SPL Summer Split: Roster Changes You Need to Know

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

North American Roster Changes

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Flash Point

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

Noble Esports

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

Team Allegiance

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

In Memory of Gabe

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

eUnited

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

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

Team Eager

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

Monkey Madness

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

European Roster Changes

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Challenger Circuit Teams in SPL

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

Eanix

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

Elevate

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


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

So You Missed Smite

 

So You Missed Smite…

 

It’s happened. You missed smite. Maybe you smote too early, perhaps you still have it up and just didn’t use it altogether. What now?

 

Well, now it’s time to get typing. You need an alibi before your teammates flame you into oblivion. So, let’s get to it, with my handy list of useful excuses for missing smite. The following 10 excuses become exceedingly more ridiculous and impractical, so for your benefit, start with the basic excuses before mastering some of the more complex ones.

The most unfornate baron steal in all of competitive League of Legends. Courtesy of OGN

 

 

  1. “I lagged” – This classic excuse is a go to in my book, but the true master of this excuse uses a third party application in order to temporarily devour their bandwidth temporarily. Alt-tabbing and activating this program after you have missed smite, can increase your ping (latency), allowing you to then ping your ping to prove to your teammates how “laggy” you are. Need help temporarily increasing your ping? Try updating a game on Steam.
  2. “My cat/dog jumped me” – Another classic excuse utilized frequently by streamers and Bronzies alike. I enjoy taking this excuse to a different level by discussing my hypothetical cat’s medical history, creating sympathy amongst my comrades.
  3. “My mouse ran out of batteries” – Have a wired mouse? Your teammates don’t have to know. This classic excuse is bettered by an absence of movement following the missed smite. Try playing a few clicks of minesweeper, or booting up a game of Hearthstone in the meantime.
  4. “I was watching LCS” – This excuse works well when LCS is live, and even better when TSM is playing, but don’t let this stop you from claiming to watch rebroadcasts and VODs. This excuse is best when you throw in the matchup followed by a “No Spoilers please.”

    Saintvicious from his days on team Gravity. Courtesy of lolesports flickr

  5. “It was my turn in Hearthstone” – This optimal cover-up works even better if you tell your teammates how far you are on your Arena run. Remember that Hearthstone can be replaced by 3-D and even 4-D chess for maximum impact.
  6. “I’m practicing for my Saintvicious cosplay” – This strategy is best at higher elo, with players who have been around the competitive scene for quite some time.
  7. “Oh, I thought you were going to” – Bold, and precocious, this excuse transfers blame onto another player. I have yet to see this one work, however if you are playing with a Nasus, or any other stacking champion you can modify this one by saying you were letting them get stacks that they did not capitalize on.
  8. “Sorry fam, there was a (input natural disaster) making it hard to hit my smite” – This high-level excuse is as effective as it is well designed. Start with a whimsical opening in order to soften the blow of whatever natural disaster you choose to create. Remember, your goal is to balance comedy and tragedy here so keep it light, but also devastating.

    If they aren’t running out of batteries, they are running across something. Courtesy of miriadna.com

  9. “A mouse ran across my keyboard” – This excuse works best when you cast smite too early. Mice are scary, so your teammates may empathize with your situation. The challenjour rendition of this excuse can also be helpful, “ A keyboard ran across my mouse.”
  10. “I’m human” – This last ditch excuse will never work. Avoid at all costs. Admitting to being fallible is the first step towards your entire team sharpening their pitchforks and burning down your home. It’s just absolutely ridiculous that your teammates could accept that you are in fact a person prone to the imperfection of humanity.

 

Featured image Courtesy of Riot Games

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Interview with Masters Champion Ataraxia

A quick introduction to Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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SPL Summer Split: North American Team Preview

The Summer Split is finally here! North America has some catching up to do this split with how things ended at Masters LAN. With every team returning to the SPL, let’s take a look at how the North American teams are projected to perform this time around.

Flash Point

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Flash Point is the team with the most to prove. They finished the Spring Split in last place, meaning they needed to compete in Relegations to make it back in the SPL. They won both the matches they played pretty impressively to secure that spot and appear to be a better team than they were the previous split.

FP is coming into the Summer Split with three new players on the roster. Among these players is Jon “Sheyka” Sheyka, who replaces Riley “Incon” Unzelman in the mid lane. With the backbone of Erich “ShadowQ” Grabowski and Eugeen “Mirage” Mathew they put on a strong performance in Relegations, beating the SPL Gatekeepers (formerly Oxygen Supremacy), a team who beat them back in the Gauntlet, pretty handily. Expect Flash Point to be much more competitive this split, taking more games off the other teams than they did previously. Just don’t look for them to finish in the top three of North America.

Noble Esports

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Noble is a team to look out for. They are returning three players that are known to be some of the top players in their role. With that being said, they still finished 7th last split and were another team forced to play in Relegations. The good news for Noble is that the two players they added will make their roster much stronger. Ryan “Aquarius” O’Neill, previously on Flash Point, was their top performer during Relegations, which was big for them considering they under-performed out of the solo lane last split.

