NRG Invitational

A mock draft for the NRG Invitational

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

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

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

Round 1: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer

Round 2: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror

Round 3: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer

Round 4: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror

The rest of the rules are as follows:

NRG Invitational

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Round 1

Aror

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

BaRRaCCuDDa

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

Ataraxia

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

iRaffer

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

Round 2

iRaffer

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

Ataraxia

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

BaRRaCCuDDa

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

Aror

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

Round 3

Aror

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

BaRRaCCuDDa

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

Ataraxia

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

iRaffer

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

Round 4

iRaffer

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

Ataraxia

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

BaRRaCCuDDa

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

Aror

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

 

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


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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

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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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DreamHack preview: Luminosity Gaming

Luminosity Gaming has long been among the North American favorites. Here are a few reasons why they have a shot to return to glory at DreamHack.

Experience

Luminosity is a team that is very familiar to the setting of a LAN. Each player on the squad has an abundance of experience over the course of the last year, including a trip to the Smite World Championship. This may not seem like much, but it’s a big deal when it comes to nerves and being able to perform under pressure.

John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter and Rosario “Jeff Hindla” Vilardi both have a SWC title under their belt and have played together for years. This type of experience isn’t rivaled by many players throughout the league, and can’t be replaced. Throw in their mid lane player Woonyoung “Baskin” Kim, long time solo laner and former Cloud9 teammate, and you’ve got easy chemistry. This is a squad that led the entire SPL in kills with 228, an average of 16.29 per game.

Objective Control

In recent splits, the European teams have become known for their objective control, especially when playing against the North American squads. Perhaps recognizing this, Luminosity Gaming has taken strides at improving their objective control, finishing the Summer Split with 32 Gold Fury kills. That number is good for second in the SPL. They also secured the Gold Fury first 11 different times, for a 78.57% rate, good for first in the SPL. As we saw this split, teams securing the first Gold Fury were winning at an absurd rate.

They also had the lead when it came to the big objective, the Fire Giant. The secured the second highest FG total in the SPL at 15, and finished first with 12 first Fire Giants at a rate of 85.71%. Being able to secure the first Fire Giant in the current meta is enormous. It’s enough for a team to go for the jugular on a team far behind, or it can be a big enough boon to even the score up after a slow start to a set.

Luminosity Gaming

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The “Sextank”

BaRRaCCuDDa and Jeff Hindla. Those names alone give Luminosity a shot at winning in Valencia. Jeff Hindla is one of, if not the most selfless support in the SPL right now. He’ll walk into DreamHack with the fewest kills among North American supports, but the second most assists, and third in the entire SPL, at 146. On top of that, Jeff in known to ditch his old friend Barra in the duo lane early, so Barra can farm up and be prepared for the late game.

You’ll hear it from time to time that BaRRaCCuDDa has plot armor. He always seems to come out ok, no matter the situation. That’s all well and good, but it’s been a while since Luminosity has actually won anything. That’s where this guy comes in. He doesn’t have the best stats in the league, averaging just over 3 kills per game and 6.5 assists. That means nothing when it comes to Barra however, he’s the type of player that can turn it on when his team needs him. The level of consistency that he plays with is unparalleled in the SPL, and no matter the lead, no matter what part of the game, teams better be on the lookout for BaRRaCCuDDa.


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DreamHack preview: Spacestation Gaming

North America’s best hope, the newly named Spacestation Gaming aims to take Valencia by storm. Here are some reasons they have a shot to make something happen.

Consistency

Spacestation started off this split extremely strong, tied with Luminosity and Team Allegiance at the top of the standings. Following a 2-0 loss to Luminosity, fans and analysts started saying that SSG was in the middle of the pack, and would be fighting for a spot in DreamHack. That was wrong, and SSG remained at the top of the standings for the rest of the split, continually putting down teams when they were playing “must win” games.

This consistency carried into the matches themselves. They were never too high and never too low throughout their sets. This can be seen in their set during Week 4 against ALG. This set had serious implications for DreamHack, and both teams desperately wanted the 2-0 victory.

