map changes

Smite Patch 4.13: Will this patch and its map changes end the early game meta?

Smite patch 4.13 will undoubtedly affect Smite. Are these map changes the right way to go about mediating the power of early game comps and their snowball effect?  That is the purpose of these map changes, as Hi-Rez stated, saying that there is “a feeling that games are too heavily weighted towards the early game”.

They are probably not wrong; Anyone who has spent any time on Reddit over Season 4 can attest to the community’s attitude towards this. Hi-Rez’s approach is two-fold. Firstly, they are reducing the ability to snowball with significant XP reductions to neutral camps and objectives. Secondly, they are increasing the health and functionality of some of the structures.

Neutral XP

Smite patch 4.13This is the better of the two changes as far as I am concerned. The large amount of neutral XP on the map currently is one of the prevailing factors for the early game meta that has been prevalent throughout Season 4. Lane dominance has been strong as a result, and even small camps can make a substantial difference when added to a lead repeatedly. After any sort of pick or won team fight, there was usually so much XP left on the map through these minor objectives that the punishment for a death was just too steep.

Another change that has been made was a reduction in XP for the Gold Fury. This seems like a good change to me, as early Gold Furies can quite quickly snowball a lead completely out of control. Hi-Rez has made it clear in the patch notes that they recognized “XP gain is what allows a team to secure early leads (through Levels) and Gold is what allows teams to close out games (by being an item ahead)”. With this in mind, the large reduction in XP from the Gold Fury changes the nature of the objective itself, for the better in my eyes.

With this in mind, the large reduction in XP from the Gold Fury changes the nature of the objective itself, for the better in my eyes. No longer will the Gold Fury make a particularly large impact in the early game as 200-300 gold per person is not really going to affect your team’s ability to fight. The value of the Gold Fury is going to be cumulative, we are going to start to see it make an impact when a few have been picked up and we are dealing with a possible 600-900 gold advantage per person, or in conjunction with other objectives. It will become the sort of objective that enhances your mid to late game rather than snowballing an early game. I think this will be a good change.

Structures

The structure changes I am less thrilled about. I will start with the ones I do think are good though.

Firstly, I am quite a big fan of the respawn changes to Phoenixes. Having Phoenixes respawn at 5 percent health was less than ideal. It handcuffed teams to their bases and allowed for completely uncontestable objectives and periods of time where it was just impossible to fight, making for dull lulls in the game and a late game snowball of a sense. Also, it was far too simple for teams to just group near them at respawn and tap them then pull back with very little risk. I also like the fact they can now regen to 70 percent health. I think it is a nice middle ground between still having a defendable objective while also being penalized for losing it in the first place.

What I am less happy about though is the health increases of the structures. In particular, Phoenixes are being too heavily buffed. A 50 percent health buff seems too drastic to me. I also don’t think it helps deal with the snowball meta. I fear this will just promote turtling and make uncoordinated games far harder to close out. We have all been there: your team has Fire Giant, you’re sieging a Phoenix, you’re wondering how much TP you’re gonna get for this win, then you have people engaging before the wave gets there and an ADC who seems to hate structure damage.

The Phoenix is already a powerful structure, especially when it is not approached correctly, which I hate to say is a large amount of the time by a large amount of the player base. I don’t really see much siege potential at all without a Fire Giant. What I fear is that this does not create better games but merely drags out a game, not in a fun manner either. Nobody likes it when one team is clearly dominant but just can’t end and you spend 20 minutes having small periods of action but it’s mainly wave clearing, waiting for the Fire Giant to respawn and praying to God that your ADC stops pushing halfway up lanes with no wards by himself.

Conclusion

Overall, these are good changes to the Smite map. However, I much prefer the XP changes over the structure HP changes. At first, the numbers may not be perfect. As Hi-Rez acknowledged in the patch notes, they have to walk a tight rope between making things impactful in the early game but not having one mistake end a game. You want the early game to mean something because if it doesn’t that is just as bad as it meaning everything. It is a hard balance to find, as Season 4 has proven. While I doubt most of this will be perfect at release and numbers will need tweaking, I feel like it’s moving in the right direction.


Feature image courtesy of smitegame.com.

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Three things the Summer Split taught us about the SPL

The early game meta is here to stay

It looks like Season 4 of Smite will be defined by the early game meta. It has persisted through the first two Splits of the season and with only one more split to go it is not likely to change. However, this should be qualified, by the fact that it is not quite as pronounced as it was in the Spring Split. Games in the SPL are going much longer, something Mike ‘PolarBearMike’ Heiss pointed out in a recent tweet.

There are two reasons it is here to stay. Firstly, the map, it caters itself to this early game aggression. PBM has a great video on his YouTube explaining this from the perspective of an SPL player.