Noble’s biggest unknown is what they’ll be getting out of their veteran players. Smite World MVP Brett “MLCst3alth” Felley didn’t look like the same player during the Spring Split that we’re used to seeing. The same can be said out of the duo lane with Jacob “Wowy” Carter and Derek “Wubbin” Gibson.  Most importantly, however, is if this team has figured out a strategy. MLCst3alth stated during the Gauntlet that Noble didn’t exactly know how to pick and ban quite yet, as they were still trying to figure things out as a team. That is something that will need to change if they want to compete for a spot at Dreamhack at the end of the Summer Split.

Team Allegiance

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Team Allegiance is an interesting case. They are the team that has had the most roster changes in recent memory, whether it be from the “Weak3n backstab”, or players deciding to retire. Either way, Kurt “Weak3n” Schray has said that Allegiance has been winning a majority of their scrims lately. Now if that’s slightly exaggerated, who can tell, but what we do know is that they’re coming in to this split with an edge. ALG was one of the North American teams to compete in the Season 3 Smite World Championships.

The biggest roster change for ALG had nothing to do with their roster. With the SPL Gatekeepers losing during Relegations, they were forced to split up. This allowed Allegiance to finally pick up the perfect support player to replace the “retired” Mike “PolarBearMike” Heiss. Neil “Neirumah” Mah fits in perfectly with this Allegiance team. Looking back at the Spring Split, you could see that they had a lot of trouble when it came to shot calling and objective control. Neirumah is a player known for his shot calling and will be the perfect complement for Weak3n.

SoaR Gaming (Formerly)

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

SoaR isn’t quite as fun to talk about, and for them that’s probably a good thing. SoaR was a team that was supposed to be the next “super team” when they were first formed. After a rocky start, and a solo lane debacle, SoaR figured it out and ended up at the Masters LAN, where they lost to a very good Team Dignitas squad.

They still have one of the strongest jungle players in the world with Alexander “Homiefe” D’Souza, and one of the smartest players in Connor “Jigz” Echols. Add to that Andrew “Andinster” Woodward coming into his own in the mid lane, the sky is the limit for this team.

In Memory of Gabe

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

In Memory of Gabe is a team that came out of the gate storming the SPL. They appeared to be this unstoppable force that would compete for the top spot in North America. As the split went on, they fizzled out, and ultimately lost to SoaR in the Gauntlet.

This is still a roster that is strong all around. Evan “Snoopy” Jones and Sinjin “Eonic” Thorpe have spent a lot of time together in this league, and are a very reliable duo lane pair. The biggest question that IMOG will have is their new solo lane player. Tyler “Meerkat” Jensen replaces Mark “Whalrus” Maloney, a player who is very strong short Laner. It will be interesting to see the new dynamic Meerkat brings to the squad.

eUnited

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

eUnited appeared to be back to their former glory of Season Two as Enemy. They closed out the Spring Split very strong after stealing Ben “Benji” McKinzey back from SoaR. SoaR got their revenge on eU during the Gauntlet however, winning the North American side, and ultimately causing eUnited to face NRG for the Wild Card spot.

This time around eUnited will be taking on the Summer Split without their general. Louis-Philippe “PainDeViande” Geoffrion was replaced with the previously retired PolarBearMike. Pain is known as a great shot caller, so it will be interesting to see how eUnited fairs in that category this split. They have five very talented players – perhaps the easygoing attitude of PBM will be what they need to get back to a big LAN.

Luminosity Gaming

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Luminosity is the only other team without a roster change joining SoaR. Going into the Masters LAN, John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter said that he wasn’t too worried about winning the LAN because it was all about the World Championship for him. After the performance Luminosity and the rest of North America had it’s safe to assume Barra has changed his tune a bit. Luminosity will come into the Summer Split as the favorite after finishing second and having no roster changes. They will be the team that NA will be leaning on heavily this split.

Luminosity is a team known for playing the meta extremely well. This meta is incredibly fast paced and aggressive, which fits the play style of Barra, Woonyoung “Baskin” Kim, and Suharab “Mask” Askarzada perfectly. Expect Luminosity to have new life this split, and look to take the top seed.

Team Eager

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Luminosity might know the meta, but Team Eager is a team known for creating their own meta. They tried to do that at the Masters LAN, and were embarrassed with their Guan Yu Jungle attempts. The meta is very defined at the moment, and is will be interesting to see if Eager can play this meta instead of their own.

