lane Rumble

Another pick that has fallen off, Rumble was only played two games this week. In 7.12, Rumble had a 79 percent draft phase presence, highest of all top laners. This week on 7.14, he dropped to 17 percent pick-ban. Rumble is simply unable to compete with the teamfight durability of tanks or early game damage of lethality builders. He may come back into prominence as the novelty of new top lane picks wears off. It is unclear at this time. However, he was also trending down in week five, due to a low win rate.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr, LeagueofLegends.comSurrenderat20.net

Champion Statistics: GamesofLegends.com

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Jungler

Have junglers really lost out in 4.13?

Overview

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

XP Reductions

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

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

Health Increases

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

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

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

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

Bumba’s

Jungler

Image Courtesy of smitegame.com

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

Conclusion

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

 

Top image courtesy of gamemascot.com

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H2K are trending up in week six EU LCS

Trending in EU LCS: Week 6

The EU LCS returned this week after a brief hiatus to accommodate Rift Rivals. Since week five, Riot introduced patch 7.13 with several minor balance updates. Fans were able to see some adaptation in the various regional showdowns, but many European teams were able to experiment longer with the patch while Fnatic, Unicorns of Love and G2 played on the patch against representatives of the NA LCS.

Every new patch affects the meta. Every new meta affects teams’ performances. There were not too many huge shake-ups in the standings this week. However, week six does finish with some EU LCS elements trending up and others trending down.

Trending Up

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the upswing after week six of the EU LCS. They may have won a key series against a tough opponent. A teammate may have put their team on their back to keep it together. Maybe a particular champion pick was able to shine.

G2 are trending up after week six of EU LCS

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

G2

G2 bounces back from a disappointing Rift Rivals showing by defeating Splyce in a dominant 2-0. Perkz looked much more comfortable in the mid lane, ending the series with a 16-1-15 scoreline. Trick utilized Sejuani in the jungle in both games. All-in-all, G2’s wins were clean. For example, the second game was less than 24 minutes long, and the samurai accumulated a 10,000 gold advantage in that time. With Misfits’ loss to Unicorns of Love, G2 tie for second place in Group A with a 4-3 record.

H2K

H2K secured another 2-0 over a Group A team, Roccat. While the win is not unexpected, the sheer severity of Roccat’s losses show that H2K wants to be at the top of Group B at the end of the Summer Split. Game one ended in 26 minutes and game two in 21 minutes. H2K did not die a single time in game one, and only sacrificed two turrets. Roccat got five kills in game two, but only one turret. Nuclear and Chei did not die a single time over the course of the series. H2K has finished every winning series 2-0, and they have only lost games to UOL and Fnatic. They will look to solidify themselves as the third best team in Europe against G2 next week.

MM Kikis is trending up after week six of EU LCS

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

MM Kikis

Mysterious Monkeys picked up another series win this week against Roccat, but it was not pretty. Monkeys’ top laner, Kikis, came up huge in every single game to keep the team competitive. In game one it was a split-pushing Jayce. Game two was a mechanically intensive Akali, weaving between enemies, in and out of stealth. In game three it was an aggressive Renekton, finishing almost 4,000 gold over his lane opponent. While the Monkeys do not look too great as a team, Kikis is trying to be a menace in the top lane.

Cinderhulk junglers

The Enchantment: Cinderhulk jungle items were buffed because “while tanks are trying to farm Cinderhulk, everybody else around them is already farming more quickly,” according to the 7.13 patch notes. In response to this change, EU LCS junglers prioritized Gragas and Sejuani much higher than week five. Zac maintained his high ban rate, and was picked once by H2K’s Jankos. Olaf was locked in twice by Vitality’s Djoko. There were still other non-Cinderhulk junglers, such as Elise and Kha’Zix, but they were much less frequent.

Kalista ADC

The Spear of Vengeance has returned to the bottom lane in week six. While Kalista has seen a few lock-ins prior to this week, her play rate jumped this week. She was picked in seven out of 15 games, and banned in another three. This bump in pick and ban comes off the back of her strong showing at Rift Rivals, particularly the LCK-LPL-LMS showdown. Kalista enables her support to engage or disengage around her ultimate, Fate’s Call. Therefore, EU LCS bottom lanes paired her with Alistar, Rakan, Braum and Thresh. Finishing with four wins and three losses, she is not a guaranteed win, but Kalista will most likely continue to be a prioritized marksman pick.