One of the reasons PBM gives for this is that, the core of the map has been around for a very long time. As such, the players have gotten much better at exploiting the map as they have gotten better and due to playing on the same core for so long.

This leads to the other reason why the early game meta is dominating at the moment. Players and teams improved, becoming better at holding onto leads. As such playing compositions which give you a lead early on are more powerful as SPL teams capitalise on leads much better than before. It is far harder to hold out for 40 minutes and have Kali win you the game like a famous game from Thomas ‘Repikas’ Skallebaek. Obviously the easiest way for Hi-Rez to counteract this is still through map changes.

NRG are still not the force they once were

This is one that a lot of people may be confused about, as NRG were not the dominating team seen in previous seasons last Split. NRG’s history of dominance in not just Europe but the entirety of the Smite scene means one split is not enough to say their era of dominance is over, more data is needed.

Last Split Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone spoke about how at least at the start of the season, NRG were taking things a bit easier to avoid burning out. This was often suggested as a reason why NRG were not performing to their usual standards. This is not to say NRG are performing badly or aren’t still a great team. It is just NRG used to be head and shoulders above the rest of the competitive Smite scene, setting records we are unlikely to see matched. This is the visual representation of NRG’s performance in Season 3.

View post on imgur.com

People suggested that taking their foot off the pedal meant they were slow to catch up to meta or maybe even just a bit rusty. Those excuses are no longer viable. This is unless perhaps burn out has occurred within the ranks of NRG, or some players just aren’t enjoying the game right now. This is something iRaffer admitted too, in what has become an infamous Reddit post about Sunder. Maybe with all the success and the recent complaints about the Smite meta, it has been harder to get as motivated. Something which could very much change going into the Fall Split, as that is the Split leading into SWC. If getting the three-peat and another chance for cash doesn’t motivate them, I’d be very surprised.

Another factor is that the competition is far better this year. It is not as if NRG are playing badly but the new-look Obey is an incredibly strong team, while Dignitas is looking stronger than the old Orbit team. Throughout the league, especially in Europe there are a lot of really high quality teams.

However, saying all this, there is still a not so small part of me that expects iRaffer to lift the golden hammer again this year. I don’t know if it’s because my mind now sees it as routine, or i’m just too nostalgic for my own good, but I have a sneaking suspicion the three-peat is on.

The competition is real!

This is something that has featured in other parts of this article, but deserves its own segment. The competition levels in the SPL have just risen and risen throughout Season 4. While at the end of the Spring Split the gulf between NA and Europe was exposed, there is hope that over this Split that gap will shrink. I think it is still likely that Europe are going to dominate, though hopefully not as much.

Within the regions though the competition is fierce. I think one thing that illustrates this point quite nicely is when you look at 6th place in both regions. Team Allegiance and Elevate are not bad teams, in fact they are good teams who are getting better. This season is the only season in Smite where we would have teams of that caliber so far down the standings.

Look at the top of NA as well, last split Luminosity looked definitively like the best team in the region. This split they just squeezed into the final LAN spot, one point ahead of eUnited in 4th and only two points ahead of Noble in 5th. Noble was a team everyone was writing off at the beginning of the split.

In Europe, the region that got an extra spot to Dreamhack, we had 2nd-4th being fought over up until the last day of competition. Things are really heating up heading into World’s next split. I genuinely think in Europe that the top five teams will all be going into next split thinking they have a realistic chance at being SWC champs.

Image courtesy of tentonhammer.com

 

Top Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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Eanix vs Rival: In-Depth Review

Going into this set, both Eanix and Rival were fairly close in the standings. Eanix was 5-3 and Rival close behind at 4-2. I would have called this set most likely being a split, with these two teams tracking each other in the standings for the foreseeable future. However, Rival walked away with a 2-0 victory. This puts Rival on par with the three other teams who have won two and split two while putting Eanix in a rather tough position when it comes to making DreamHack. Eanix is now very much out of that leading pack, having played more sets and being a down a point.

This match was going to be interesting to see what sort of performance Rival was going to produce after their shock split with The Papis. If anyone expected that to be the end of the Cinderella story of Rival, they were sorely mistaken.

Game One

The first game was everything you would expect from top-tier EU teams: slow paced, methodical and objective based. This was a 41 and a half minute game with only 15 kills. The game winning Fire Giant and Titan push was made without a kill being taken, this was EU meta to a whole new level.

Rival took a small lead early on from Gold Fury control and apart from a minor glitch when Eanix managed to take a Fire Giant from a single pick, Rival maintained control throughout the game. The Sol and the Jing Wei picks were great because they are both incredible objective characters. EU has always been objective focused, with the recent dominance of EU over NA they are leading the meta.