The good news for Team Eager is that the place that the meta seems to be the least defined is in the ADC role. What is means is that Steven “Zapman” Zapas will have the ability to play whatever God he feels most comfortable on and be the Carry fans have come to love. What remains to be seen is if the roster swap will work out for them. Samuel “sam4soccer2” will be replacing Cody “djpernicus” Tyson in the jungle, and will have to be able to fit the winning pedigree Eager has created of late.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

MSI Semifinals 2017: Team WE v. G2 Esports

MSI: Team WE vs. G2 Esports Preview

Saturday May 20, 2017, the second semifinals match of MSI will be underway. Team WE will face off against G2 Esports for a spot in the finals. Both teams have exhibited their fair share of stellar and underwhelming performances throughout the tournament. They will be doing their best to shore up the weak spots and study their opponents in order to reach peak performance. This best-of-five series will be all or nothing.

Team WE

The LPL representatives have made it through MSI with a 7-3 record, just below SKT. They dropped games to TSM, SKT, and GAM. Every player has had standout performances throughout the tournament. Team WE will be favored to win in this match-up, since they defeated G2 in both of their Group Stage bouts.

How They Win

WE outclasses G2 in almost every statistic. Gold difference at 15 minutes (+1,047/-342), first three turrets (80 percent/10 percent), dragon control (47 percent/30 percent) and baron control (54 percent/38 percent) all heavily favor the Chinese team.

In both of their victories against G2, WE drafted Ashe for Jin “Mystic” Sung-jun and Malzahar for Nam “Ben” Dong-hyun. WE’s jungler, Xiang “Condi” Ren-Jie, massacred Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun in the early game. Su “Xiye” Han-Wei played AP diver-assassins LeBlanc and Kassadin. And Ke “957” Changyu has been most impactful on tanky disruptors, particularly Kled.

All of these pieces come together to form a bursty pick composition. Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen was most often caught out by Enchanted Crystal Arrow, Nether Grasp, Explosive Cask, or Chaaaaaaaarge!!! and deleted before he was able to output enough damage. Team WE should maintain this draft strategy and playstyle, because G2 does not seem to have an answer at the moment.

Both wins were secured between 28 and 31 minutes. Team WE took first turret in both matches, which led to the first three turrets in just under 20 minutes. They then proceeded to take baron between 21 and 25 minutes, which allowed WE to break G2’s base and win. In their first game, G2 secured one tower and one dragon. In the follow-up match, WE did not allow them to take any towers or dragons.

How They Lose

Karma and Nami are champion picks that stick out in Team WE’s losses. Xiye lost both games when taking Karma to the mid lane, and Ben lost both games when playing Nami support. 957 looked weak on top lane Jayce, as well. The individuals cannot be fully to blame, but it seems like a good idea to keep these picks on the bench for now.

All of WE’s losses came off the back of sub-30-minute barons secured by their opponent. Against TSM, the gold difference never rose to more than 2,000 until they took a baron. From there, TSM closed out the game, taking a second baron and only ceding 4 kills. Team WE was leading SKT by 2,100 gold at 22 minutes, but Han “Peanut” Wang-ho landed a baron steal. SKT broke their base, took a second baron and won. Team WE’s loss to GAM was mostly due to Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh’s Kha’Zix getting fed a triple kill around 10 minutes.

If WE gives over baron, their chances of losing are high. When viewing statistics for the four semifinal teams, their win rates align with their first baron rates. This objective is pivotal to their playstyle. Properly pressuring around baron was a main catalyst for drawing in G2 and picking off key carries. However, if WE is sloppy in clearing vision or shot-calling around Smite, then it could spell disaster.

Player To Watch

Team WE’s top laner, 957

Team WE’s victory will rely heavily on 957 in the top lane. They have won every game that he has drafted Kled, and he has maintained a 27.0 KDA with the champion. On the other hand, his single Jayce game fed TSM their first 5 kills. G2’s Ki “Expect” Dae-Han is not necessarily the same carry threat that SKT or TSM have. WE will rely on 957 to repeat the masterful disruption he exhibited against G2 in their prior match-ups.

G2 Esports

Making it into semifinals by the skin of its teeth is G2 Esports. The EU LCS representatives finished the Group Stage with a 4-6 record, only picking up wins against Flash Wolves (2), GIGABYTE Marines (1), and TSM (1). Seeing as they lost both matches against Team WE, they are the underdog in this best-of-five series.

How They Win

G2’s victories varied drastically from each other. Three of the four wins were secured 42 minutes or later, and allowed the enemy team to secure at least one baron. Two of those three late-game wins involved G2 falling behind 8,000-9,000 gold at some point. The only champions drafted in multiple wins were Caitlyn, Nunu, and Orianna.

In all of their wins, Zven had two or fewer deaths and had a gold lead on the enemy AD Carry. It is obvious that he is their primary carry threat. G2 lost both games that he drafted Ashe. Zven only has wins on Caitlyn, Twitch, and Kog’Maw thus, G2’s draft will need to revolve around these champions. Ivern, Lulu, Karma, and Orianna have at least 50 percent win rates for G2 thus far. Combining multiple enchanters into the draft may allow Zven to break even through the early game and fully carry in the mid-late game.