Game 1 began with SSG in the lead, but ALG brought the game back. Often times in this situation you’ll see teams fold under the pressure, and collapse. SSG were able to stay focused and retake control of the game and pull it out. In game 2 ALG began by dominating Spacestation. Slowly but surely however, SSG clawed their way back into it, and thanks to  Andrew “andinster” Woodward, were able to snatch game 2 and get the 2-0 victory.

Statistics

Spacestation put up stats this split. Each player on the roster finished in the top two in North America in KDA in their respective roles. This includes Connor “Jigz” Echols, andinster and Alexander “Homiefe” D’Souza, who finished first in their roles. They also had the highest team KDA in North America.

This trend continued when it came to deaths per game. Each player finished in the top five in the league, with Homiefe, Alec “fineokay” Fonzo and Conor “Vetium” Roberts tied for 5th. Jigz led the way with only 1.2 deaths per game, which is incredible in a role that is expected to protect its team, even at the expense of their own life.

Spacestation gaming

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Homiefe

For anyone who watched this split, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Homiefe was the best jungler in North America this split without any competition. He finished with a KDA of 5.02, second only to his Mid Lane andinster. That KDA was good for the best in the Jungle role by more than two, as he topped Brooks “Cynosure” Mattey’s 3.01.

Homi also finished second in kills per game at 4.5, as well as 5th in deaths per game with a measly 1.6. He also participated in a total of 78.2% of his teams kills, which was good for 4th in the league. Homi also had an insane first blood rate, at 42.86%, good for six total first bloods.

It wasn’t just about stats for Homi however. His play this split is what helped put Spacestation over the edge. Again, looking back to the all important game against ALG, Homi was incredibly disruptive on the back line. His pressure not only prevented ALG from fighting as a team, but it allowed his team to win team fights before ALG could react. DreamHack is just over a week away, and Spacestation is looking prime to make a deep run on the back of Homiefe.


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Top gods in each role heading into DreamHack

Solo Lane

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This split has been all about Osiris and Bellona in the Solo Lane, but when it comes down to it, Bell is the way to go. Her clear is insanity from the get go. Bludgeon allows her to clear the wave quickly at level 1, and deal a ton of damage to any god caught by the hammer. It works especially well when being ganked by multiple gods, and puts in work against them. Scourge, her 3, gives her a crazy amount of sustain when paired up with Death’s Toll, which keeps her in lane longer than most Solo laners. It also has a disarm that works well in this meta against gods like Osirs, Cernunnos, Sol, and Rama. These gods have been played a lot, and the 2.25 second disarm at max level from Scourge can create a hole for a team to attack.

She passes Osiris here because of her mobility. Shield Bash blocks incoming damage, as well as gives her a small escape, which can be enough to allow a player to turn a fight. Her Ultimate is another big factor. Eagle’s Rally can be used as an escape multiple different ways, and it’s incredible the amount of plays that can be made off of it. A leap that gives a boost in protections, as well as a stun and physical power can be absolutely lethal in late game team fights.

Jungle

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After seeing some time off, Susano has made his climb back to the top of the Jungle meta and for good reason. His mobility is the best in the game, with a possible exception to Serquet. His Storm Kata is a great way for noobs to be annoying. But when in the hands of a pro, can be used in many different ways. Allowing free poke, and then an escape from the one ability, and being able to chain it together with his other abilities and auto attacks make for a good start.

Wind Siphon has the ability to create displacement in team fights. One perfectly executed Wind Siphon could end a team fight as it begins by separating a team, especially the squishies. Pair those two abilities with Jet Stream, and not only is Susano tough to lock down, but he’s tough to get away from. And just when you think you’re out, in comes Typhoon to knock you up preventing what you thought was an escape.

Mid Lane

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The Mid Lane doesn’t really have a pick that just screams at you to ban it like Bellona, Osiris, and Susano. Not right now at least. With that being said, Thoth is the god most likely going to be cherished in the Mid Lane come DreamHack. Due to his third ability, Glyph of Pain, Thoth has insane clear potential from afar. It may take him a bit to get online, but once he does, he can start clearing the wave and poking the enemy team without being able to hit him back. He’s also very safe with Evade and Punish, which is a solid escape dash though the Glyph of Pain but then can be used as a stun.