We are seeing both Sol and Jing Wei in both regions now and a big part of this is their objective control. Sol, for a mid laner, has relatively good objective secure with the Stellar Burst into Supernova burst damage. What she brings that other mages do not is the objective burn. With her AA damage output, she provides her team with two AA gods when it comes to objectives. This means that many more windows of opportunity present themselves, as you can take advantage of far smaller time frames.

 

Image courtesy of smitegame.com

Jing Wei is great for quickly bursting down objectives. Her passive crit coming from Explosive Bolts, combined with the 40 percent attack speed buff from Persisent Gusts, means she is one of the best ADCs in the game when it comes to bringing down the objective. Combine that with the added secure, she brings with Air Strike and the ability to only be about 10-15 seconds from any objective on the map due to her passive, she is an extremely underrated objective monster.

 

However, the Fire Giant they did manage to get did not generate any real gain for Eanix, who lost a fight at the first tier two they tried to siege, with James ‘Duck3y’ Heseltine dying to the isolation provided from Khepri Abduct.

From then on it was just a slow, and I can’t stress slow enough, choke-out by Rival.

Game Two

Game two started off looking like it was going to be a bit of a stomp and that Rival’s slow choke from last game had taken the wind out of Eanix’s sails. In the first six minutes, Rival took a 4-0 kill lead and a 3k gold lead. However, Eanix brought themselves back into the game with a great teamfight by their own speed buff. What most likely won them this teamfight was a very early rotation from Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar. This turned a 4v4 into a 5v4 for Eanix, resulting in them winning the teamfight 3-0.

Funballer has been incredible this Split. There has been a lot of talk about Daniel ‘Faeles’ Evans and what he will do for Eanix. However, the stand out player for me in regards to Eanix has been Funballer. I’ve been watching Funballer since Smite was in open beta and I have never been this impressed with his play. This is not to take away from how he has played before – he has always been a very good player. The teams he has been on is a testament to that, if nothing else. However, this split he is just crushing it. The mechanics are there – they always have been – but where Funballer stands head and shoulders above a lot of other ADCs in the league is his ability to rotate. This was something brought to attention on the stream, but he has been doing it all split not just this set.

Funballer has always been aggressive in lane, known as one of those ADCs who wants to fight. This season, however, he seems to have decided fighting just one person in lane isn’t enough, he wants to fight everybody. He is using his vast experience in the SPL to make incredibly impactful rotations. In this game, he probably made the rotation which stopped this game turning into a stomp. We have all seen how in Season 4, small leads can be snowballed and held on too. Rival for a time in the game had a large lead; 3k after six minutes is very much the start of a snowball.

Image courtesy of twitch.tv/funballz

 

Look at what he allowed Liam ‘Vote’ Shanks to get through his rotation. A proxied wave and a red buff, that’s it! It was too early in the game to put serious tower pressure on and there was nothing else left on the map. The risk-reward calculation was perfect. Funballer was already behind and Vote to get that farm was not going to change the game, Funballer turning a team fight and getting his team three kills very much did. While it may not have changed the result, it definitely changed the game.

From there the game evened out for a while, until near the 20 minute mark when Eanix won a teamfight around the Gold Fury. By the 33rd minute in the game Eanix were leading 14-8 in kills and had amassed a 7k gold lead, things were looking good for Eanix. Then it all changed, Rival won a team fight handily over Eanix.

Mistakes were made. Eanix messed up here, there is no denying it. Firstly, Emil ‘Lawbster’ Evensen blew his Kraken on Aleksandar ‘iceicebaby’ Zahariev. This took iceicebaby’s Beads and Bracer’s and there are a lot of ults in the game where that trade would be considered worth it, however, not your team’s big mage, team fighting ult. Especially as the Bracer usage meant iceicebaby was ready to fight directly afterward. Of all the characters in the game to not have their actives up, Nemesis is probably one of the best. She has her shield to soak damage and heal her, her double-dash to escape and her ultimate to give her protections and movement speed. Next Faeles threw down the Hun Batz ult, only hitting two and with none of his team able to follow up. Alexandru ‘Wlfy’ Lefterică on Isis didn’t even deem it worthy of using his beads on.

I’ve been critical of Eanix in that teamfight but now I am going to sing the praises of Rival who played it beautifully. The ult combo they pulled out was near perfect. Adrian ‘Deathwalker’ Benko immediately Eagle’s Rallied onto the face of Lawbster burning the beads. Straight after that Petar ‘Kalas’ Matejić using No Escape on the now Beadless Poseidon and the Geb, the two targets who are guaranteed to get pulled in. As soon as that happens right underneath his feet comes the Fields of Love and Circle of Protection. Goodbye tank, goodbye mage.  This fight was so clean from Rival, if you look at the surviving members of Eanix’s health it’s practically full. In fact, after this it is Rival who run away because they were so selective in their targets, as they had to be, being down so much gold and xp that the rest of Eanix could probably have fought them. If you want to learn how to execute a team fight from behind and capitalise on mistakes, look no further than 33 minutes of game two Eanix vs Rival.