Luka “Perkz” Perković has also been a consistent source of damage throughout MSI. Mid lane is arguably the most stacked position at the tournament, and Perkz has been going toe-to-toe with some of the best in the world. He has been averaging 28.8 percent of G2’s damage, the highest among all mid laners (second highest overall behind Zven). Putting Perkz on a champion that can control side waves, particularly Fizz, could be a good back-up if Orianna is banned.

How They Lose

There are several situations that G2 should avoid. Keep Trick off of Lee Sin, he failed horribly twice on the champion. Also, they should not draft Ashe for Zven or Zyra for Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez. Zven needs to be able to output immense damage, and Mithy plays much better on protective champions. Even Tahm Kench or Braum are preferable to Zyra if Lulu or Karma are unavailable.

If Trick continues to have poor early games, then this will most surely be G2’s defeat. Trick has the second lowest KDA and the second highest death share of all players at the tournament. He also has the lowest average damage of all junglers at the event.

While their best strategy generally results in early deficits, G2 will need to play intelligently between 15 and 30 minutes. Team WE’s average game time is over 5 minutes shorter than G2’s, which means if they cede 4,000-6,000 gold leads, then it will be highly unlikely for G2 to win.

Player To Watch

G2 Esport’s top laner, Expect

Expect has been putting up some big games this tournament. He has maintained a 3.7 KDA while only contributing 11.9 percent of G2’s deaths. The top laner has secured wins on Jayce, Gragas, Shen, and Nautilus. G2 also released a video of the final shot-calling from their win over TSM, showing the team’s faith in Expect.

The flip side is that Expect has some of the lowest damage of the top laners at the tournament, and his kill participation is low compared to 957. G2 will need him to be more involved as a proactive member of the team, matching 957’s map movements. Perkz and Zven can pump out the damage. Mithy can shield and provide vision. And Trick is under-performing. Expect may be the biggest factor that could turn this match-up on its head.

Prediction

Unless the stars align, and G2 are able to draft a true “protect the ADC” composition, then Team WE will skunk them 3-0. Trick got steamrolled by Condi in both of their Group Stage games. Mystic and Ben have been performing well enough to keep up with Zven and Mithy. Expect and 957 will most likely be trying to execute similar strategies, but 957 has proven to be more successful up to this point. Perkz matches up against Xiye pretty well, but the synergy among the entire team is heavily in WE’s favor.


Player/Champion Statistics: Oracle’s Elixir

All Images: LoL Esports Photos

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Thursday Night Smite: Improving the Smite Pro League

This past Spring Split introduced what Hi-Rez is calling Thursday Night Smite. It refers to last match of the day on Thursday nights. I’m a big sports fan, so when I first heard about TNS I thought it would be a great way to get more people to watch Smite. Football has Sunday Night Football, among others because of their strict three day game schedule. The NHL has Wednesday Night Rivalry. It’s only natural for an Esport to jump on the bandwagon and have a dedicated featured match of the week the same way.

Unfortunately this didn’t exactly pan out. Thursday Night Smite was simply a name. There wasn’t any fanfare with the match, and it just blended in with all the other games that day. Truthfully, that’s a shame. TNS has the potential to bring in new Smite fans if they just make some changes to create something truly entertaining.

The Pregame

The big starting point would be a pregame show. It doesn’t need to be this crazy hour long show like other sports, just something to separate the match from the other matches before it. Perhaps they could give the match a set time that doesn’t change based on the previous matches ending earlier then expected. Have someone serve as a host, and then have a revolving door of others at the desk to break down the upcoming match. Someone like Hinduman would fill the role nicely.

Lane Matchups and Rivalries

The pregame should involve things like lane matchups. Go into detail about Steven “Zapman” Zapas up against John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter in lane, and their past matches against each other. What would be really big for Smite would be a sense of rivalry between players.

Cody “djpernicus” Tyson and Kurt “Weak3n” Schray had a bit of a rivalry, and everyone knew they weren’t too fond of each other. This past split we saw a rivaly develop between SoaR gaming and eUnited because of the roster issues with Ben “Benji” McKinzey in the solo lane. Something like this could help draw fans to the match, and create an atmosphere that didn’t really exist.

Team Analysis and Featured Players

In depth team analysis would also be welcomed. A way to take a look at what the team has already accomplished in the past and in this split would give fans loads of insight. Luminosity Gaming has some world champions on their roster, so talking about their experience vs. a team like Flash Point would really give fans an idea of what type of match they’ll be watching. It would really help hit home an upset when the team that wasn’t supposed to win takes a game or two.

Featured Players of the Game would be a great way to have fans connect with players. Maybe the games before their Thursday Night Smite match, Obey Alliance’s Benjamin “CaptainTwig” Knight didn’t really look like himself. Break down some clips from those matches and point out a few things he could do differently in the Thursday Night Smite match to correct some mistakes. On the flip side, maybe Kennet “Adapting” Ros went off in his previous matches, and there are a few plays that allowed him to snowball to victory.