Trending Down

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the downswing after week six of the EU LCS. They may have lost a series against an underdog. A teammate may have faltered over several games. Maybe the meta is shifting and a playstyle is being left in the past. These elements are downward trending in the EU LCS.

Splyce's bottom lane is trending down after week six EU LCS

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Splyce bottom lane

Splyce lost 0-2 to G2 in their week six series, and none of their players looked particularly strong. One part of the map that looked weaker than usual was Splyce’s bottom lane duo, Kobbe and Mikyx. They ended the series with a combined 1-17-15 record playing Kalista-Rakan and Varus-Bard. In game one, G2’s Zven got a Triple Kill before 18 minutes, which included Kobbe and Mikyx. In game two, Zven killed Mikyx around five minutes, and Perkz killed Kobbe around seven minutes to start the snowball.

Roccat

Roccat finishes week six with two series losses against H2K and Mysterious Monkeys. This is going to heavily hinder their chance to make playoffs. H2K completely demolished them in two sub-27-minute games. Roccat lost large early leads in games one and two against the Monkeys. Luckily, they were able to bring it back in game two. However, they still lost game three in convincing fashion. Roccat’s record falls to 2-6, two games ahead of Ninjas in Pyjamas and two games behind G2.

Top lane Galio is trending down in week six of EU LCS

Image from LeagueofLegends.com

Galio top

While he was not completely relegated from professional play in the EU LCS, Galio was not drafted into the top lane this week. Tanks and bruisers, such as Renekton, Jarvan IV, Kled, Jax and Gnar were prioritized more. Galio’s armor was reduced in patch 7.13, which made him particularly weak against these AD threats. He may remain as a mid lane niche pick, as he was drafted by UOL’s Exileh and NIP’s Nagne in week six.

Lee Sin jungle

Unlike Galio, Lee Sin was not targeted in patch 7.13 at all. However, Enchantment: Cinderhulk, Rek’Sai and Kha’Zix were all changed in ways that negatively impacted Lee Sin. He was picked once by H2K’s Jankos and once by MM’s Amazing. Graves and Kindred were both picked while Lee Sin was still available. Olaf and Elise were played just as many times, or more. While Lee Sin is almost always a possible pick in professional League of Legends, he seems to have taken a back seat in the EU LCS for the time being.


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Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr, LeagueofLegends.com

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TSM is trending in Rift Rivals

Trending in Rift Rivals: NA v. EU

Rift Rivals is on in full force, as regions around the world battle for bragging rights. This new international event is clashing metas against each other, to surprising effect. The Atlantic rivalry, North America versus Europe, has been particularly exciting.

There was so much speculation coming into the event, regarding which teams would be strongest, which player match-ups would be most intense and which pocket picks might be locked in. Some of this guess-work has followed through on stage, but much of it has been turned on its head. Today, we will be looking at what is trending at Rift Rivals: NA v. EU.

TRENDING UP

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the upswing since playing at Rift Rivals. They may have won a key series against a tough opponent. A teammate may have put their team on their back to keep it together. Maybe a particular champion pick was able to shine.

C9 Jensen is trending in Rift Rivals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen

Even though Cloud9 has had a 50 percent win rate after three days at Rift Rivals, their mid laner has been putting up quite a performance. Jensen has the second highest overall KDA (10.4), the second lowest overall death share (7 percent), and the highest overall gold and CS leads at 10 minutes (427, 11.3). Critics in the NA LCS suggested Jensen’s performance may be inflated due to the wide mid lane talent pool within North America. Rift Rivals just may convince them otherwise, having withstood Rasmus “Caps” Winther, Luka “Perkz” Perković and Fabian “Exileh” Schubert.

Phoenix1

Heralded by many to be the weakest team coming into the event, P1 has been rocking the house in Berlin. The orange-and-black hold a 4-2 record after three days of competition, higher than Cloud9, Unicorns of Love, Fnatic and G2. P1 has been the dominant early game by far, averaging 1,272 gold ahead at 15 minutes. Maintaining the highest kill:death ratio, 1.87, P1 is also the team going for blood. Their matches have been invigorating for NA LCS fans hoping for a strong showing.

