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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Importance of the NRG Invitational

With the NRG Invitational beginning tomorrow, it’s time we take a look at why it’s a welcome addition to the Smite Pro League.

Breaking up the grind

Playing an esport professionally isn’t just playing games. For those who have followed the scene, you should be well aware of the amount of time SPL players spend Scrimmaging and watching VODs daily. This grind can start to take its toll on players and wear them down as the season progresses.

Now obviously players are grinding for a reason. These people dedicate so much time because they want to be the best at their craft, and ultimately walk away as a winner. That being said, sometimes losing isn’t so bad, as Kurt “Weak3n” Schray has said. Bummed out because Team Allegiance didn’t make the Summer Finals at DreamHack, Weak3n has been enjoying his time away from scrims and using it to reset for the upcoming split.

The SPL is tough because players don’t get a regular off season like football or baseball, it just isn’t plausible for the scene. Players only have a few weeks in between splits before it’s time to grind again, especially the teams who win. That’s what makes the NRG Invitational so important. It’s extra time off for some of the players, and for others, it’s a way to enjoy the game without the grind. It’s very comparable to an All Star game like in professional sports.

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Showing off the stars

As aforementioned, the NRG Invitational is just like an All Star game. The captains were picked based on the top four placed teams at the Smite World Championship, and most of the best players in the league are competing. It’s a great way to expose the stars of the league because of how jovial the LAN will be. Of course, the players still want to win, but not without having a little fun.

What is awesome about the format is that it isn’t just 5v5 conquest. The teams will be competing in four different game modes on Saturday for seeding come Sunday. First will be “Mage Madness”, which is a 5v5 standard Clash where the teams are restricted to Mages only. Next is “Three Amigos”, a 3v3 standard joust where the teams must select a Hunter, Assassin and Warrior. Third up is “Multiplicity”, a standard Assault where each team plays 5x a single God. Finally, “Pick Your Poison” is a 5v5 conquest where each team drafts their opponents’ Gods.

This format allows the fans to see the true skill of the players they’re watching. It’s fairly comparable to the Skills Competition in the National Hockey League, where the All Stars compete showing off their abilities in mini games such as Hardest Shot. This allows fans to root for seeing something amazing from any player instead of rooting simply for the team they support most. It brings a different type of fan interaction that is very much welcome in the scene.

More Smite Pro League

NRG Invitational

Photo by nrg.gg/smite

 

At the end of the day, fans are still getting what they want, and that’s some 5v5 standard SPL conquest. Sure the rosters may be a bit jumbled, but that just adds to the fun of it all. Everyone still has a favorite player or team they’ll be supporting this weekend.

What we could be getting with the NRG Invitational is important to the scene. We may end up with a small glimpse of the new Meta for the Fall Split, although that could be a stretch as players don’t really want to give up strategy. Due to players being less familiar with each other, these matches won’t be as heavily team based as true SPL matches. This will allow the raw ability to shine through as players won’t have the same type of communication they would with their own squads.

An interesting thing that could come out of this would be an improvement from North America. Again, this is a stretch, but with the NA players being on the same team as European players, it’s possible that they can pick a few things up from the comms. Most importantly, however, is that the NRG Invitational will be the last time we get to see two time Smite World Champion Peter “Dimi” Dimitrov compete this Season. NRG has replaced the Solo Laner, and we as fans are fortunate enough to have one last look at him before he steps into his new role as Coach of NRG.


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NRG Invitational draft recap

With the draft all done, and the rosters set, the NRG Invitational is looking to be a fun tournament before we get started with the Fall Split. Which of the captains drafted the best?

NRG Invitational

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Minotaurs

Craig “iRaffer” Rathbone of NRG had the first pick in the draft, and with the jungle being such an important role, who better to grab with the first pick than the king himself, Kennet “Adapting” Ros. Not only does he bring a familiarity in being Raffer’s NRG teammate, but he’s considered the best player in the world, and is known to have strong shot calling.

He stayed in Europe with his next pick, and grabbed the Dignitas mid laner in Joakim “Zyrhoes” Verngren. Raffer’s first two picks gave him a lot of strength in two very important roles in this meta. With how late games are going, Mages play a very important role. Zyrhoes also showed his dominance on The Morrigan during DreamHack, a God considered to be the best Mid Mage currently.

Forced to move to North America for his next two picks, Raffer stayed with the same squad, eUnited, taking Ben “Benji” McKinzey and Maksim “PandaCat” Yanevich. Both are very solid players that never look like they’re being outmatched in lane, and very often will win the lane.