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

The Post Game

Game Recap

Hi-Rez already does a pretty good job when it comes to post game analysis. They have casters that know the game very well, and do a good job for the most part. It would be nice for them to truly go in depth in the post game to show why something worked. Show why the Ravana jungle forces a team to play a certain way to make sure they don’t lose farm.

Typically they have one or two clips where there was a turning point, but these matches take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes on the regular. In that time there are so many things that need to happen for the one team fight at the end of the game to go one teams way. It would be nice to go over how exactly teams are getting to that point.

Player and Coach Interviews

Again, this is a thing that Hi-Rez does well, but it’s something that they should really stress with Thursday Night Smite. Usually we’ll see them grab the captain off the winning team and he’ll say a few words and be done with it. What should be done, however, is an interview of the Focus Player, win or lose. This would bring a whole separate insight into what these players are going through after a win or loss.

It’s also important to hear what the coach has to say. At the Masters LAN we saw matches that were battles fought between the coaches and their picks and bans. Having an interview with a coach would allow the fans to get a grasp on what their favorite teams are planning on doing in future games, and their thought process behind certain picks or bans that maybe you didn’t agree with.

The Goal

At the end of the day, these changes are to bring in new fans to the Smite Pro League. It would take a lot of work, and a lot of production, but it would create something brand new for Esports fans. The Smite Pro League is growing and is quickly becoming one of the most watched Esports leagues. Something like Thursday Night Smite could be enough to get a new viewer to notice on the front page of Twitch, and become hooked.

It’ll need some dedication from the Esports people at Hi-Rez, along with all the Pro Players dedicating some extra time to the Thursday night match. At the end of the day however, they all have a common goal, and that’s to make the SPL the best it can be. Who knows, maybe Hi-Rez could even increase the drop rate on that SPL Bellona skin. Not for me, I have it, but ya know, for all the other fans who are missing out.


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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Smite Pro League: Masters LAN Review

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

Which Favorite Will be the First to Fall?

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

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

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

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

Will NRG Bounce Back?

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

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

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

Photo By: Hi-Rez Studios

Who Will Win the Region War?

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

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

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


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Featured Photo By: Obey Alliance

Smite Pro League: Smite Masters LAN Preview

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

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

The teams participating in Smite Masters are as follows:

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

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

Photo Courtesy of Hi-Rez

What to Watch For:

Which Favorite Will be the First to Fall?

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

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

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

Will NRG bounce back?

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

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

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

Who Will Win the Region War?

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy of smitecentral.com

Gods to Look Out For

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

Solo:

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

Jungle:

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

Mid:

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

Support:

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

Carry:

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

Photo Courtesy of Hi-Rez

Smite Masters Predictions

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

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

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

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


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Smite Gauntlet: What Did We Learn?

Bellona’s Back!

Bellona, in the online portion of this split, was nothing to scream and shout about. She had a pick/ban rate of 16.36%, a win rate of 50%, and a relatively low KDA of 1.8. Bellona, however, returned to take a prominent place within the Gauntlet meta over the weekend. With a pick/ban rate of 42.42% and a staggering win rate of 88.89%, it was a bit of a surprise as she is not one of these typical LAN monsters, such as the Anhur, who gains a lot from the 0 ping environment. Her abilities are easy to hit regardless of ping (barring the exceptional). She has been seen lately as a bit of a counter pick, as the disarm on her 3 can really hinder basic attack based gods. However, AA gods were not the story of the Gauntlet.

The favoured Hunter, Skadi, is the most ability-based Hunter Smite has ever seen. With power and penetration being the preferred build with very little, if any, attack speed being picked up. Ability based Junglers dominate the meta and the Kali pick we did see was far from expected. It is worth noting that the Bellona was also drafted in that game, perhaps in an attempt to protect the Kali from that disarm, although that is hard to say considering Adrian ‘Deathwalker’ Benko’s tendency to pick the Bellona this LAN anyway.

Image courtesy of SmiteFire

One criticism of Bellona is that she can be low impact. Her burst damage is easily interrupted, a disarm is all well and good but there is better CC, and the ultimate is rather telegraphed. But at the Gauntlet, any claims about low impact and the ult have been dismissed by Deathwalker. Look to game two against NRG when they were fighting for their life being down 0-1. He gets a great ultimate at the left Phoenix setting up the defence against a Fire Giant team, setting Rival up to not lose a Phoenix in that push.

Then the coup de grâce when Deathwalker single-handedly wins his team the game. Left Phoenix down, tank dead and you’re facing a full Fire Giant back to back World Champion team. I mean the game should be over, but in steps Deathwalker with a three-man Eagle’s rally right to the dome of the Support, ADC and Mage. GG Rival and then we all know what happens next.