TSM

Analysts are beginning to shed more and more of their doubts about TSM. The defending champions of North America are on a tear, currently sitting 5-1 with the best record at Rift Rivals. The decisive, coordinated playstyle that allowed TSM to dominate the NA LCS in Spring 2016 has re-surged. They are averaging 1,438 gold ahead at 15 minutes against some of Europe’s strongest contenders. The biggest difference between TSM and other teams in the tournament, however, has been their neutral objective control. At 75 percent dragon control and 80 percent Baron control, they are among the highest of all teams.

Michael “MikeYeung” Yeung

Phoenix1’s jungler is making quite a name for himself in his first international performance. MikeYeung has become a playmaker that is not afraid to aggressively invade the enemy’s jungle or contest neutral objectives. His Lee Sin is very slippery, sporting a 9.8 KDA and 100 percent win rate over three games. Rift Rivals is furthering his claim for “Rookie of the Split” in the NA LCS (even if he is the only one currently eligible).

Top lane Gnar is trending in Rift Rivals

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Top lane Gnar

Gnar has seen plenty of professional gameplay around the world since his release. However, his pick-ban rate has been low for most of 2017: 2.3 percent in spring and 5.9 percent so far this summer. Rift Rivals is seeing a resurgence of the Missing Link in the top lane. Gnar has been picked in seven games, banned in five, equaling 66.6 percent of total games. Teams have won 71.4 percent of games with the champion. This probably signals an increased priority for Gnar for the foreseeable future in NA and EU LCS.

TRENDING DOWN

These are the teams, players and gameplay factors that are on the downswing at Rift Rivals: NA v. EU. They may have lost a series against an underdog. A teammate may have faltered over several games. Maybe the meta is shifting and a playstyle is being left in the past.

Fnatic is trending in Rift Rivals

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Fnatic

Following an upward trend last week in the EU LCS, Fnatic have slipped up so far at Rift Rivals. Over two days, the number one European team is only 2-4 against TSM, C9 and P1. Doing a complete 180 from the EU LCS Summer Split so far, Fnatic are averaging 2,378 gold behind at 15 minutes, and they have only secured 10 percent of dragons. No one player can take the blame, though.

Jeon “Ray” Ji-won

Cloud9’s top laner is on the decline since competing at Rift Rivals. While Ray has not necessarily put up star performances in the NA LCS, his shortcomings are on full display at this tournament. The third lowest overall KDA (1.6), third lowest overall kill participation (50 percent), second highest overall death share (29.8 percent) and ninth overall lowest damage per minute (261). These all belong to Ray. 

Rek'Sai jungle is trending in Rift Rivals

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Rek’Sai jungle

Rek’Sai saw a sharp up-tick in gameplay last week in NA and EU LCS, since receiving a gameplay update. However, the Void Burrower has not been impactful so far at Rift Rivals. RekSai has only been picked or banned in four games, and only won one game. Zac, Elise, Gragas and Lee Sin have had significantly higher priority in drafts and performance in game.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports FlickrSurrenderat20.net

Champion Statistics: Games of Legends, Oracle’s Elixir

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Rek'Sai, the Void Burrower

Rek’Sai void rushes back into LCS

Rek’Sai, the Void Burrower, has returned to the meta within the NA and EU LCS. Junglers have begun to pick her up as an AD bruiser, following Riot’s small-scope rework. Until recently, Rek’Sai has had a firm presence in professional League of Legends over the last two and a half years.

Following Rek’Sai’s release in December 2014, teams around the world picked or banned her in over 70 percent of all games. Her overall presence dropped to around 25 percent in Spring 2016, only to bounce back up to 77 percent that summer. In Spring 2017, Rek’Sai’s pick-ban rate dropped to her lowest ever, just under 15 percent. But since Riot decided to alter her kit and balance her power, professionals have played her in 30 total games.

Eternum Rek'Sai skin splash

Image from LeagueSplash.com

Rek’Sai gameplay changes

The most extreme changes to Rek’Sai are her ultimate, Void Rush and her W, Un-burrow. Void Rush switched from a glorified teleport ability to an execute of sorts. The R now allows Rek’Sai to go unstoppable roughly one second, lunging at an enemy which she has recently attacked. This ability does attack damage based on the target’s missing health.