Raffer went with power in his first two picks, and reliability with his next two. Both PandaCat and Benji can be left alone while Raffer and Adapting do their own thing and they won’t need to worry about them. The same can be said with Zyrhoes, but along with that he brings a threatening mid lane, especially when paired with Raffer and Adapting. The Minotaurs look to be a very formidable team for the NRG Invitational.

NRG Invitational

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Titans

Nathanial “Ataraxia” Mark of Obey Alliance had second pick, and went with his NRG selection, just as Raffer did. Ataraxia filled his solo lane with Peter “Dimi” Dimitrov, the now Coach of NRG. That coach aspect is important, because as Dimi hasn’t looked like he has in the past, you can’t count out his knowledge of the game, and his ability to adapt.

Ataraxia then went with long time teammate Emil “PrettyPriMe” Edstrom, in a shocking twist that nobody saw coming. But don’t get confused, this isn’t just about picking his friend. PriMe has been considered one of the best mid lane players in the world for some time now, and this pick gives the Titans an incredibly powerful duo when it comes to damage output. One that knows how to play together and can maximize damage.

Ataraxia was then forced to North America for his last two selections. His first selection was Derek “Wubbn” Gibson, which was a player that maybe wasn’t on the radar of fans. Make no mistake, Wubbn was selected for his ability to make plays out of the Support role. He’s played with Jacob “Wowy” Carter for a long time, and has a certain comfort level to not have to watch his carry as much. It’s safe to assume that Ataraxia wanted someone he knew would let him do his own thing and not stay glued to his side from not knowing each others’ tendencies.

Suharab “Mask” Askarzada was the last pick, and it was a good one. With the Titans needing a North American jungler, taking Mask, who may be the best in North America, was a no-brainer. He has a large God pool, and knows how to win because of his experience with Luminosity. The Titans ended up with three players who are going to be able to set up for their carries perfectly. Look for Ataraxia and PrettyPriMe to farm kills in these games.

NRG Invitational

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Juggernauts

John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter from Luminosity Gaming captains the Juggernauts, and had the third pick. Following the trend set before him, Barra went with yet another NRG player, mid lane Andre “Yammyn” Brannvall. Yammyn is a former World Championship MVP, and is still one of the best mid lane players in the world. Just like the Titans, this gives the Juggernauts a powerful damage dealing duo.

Next Barra went tried and true and took Rosario “Jeff Hindla” Vilardi, his long time lane partner with Luminosity. Familiarity will play a role with the NRG Invitational, and who’s more familiar with Barra than Jeff? Jeff is one of the most selfless supports out there, and is always willing to sacrifice himself for the team.

Barra’s next two picks were from the same team as well. Anders “QvoFred” Korsbo and Harry “Variety” Cumming both found their way onto the Juggernauts from Team Dignitas. Qvo is fresh off being the DreamHack MVP, and Variety is considered one of, if not the top solo laner in the world. Having these two players together isn’t something any of the other teams can match.

The Juggernauts should have the least amount of communication issues out of everyone. Jeff and Barra hold down their lane, Variety calls Qvo when he needs him, and Yammyn just blows people up in mid lane. This is a team that if put together in the SPL would have a legit shot at winning worlds.

NRG Invitational

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Manticores

Rounding things out is Maxwell “Aror” Jackson from Team AI. With the fourth pick, Aror was “stuck” with reigning World Championship MVP Emil “emilitoo” Starnman. Getting Emil gives the Manticores a very aggressive duo lane, one that should be very exciting to watch early game.

For Aror’s second round pick he went with Benjamin “CaptainTwig” Knight, an aggressive jungler who is hard to control when he gets going. He was the Spring Split Masters LAN MVP, and is one of the top junglers in the world. He brings a diverse God pool, dipping into warriors like Ravana and Odin.

Aror’s last two picks stayed in North America. First he went with the same familiarity we saw out of all the other teams, and grabbed AI teammate Jeremy “TheBest” Dailey for the mid lane. Each team went with players they were comfortable with, so this is no different for the Manticores. Next Aror took Ismael “KikiSoCheeky” Torres from Trifecta, who had an outstanding DreamHack, and showed he’s one of the best Solo laners in North America.

The Manticores were the only team that went with three players from North America, trying to prove that NA can still compete.


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NRG Invitational

A mock draft for the NRG Invitational

The Summer Split just ended with Team Dignitas taking the DreamHack Valencia final. The fall split won’t start until September, but to kill time we have the NRG Invitational.

