NRG Invitational

A mock draft for the NRG Invitational

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

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

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

Round 1: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer

Round 2: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror

Round 3: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer

Round 4: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror

The rest of the rules are as follows:

NRG Invitational

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Round 1

Aror

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

BaRRaCCuDDa

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

Ataraxia

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

iRaffer

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

Round 2

iRaffer

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

Ataraxia

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

BaRRaCCuDDa

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

Aror

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

Round 3

Aror

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

BaRRaCCuDDa

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

Ataraxia

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

iRaffer

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

Round 4

iRaffer

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

Ataraxia

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

BaRRaCCuDDa

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

Aror

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

 

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


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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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NA

How Dreamhack highlighted the ever growing gulf between NA and EU

How we got here

The big story in competitive Smite throughout Season 4 has been competition. There have been two aspects in regard to competition. Firstly, competition has grown incredibly within the regions. Seed one through six are all capable of taking games off each other now in both regions. What is possibly the bigger story is that NA have fallen off a cliff competitively when it comes to LANs.

In every other season NA has been able to compete at the highest level. Admittedly NRG have been top dogs for the last two years, but between the rest of EU and NA there has not been much difference. However, at the very end of Season 3 things started to change. EU sent only two teams to SWC after not performing all that well at the preceding LAN. However, EU dominance started to show there as both EU teams went to the final. This was even more impressive as at the time Obey were not respected as the team they are now. The second team in EU was OrbitGG who didn’t go to SWC due to poor performances at the preceding LAN.

It was at the Gauntlet though and Smite Masters where we really learned just how big the gap had grown between the two regions. It was dominant from EU just putting NA to the sword. Nothing epitomised this more than the way in which Rival handled Soar (now SpaceStationGaming).

Where we are at now

na

Image courtesy of neogaf.com

EU was known to be stronger than NA; however there was hope that the gap would shrink. Day one of Dreamhack Valencia put such vain hopes to rest. In the three sets between NA and EU only one game went to NA. What was more telling was the way in which EU won. It was brutal, NA were made to look like one of the minor regions. 4th seed in EU, Team Rival, absolutely took SSG, the first seed from NA, to pieces. The way in which that happened makes me confident that Eanix, EU’s 5th seed, has a better chance of winning SWC than any team in NA.

Why?

NA have little success in Moba’s. In pretty much all Moba’s NA are significantly behind the rest of the competition. A few theories are banded around but I don’t put a huge amount of stock in any of them.

Firstly, you hear that ego hinders NA teams; they think they are all better than they are, don’t play for the team and big egos clash. This doesn’t make any sense to me for so many reasons. I mean is John ‘Barracuda’ Salter’s ego getting in the way of LG competing internationally? I think not. You occasionally hear that NA doesn’t take competitive gaming seriously and conventional sports are much more popular. EU is no different, conventional sports are far and away dominant over esports. Most people don’t really know about competitive gaming as a thing. I honestly couldn’t give you the reason, but it is a trend which is hard to ignore.

How?

More focused on Smite I can’t tell you the core problem, but I do have some ideas as to symptoms of the issue. The big thing here that everyone notices is how much more objective focused EU are than NA. I think one of the best ways in which we have been shown at Dreamhack so far is through mid lanes and supports.

The first time this is apparent is in the Rival vs SSG set. Game 2 was won through objective control. The Ra pick by rival was huge. Firstly, it takes away one of Andrew ‘Andinster’ Woodward’s favourite picks. Secondly, it gives you a great ultimate for objective secure. Then SSG backed themselves into a corner with the Hades pick. They had zero objective secure. Up to 20 minutes the game was close but Rival were behind in kills, but had three Gold Furies.

Take away those Gold Furies and SSG are in a dominant position in the game instead of slightly behind. Their objective play was just sloppy as a whole that game though. When they lost a Gold Fury because five people backed at the same time, it was infuriating. This is something that has been known since the game was in open beta. I mean this is not EU playing amazingly but NA playing pretty poorly. Rival were also taking Gold Furies in the face of SSG. This is because of their dominant objective secure.

Look at game number one in the NRG vs Dignitas set. Dig have a Sol in the mid lane and NRG had a Vulcan. While Sol’s objective secure is not bad it just can’t compete with a Vulcan. Dignitas recognise this though, so Jeppe ‘Trixtank’ Gylling starts with a HOG.

NA

Image courtesy of smitepedia.com

This allows them to really compete and contest at Gold Furies. It shows the thought that EU are putting into making sure that they don’t fall behind in the objective game. Something NA clearly are not doing at the moment. Notice how he didn’t go HOG when NRG had a Morrigan in the mid lane, showing that this is a thought process based around big mage ults.