What Thoth is really known for is Final Judgement. It is an ult not unlike others, packed with a high amount of damage for things like objective secure. What Final Judgement brings differently, however, is the charge up, and ability to cancel mid charge. It can be used as a fake out or distraction, opening a window, or creating separation from the enemy team. It can also be fired fairly quickly to do things like steal objectives or pick off an enemy god trying to escape.

Support

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The support role has turned into a place for hybrid gods. Guardians who can play both offensively and defensively. No god is better at that then Fafnir. He has great early wave clear that can also punish an enemy god standing too close to a wave with Cursed Strength. His stun can be used to both set up kills and prevent them. He also has one of the strongest abilities in the game with Coerce. This ability buffs the damage and attack speed of the player it’s used on, allowing hunters to shred towers late game.

This is enhanced with his Ultimate, Dragonic Corruption. When used, it can separate an enemy team in the middle of a team fight, and allow your team to lock down players caught in the wrong position. It adds a stun to his leap, Underhanded Tactics, as well as making his Coerce into an AoE ability, allowing him to buff the whole team. He’s also one of the few support gods that can secure kills on its own.

ADC Role

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Most hunters can be played currently and are considered viable. Rama, however, stands out from the pack. His damage late game is disgusting, and is boosted by his two steroid abilities, Astral Strike and Pick Me Up. He has insane tower shred and an annoying escape in Rolling Assault, that can be turned into an offensive opportunity if played correctly.

What Rama is truly known for is his Ultimate, Astral Barrage. Rama gains complete immunity while being allowed to snipe players from a good distance away dealing a large amount of damage. SPL players don’t typically struggle with these shots and can play it perfectly as either a finishing move, objective stealer, or even initiator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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SPL Summer Split: North American All Star team

With DreamHack around the corner, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the Summer Split, and the players who deserve to be part of an All Star team.

Solo Lane All Star

This one is tough to choose. We saw strong play out of the Solo lane this split, but the All Star selection comes down to two players. The Short Lane veteran Jarod “CycloneSpin” Nguyen, and the newcomer Alec “fineokay” Fonzo.

Cyclone returned to form this split, posting the highest KDA out of the Solo lane at 3.88, as well as posting the 4th fewest deaths per game out of every player at 1.5. He was a rock for Team Allegiance, and always looked good, even in their losses. If Cyclone can continue this play, ALG will have a good shot at making Worlds.

Even with how well Cyclone played, the rookie fineokay deserves the All Star nod. Joining Spacestation Gaming (SoaR at the time) in the middle of the Spring Split, fineokay has shown he’s not to be treated like a rookie. He finished second in KDA behind Cyclone in the Solo Lane, and just behind him at 1.6 deaths per game. Yes, Cyclone had the better stats, but what doesn’t lie is the record. fineokay helped to propel his new team to a first place finish in North America.

Jungle All Star

The Jungler of choice for the SPL All Star squad is much easier than the Solo Lane. Alexander “Homiefe” D’Souza of Spacestation Gaming was an absolute monster this split. There were discussions whether Suharab “Mask” Askarzada or Homiefe were the top Jungler in the world. That was answered this split, and it’s Homiefe.

Homi boasted a KDA of 5.2, which was a whole 2 points higher than Brooks “Cynosure” Mattey of Trifecta. On top of that, Homiefe finished 2nd in NA with 4.5 kills per game, and 5th with just 1.6 deaths per game. He also participated in 78.2% of Spacestation Gaming’s kills, good for 4th highest in North America.

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Mid Lane All Star

Just one split off of his first pro split spent in a new role, who would have thought the best player out of the Mid Lane would have been Andrew “andinster” Woodward? We saw flashes out of the Spring Split whenever Andi would play Ra, but he turned it up during the Summer Split, and showed why he was once considered the best player in the world.