There were three more major team fights in this game, two went to Rival and one went to Eanix. The important thing about them was after the momentum change of that 33 minute team fight it was Rival who were agressing. The team fight Eanix one was to wipe Fire Giant off of Rival and didn’t leave them much to capitalise on. The other team fights were important but make no mistake about it, this game turned in the 33rd minute, with some exceptional team fighting from Rival.


Top Image courtesy of https://twitter.com/eanixgg

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Overwatch Competitive: A year in review and what to expect in the future

Overwatch’s fourth season has just come to a close. This marks the completion of one full year of the game’s release and competitive play. With it, we can look back and see what Blizzard has done and what we can expect from them for the future.

Evolving metas

Overwatch’s four competitive seasons were all uniquely different and each season showcased different kinds of players and strategies. Season 1 featured the standard 2-2-2 (2 tanks, 2 supports,

Ana was the first of many new heroes to be released in Overwatch
(Courtesy of playoverwatch)

2 DPS) team composition with Mercy and Lucio. It also featured the overtime coin flip, much to a player’s dismay. Season 2 featured Ana, Genji, and Reaper in the fast-paced beyblade meta, with short quick fights determining it all. Season 3 highlighted the triple tank composition, a slugfest of high HP tanks that never seem to die due to Ana’s insane HPS (healing per second). And finally, Season 4, where Bastion became President for a week until he was axed. After the Bastion apocalypse, Season 4 became a hybrid of the past three seasons, featuring triple tanks, standard 2-2-2s, and even some Ana-Genji/Soldier combos. We also witnessed the re-popularization of Mercy hide-n-seek.

With the ever evolving metas and the introduction of new maps and heroes, the game retains its freshness and playability. Without the patches, updates, and new releases Blizzard has offered to us, the game would have become stale, boring, and dead by now. With Blizzard’s activeness in trying to create a better game, Overwatch is able to evolve and become more complete and fun.

New releases

Of course, Blizzard’s new releases are always a delight to players. However, while Blizzard’s they are always welcome, new hero releases have sometimes not been what many players may have hoped for. So far, they have released a reasonable amount: one hero after each season, excluding Season 4. However, among the three heroes of Ana, Sombra, and Orisa, Ana is the only hero that is actually seen in competitive.

As we know, Ana is an oddball in that when she was first released, she was seen as one of the worst heroes in the game. When Blizzard buffed her, however, she transformed into a behemoth that no one could stop leading to a virtually 100% pick rate in Seasons 2 and 3. With the most recent Ana nerf, she is now an average hero seeing some competitive play, but not at the same level as she once was. Unlike Ana, the two other heroes, Sombra and Orisa, almost never see the light in competitive. Both Sombra and Orisa rank in the bottom three picked heroes across the seasons they have existed in. However, since the Ana fiasco, Blizzard has been hesitant in buffing these newly released heroes. The question now is how Blizzard can convince people to try these newer heroes. While Blizzard constantly states that these heroes are balanced and good to go for competitive, players tend to disagree. So far they have been unable to convince users to try and work with the new heroes. It will be interesting to see how Blizzard will deal with the eventual releases of other heroes like Doomfist. Hopefully, they will come up with a better plan as these heroes are not what players wanted in competitive.

Responding to the community

Blizzard’s job is not only to release new

Overwatch released many events in the past year, and we can expect more to come from them
(Courtesy of Overwatch Wikia)

content, but also to communicate and talk to their users. Throughout the year, players have complained to Blizzard about their problems, such as the Season 1 coin flip, the cheaters in Korea’s PC Bangs, Ana in general, Reinhardt’s pick-rate, and Bastion’s ironclad, to name a few. Although Blizzard sometimes takes its time in formulating or pushing out responses, so far Blizzard has done a pretty good job in responding to the community. They are active and try to respond to every players’ complaints on the Blizzard Forums, Reddit, and YouTube with their Developer Updates. Listening to the community, they got rid of the coin flip because of the frustration it gave players and they also eventually nerfed Bastion’s ironclad. They found a solution to deal with cheaters and they have backed up their rigid stance on hero nerfs and buffs with their statistics and explanations. As long as Blizzard keeps up their communication with the people playing Overwatch, they will be in good shape.

Blizzard has shown us a lot this year. We can expect many things in the near future. Not only can we expect the many goodies they have planned this year, like new and revamped events, maps, heroes and game modes, but we can also expect a developer team with good communication and activeness with the player base. Expect to see another year with Blizzard communicating with the players and trying to satisfy everyone, and ever-changing gameplay and experiences.