Rek’Sai’s Un-burrow ability no longer knocks up multiple opponents. The targeted prey is knocked up, while all surrounding enemies are slightly knocked back. These changes shift Rek’Sai’s overall gameplay from a tanky area-of-effect knock-up-bot into a single-target damage threat with execution potential. While this does not change her out-of-combat playstyle too much, it does change her impact in teamfights. Tremor Sense and Tunnels are still powerful abilities that allow Rek’Sai to see enemies effectively and exhibit pressure around the map. However, once she finds a target, she is able to output more damage than ever before.

For example, here are Rek’Sai gameplay highlights from Week 4 of the NA and EU LCS:

rek’sai’s lcs performance

Even though Rek’Sai’s pick and ban rates have increased, her win rates are still low. In NA LCS, she currently holds a 21.4 percent win rate, while in EU LCS she holds 25 percent. This puts the Void Burrower below eight to nine junglers in terms of success (with more than one game played in LCS). Players may still be learning how to effectively play her in a competitive environment.

Although most Rek’Sai players prioritize Mercury Treads for movement speed and tenacity, the rest of her build path varies between North America and Europe. In NA LCS, it has been just as common to build Skirmisher’s Sabre as building Tracker’s Knife. In EU LCS, Tracker’s Knife is almost universal. Europe also commonly builds Spirit Visage or Locket of the Iron Solari, while North America leans towards Black Cleaver and Deadman’s Plate. Tiamat into Titanic Hydra is essential on Rek’Sai in both regions.

Professional League of Legends will most likely continue to see Rek’Sai on the Rift. Despite her low win rates, junglers show a fondness for this champion. LCS players will need to continue practicing Rek’Sai in the current meta to fully develop her best strategies. Currently, her play rates and win rates do not align. Junglers should look to make her more worthwhile, or simply de-prioritize Rek’Sai in the draft.


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Other Image: LeagueSplash

Video Highlights: Game Haus Vibby

Champion Statistics: Games of Legends, Oracle’s Elixir

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Is a Lack of Class Diversity Within Roles a Bad Thing for Smite?

In the earlier seasons of Smite, we had lots of class diversity within the roles. I personally think it made for a more interesting meta and game overall. It did this through genuinely allowing for different approaches to winning, instead of different brands of similar styles. It also made the game more fun to play. Most people will main a role or a couple of roles, so getting to play different classes and play styles stopped your favoured roles from becoming stale. In recent times though this diversity has died off and left Smite worse off as far as I am concerned.

Previous Seasons

Solo lane is a prime example of a narrowing of Smite, particularly in the roles. Over the history of Smite we have seen every class be viable in the solo lane. We have seen certain players make their names from non-warrior picks in the solo lane. The best examples of this are Jarod ‘CycloneSpin’ Nguyen and Jeron ‘Xaliea’ Klaver, players who dominated at times in the SPL with Assassins. When CycloneSpin was the best player on the best team in the world, it was through playing Assassins in the solo lane.

Image courtesy of smite.gamepedia.com

We saw high-octane, high-impact Gods like the Hun Batz being played by Cyclone. It created great games to watch, with early rotations and a pseudo-jungle in the solo lane. It also made solo lane a far more interesting place to watch as there was genuine kill potential between laners instead of the solo slap-fight we have become accustomed to.

Jungle is the other major role where diversity has all but disappeared. Jungle used to be a varied role; being a jungle main, it was that aspect which drew me to it in the early days of Smite. However, now it is just Assassins and not even a particularly large pool of Assassins at that. To newer players it must seem extremely odd that I have a diamond Freya who has been played ADC a max of about 10 times. Ymir used to be a common sight hulking through the Jungle. Tyr used to be a jungler more than a solo laner. All these Gods have in their day been great junglers. At the very least, this made the role more interesting to play and far more flexible.

The reason I focus on these two roles as the epitome of role diversity is two fold. Firstly, these are the roles which lend themselves to role diversity the most. Secondly, these are the roles which allow diversity elsewhere in the team. For example, the Ymir jungle allows your solo laner to worry less about front line, or perhaps your support to consider a better laner than a CC bot.

Where We Are Now

Right now, the classes for roles are very much set in stone. The height of our role diversity is a possible Amaterasu support, a Hunter mid or a Guardian solo.

Even that though seems formulaic. We know which Hunters we are most likely to see in the mid lane, which are basically the more mage-esque Hunters. They are also not always easy to pick as it can hinder your team’s magic damage capabilities. With the lack of magic damage available in the jungle and from solo at the moment, this is a genuine concern.