Andi was a Jungler when he was known for being the best, but he has shown that it was more about his skill at Smite then his ability in the Jungle. Andi had the highest KDA in the North American SPL this split at a whopping 5.36 as he carried Spacestation to the top. He also finished second in the league in deaths per game at just 1.3.

Support All Star

The closest race when it comes to All Star in a specific role has to be out of the Supports. Between Connor “Jigz” Echols and Sinjin “Eonic” Thorpe, we had some impressive guardian play.

Jigz captained his newly named Spacestation gaming to first place in North America while posting the highest KDA in his role at 4.62. He led his team by example when it came to deaths per game by leading the league with 1.2. Everyone on Spacestation gaming finished top 5 in that category, and everyone died fewer than 1.7 times per game.

Eonic led the resurgent Trifecta to a strong 10-4 record, good enough for second in North America. He was right behind Jigz in KDA posting a 4.28 stat line. He finished first in the SPL in assists per game with an insane 10.5, as well as third in deaths per game at 1.4. Eonic also participated in 77.2% of his teams kills, good for 6th in the SPL.

ADC All Star

This split saw Steven “Zapman” Zapas step away from the Smite scene. The stage was set for someone to fill his shoes, and Evan “Snoopy” Jones stepped up in a big way. For reference, he played Vulcan ADC and dominated with it, so there’s that.

Snoopy posted a solid 4.76 KDA in the Carry role, as well as leading the league in kills per game at 4.9. He also fell into the group of players that died just 1.6 times per game. Snoopy stepped up for SPL fans in the absence of Zapman, and now he’s got a shot to step up for North America come DreamHack.


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SPL Summer Split: Last shot at DreamHack for NA

We’re finally here! There are three enormous games this weekend, each with DreamHack ramifications. Which teams are going to be heading to Spain?

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Team Allegiance vs Trifecta

The first game of the day could lead to a complicated breakdown in the standings. Trifecta currently sits tied for second with Luminosity Gaming. Because of that, losing doesn’t immediately eliminate them. They will need a lot of help if that were to happen though, so the simple way out would be for them to just win 2-0, and end the discussion there.

Should Trifecta lose 2-0, then they will end up tied with ALG, who would win the head to head, and tied with Luminosity, if Luminosity lose 2-0, who they split against. Because of this, there would be a three-way tie for one or two spots, depending on how the Spacestation Gaming versus eUnited set plays out. Either way, there would be a tiebreaker between the teams and three best of one’s would be played to determine who gets the remaining spot(s).

For Allegiance, however, this will be much more difficult. ALG needs to take a 2-0 victory over Trifecta if they want to have a shot at DreamHack. Anything less and they’re eliminated. ALG also needs eUnited to lose. Should eUnited win 2-0, and Luminosity gets a split, then anything ALG does wouldn’t matter. A split with SSG would give eUnited 11 points, tied with Trifecta, possibly Luminosity if they get 2-0’d, and ALG. Or Luminosity and Spacestation gaming could just win, and ALG would qualify simply with a 2-0, but they still need help.

At the end of the day, this one is a complete toss up. Both teams desperately need a 2-0 to see the rest of the day play out and feel comfortable. I’m going to call a split, I don’t see it being any different.

Spacestation Gaming vs eUnited

The previous set will have some implications here based on the final results. However, if Spacestation wins this one 2-0, then it’s simple. SSG will qualify first place in North America for Dreamhack, and eUnited will be done for the Summer Split. It gets a little more complicated if they split, but not for Spacestation, as they qualify with just 1 more point.

Although SSG is closest to qualifying, they still could end up in a bad spot should they drop this set 2-0. eUnited would be tied with them, and have the head to head. And should Trifecta and Luminosity earn the 2-0 in this scenario, then that would be it for SSG. Again, a lot needs to happen, but it’s still a possibility.

We’ve already covered the four-way tie possibility for eUnited should they split. They could also end up in a three-way tie with Trifecta and ALG, where ALG would have the head to head with both teams, and presumably move on based on that. They could also end up tied with Luminosity, should LG lose 2-0, Trifecta do anything but lose, and eUnited split. eUnited would then have the head to head with LG, having beat them 2-0 in Week 4.