 

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SPL Summer Split: Roster Changes You Need to Know

As any Smite Pro League fan knows, the SPL has a large amount of roster changes after each split. Some players have simply changed teams, others leaving the SPL all together. Some players are from the Challenger Circuit, while others are just high level ranked players. Here’s what we know.

North American Roster Changes

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Flash Point

Flash Point finished in last place during the Spring Split. Due to this, they decided a player change was needed. They replaced their ADC, Mid and Solo laners, keeping Erich “ShadowQ” Grabowski and Eugeen “Mirage” Mathew on the roster. Their new players are “Sops”, Jon “Sheyka” Sheyka and Kevin “DanteLeFargo” Doobay as ADC, Mid and Solo respectively. This change really appeared to benefit Flash Point, as they looked very strong coming out of Relegations and reclaiming their spot in the SPL.

Noble Esports

Noble is another team that had to fight through Relegations to keep their SPL spot. To do so, they felt they needed to part with their Jungler Andy “Elchapo” Leon and their Solo Laner Arthur “Uzzy” Ashurov, who were teammates in the Smite Console League. Noble replaced them with Mat “Copebby” Irish and Ryan “Aquarius” O’Neill, who were good enough to get them through Relegations and back in the SPL. Noble however felt they still didn’t have the right fit in the Jungle, and parted ways with Cope for David “Skeeledon” Dougherty from the former SPL Gatekeepers Challenger Circuit team.

Team Allegiance

Allegiance is a team known for roster changes. They’ve had six over the past six months in fact. When Mike “PolarBearMike” Heiss left ALG just before the Gauntlet, they needed to scramble to find a new Support, and ended up with James “ViviaNx3” Murphy. With the SPL Gatekeepers getting knocked out of the running for an SPL spot, ALG jumped at the chance to grab world class shot caller Neil “Neirumah” Mah. His performance at the Gauntlet drew a lot of attention, and he should be a significant improvement to ALG.

In Memory of Gabe

In Memory of Gabe came into the SPL at the start of Season 4, and took everyone by surprise. They cooled off towards the end of the Spring Split, and ultimately their Solo Laner Mark “Whalrus” Maloney decided to leave. In his absence, IMOG picked up yet another former SPL Gatekeepers player Ismael “KikiSoCheeky” Torres to play the short lane.

eUnited

eUnited has a history in the SPL, including a second place finish in the Season 2 Smite World Championships. This was all done with the general, Louis-Philippe “PainDeViande” Geoffrion running the team. With eUnited losing to SoaR and NRG in the Gauntlet and missing out on a spot at the Masters LAN, they decided the best course of action was to change the mainstay from the organization. Replacing General Pain is the formerly retired PolarBearMike. PBM brings a completely new attitude to eUnited, one that should keep the squad motivated for the Summer Split.

Also, Lucas “Virizial” Spracklin changed his name again. He goes by “Scream” now.

Team Eager

After a disappointing 3-0 loss to Team Dignitas in the Masters LAN, Eager moved away from Cody “djpernicus” Tyson. A roster change often results in a culture change, and EGR is looking for exactly that by picking up top ranked player Samuel “sam4soccer2” Waxman in the Jungle. While they are looking for a culture change, the one culture they don’t want to change is the winning culture they’ve developed. While Sam isn’t exactly a household name in the SPL, EGR wouldn’t just pick up a player they knew could play the game, they got someone they knew they could win with.

Monkey Madness

Just a quick note here. SoaR Esports parted ways with their Smite roster. The roster held their SPL spot, and no changes were made. They will be competing under the name Monkey Madness during the Summer Split.

European Roster Changes

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Challenger Circuit Teams in SPL

The top four European teams are arguably the best four teams in the world. Because of that, the bottom half of EU is playing a little bit of catch up, and that allows for new faces to get a shot in the SPL. Both of the Challenger Circuit squads, The Papis and Optimus Gang, qualified for the SPL, knocking off Novus Orsa and Sanguine Esports. It’s worth noting that the Papis have tried on multiple occasions to qualify for the SPL, finally getting in during the Summer Split, keeping the roster intact.

Eanix

As previously mentioned, the bottom half of Europe is playing catch up with the top half, and Eanix felt they needed to make some changes to keep up. They have acquired an SPL proven Solo Laner in James “Duck3y” Heseltine, which should give them a boost in the Short Lane. The interesting pick up is stealing away Daniel “Faeles” Evans from Elevate in the Jungle. Again, the bottom half is trying to not fall behind, so both Faeles and Eanix felt the best way to do that was to team up.