One thing to point out here is that while that ultimate was great, it should never have been allowed to happen. This is clear from when we hear the NRG comms in their games against eUnited and them screaming ‘safe way!’ repeatedly, when they are making that same rotation to mid Phoenix.

One reason why Bellona showed her potential this LAN is that she is great in every part of the game. Her laning phase is great, and even if you can interrupt her Bludgeon it is still amazing. One reason for this is because of the Season 4 Death’s Toll. The loss of power for increased sustain is great for solo laners with AOE autos. If you go to interrupt the Bellona you will get hit, meaning she can group the minions. Then, Bellona is healing for 48-56 health per auto depending on whether or not she is hitting you, as well as the wave. That means over a wave she has nearly got a full health pot worth of healing. Considering most solo laners will start 4 health pot 4 multi pot early on she is gonna out clear you anyway and doesn’t need to worry about tanking the wave that much.

With that sort of laning phase, it is easy to get Bellona ahead or at the very least stay even. Once that happens, you have a Warrior with strong autos, a decent amount of burst from Bludgeon (serious burst if you are ahead), who is also incredibly tanky when you consider the blocks on her dash and the ability to stop the highest damage characters in the late game from doing their damage thanks to Scourge.

There is also the incredible zoning potential of her ult. You are not going to want to take a team fight down 35 protections from the other team! Let’s not forget her passive giving her movement speed and protections from being hit or hitting you! Bellona has been slept on recently, but with the recent performances in the Gauntlet, most notably on Deathwalker and Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov, do not expect that to be the case going into Masters and the Summer Split.

 

Itemisation

The biggest point of note in Itemisation is how much Spear of Desolation was picked up in the Gauntlet compared to the online section of this Split. Spear of Desolation is a great item for Mages. It has so many of the stats you want giving a decent chunk of power at 90, CDR, and penetration.

Image courtesy of Smite Wiki

Item’s do this occasionally when they are new, they don’t get picked up during the online phase as all scrims are dedicated to the game they are playing that week and they want to get their builds right. As much as the pro’s play the game, they know what works and it will take some time to oust their preferred items from the build. Especially more than the average player, builds are made around timings and pros have a better understanding of how a change in one part of the build effects another. When we have these breaks between the season and LANs it gives the pros time to experiment more in scrims as they aren’t worried about the set in two days. The big bonus of Spear of Desolation is being able to build CDR and Penetration at the same time.

The big bonus of Spear of Desolation is being able to build CDR and Penetration at the same time. The drawback was always the expense of the item, with other pen items being 450 gold cheaper in Spear of the Magus and Obsidian Shard being 300 gold cheaper. Never mind it’s not giving as much pen. However, it seems the pros have decided it is worth the investment. Most are building Spear of Desolation in the third item slot. This means that by your third item as a Mage you have 20 pen due to the 10 also on boots, 10% CDR, and a large power base, especially as a lot of people are building it with Bancroft’s Talon an item which is coming back into favour with recent buffs.

This is also a reason for Spear of Desolation’s entrance into the meta. The low cost of Bancroft’s allows your third item to be slightly more expensive. Most people are building another pen item on top of this later in the game, meaning you end up with more pen overall. Although Alexandru ‘Wlfy’ Lefterică showed this is not necessary, starting Book of Thoth and going a fourth item Rod of Tahuti in Rival’s second game against Eanix. He went top damage with the same build on Thoth as well as in the second game vs Soar. Pulling top damage numbers twice shows that he wasn’t hurting from the lack of pen. It is worth noting there weren’t many dedicated magical defense items built by Eanix that game.

Bancroft’s has seen a resurgence and is worth a quick mention as well. I say quick, because the reasons are obvious: the item is great. At its max effectiveness, you get 200 power 40% Lifesteal and you only pay 2300 gold for it. Also, now you don’t need to be dead to get max effect of the item. Being capped at 25% means you get a lot more use out of this item as the passive is strong when you are healthy enough to still fight.

EU Stronger than Ever

Team Rival

Rival looked very strong at Gauntlet and obviously not the biggest upset of the week considering Oxygen Supremacy’s incredible run. They were however not many people’s favourites to face off against NRG. Then to take that a step further by beating NRG! Although as I have alluded to and will go into more detail later they shouldn’t have. Smite like life, however, is about seeing an opportunity and taking it, something Deathwalker definitely showed in their game two against NRG.

What was probably the most impressive was the way in which they dispatched Soar. I was not expecting their victory, if they got one, to be so comprehensive. The first game, while not always leading in term of kills, they always led in the more important stats of gold and experience. Of the 70 players at the Gauntlet only 17 managed a KDA of above 3 barring their support the remaining four players of Rival all managed this showing this was definitely a team performance.