This is a tournament sponsored by NRG Esports, where the captains of the top four teams at the 2017 Smite World Championship draft a team from the rest of the pro players. Craig “iRaffer” Rathbone of NRG, Nathaniel “Ataraxia” Mark of Obey Alliance, John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter of Luminosity, and Maxwell “Aror” Jackson of AI (given team control when Zapman left) will serve as captains.

This is a mock draft of how I believe the players will be selected based on their performances during the Spring and Summer splits. This mock draft will reflect the players most deserving of the spots, instead of players being drafted because they’re friends with the captains. Assuming this will be a snake draft based on placement at SWC, the draft order would be as follows:

Round 1: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer

Round 2: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror

Round 3: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer

Round 4: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror

The rest of the rules are as follows:

NRG Invitational

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Round 1

Aror

With the first pick in the draft, it’s safe to assume the best player in the world would go first. There’s been a lot of argument as to who that may be as of late, but Kennet “Adapting” Ros has long held the title of King and will likely go here, to the surprise of nobody.

BaRRaCCuDDa

Following suit, typically the next best player available would go here, as nobody is trying to fill any holes in their team at this point. It’s hard to say that Anders “QvoFred” Korsbo isn’t the next best player available. In fact, if he were to go ahead of Adapting, it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Ataraxia

The first two picks being junglers may force the hand of Ataraxia here. With the talent pool of junglers dwindling, it may be too much for him to pass up on his teammate Benjamin “CaptainTwig” Knight, but that would fill his team up of players from Obey, meaning he couldn’t pick any more of his teammates.

iRaffer

With nobody else needing a jungle player, Raffer is free to wait until his last pick to select one. He’s now allowed to start picking from any role he likes. With the way he performed at DreamHack, Adrian “Deathwalker” Benko solidified himself as one of the best players in not just his role, but in the world.

Round 2

iRaffer

Having back to back picks in a snake draft is really good. Raffer can end up with both players he was looking at selecting now, and not have to worry about them being sniped. Raffer’s squad needs a hard carry, and who better than his long time lane partner Emil “Emilitoo” Starnman. Both of Raffer’s next picks would need to be North American players.

Ataraxia

With the way the rules are, Ataraxia would need to pick a player from NRG, and with three already off the board, that leaves just Andre “Yammyn” Brannvall and Peter “Dimi” Dimitrov. They play for NRG, and they’re both really good players. Ataraxia is going with Yammyn here because nobody wants to face Yammyn. Just like Raffer, Ataraxia will need to fill the rest of his team with players from North America.

BaRRaCCuDDa

With the previous pick, Barra now would only have mid lane and support open. It would be pretty difficult to pass on a player like Emil “PrettyPriMe” Edstrom in this situation. This would make it so Barra’s support had to be from North America.

Aror

With Aror having the turn picks with two in a row here, he should take the best player available. That would likely be Harry “Variety” Cumming from Team Dignitas, who is one of the top two solo laners in the world, so it’s best to take him before someone else can.

Round 3

Aror

Aror’s squad is now missing the top damage dealing roles, ADC and mid. He’ll need to take at least one North American player with his last two picks, so best to do it here and take the best available. Andrew “andinster” Woodward was the best performing mid laner in North America this split, so it makes sense for Aror to take him here.

BaRRaCCuDDa

Barra is forced to take an NA support here, or take Dimi. He might as well grab a support so Ataraxia doesn’t take him away. The likely pick would be Connor “Jigz” Echols. Sorry sextank fans.

Ataraxia

Ataraxia needs an NA support, and an NA solo. Alec “fineokay” Fonzo is a top performing rookie in the SPL, and would be well deserving of this selection

iRaffer

Raffer now gets to finish his team first. It doesn’t matter which role he decides to take here, so best available North American player for jungle goes to Alexander “Homiefe” D’Souza. His performance during the Summer Split showed he was deserving of this spot.

Round 4

iRaffer

Raffer would then close it out with the best available North American mid laner. At this point, it’s kind of a toss up, but Tyler “Hurriwind” Whitney had a good Summer Split and made it to DreamHack. He would fit well here.

Ataraxia

The best available NA support would likely go to Rosario “Jeff Hindla” Vilardi with Sinjin “Eonic” Thorpe leaving the scene.

BaRRaCCuDDa

Barra is “forced” to take Dimi with this pick. Best forced pick ever.

Aror

Aror rounds things out needing an ADC. Kenny “Arkkyl” Kuska is the best available hunter remaining and would round out Aror’s team nicely.

 

This is a mock draft. I could have every team completely wrong, but if I were doing the picks, this is how I’d do it. The draft is Wednesday, July 26th so tune in!


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios