Takeaways from day one of DreamHack

Europe is better than North America

Ok yes, we already knew European teams dominate, but they’re all pro players. You have to give them the benefit of the doubt coming into the LAN that they’ll at least be able to compete. Well, maybe from now on we won’t be doing that. Apart from Trifecta, who lost a heartbreaking game two versus NRG (I think. RIP stream) none of the other two North American squads even put up a fight.

Games one and two between Trifecta and NRG were exactly what fans of the SPL were hoping for. Trifecta put on a show in the first game and was able to take it from the defending world champs. Then NRG showed why they’re so good, and climbed back from a 15k gold deficit to win game two and force a third game. This is where Europe began to steamroll the North American squads.

In seven total games played between the regions, NA won one time. Spacestation Gaming, the team that most people pegged as the saviors for NA, dropped their first two games relatively easily against the 7th seeded Team Rival. Not exactly what you would expect out of the top NA team. Then Luminosity gaming followed up with a disappointing performance of their own, although they were playing Obey, so any team could lose 2-0 here and we wouldn’t be terribly surprised.

Takeaways

Photo by www.smitefire.com

Resurgence of Odin

Odin hasn’t been a top pick in current meta. Osiris, one of the most popular gods, has a passive that completely counters Odin’s ult. That didn’t stop Ismael “KikiSoCheeky” Torres from locking in the Odin directly against the Osiris. And then he proceeded to be the biggest pain in the neck to the squad of NRG. Kiki was on the Odin in both games one and two, where he posted a slash line of 5/0/16 and 5/2/14 respectively. This led to NRG banning the Odin away in game three.

Team Rival then banned Odin away from Spacestation Gaming in game one of their set before their jungler, Aleksandar “IceIceBaby” Zahariev, pulled it out in game two. He completely controlled the jungle, dominating on the warrior for a 7/2/4 slash line, leading his team to a round one victory. The next we saw of the Odin jungle was the very next game, where Benjamin “CaptainTwig” Knight, of Obey Alliance, showed his prowess on the God, putting up a 5/1/13 score, prompting Luminosity to ban it away in the second game.

Odin brings a lot of early game aggression to the table, and that momentum can be carried late into the game in this meta. That coupled with his ultimate, which forces the enemy team to get the Phantom Veil Relic in place of something else, really shows why Odin can be a force. We also saw his ultimate used as a disengage both offensively and defensively, both for escapes and protecting objectives on the map.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

 

SPL game of the week: Obey Alliance vs Team Dignitas

Context

Obey Alliance vs Team Dignitas was the last set of the Spring Split. Both teams fought their way through Smite Masters and proved themselves to be the best two teams in Smite for the Spring Split. So, it seems rather fitting that they will end the online stage of the Summer Split for EU. It is also great to have the EU online portion end with such a great set, as well as being the game of the week

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

Things have changed though since the Smite Masters Grand Finals; it seems as if these teams have switched fortunes. The Spring Split was the Obey Alliance show, no doubt. They dominated the online stages and carried that form through to the offline stage. However, this Split their results have been a bit disappointing. I want to stress that they have only been disappointing when compared to the incredibly high bar they set last Split. Also I think it is hard to say that Obey are still not playing great Smite, but maybe the other teams have taken a step forward.

NRG are performing closer to the standard we have come to expect. Let’s not forget either that Dignitas now has a Split under their belt and will obviously have improved as a team. Everyone in Europe has improved though, seeds one through five are probably expected to split with each other now. As well as this Split some dead-weight from the EU has been shed and the new blood of The Papis and Burrito Esports have shown they are more than capable of an upset.

Dignitas have taken Obey’s spot on top of the perch. They are starting to show that for once, the tag ‘Super-team’ is not a curse, nor irrelevant. They are currently 5/1/0 in the standings, setting themselves apart from the pack, four points in front of their nearest contenders. This guarantees them first seed going into DreamHack Valencia, something which must feel great. Especially for the European players, it will be the first time in a long time they will be competing on home soil at a LAN. However, don’t expect them to take it easy on Obey because of this, they will want to maintain not having lost a set this split. As well as the fact that beating what is going to be one of your biggest rivals at DreamHack is a huge momentum boost.

Obey will be fighting tooth and nail for the set victory this weekend. The momentum boost of taking down one of your biggest rivals is huge. What is more important though is that they are still in a scrap for seeding. By the end of this weekend, Obey could end up anywhere from second to fourth. Do not underestimate the value of seeding, as any Esports fan can tell you many tournaments have been won through favourable brackets. For more information on all the permutations of the EU standings, look no further, TGH has you covered http://thegamehaus.com/2017/06/20/going-dreamhack-valencia-eu-standings-end/

Predictions and contested picks

The mid lane is going to be hotly contested for picks. For Dignitas, Joakim ‘Zyrhoes’ Verngren Sol is a very important pick. Sol has taken the mid lane by storm and become an important pick in any draft, but Zyrhoes was one of the people who pioneered the Sol pick. If this gets through the banning phase, look for Dignitas to pick it up at the first opportunity. However, I would not expect to get through the banning phase. If this happens, things get more interesting for the mid lane.

 

Image courtesy of pcgamesn.com

They get more interesting because all of a sudden The Morrigan comes into focus. This has been a fall back for Zyrhoes in recent times, something Dig prioritises highly. To show how much they prioritise it, in their last set against Burrito Esports when the Sol got banned, they first picked The Morrigan. Emil ‘PrettyPrime’ Edstrom also prioritises it, as their last set he played The Morrigan both games, as well as numerous times before this Split.

Ne Zha has come back into the meta, with a lot of SPL junglers picking him up. Benjamin ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight has always played the Ne Zha and has taken full advantage of his return to the meta. He does not just play the Ne Zha a lot, he plays it very well. Obey Alliance as a whole play around the Ne Zha well though, as he is one of those picks that requires coordination with your teammates. He also recently picked up Sun Wu Kong in the jungle, so that is a possible pick out of left field.

Another potentially interesting pick when these two teams meet comes from the Hunter role. Jing Wei is creeping back into meta and is a God that both Kenny ‘Arkkyl’ Kuska and Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark have been picking occasionally. This is not going to be as contested as The Morrigan in mid as both these hunters have played a lot of God’s recently and there are probably more top tier ADC’s at the moment. It is something we could potentially see though.

These are two incredibly evenly matched teams, with a ton of skill and experience on both sides. If I were to call it, I’d say it’s probably a split with perhaps Dignitas on recent form just edging it out.

Top image courtesy of http://team-dignitas.net

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3 takeaways from the SPL Summer Split before DreamHack

There’s only a week left in the SPL before we know all the teams qualified for DreamHack. We’ve seen a lot of good Smite played, but here are a few things we’ve learned:

Europe keeps getting better

During the Spring Split, we saw the dominance of Obey Alliance. They stepped up and became Europe’s best team, followed closely by NRG and Dignitas. This split, we have seen Dignitas take the lead in the standings, and not only be the first team to qualify for DreamHack, but already clinch the 1st seed out of Europe. We’ve also seen NRG split with the mighty Dignitas squad, and Obey alliance split with NRG. Rival has continued to show they’re a top team in the world and have pulled a split with Obey themselves.

Not only have the top teams performed, we’ve seen the bottom teams show they’re capable as well. Eanix have put themselves in a decent position, with a chance to make DreamHack if they can pull off a 2-0 against NRG and if Elevate manages to split with Rival. Elevate, despite losing their star jungler, has shown that they’re still not a push over and are capable themselves. Burrito, having lost all 6 sets they’ve played, has still shown that the ability is there for them. They’ve taken a lead against many of the EU teams at some point, and with more SPL experience, can learn to hold and grow that lead into wins.

The most intriguing thing in EU right now just may be The Papis. After trying for so long to break into the SPL, they’ve finally done it and have shown they deserve to be there. Not quite with their record, but with some of their performances. Typically you’ll see the bottom two teams only pull points off each other out of Europe, but not for The Papis. They’ve taken splits from Elevate, as well as Rival, a team looking poised to make a run into DreamHack. With some more SPL experience, The Papis may be the new EU powerhouse.

North America is still a mess

I mean that in the best possible way: North American is still a mess. Coming into Sunday of Week 4, there was a grand total of zero teams qualified for DreamHack. After Sunday, there are still zero teams qualified. Without comparing them directly to EU, it shows just how deep the talent pool in North America is. Anybody could show up and beat anybody on a daily basis. It’s good for competition, and it’s good for the SPL.

Luminosity gaming started the split appearing to be the lone team on top of North America, but as of late the rest of the pack has caught up. After Luminosity there’s four strong teams with Allegiance, Spacestation, Trifecta, and eUnited all fighting for the three DreamHack spots. Each team has had their moment of pure dominance during the Spring Split, and each team has looked like the best team in NA. Week 5 is going to be insane and with five teams fighting for the three spots, we’re in for a show.

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

The production of the streams has improved

It’s not directly related to the players or teams, but it’s still important if the SPL wants to compete with the big esports. I wrote an article a little while back, detailing how Thursday Night Smite could be a big deal for the SPL. Whether or not Hi-Rez saw it, or at least saw the feedback from it, they’ve improved in areas they needed to.

They have increased coverage of the games when the time allows it, going into detail on player match ups and lane match ups. They’ve focused on recapping the game, and taking a look at where some things went wrong or right for teams, as well as in depth analysis of picks and bans both before and after games. Hi-Rez has always done well with interviewing players after games, but they’ve seemed to even improve on that.

The Summer Split has been a lot of fun for SPL fans, and Week 5 is going to be crazy. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out before we head to DreamHack.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

The EU SPL Games to Watch Out For This Week

Overview

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

NRG VS Obey

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

NRG

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

Image Courtesy of esportsedition.com

 

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

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

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

Obey

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

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

Image courtesy of Smite.esportswikis.com

 

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

Predictions

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

 

Eanix VS Team Dignitas

Eanix

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

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

Image courtesy of Eanix.gg

 

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

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

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

 

Team Dignitas

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

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

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

 

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

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

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

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

 

Prediction

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

Summary

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

 

Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

 

Interview with Masters Champion Ataraxia

A quick introduction to Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark.

He is a two-time SWC runner-up, winner of the Masters LAN, captain of what is currently the best team in the world Obey Alliance, winner of the 2014 EU regional championship, creator of the famed Unicorn Build of old, the 2nd highest esports earner from the UK (no points for guessing who is in first) and long-standing veteran of the Smite competitive scene.

If you want to learn more about Smite and its competitive scene, Ataraxia is the sort of person you should be listening to!


On top of the recent success you have been seeing as a team, you must be very happy with your own personal performances. Over the Spring Split you have the highest K/D, KDA and GPM, What more could an ADC want? You are now pushing for the title of best player in the world. What would you attribute that too? Do you think that you have progressed in any significant way, or is it more that your current team gives you a platform to produce these performances?

I don’t think I’ve really changed. I’d say I’m less anxious about what people think of me, what I build and how good of a player they actually think I am. I don’t think many viewers, or pros, actually rate me that highly and that’s something that I used to fight against and get upset about. I like to think I’ve overcome that now; I don’t need other people to validate me when we’ve been performing as we have, as well as myself being personally relevant in the scene for such a long time.

More than that, though, I think it’s always been the team that’s made me look good. Prime, Twig, Variety and Frezzyy have been making me look good since S3 and now I have maniaKK and EmilZy making me look even better!

Worlds is what everyone always has one eye on. As great as the success Obey as a team has seen so far, I assume you have a focus on making sure you are the best team in the world going into Worlds. How do you hope to achieve this?

The hope is to keep on doing what we’re doing. We’re meshing really well as a team and I’m confident we’ll only grow stronger as the season goes on. We all get along better than any team I’ve been a part of before, and everyone is always keen to test their ingenuity as the game is updated. So long as we keep that fire and passion we have, I think we’ll be well on our way to becoming one of the top teams in the world.

When talking to Hi-Rez at one of the recent LANs you said if you were to win Worlds it would be down to Emilzy. His stats speak for themselves – from the Spring Split he had highest assists, but more impressively for a support, he had 3rd highest KDA and 9th highest GPM. He is quite clearly putting in great performances, as someone tagged as a cerebral player, what does he give outside the game on top of his great in game performance?

EmilZy brings a ton of energy to the team for sure. He’s the youngest player on the squad by a fair bit and he definitely brings that youthful enthusiasm. I think it’s such an underrated feature that a lot of teams lack, but EmilZy is genuinely excited by the game and loves it a lot. He’ll talk about stuff that happens in the SPL, LAN or scrims days afterward because they were awesome moments. A lot of people get disillusioned with a game after they spend so much time playing it, but I’m glad EmilZy isn’t one of those players because it’s something that makes us all better as a result.

We have seen a lot of criticism recently of Season 4 from the community. I will admit having played from beta at the start of the season I was just happy for some genuine change, although the priority on pressure and early snowballing is starting to grate a tad. We have seen the removal rituals (rightly so), we have had complaints about the map and we are seeing adjustments to experience thresholds in early levels. Overall what are your feelings on Season 4 and do you think these changes will be an improvement to the game state?

Like you, I’ve always loved change for the game; playing the same thing for so long definitely gets stale and I’m glad that Ajax and the rest of the design team aren’t afraid to try new things and test the waters, regardless of how much the community moans. It keeps the game fresh, it keeps the game growing and most importantly it IS making the game better. I’ve really enjoyed Season 4 so far through its highs and lows, and I’ve had a ton of fun playing it. Maybe it’s because of the roster we have now and the fact that we’re doing so well, or maybe it is just the state of the game. Either way I’m having a blast.

With that said, I am very excited for the changes that are rumoured for Season 5, with a map overhaul and what not. I think it’s going to be the season that really shows the vision Ajax and the rest have for Smite and I can’t wait to see it. Should be extremely spicy!

As a follow-up, in what ways would you like to improve Smite in its current form? This does not have to be minor changes, it could be drastic changes you hope to see in Season 5.

I think map changes are something I’m keen to see. Snowball and pressure have been essential to competitive Smite for as long as I’ve been playing, and while they should be important I do feel like comeback mechanics are lacking right now. I think currently if you win a teamfight, then you usually swing a lead big enough that unless you and your team seriously cock up, it’s insurmountable. To counter that, I’d like the number of things you can do off a won teamfight to be lower, at least in the early to mid game. A teamfight won right now usually means you snag all the contestable objectives on the map and/or enough towers. Perhaps making objectives harder to kill, towers harder to kill or much shorter respawn timers for levels 5-16 would be a suitable way to counter it.

That’s all off the top of my head though, honestly so long as the game keeps changing I don’t mind where they take it!

As captain of Obey, what extra responsibility does that put on your shoulders? To those of us not playing competitively, it can be hard to understand exactly what the role of captain of an esports team is.

There’s not much, really. I think a lot of teams bring their own definitions to ‘captain’. Personally, I just try and keep the team focused. If we’re going on a tangent with picks, then I try to get us coordinated. If we’re getting too flustered in game, I try to direct the flow of the game. These aren’t things that are unique to captains though, and I’m definitely not the only person on the team who does it. All in all, it’s really hard to quantify what it means. You’d probably get a better answer from a non-captain team member!

Not focused on Smite in particular but on esports as a whole, how sustainable do you see esports as a career? It requires dedication, skill and a lot of time to be an esports pro. In its current state, the exclusivity and effort required to make it to the top, combined with the lack of longevity, does not seem to have the economic rewards those economic factors would normally provide. As well, eo you think in general enough is done by the companies and organisations who profit from esports to make it sustainable for players?

I think if you go into esports, you’re almost certainly doing it for the passion, not necessarily for the economic reward. Personally, the money is a means that allows me to keep doing my dream job, which is competing in a video game. Any extra I make is obviously fantastic, but after this is all over for me, I’m under no illusion that I’ll probably be in a less than ideal situation job prospect wise.

That’s something I’ve made my peace with, and I fully understand that it’s my fault. I COULD stream, I COULD produce videos and I COULD go the extra mile to ensure job viability after I’m done playing.

In the end, I think it’s up to players to decide how much they get out this. There’s a lot of room for players to make this a sustainable income for themselves if they’re willing to put the work in!

To end, I would just like to say good luck in the rest of the season, hope you win Worlds, would be great to see another Brit lifting the hammer!


Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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Smite Pro League: Masters LAN Review

The Smite Masters LAN was yet another successful tournament for the Smite Pro League. Before the LAN, I posed some questions and pointed out a few things to watch for during the LAN. With the way things played out, we received our answers and they’ve left us with some interesting thoughts for the upcoming Summer Split.

Which Favorite Will be the First to Fall?

Team Eager and Obey Alliance were the top seeds coming into the Masters LAN. Based on the way the seeding worked out, the team most likely to fall first was Obey Alliance.

They got matched up with NRG Esports in their first set, and that was followed with Team Rival. Both of these sets were taken to the final game, one best of three, the other best of five, with Obey miraculously coming out on top.

Eager had the easier road. They wound up facing the team from Brazil, Black Dragons, in their first set. This was one that everyone had going to Eager in a 2-0 sweep. Black Dragons showed that the other countries aren’t as far off of NA as we thought, and that they should be taken seriously. The wound up pushing Eager to the limit and forced a game three before ultimately falling to the NA champs.

The next set for Eager also took three games, just maybe not the way they wanted. Their next matchup was with Team Dignitas from EU, in a best of five with the winner going to the Masters Final. Eager put Cody “djpernicus” Tyson on Guan Yu in the jungle for the first two games, and it resulted in an embarrassing exit for the favorites out of North America.

Will NRG Bounce Back?

The short answer is, well, no. Technically they were out in the best of eight round and accomplished nothing.

The long answer is they never really went anywhere to begin with. They played the LG Dire Wolves from the Oceania Pro League in their first set, a best of three. The first game was a shocker for most people watching. The Dire Wolves came to the 2017 Smite World Championship and laid an egg. They didn’t really impress anyone and walked away without a win. So with them facing NRG in their first set, we expected more of the same. What we got was a very close first game, with it looking like DW had a shot of toppling the World Champions. That didn’t happen, however, and NRG asserted their dominance in the second game without having a single death.

NRG’s second set was a rematch of the 2017 World Championship vs Obey Alliance. This was one of the best sets from the weekend and featured a game one where NRG looked like they were going to completely stomp anyone they were up against. NRG unfortunately dropped games two and three and were out of the tournament on just the second day, but we found our answer as to whether NRG had gotten worse or not: Everyone from EU has just gotten that much better and are able to compete with anyone they’re up against. Which leads us to our next question.

Photo By: Hi-Rez Studios

Who Will Win the Region War?

EU. I don’t even know what else to say about this. North America was completely dominated by the teams from Europe to the point where it was a meme for the rest of the weekend.

Team Rival’s win at the Gauntlet was not a fluke, these guys are the real deal. Team Dignitas are absolutely the “Super Team” that they were supposed to be when their roster was announced. Obey Alliance has taken over as the number one team in not just Europe, but the world. And let’s not forget NRG Esports, who could have gone just as far in the tournament as any of the other teams had they not been matched up with the champs in their second set.

What we learned from this is that NA has some work to do. EU appeared to be a step ahead of all the teams from NA with everything from Picks and Bans, to objective control. North America was embarrassed, plain and simple. Hopefully for the sake of the rivalry they can pick things up for the upcoming Summer Split, and put on a strong performance at Dreamhack.


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Featured Photo By: Obey Alliance

Smite Pro League: Smite Masters LAN Preview

With the Gauntlet behind us, it’s now time for the LAN everyone is waiting for: Smite Masters.

Coming into Masters, we all probably thought we had a good idea of what was going to happen. The Gauntlet taught us a few things that we weren’t prepared for. On top of that, there are a few teams coming to Masters that maybe not too many Smite fans know about.

The teams participating in Smite Masters are as follows:

  1. Obey Alliance
  2. Team Eager
  3. Team Dignitas
  4. Luminosity Gaming
  5. Team Rival
  6. SoaR Gaming
  7. Isurus Gaming/Valorous Team (Winner of match at 11am Thursday, April 27th)
  8. NRG Esports
  9. LG Dire Wolves
  10. Black Dragons

Smite Masters will start Thursday, April 27th at 11 AM EST with the two LatAm finalists fighting for the 7th seed. This will be a best-of-5 match. Then, NRG Esports will play LG Dire Wolves, followed by the LatAm winner facing Black Dragons in a best-of-3 format. These matches will determine top 8, and will set the stage for the rest of the weekend. There will then be four best-of-3 Quarterfinal matches played Friday. The winners will move on to the Semifinals on Saturday which will be best-of-5, followed by Finals on Sunday. Each day will begin at 11 AM EST.

Photo Courtesy of Hi-Rez

What to Watch For:

Which Favorite Will be the First to Fall?

Team Eager and Obey Alliance are the two favorites for Smite Masters, and for good reason. Both put on a show in the Spring Split, finishing first in NA and EU respectively. Obey’s first game will be against NRG. Way back in week one, Obey shocked the Smite world and beat NRG 2-0. Before you would say Obey is unlucky to end up with NRG in their first match, realize it’s the other way around.

Eager, on the other hand, will end up with the LatAm winner, or the Black Dragons. This game is likely going to be a stomp no matter who they face. Eager will then be matched up with either Soar or Dignitas. Both of whom will be tough matches, but both winnable for the NA squad.

If Eager and Obey both make it to the finals, then you can’t really say that either team failed, now can you?

Will NRG bounce back?

A big question on the minds of every Smite fan, and most likely every player, is which NRG team will show up? Will it be the two-time defending World Champions, or will it be the team that finished 3rd at the Gauntlet? Personally, my money is on the World Champs showing up and taking care of business.

NRG showed in the Wild Card game that they’re still a force to be reckoned with. Sure their recent performances have shown a chip in the armor, but don’t sleep on NRG. Their first match is against LG Dire Wolves, a team that went unbeaten in the Oceania Pro League. They were underwhelming at the Season 3 World Championship, and will likely be a pretty easy warmup game for NRG.

The big test will be the next round against Obey Alliance, a rematch of the 2017 Smite World Championship. This is a set to be on the lookout for, and you can expect NRG to want to take the title of top EU team back.

Who Will Win the Region War?

Will it be EU, or will it be NA? There is an opportunity, again if the seeding holds true, for three NA or three EU teams to move on to the Semifinals. We could also end up with two EU and two NA, both on opposite sides of the bracket. This means that the Finals could end up being EU versus EU or NA versus NA. So what will it be?

Based on the recent performances from the EU teams, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see three EU teams.

For NA however, it’s a bit of a tougher road. Eager should be fine, but Luminosity will have to play Team Rival, who put on a show at the Spring Gauntlet. SoaR will have to play Team Dignitas, and after their match against Team Rival, they’ll have their work cut out for them. The EU versus NA rivalry is fun, so whatever happens, it’ll be sure to be exciting.

Photo Courtesy of smitecentral.com

Gods to Look Out For

The Spring Gauntlet gave everyone a good look at the meta that will be played at the Masters LAN. We saw the rise and fall of a few picks, and we’ll see more of the same this weekend. Last time I took a look at the Gods we’re likely to see, I called out Ah Puch. I’m not going to make that mistake again, thanks Deathwalker.

Solo:

Bellona is back! Expect to see a lot of her, along with Osiris and Herc. Every Warrior was played at the Gauntlet, with the exception of Sun Wukong. When it comes to the short lane, your guess is as good as mine. Terra, Cabrakan, and Sobek could also see some time there as well.

Jungle:

Lots and lots of Susano. Bans. With how he performed at the Gauntlet, teams should be banning out the mobile Jungler unless they have first pick. Hun Batz saw his stock fall a bit, but not enough that he won’t be played. Surprisingly, Ratatoskr wasn’t played at the Gauntlet, but he’s still a strong pick, so if someone is feeling Rat he’ll get played. Cabrakan is still really strong, and Cody “djpernicus” Tyson from Team Eager is here, so you know you’ll see Chang’e jungle.

Mid:

Thoth performed very well at the Gauntlet, and he will likely be just as strong this weekend. He’ll be joined by the old standby Gods like Zues, Ra, and Janus. Poseidon has dominated in Season 4 as well. Mid lane Hunters are also a possibility with the prospect of Magical Junglers so be on the lookout for that.

Support:

Fafnir was a strong pick up for teams at the Gauntlet. Sylvanus and Khepri were obvious choices as well. There will be more of the same played this weekend at Masters. These Gods all have the ability to separate players in a teamfight, and each has great support abilities for their team. Expect to see some of the Guardians mentioned for the Solo lane in Support as well, just to get them on the team.

Carry:

Any Hunters truthfully. Cupid, Rama, Medusa, Skadi, Hou Yi, and Anhur are all really strong picks. We saw Ah Muzen Cab and Chiron at the Gauntlet. Honestly, any of these Gods shouldn’t surprise anyone when they’re locked in.

Photo Courtesy of Hi-Rez

Smite Masters Predictions

There are a lot of good teams playing in the LAN this weekend, each with the ability to win. Almost every game this weekend will feature close sets that anyone can win.

I’m expecting the four Semifinalist teams to be Eager, Obey, Luminosity, and Dignitas. Truthfully however, Obey, Luminosity, and Dignitas could all end up losing their quarterfinal match and I wouldn’t be surprised.

I’ll take Eager over Dignitas in five games, and Obey over Luminosity in four games to make the finals. I think the finals will be a really close set, with Obey edging out Eager in five games in one of the best sets in Smite history.

No matter the outcome, we’re in for an exciting weekend of Smite.


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