The Guardian solo at the moment as well is formulaic. The only exception to this is the recent Geb pulled out by Adrian ‘Deathwalker’ Benko. This surprise pick is the exception, not the rule at the moment. It is also worth noting that Deathwalker is someone who is particularly interesting in his picks; think of his recent solo Ah Puch. Also the Guardian is played very much like the Warrior, except for favouring CC over the damage a Warrior provides.

What Created the Issue?

One of the big changes that got us here was the change in Power Pot. Being able to purchase a Power Pot at start made a lot of things more viable, especially in the jungle. It allowed weaker early game characters to improve their clear and impact, meaning they didn’t just fall too far behind to be impactful late game. A prime example of this was the Freya, who with some help from teammates and a Power Pot had manageable clear. It also allowed early game hyper-carries like the Ymir to really utilise that powerful early game. The old Ymir jungle was an example of something I saw as great game design. It was interesting having a hyper carry in the early game who could use it to get his team an advantage and then fall back into a tanky CC bot with very average damage in the late game.

Blink nerfs also reduced diversity in the jungle. Adding mobility to characters who didn’t particularly have it was huge for their viability. The two best examples of how the Blink nerfs reduced the jungle pool are Tyr and Ymir. Ymir obviously has no mobility, so that re-positioning tool for ganks was huge. However, it was just as important for Tyr because while he has his ult for engage, it is his Fearless combo that provides the gank potential.

Image Courtesy of gamerprompt.com

It was these Gods who had CC and early game damage on their primary abilities, which had their jungle viability completely nerfed with the Blink nerf. Especially as they transition into tankier roles, meaning they need to take as much advantage of the early game as possible.

Hi-Rez is also partly at fault for this homogenisation of the roles. They have a history of when a new class finds a footing or takes over a role, not buffing the traditional class but over-nerfing the invasive class. When we had Warrior support as the only support, the answer was a whole-sale nerf to the Warrior class. While Warrior’s did need a nerf, it nearly removed them from the role, and did not focus on making supports better while Warrior’s slightly weaker.

We recently started to see AD-Mages taking over the Hunter Role; again it was a group nerf to those mages. Sol has been made into pretty much a pure Mage. While it is great she has not been nerfed into oblivion, it would have been better to see her have some presence still in the Hunter role. It would be nice to see more of a meeting in the middle of buffing the weaker and nerfing the overpowered when it comes to these sorts of situations.

We have seen a lot of work on Starter Items in recent times. What I think may be missing are starter items which particularly enable multi-role lanes. The easiest example of this is that we could have multiple Bumba’s Mask’s each offering different things.

It would be interesting if Hi-Rez tried a few God releases where they specifically designed characters with role-diversity in mind. I think the community would be very interested in an Assassin designed for the solo lane, or a Guardian designed for the jungle. We have enough Gods in Smite now that they could really start to experiment, not as much hangs on every release.

Another way in which Hi-Rez could facilitate this will have to wait for Season 5. One reason the situation is how it is, comes down to the map. This is a map which has favoured the early game meta heavily. One of the reasons solo has gotten so stale and Warrior heavy is how much that lane effects jungle camps. Losing solo lane normally also means you have lost that side of your jungle. This takes XP and gold from three members of the team. In a meta about getting an early lead and holding it, that is just unacceptable.

Hi-Rez do not seem to have it as a priority at the moment. That may be a mistake, as it is something which I think improves the game from SPL to Casuals.

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The New Shifter’s Shield and Why It Is Broken!

Shifter’s Shield

Shifter’s has gone through a few changes in its long history in Smite. For a while though it has been regarded as a pretty useless item. The former theory-crafter and current Paladins designer, James ‘Krett’ Horgan, highlighted the failings of the old Shifter’s shield. He showed that Void Shield was not just better defensively but provided more damage thanks to the pen. Shifter’s shield has always tried to be a Jack of all trades. Unfortunately, the theme has always been master of none.

Stats

The new Shifter’s Shield is incredibly good. Gone are the days of being a master of none, instead it is a case of one size fits all. This is what Hi-Rez wanted. They said in the patch notes that they ‘want to highlight this aspect of the item’ (Its multi-purpose role).  The item lives up to its name now, going from a very offensive item to a strong defensive item, shifting its role to your needs. Let’s see what it does compared to other items, when it’s fulfilling either one of its roles. When it’s damage and power you are looking for, it provides 70 power. That is the third highest physical power base in the game. Only being beaten by Bloodforge at 75 power and Transcendence at 97 power (fully stacked and at level 20 on a Hou-Yi). Both these items are more expensive, considerably so at 2850 and 2600 respectively.