Stand-Out Performers

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Aleksandar ‘iceicebaby’ Zahariev, apart from having a great IGN, was also the MVP of the Gauntlet. I don’t think I am being unfair when I say nobody saw that coming. He more than tripled his Spring Split KDA of 1.31 with a KDA of 4.5 at Gauntlet. The Bulgarian Jungler looked dominant on his three main picks of Susano, Thor, and Serqet. Particularly the Susano where he has a combined slash line of 26/6/21. While Susano was definitely the most successful Jungler at Gauntlet with a win rate of 76.92 iceicebaby piloted the God incredibly well. His K/D on the God of 4.33 compared to the Gauntlet average of 2.27 proves this point. Look out for him at Masters we may have a new superstar from the Jungle to talk about.

DeathWalker had a great Gauntlet and is one of the major reasons behind the Bellona resurgence the first part of this article was dedicated too. I have made clear how I think without Deathwalker, Rival do not win this Gauntlet. He also has the most interesting pick of the Gauntlet. A solo Ah Puch – nobody who hadn’t been scrimming Rival or is very close to the scene would have been expecting that pick. That is something which would be met with hails of ‘report!’ In most ranked games! Yet, while they lost the game, it wasn’t the Ah Puch which was to blame. The way Deathwalker navigated the early game on one of the easiest Mages to kill in the game is something worth taking note of. This begs the question what else is he likely to pull out at Masters?

NRG

There has been a lot of talk about NRG being knocked off their perch. It is a little too early to be saying that as far as I am concerned. They should have 2-0ed Rival and they only didn’t due to a pathing error. An error as I said earlier, their comms suggests they are not likely to repeat again. Then considering what Rival did to Soar it is more than probable that NRG would have also walked away from that set victorious. The eUnited set was not just NRG booking their place at Masters it was a statement. From one man in particular Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ros. Who decided he wanted to remind us all why for the past two years he has been considered the best player in the world!

eUnited Set

The first game was even through 20 minutes with eUnited actually slightly ahead. Then it just became the Adapting and Dimi show, going 11/0/12 and 8/0/14 respectively with Adapting doing 26k damage. To put that in perspective, the Zhong Kui did 16k. That is another thing often overlooked about NRG during their drafts.

That draft was beautiful at shutting down a Zhong Kui. The Nemesis pick is obvious and its benefits have been espoused numerous times. What was drafted around it was what made it so great. The Scylla Nemesis combo makes it impossible for a Zhong to get a decent ult off. After the Judgement from Nemesis, you have the root chunking 20-30 percent of a Zhong’s health and then the unmissable damage in the Crush which takes off the same or more again. So without even needing to ult the Zhong is on his heels.

Admittedly, the Bellona pick came before the Zhong and it just happened to work out very well for eUnited. The Hou-Yi also zones the Zhong out as he isn’t walking through that and living to tell the tale. This made it nearly impossible for Zhong Kui to be Zhong Kui as he was relegated to a back-line mage.

The second game had NRG dominate the kills throughout although eUnited did a good job utilizing the map to keep it even. That is until the 20 minute mark. Then again, NRG just blew the game open. From minute 20 to 24 they turned a 3k gold lead into a 8 k gold lead. There were impressive performances from multiple players from NRG this game Dimi with top damage on the Erlang Shen going 1/2/17 doing everything you could ask of your solo laner, as well as André ‘Yammin’ Brännvall going 7/1/12 and the ADC Emil ‘Emilitoo’ Stärnman putting in a solid 4/1/8.

However, the main man was Adapting going 13/4/10, not participating in two of his teams kills for an overall kill participation of 92%. Adapting is unreal when he plays at his best. He also shot calls for his team which shows that there is more to this Jungler than mechanical prowess. If I was going to be facing NRG at Masters that set against eUnited is the last thing I would have wanted to see. Not only will NRG have a chip on their shoulder, but they will be the bottom seed from the two major regions in the game. The King is back and has got to be feeling himself after those performances in the final two games they played. This really should have been their 7th straight LAN victory and I wouldn’t be surprised for them to take number 7 when they get to the main event.

Looking to Masters!

Considering the last SWC finals was an entirely European affair, and this LAN, made up of the mid-lower tier teams, was dominated by Europe, the question of the stronger region seems to be pretty self-evident at the moment. Eager and Luminosity will have to play incredibly and put in a great performance to upset the European dominance. Bare in mind that Obey beat Eager in the Semi-Finals of Worlds to go through, and since then have only gotten better. Although, the Anubis pick which went 1-2 in games won in that set for Eager probably hampered them. As I reckon they had a better than 50 percent chance in a straight up game, especially as the first game went horribly for the Anubis. Putting yourself behind in such a pressure cooker of a set is more impactful than normal. LG and Eager are both great teams who could very easily walk away from Masters with a win. My money though is on EU to bring another trophy back across the Atlantic with them.


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Are NRG No Longer the Masters LAN Favorites?

Two years. That’s how long it has been since the boys from NRG Esports didn’t win a LAN in which they were competing. Absolutely incredible when you sit back and think about it. For a team to put in the work needed day in and day out to play with the sort of consistency NRG has been playing with for the past two years is just remarkable. So why all of a sudden did the streak come to an end? What happened that led to Team Rival winning the Gauntlet instead of NRG?