Elevate

With Faeles leaving, Elevate was left with a pretty big void, as he was a hard carry for them during the Spring Split. Luckily for Elevate, the stars seemed to align for them, as Sanguine was bounced from the SPL. This allowed them to pick up Nika “Nika” Pataraia to play the role he’s most comfortable in, the Jungle. The question now is can someone step up to replace the force that Faeles was for this roster?


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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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Oxygen Supremacy: Your New Favorite Smite Team

If you told me before the start of this Gauntlet that Oxygen Supremacy would be the talk of the Gauntlet for North America, I wouldn’t believe you. Sure, they’re good enough to win some games, but to do something that would get everyone talking and be the most exciting part of the day would sound like a stretch. Well, it happened, and it was incredible.

The Smite Pro League has been a way for me to watch, learn, and enjoy a game that I’ve spent so much time playing. Today, Oxygen Supremacy gave everyone watching the same feeling we get when we see a Cinderella team make a run late into the playoffs of a traditional sport. The feeling we get from watching a double digit seed beat a heavy favorite in the NCAA March Madness Basketball tournament. Esports are absolutely in the same conversation as traditional sports, and Oxygen Supremacy proved that today.

 

Photo Courtesy of Brandon “Venenu” Casale

 

Oxygen Supremacy made a run that SPL fans will not soon forget. This team was formed as a Challenger Circuit team after rosters were picked apart towards the end of Smite’s Season 3. They are comprised of some former pro players, along with some new faces to the SPL scene.

Solo – Ismael “KikiSoCheeky” Torres

Jungle – David “Skeeledon” Dougherty

Mid – Brandon “Venenu” Casale

Support – Neil “NeiruMah” Mah

ADC – Michael “DayToRemember” Galvin

After placing first in the Challenger Circuit, they were given an opportunity to compete in the Gauntlet, with a chance to make it to the Masters LAN at the end of the month, just like the other SPL teams. For OS, however, this meant climbing the Gauntlet ladder and knocking off every team ahead of them along the way. After seven grueling hours of Smite, OS fell just a few games short, but they put on one of the most memorable performances Smite Esports has seen recently.

Photo Courtesy of Hi-Rez Studios

Match 1: Oxygen Supremacy VS Flash Point

Game 1:

Going into this first game, people around the SPL already had heard rumblings of how good Oxygen Supremacy was, but nobody had really seen what they could do outside of scrims. Flash Point drafted a solid early game comp, with Ryan “Aquarius” O’Neill on Osiris, Eugeen “Mirage” Mathew on Awilix, and Eric “ShadowQ” Grabowski on Sylvanus. True to the draft, Flash Point seemed to be in control of the game, but OS just hung around long enough for their comp to really take over. Recognizing the FP ADC was an Artemis, Skeeledon decided to camp Duo Lane, preventing Nathan “Xenotronics” Hewitt from getting online, while feeding DayToRemember. After falling behind in kills early, something just clicked in Oxygen Supremacy, and their carries took over. Catching up in kills, eventually the Titan fell, and game 1 went to OS.

Game 2:

Game 2 was a different story. Venenu was on Thoth, Skeeledon was on Susano, and they went in! Venenu posted an incredible 11/1/8 line, while Skeeledon mirrored that at 8/1/11, and that was all she wrote. The major point of emphasis from this game was the play out of Skeeledon. He showed up in game 1, but game 2 he showed not only his team, but everyone there watching that he was here to play and he was here to win. This confidence out of their jungler would push OS for the next six hours.

Photo Courtesy of Hi-Rez Studios

Match 2: Oxygen Supremacy VS Noble Esports

Game 1:

This is where things got really interesting. With Noble just witnessing the game that Venenu had on Thoth, they decided to ban it away from him. However, they let Hun Batz through to Skeeledon and The Morrigan through to Kiki. Bad choice. This game was where the OS hype train took off. They pulled out the double hunter comp, with Venenu on Chiron, which blew everyone’s minds. This game was just Oxygen flexing their God pools. Hun Batz would jump in and Fear No Evil, then Chiron would Centaurus and drop everyone low, then The Morrigan would ult as Hun Batz, and then DayToRemember on Rama would Astral Barrage. All of this would be set up by the hottest Nature’s Grasp you will ever see from NeiruMah’s Sylvanus. It was just absolutely insane to see this comp, and for it to just obliterate Noble.

Game 2:

Game 2 we saw them flex their God pools yet again. Kiki would take Xing Tian to the solo lane, Skeeledon would play the constantly banned Chang’e, and NeiruMah would play Ymir. Noble put up a much better fight this time, with Brett “MLCSt3alth” Felly trying his hand at the hunter mid, and dealing most damage (surprise surprise), along with Andy “Elchapo” Leon pulling The Morrigan into the Jungle himself. Noble started strong. Absolutely insane peel from NeiruMah would prevent them from snowballing and taking control of the game. Venenu would see his only death on Chiron in this game. That didn’t mean much, as eventually Oxygen Supremacy took the game in yet another decisive victory.

Photo Courtesy of Hi-Rez Studios

Match 3: Oxygen Supremacy VS Team Allegiance

Game 1:

Yet again Oxygen decides to go to a double Hunter team comp. This time we saw Skeeledon on Ao Kuang, his 4th different God in five games. NeiruMah was on Terra, his 4th different God in five games. Venenu was on Skadi, his 4th different God in five games. Seeing a pattern here? You could not target ban this team all day long. Allegiance seemed to have drafted very strong, with Kurt “Weak3n” Schray on Serquet, a God he’s known for. Jarod “CycloneSpin” Nguyen was also playing a God he was known to bully on, Osiris. For quite a while in this game, ALG seemed to control the tempo. The game was slow, and for the longest time there was only one kill on the board. That changed during the second Gold Fury fight, a fight that Oxygen won handily. The game then spiraled out of control for ALG, and OS was back to the fast paced machine they had been in the previous two matches. Before we knew it, this one was over too.

Game 2:

Just for fun, Oxygen showed they weren’t done with flexing their God pool. Kiki took yet another God to the solo lane in Nike, while Skeeledon played his 3rd Mage out of the Jungle, with fan favorite He Bo. Weak3n actually counter picked the He Bo with Fenrir, and first blooded Skeeledon, something he had been doing to opposing teams all day long. Like game 1, this one hovered pretty even for a while, until Venenu popped off, finishing his Chiron play 7/0/4, totaling an incredible 20/1/24 line on the Mid Hunter. Just like that, everyone was all in on Oxygen Supremacy.

Photo Courtesy of Hi-Rez Studios

Match 4: Oxygen Supremacy VS In Memory of Gabe

Game 1:

At this point, nobody could figure out what to do when it came to banning out OS. There were just too many Gods that they had been playing well all day long. This game was a fight for OS, that’s for sure. However, we didn’t see them struggle, or even change the way they had been playing. NeiruMah still had incredible pulls to set up some important kills on Sylvanus. Venenu ended up with Thoth and was able to burst down the members of IMOG. DayToRemeber did his thing on Medusa, controlling his lane. Somehow, some way, Oxygen Supremacy won yet another game. Seven in a row, it was unprecedented. Then IMOG figured something out.

Game 2:

Gabe had spent all day watching Oxygen and learning their strategies. They were able to play them the toughest we had seen all day. They took Thoth from Venenu and put it on Tyler “Hurriwind” Whitney in Mid lane, who completely dominated OS, going 9/0/14. Sinjin “Eonic” Thorpe took Sylvanus away from NeiruMah, and was able to keep his team sustained in order to win the long team fights that Oxygen had been winning throughout the day. Then they shut down DayToRemember. By far it was his worst game of the day, going 0/9/9 on Medusa. Suddenly OS got a taste of their own medicine, and they were blown back by IMOG. A minor setback as it was a three game set. With the score tied at 1-1, Oxygen Supremacy still had their chance to pull through.

Game 3:

The first game 3 we had seen all day was another rough one to watch. With Hurriwind’s performance on the Thoth, OS banned it out, letting Zeus slip through for the first time today. Not only that, but Eonic was back on Sylvanus, a God who pairs extremely well with Zeus. Not only that, but after a strong game on Thor, Jungler Brooks “Cynosure” Mattey was poised for another strong game on the God. This one was hard fought by Oxygen. They fought as long as they could, but it just appeared as if the gas tank was empty. That’s just what playing seven hours straight of Smite against the best players in the world will do to you.

What You Should Take Away

At the end of the day, Oxygen Supremacy fell 2-1 vs In Memory of Gabe. That’s not what this is about. What it’s about is the way this was done. Sure they could have made it past Flash Point, Noble, and Allegiance losing a couple games here and there. They didn’t. This Challenger Cup team pulled off seven straight wins against the top Smite players in the world. The Gauntlet could have been incredibly boring, with each team winning the match they were “supposed” to win as the higher seed. And sure, we still got In Memory of Gabe vs SoaR Gaming in the end; but we still got a taste of what’s to come in the Smite Pro League.

Challenger Cup may have been weak before, but there are some phenomenal players ready to take that jump and become top SPL players themselves. Venenu showed he’s just as good, if not better then some of the Mid lane players currently in the SPL. Same goes for Skeeledon, NeiruMah, and the rest of Oxygen Supremacy. Relegations are no longer just a tournament that needs to be played before the season starts, because the Challenger Cup teams are gunning for a spot in the SPL. These guys are good, they’re thirsty, and they just might take the Smite world by storm.