When we look at what it provides defensively, the numbers are great again. While above 50 percent health, the 15 of each protections it provides are a nice little boost, but nothing special. However, the 50 protections it provides while under 50 percent health is very noticeable. For comparison, a Spirit Robe only provides 40 and you would need five stacks on a Hide of the Urchin to get the same amount of protections. While I am not arguing that this makes you as survivable as a Spirit Robe due to the great passive it provides, it does show that Shifter’s does do the job rather well.

Practical Uses

Image courtesy of Smite Wiki

By amplifying the passive, the practicality of this item has gone through the roof. Who are most likely to build this item? Junglers, as we have seen in the SPL so far, this has become a staple third item for Junglers. Amplifying the passive is incredibly important, particularly for Junglers. This is the case because of how Junglers play the game. When you go in for the gank and blow your kit on whichever poor laner has attracted your ire, 70 power is incredible. However, counter-rotations are a thing you will encounter. You are also most likely an assassin, balancing that tight rope of having to be right on top of people while being squishy. So, this item allows you to gank powerfully, and then helps you get out, running away spamming the VEL’s.

An example of this is God’s like Thor. You dunk in right on everybody’s face, drop all your cooldowns with the 70 power bonus then as you get focused the 50 protections really help you either finish of a target with a few AA’s and gives you enough time to get your hammer off cooldown for the escape. Another example would be Camazotz, who is seeing a massive rise in popularity. As like Thor you have to be right in the thick of things and unless you are using your ult for escape, which is not ideal you do not have a huge amount of escape. The early protections of Shifter’s when combined with his natural sustain do give you the survivabilty required to get out after your picks. It also allows you to get the picks as your damage has not been hampered like it would normally from building early protections.

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This is not just a Jungler’s item, ADC’s and Solo’s are building it too. Most notably ADC’s, and the question is why wouldn’t they? Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar on the first day of the Summer Split showed us the Shifter’s on a Hou-Yi, and others have followed suit. It is a great power base and a much quicker power spike than the Transcendence, being cheaper and not requiring stacks. Being an ADC is like having a target on your back all the time. You spend most of the laning phase in the longest lane, often by yourself. You are also incredibly squishy, with normally one movement ability being the sum total of your survivability. The late game damage you provide also incentivises people to be gunning for your life. Be it to stop you getting to that late game, or the inability to let you free cast once it has become the late game. So, as a hunter, finally being able to build defense without sacrificing power is a dream come true.

For Solo laners, it has not been quite as prevalent as the other two primarily physical roles. However, as Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov showed in game 2 against Rival, it is a great way to capitalise on a lead. He got ahead on Sun Wukong and went into a third item Shifter’s. This made the already higher level Sun Wukong really start to swing. This showed in the amount of early kills he was getting. Let’s not forget the great synergy this item has with the Sun Wukong passive.

Another big problem Shifter’s Shield has always had is that it does not give you any pen. However, nowadays Physical pen is so much easier to build than it ever has been. From the Jungler’s viewpoint, lots of builds currently have three of the four maces being built. The Crusher, which is the one mace not being built regularly, is not an awful item either. It also bridges me to the next major role using Shifter’s, ADC’s. With Ichvial, Fatalis and Executioner being so prevalent in hunter builds as well as full access to the mace tree, they are not short of pen either. Also, the Shifter’s is mainly being built by ADC’s in the place of what would be a Transcendence. So they haven’t actually lost any pen in the build, just gained a shed-load of on demand protections.

Overall, this Item is probably a bit too strong at the moment. Also Hi-Rez has made a point of trying to create build diversity and avoid cookie cutter builds. Something Shifter’s in its current form is not doing, everyone’s buying it. It pains me to say this as someone who spends most of his time in the Jungle or in ADC, but it does need a nerf. However, I love how the item works and think it should remain in the meta. It would be a mistake to relegate it to the state of uselessness it has spent most of its life being. I think the easiest way to do this would be a slight price increase and see how that works. However, that may be enough just considering how much this item gives you.

Top Image Courtesy of Smite Wiki

 

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