NA also seems to be one step behind when it comes to Meta. One way in which this has risen to prominence is how little they value the Sobek. Sobek has been dominant this LAN. Objective wise he is one of the best supports. If you are baiting a Gold Fury he is great as anybody who comes near has to fear the pluck into your entire team. Same goes for anybody trying to contest. You could be one second away from being flung into the entire opposing team.

On top of that he probably has the best ult for securing objectives, with Lurking in the Waters, slowing anybody who comes in, doing huge amounts of damage to players and objectives. For example, when Trix went HOG on Sobek he alone could probably burst the Gold Fury from 30 percent down in a second or so. If you look at the only NA team to win a game, it was when Sinjin ‘Eonic’ Thorpe was playing the Sobek. NRG noticed this though and started banning out the Sobek vs Trix.

What this means for competitive Smite

Nothing good comes from this ever growing divide. Smite competitively is hamstrung in one major regard. We have no serious Asian scene. In particular, Korea does not recognise Smite as a competitive game. Having Korea as a region in a game is beneficial for so many reasons. Korea takes esports more seriously than any other region in the world. For those of you who do not follow any other esports, the best way to describe this is to mention Kespa. That is the government body specifically designed to deal with esports, who even go as far as hosting their own ‘Kespa Cups.’ Korea drag every other region up as they are so professional and take esports so seriously that to keep up everyone must try to emulate. Korea is very invested in their esports scene.

Missing those benefits hurts competitive Smite, but now not having Korea becomes even more of an issue. Only having one region who is competitive will get boring very quickly. If it stays this way, there will be no inter-region competition at LAN’s. Inter-region competition is the most exciting part about big LAN’s. When that disappears, interest in major events falls rapidly.

At the end of the day if NA doesn’t up their game soon everyone suffers.

Top Image courtesy of twitter.com/SmitePro

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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

Photo by www.smitefire.com

Resurgence of Odin

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

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

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


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

 

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

Photo by www.shazoo.ru

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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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Best Performers this Split: The EU All Star Roster

ADC

Kenny ‘Arkkyl’ Kuska has to be the stand out ADC for EU this Split. This must be incredibly pleasing for the French ADC, mainly because he was the one player people were questioning when Dignitas, the new ‘super-team’, was formed. This Split though he definitely put in an all star performance.

It was not the mechanical skill of Arkkyl that was being questioned though. As in his relatively short time in the SPL he had put in some great performances. Rather it was consistency and how he would manage on a top end team, as there is little doubt that his current roster was a big step up. When on a weaker team, it is often a lot easier to show glimpses of your quality rather than prove it every week. This is down to your team being more likely to be behind and if you are known as one of the best players on a weaker roster you are likely to get a lot more focus.

Arkkyl has more than proved himself to be up to the challenge. Last Split he showed he could be consistent and had some performances which hinted at his potential. However, this Split he has been consistently excellent. He has a KDA of 5.91, 3rd highest in the league. The statistics back up how great his play has been even more, he also has 61 kills the 5th highest in the league. This shows that it is not by being passive that he has such a high KDA but through pro-active aggressive plays.

Jungle

Nobody is going to be surprised at the who MVP in the Jungle for the Summer Split is, it is Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ross, the King is back. He is not just the MVP for the Jungle though he is probably the MVP for the whole of Europe. This guy would make it onto any all star roster, he is probably the best player Smite has ever had.

All Star

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

Adapting’s stats this split are eye-watering. He tops KDA at 7.85, which is 1.78 higher than his closest competitor, who just so happens to be his mid-laner. He also has the most kills in the entirety of the SPL with 84. This is 16 higher than anyone else’s and over 23 higher than EU’s closest contender Arkkyl. If you think I have run out of ridiculous stats for Adapting, think again. He also has the highest kill participation in the league at 85.12 percent. All this while managing to come in second in deaths per game at 1.21, only slightly losing out to once again his mid laner!

What else is there to say about Adapting? He has just been tearing up the SPL since he joined. He is so good, he was getting called the best player in the world while this team were still in the Challenger Cup. Last Split it was very much a debate about who the best player in the world was, this split not so much. I’ll end how I started, the king is back!

Solo

It was hard to pick a solo for this all star roster, as the top three in EU have all had excellent performances from their solo-laners. They are all very close in overall performance, so when stuck lets the stats decide!