Having covered every scenario here, I’m going to call another split. With the way these teams are playing right now, it’s still way too close to call.

Luminosity Gaming vs AI

Only one team here needs to be covered, and that’s Luminosity. LG has the final set of the day, and they have the luxury of qualifying before they even play. Should Trifecta at least split, and SSG win 2-0, then LG is going to DreamHack. Should SSG split, however, Luminosity will need to take one game off of AI.

Luminosity is the only team that isn’t playing a squad with a shot at DreamHack this week, but there’s still a possibility they can get beat 2-0. As previously mentioned, that could still result in them heading to DreamHack, however there’s a much more entertaining scenario. They could end up in the aforementioned four-way tie between LG, Trifecta, ALG, and eUnited, which would be crazy as an SPL fan. They could also end up in a three-way tie with Trifecta and ALG, which would again be entertaining as a fan.

Unfortunately, we shouldn’t expect any of that to happen. Luminosity is filled with veteran talent, and they’re going to take the 2-0 and qualify for DreamHack. It’s going to be as simple as that.


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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

Game of the Summer Split: Noble Esports vs eUnited

Game 1

The game one Picks and Bans were fairly standard for the meta we have seen develop over the course of the Summer Split. eUnited banned away Susano, Bellona, Thor, and Rama while Noble banned away Fafnir, Serquet, Ne Zha, and Nemesis, in that order. Looking at the draft, you’ll see the crazy amount of sustain drafted by eUnited. This is a good comp for a team looking for the late game. The problem is that Noble ended up with gods of their own who are very strong in the late game.

Noble Esports

Aquarius – Hercules

Skeeledon – Bastet

MLCst3alth – Thoth

Wubbn – Khepri

Wowy – Hou Yi

eUnited

Benji – Osiris

Varizial – Ravana

Khaos – Sol

PolarBearMike – Terra

Pandacat – Cupid

Early Game

The game started with Noble clearing the wave first and invading eUnited’s speed buff. They stuck around a bit too long however, and Alexander “Khaos” Greenstein ended up getting the first blood on Ryan “Aquarius” O’Neill. This lead to eUnited gaining control over Noble’s solo side jungle. However, while eUnited was preoccupied with the Jungle, Noble was able to sneak away the Gold Fury. This would not go unpunished, as eUnited would then take out Jacob “Wowy” Carter and David “Skeeledon” Dougherty along with the Mid lane Tier 1 Tower.

Using the timer on Speed Buff that EUN gained earlier, they show up at the same time as Noble, and were able to get a pick on Aquarius. With the numbers advantage, EUN were then able to secure the Portal Demon and prepare for the next Gold Fury fight back in the Fountain. eUnited would then use the Gold Fury as a bait, and Ben “Benji” McKinzey would find a kill on Brett “MLCst3alth” Felley. It’s here, however, where we first see the mistake eUnited would continue to make throughout this game.

They would overextend into the enemy jungle and take fights without teammates. Benji would fall, and then Lucas “Varizial” Spracklin from eUnited and Derek “Wubbn” Gibson of Noble would go down as well. All this while the remaining members of eUnited finish off the Gold Fury. It’s a win, but losing two members would prevent eUnited from taking advantage of their situation. Because of this, Noble pushed into the Portal Demon and secured it. As of now, Skeeledon on the Bastet has only done 2416 damage, being outdamaged by Mike “PolarBearMike” Heiss on the Terra.

Mid Game

The first engagement in the Mid game would take place at Noble’s Tier 1 tower in the Solo lane. They killed Khaos and Benji, while only losing St3alth. This was the story for Noble the whole set. They were able to fend off eUnited so often, it was thoroughly impressive. Everyone would respawn, and the dance at Gold Fury would begin. With everyone using their Cooldowns, nobody would lose their life. However, this is where eUnited’s team comp would shine. They would sustain and heal up, and then be able to push into Noble’s jungle. Noble would again defend this successfully, picking off Varizial. Again, eUnited’s timing on jumping the backline was off, and they would end up overextending too far into Noble’s jungle.

Noble used this to push onto the Gold Fury, but eUnited stole it away. The same dance would take place over at the Portal Demon, but this time Noble would steal it, along with killing PBM, Khaos, and Benji. With three members of EUN dead, Noble would take the first Fire Giant of the game, and use it to push down the Tier 2 Towers in Mid and Duo lane. For the first time in the game, Noble would take the lead.

End Game

The teams would then regroup, and move onto the Fire Giant yet again. Noble was again able to win a team fight, killing four members of EUN, and securing their second Fire Giant of the game. eUnited would respawn however, and try to take the Portal Demon. Noble would then lose Skeeledon and Wubbn trying to defend it, leading to a wasted second Fire Giant. At this point, we were 40 minutes into the game, and the kills were tied 14-14.

Noble would regroup by the time the next Fire Giant would spawn. MLCst3alth at this point was full build on Thoth. Because of this he was absolutely destroying eUnited with the damage he was outputting. Despite having zero kills, he was leading the game in player damage by 10,000. Noble would win the team fight and take down the third Fire Giant of the game. They still wouldn’t be able to push into the Titan room of EUN however, and would need a fourth Fire Giant to do so. After getting the fourth one, SKeeledon would split push the Solo lane Phoenix, and then group with his team in the Duo lane to take down that Phoenix and push the Titan. Noble won Game 1.

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Game 2

Picks and Bans were similar to the first game here. Noble banned Fafnir, Serquet, Terra, and Sol while eUnited hit Bellona, Susano, Rama, and Hercules. eUnited went for a pretty big set up comp for their Mid lane pick, Kukulkan, while Noble drafted something very reminiscent of their first game. Why shouldn’t they, they just won.

 

Noble Esports

Aquarius – Ravana

Skeeledon – Ne Zha

MLCst3alth – Thoth

Wubbn – Khepri

Wowy – Cernunnos

eUnited

Benji – Osiris

Varizial -Thor

Khaos – Kukulkan

PolarBearMike – Ares

Pandacat – Hou Yi

Early Game

Noble started this one off strong, sneaking away a very early Gold Fury, at the 3:30 mark. A team fight in Mid lane broke out, with St3alth caught in the middle of it. Meanwhile Aquarius is doing his best to Solo kill Benji in the Solo lane. Unfortunately for Noble, St3alth drops first, with Benji very quickly falling right after. Varizial with a gorgeous rotation though is able to clean up what is left of the 1v1 in Solo lane, and drops Aquarius. After a bit of a break in action, eUnited was able to push to Gold Fury, and drop it. Meanwhile Aquarius was making Benji’s laning phase hell, soloing the short laner one more time.

With the teams rather unwilling to force a full team fight quite yet, EUN was able to sneak a completely uncontested Portal Demon. Noble came over as it was dropped, but learning from game 1, eUnited just took their win and retreated. The next engagement was at Gold Fury, where Noble was forced to drop it to take the team fight, that resulted in both teams losing just one member. The teams then backed off and farmed, preparing for their next fight. It came in the Solo Jungle, and this time it went completely in Noble’s favor, taking down four members of eUnited, while only losing one. Fortunately for eUnited, Noble wasn’t able to secure anything after this fight, and just went back to farming.

Mid Game

It was eUnited’s turn to take a team fight, as this was how this set went. EUN would down three members of Noble, allowing them to secure Fire Giant and siege down every remaining tower. As they went to push the Duo lane Phoenix, Noble showed the defensive might of their draft, and stopped EUN in their tracks. As Fire Giant respawned, the teams danced around waiting for the other to engage. Khaos would hit a huge Ultimate onto four members of Noble, downing two, and allowing his team to take the right side Phoenix, and then Fire Giant.

Noble, however, was having none of the EUN push, and shut them down as they tried to siege the two remaining Phoenixes. eUnited would regroup, and push right back into Fire Giant. This time however, Noble allowed them to take it, having confidence in their ability to defend the Phoenixes. And wouldn’t you know it, they were successful once more, stopping EUN at the Mid Phoenix.

End Game

With Fire Giant set to respawn, eUnited was there first, trying to take it for a fourth time. Noble wasn’t about to let that happen this time, and with a great engage, pushed EUN off the FG. As EUN ran away, Noble finished off the Fire Giant, securing the buff for the first time in the game, and proceeded down the Mid lane. As they took down the Mid Phoenix, eUnited showed Noble wasn’t the only team that could defend, and dropped three members of Noble and rushed the Titan.

eUnited pushed down left lane, dropping the remaining members of Noble, except Jacob “Wowy” Carter, who was able to retreat into his fountain. In a last ditch effort to defend his Titan, Wowy rushed into four eUnited members, and was pulled in by PBM with the Ares ult. The problem for EUN was that nobody turned to finish Wowy, and he was able to use Cernunnos’ passive, as he was in melee range. 50:00 into game 2, Wowy, 1v4, got a MASSIVE quadra kill to defend his Titan, just as his team was respawning, securing the game for Noble Esports. Noble wins 2-0.

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios


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Is it time to talk about roster changes in the SPL?

The Smite Pro League, more specifically in North America, has seen an insane amount of roster changes recently. The SPL players will make the argument that it’s for the betterment of the team. However, the frequent roster moves are starting to become a joke.

Roster Changes

Now before people begin to overreact, roster changes are a necessity in the SPL, as they are in any traditional sport or esport. If something isn’t working, or if there is a weak link, teams will find players to fill that role – that’s just how it works. The issues come from how the roster changes are handled within the SPL.

Take Ben “Benji” McKinzey’s change from SoaR to eUnited for example. Benji didn’t feel like SoaR was the place for him and was given the chance to go back to eUnited. This is all fine and good, but it happened in the middle of a week, in the middle of the Spring Split. It resulted in his former team, SoaR, having to forfeit versus his new squad, eUnited. This should simply not be allowed.

Then we have Mike “PolarBearMike” and Steven “Zapman” Zapas. Both took a leave for a legitimate reason. PBM wasn’t feeling it with Smite anymore and had some personal things going on in his life. Zapman left for a similar reason. He had been playing Smite for five years without a break and felt he needed one. The problem is he decided to take it in the middle of the Summer Split, leaving his team to find an ADC. He also left them without an organization as he owned Team Eager. Zapman has already said he’s looking to come back in the Fall Split. His team was already looking like they weren’t making Dreamhack, which meant he only had three weeks left in the Split. Essentially, Zap left his team high and dry for an extra three weeks of vacation.

Image by SmiteCentral

Issues Involved with Roster Changes

The roster moves mentioned above all have a similar story. They’re all about the player needing to make a change. There’s nothing wrong with it, but the issue comes with how it’s handled. Players making changes in the middle of a split only to come back is a farce. Understanding the age of a lot of the players, the maturity level when it comes to business decisions just isn’t there. The simple fact of the matter is that the SPL is a business, and it should be treated as such.

Mid-split roster changes are laughable, and they don’t look good on professional Smite as a whole. The SPL exists to bring in revenue. Sure it’s fun for the fans and the pros, but at the end of the day, it exists because it makes money. What these types of roster changes do is make it seem like a playground kickball game. Billy didn’t like losing so he changed to a different team. Roster changes before and after a split are necessary, but during one is just unprofessional.

Solutions to Roster Changes

Hi-Rez needs to take a look at the way roster changes are happening and do something about it. First off, the situation with Benji should not be allowed to happen, ever. To combat this, once you’ve played for an SPL roster, you should be locked to that roster for the remainder of the split. If you want to leave mid-split, that’s fine, but you can’t return to a different team a la Benji, or the three players from EnVyUs that joined Team Allegiance in Season Three.

Organizations should follow in the footsteps of Team Allegaince and their roster. The players signed a one year contract with ALG, planning on sticking with them through Worlds next year. Now obviously, PBM left that contract, but citing personal issues should free players from contracts. And obviously Zap is immune in this situation, he owned the org. Something like this makes purchasing a team jersey worthwhile, because the players should be around for a year at least. It generates revenue, as well as team hype, making players and orgs more popular. Roster changes are inevitable, but the way they are handle should be looked at in the very least.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

 

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