The Grind of The Smite Pro League

The grind of the SPL is pretty taxing on the body and mind. And you may be saying to yourself that it’s just playing video games, but it’s more than that.

Brandon “Venenu” Casale of Oxygen Supremacy walked us through a day in his life over the weekend at the Gauntlet. He referred to his day typically consisting of school, homework, and then hours of Smite. Many other players have mentioned similar scenarios in their own lives. As Team Eager fans know, Cody “djpernicus” Tyson is currently pursuing med school. This is unbelievable for a professional gamer of any kind knowing how much time needs to be dedicated to the game. Then you have the likes of Kurt “Weak3n” Schray, John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter, and Riley “Incon” Unzelman, among others who stream for hours and hours on end almost daily. They do all of this while continuing to spend hours scrimmaging and practicing with their teams.

So what does this have to do with NRG exactly? Well, a lot of this stuff applies to them. They have streamers, they have students, and each player on the roster has a life outside of Smite. The amount of dedication to the game that they have put in to remain such a dominant force in the SPL is a tremendous accomplishment. Unfortunately, a streak like that comes with a price. The players themselves have mentioned being burned out from playing the game, but still want to be able to compete at a high level. We’ve heard multiple times that they took a break this spring split, scrimming and practicing less so they can remain fresh and ready for the LAN tournaments that mean so much. This type of burnout is exactly what Mark Cuban was referring to when he said he didn’t want to invest in esports.

So looking back on the Spring Split, maybe there’s a reason why NRG started so slow, and then finished strong at the end. They were taking their break, and as it got closer to the Masters LAN, they picked up their play and made a push. Although they technically made it to Masters LAN, you could argue this wasn’t exactly worth while for NRG, as they finished 3rd in EU and were forced to compete in the Gauntlet, where again they finished 3rd. If their goal was to qualify with minimal effort, they certainly didn’t do that, playing five games more then they would have if they qualified in one of the top two spots in Europe.

Photo Courtesy of Hi-Rez Studios

The Competition is Just Flat Out Better

Let’s not take away from what Team Rival did this past weekend. They put on an absolute show and proved they can hang with the top teams. It is just simple fact that the SPL teams in EU have improved immensely. There’s proof that the gap between NRG and their competition has diminished, if not vanished entirely. Let’s face it, the NA teams didn’t exactly prove they could beat the EU teams at the Gauntlet. Eager and Luminosity proved they could compete with the EU teams last season at the Smite World Championship, but that’s been it so far. In Europe however, you have Obey and Dignitas who played phenomenal all split. Team Rival just showed us that they aren’t to be overlooked. Eanix took Rival to three games, and so did Elevate.

Just to be clear here, I’m not saying that the competition is better than NRG. What I’m saying is that the competition is better then they have been over the past two years while NRG was on their streak. Everyone on their team finished top four in KDA this weekend, which included Kennet “Adapting” Ros going 11-0-12 on Nemesis and 13-4-10 on Susano in his last two matches securing the Wild Card spot. The team also had the highest collective KDA on the weekend at 3.47 while Craig “iRaffer” Rathbone and Peter “Dimi” Dimitrov finished first and second in assists per game with 14.2 and 13.6 respectively.

NRG Lost its Touch

So personally I think saying NRG lost its touch is a stretch, but hey, it’s a lot easier to make this argument then if they had won the Gauntlet.

Look at the facts: They dropped games against nearly everyone they’ve played this year outside of the bottom three in Europe, and eUnited. They claim that they took it easy this split so they didn’t get burned out. That’s fine and dandy, but were they that cocky? Did they actually think they were so far ahead of the other teams that they didn’t need to put in as much work as the rest of the SPL?

James “Duck3y” Heseltine from Lion Guard Esports stated during the Gauntlet that he thinks NRG has trouble adjusting to the meta, that they take longer than the other teams. Maybe this is true, and it would explain why they played better towards the end of the split. What it doesn’t explain is why they weren’t able to come into the Gauntlet and be the NRG that everyone expected to see.

Photo Courtesy of NRG Esports

The Real Explanation

To be honest, it’s probably a little bit of everything. Say what you will, at the end of the day this is still the two-time defending World Champions we’re talking about. They got beat by Team Rival, a team that showed up and played their hearts out. One more triple bounce in the Jungle and maybe NRG walks away with the Gauntlet and this isn’t even in question. They still dominated their games against eUnited.

The Smite Pro League is filled with strong players and teams, and that stretches all the way through the league. If I had to put any sort of money that mattered to me on it, I’d end up picking NRG before most, if not all of the SPL teams. They’ve earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt. Sure, there’s always going to be teams making claims and gunning for the top spot. Quite frankly, that should make it all the sweeter when NRG prove the haters wrong and come out on top once again.


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