Harry ‘Varitey’ Cumming just beats out the other two to take his spot in this all star roster. Varitey is someone who has not always been rated as highly as he is now. However, in recent memory he has been lauded as one of the best solo-laners the SPL has to offer, and rightly so.

It is rather simplistic but I see my Solo-Laners in two categories, the Ryan ‘Omega’ Johnson kind who are looking to destroy you in lane. They are forcing you to base at every opportunity, taking your buffs and essentially trying to ground you into the dirt. These Solo laners are bullies in every sense of the word, doing everything short of taking your lunch money and sticking your head down the toilet.

The second kind are in the Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov role who are more willing to take losing match ups to help a draft and are more macro focused. (this is not to say Dimi will not stick your head down the toilet and take your lunch money Smite-wise but it is not all he does) Variety is definitely in the first mold of Solo laners, being especially dominant on Osiris, undoubtedly one of the best in the league on that god.

This is shown by him having the highest kills in Europe for a solo laner on 47. Variety also has the highest KDA for any solo-laner across both regions at 4.59. Showing he is not just aggressive but incredibly successful at it. Another hallmark of a great solo laner is their farm generation or GPM and again Variety tops Europe at 509, putting him 2nd across the entire SPL. An all star set of stats from an all star player.

Support

Step forward you unsung heroes, ye valiant few who die for others sins. Who among these brave and undervalued players of the SPL stands a top the pile? Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone has just edged out all the others this Split.

Stats are a strange thing to examine when it comes to supports, as their deaths can often come from others mistakes or be the best play to make. Kills are also not something that most supports are going for, often being much happier to give it to a carry on the team.

All Star

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

However, there are some more reliable stats. GPM is one of them, finding farm on a map when none of it’s yours has always been an art form of the support. Admittedly with the power of Travellers Shoes and Watcher’s gift this has become easier in recent times. In this stat iRaffer came second in the league at 474. What supports really pride themselves on though is assists. Here iRaffer outshone the rest of the league with 152 assists at a rate of 10.86 a game.

Some people may say this is skewed with just how high the amount of kills NRG as a whole was getting but with a participation rate of 74.42 percent which is towards the higher end of the league. Personally I think it is even more impressive. This is because it shows how iRaffer was such a big part of getting these kills and why he is on my all star roster.

Mid

NRG feature again in this all star roster with their mid laner André ‘Yammyn’ Brännvall. He has been consistently one of the best mid laners in the world for the last two years. This Split has been no different, he has been exceptional.

There are a lot of things on which we can judge a mid laner. Is it their damage output? This is an important factor, as mid laners are the aoe damage dealers for a team. Is it kills? Another important factor but counter-intuitively mages are not the ones to finish off kills a lot of the time with their burst ults. Instead they weaken a team while the more mobile characters sweep in and mop them up. Is it GPM? Well seeming as a mid laner shares most of their farm it seems a hard thing to put at the top, being so dependent on whether or not your jungle and support are taking it. In all these stats though Yammyn is near the top of Europe showing how good is play is.

The stats we are left with and which Yammyn does top the league seem to show a lot more to me. These are KDA and and deaths. Mages are probably the squishiest class in Smite. Incredibly low protection and health scaling, combined normally with a lack of mobility. They are also put into the most contested area of the map meaning there is the constant threat of death. So for Yammyn to only have 15 deaths is an impressive feat. When you combine that with the fact that he has the highest KDA in the league for a mid at 6.07 far above the 4.53 of Emil ‘PrettyPrime’ Edstrom (the man who would replace him in this list) and joint 2nd highest kills, it gets all the more impressive.

 

Honorable Mentions

ADC – Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark

Jungle Anders ‘QvoFred’ Korsbo Benjamin ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight

Solo Dimi

Support Jordan ‘BigManTingz’ Theaker

Mid PrettyPrime

If you would like to know what an NA version of this would look like, look no further my colleague Brendon has you covered! http://thegamehaus.com/2017/06/30/spl-summer-split-north-american-star-team/

A quick shout out to @BluesVult who’s spreadsheet was the source for a lot of these stats.

 

Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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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

Photo by www.smitecentral.com

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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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

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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Top gods in each role heading into DreamHack

Solo Lane

Photo by http://smite.gamepedia.com

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

Photo by http://smite.gamepedia.com

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

Photo by http://smite.gamepedia.com

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

Photo by http://smite.gamepedia.com

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

Photo by http://smite.gamepedia.com

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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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

SPL game of the week: Obey Alliance vs Team Dignitas

Context

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

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

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

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

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

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

Predictions and contested picks

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

 

Image courtesy of pcgamesn.com

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

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

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

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

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

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