 

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Smite Pro League Spring Gauntlet Preview

The regular season for the Smite Pro League Spring Split has come to an end, which means it’s finally time for some LAN tournaments!

Smite Masters will take place at the end of April, with Team Eager and Luminosity Gaming already punching their tickets by finishing first and second respectively out of North America. Across the pond, Obey Alliance and Team Dignitas qualified after their strong splits, overtaking the two-time reigning world champion NRG Esports.

Luckily for NRG, they still have a shot at making Smite Masters through the Spring Gauntlet LAN. This grueling tournament is set to start this Friday, April 14th at 11 AM EST, running through Sunday for the last chance to make the Masters LAN.

The teams participating in the Gauntlet are as follows:

NA

  • eUnited
  • SoaR Gaming
  • In Memory of Gabe
  • Team Allegiance
  • Noble Esports
  • Flash Point
  • Oxygen Supremacy (Challenger Cup)

EU

  • NRG Esports
  • Eanix
  • Team RivaL
  • Elevate
  • Lion Guard Esports
  • Sanguine Esports
  • Optimus Gang (Challenger Cup)

The Gauntlet will start with a Smite Challenger Cup team from each region (Oxygen Supremacy in NA and Optimus Gang in EU) facing off against the team who finished in last place (8th) in each respective region (Flashpoint in NA and Sanguine Esports in EU) in a winner-take-all one game set. The winner will then move on to face the 7th place team, and they will then play a best of 3 set, with the winner advancing, and so on. The winners of the final match in each region will then play each other for seeding in the upcoming Masters tournament, while the runners-up will play each other for a final chance at the wildcard spot.

Gods to Look Out For

Season 4 has seen a plethora of Gods being played in its current meta. Because of this, and because certain teams like to get cheeky when it comes to picks and bans, don’t be surprised if someone pulls out a God that isn’t played all that much. I’m looking at you, Ah Puch. However, as long as nothing has changed in the most reason scrims, it’s safe bet that these are the Gods we’ll be seeing the most of:

Solo:

The solo lane has been seemingly dominated by Guardians this season as opposed to the traditional Warriors that we’re used to. As a result, expect to see a lot of Terra, Xing Tian, and Cabrakan in the short lane. Guardians are the types of Gods that can be left alone to farm in the early to mid game, and then make their rotations and be virtually immortal with the level lead they’re likely to have. Come late game these three Gods have a lot of lock down with their Crowd Control abilities. Expect to see Odin to counter any Healing heavy team comps.

Jungle:

The jungle has seen a lot of different Gods played in it as well, from Chang’e to Ymir. What you should expect is the old standby picks for this LAN. Ratatoskr, Susano, and Thor are all likely to be picked or banned very often this weekend. The mobility out of these Gods make it easy to gank with them, as well as the global pressure from Rat and Thor. And if Cabrakan can make it through bans, expect to see him played in the jungle role as well.

Mid:

Middle lane doesn’t have as wide of a pool as the two previously mentioned lanes. Poseidon has seen a return to glory this season, and that’s unlikely to change at the LAN. He’ll be joined by Zeus, Ra, and Janus. The meta is controlled by Mages with burst ults that can be used for objective secure. Unless a team comp is specifically set around the God, you’ll likely on see these types of Mages locked in at mid.

Support:

Support is probably the role with the least amount of diversity. All season long we saw lots of Khepri and lots of Sylvanus. Expect more of the same, along with Geb. These three Gods all have strong peel, and the ability to separate an enemy team in a team fight. Each of them also has an ability to protect their squishy team members when needed.

Carry:

Hunters. The day’s of the magical ADC have passed, for now, leaving the long lane to be controlled by Hunters again. Medusa has performed exceptionally this split and there’s no reason the think that won’t continue. Almost any Hunter is viable in the current meta, so you can honestly expect to see whatever God each player is feeling. This will be the first time we’ll see Cernnunos played at the pro level, that you can be sure of.

 

Gauntlet Predictions

With the way the Spring Split played out, the Gauntlet is anyone’s tournament to win. It’s possible for one of the Challenger Cup teams to make a deep run. North America has eUnited, a former World Championship runner-up (under Enemy at the time), and Team Allegiance, who just played in the World Championship LAN a few months back. Of course, NRG is the favorite when it comes to the European scene.

I’m predicting eUnited to win in NA, beating In Memory of Gabe 2-1 in their set. In EU I’ll take the easy way out and go with NRG over Eanix 2-0. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t think the same. As far as the wildcard goes, IMOG has my vote in a 2-0 over Eanix. At the end of the day though, none of my predictions really matter, there’s a reason why they play the game, it’s a great time to be a Smite Pro League fan.

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