The tank meta: Are defensive items too strong?

The direction of the meta

One thing Super Regional’s highlighted is how strong defensive items are right now. The strength of defensive items in my opinion is directing the meta. We are back in a tank meta, which if we are honest is never really a particularly fun one. Smite is far more interesting when it’s about high risk/high reward plays, something a tank meta doesn’t truly display.

You only have to look at the compositions Elevate used to book their spot at World’s: three guardians and two adcs. There are other reasons outside of itemisation for that such as the strength of Artio and the high base damage of guardians like Cabrakan. Itemisation is a large part of it though and you can see it in a lot of other comps and the prominence of warrior jungles.

The tanky jungle

Right now even if teams are not running guardians in the jungle, it is a warrior or a full tank assassin instead. Two of the most prominent assassins in the game are Ratatoskr and Serqet currently. However, for the first time in the jungle role, these characters are being played full tank.

The reason these two are so prominent is because defensive and hybrid items are so incredibly strong right now. Both of these Gods’ kits lend themselves to being run full tank more than pretty much any other assassin in the game right now.


Image courtesy of smite.gamepedia.com

Serqet has high base damage, incredible mobility, strong CC and an ult which does true damage. This makes her perfect to run full tank as even without the power scaling she still puts out huge amounts of damage. At the same time it makes her a nightmare to kill. One of the Serqet’s biggest problems has always been when transitioning into the late game. How does she use her ult and not die? The couple of seconds when you are just stuck immobile on an enemies head has always been extremely dicey. When you are full tank you are no longer worried about this and only forfeiting a minimal amount of damage.

Ratatoskr, just like Serqet, has high base damage, incredible mobility, a myriad of cc while also bringing protection shred. Ratatoskr also has to be very close to get his damage off, and late game had issues engaging with his ult, as after knock up he would pretty much have to dash straight out. A full tank Rat however can stick to his targets far longer. With the amount of CC and chase potential he has when you can no longer burst him, he becomes an absolute nightmare. With his protection shred, the lack of power or penetration being built doesn’t hugely hurt his early game damage too.



Two of the items behind this surge in tank assassins are Ancille and Gladiator’s Shield. These items are just ridiculously good on junglers. Firstly they cost 2000 and 1700 gold respectively, giving you an extremely strong early power curve. This is very important in the jungle where you want to be dictating the pace of the game and making the enemy sing to your tune. To put this in perspective, both those items together only cost 700 more gold than a Deathbringer.


Image courtesy of smite.wikia.com

They are not really good items for their cost, they are just really good items in their own right. Together though what they provide is eye-watering for the price. For 3700 gold you get 20% cdr, 35 physical defense, 50 magical protection, 55 physical power, 2.5 percent hp and mana return on your abilities and a 30 unit one second silence when taking magic damage. These items just give far too much for their price.

Another issue is the lack of pen in this build; but when your Titan’s Bane only costs 2150 gold and gives you a flat 33 percent pen, it really is not an issue. You just continue this power curve of great and cheap items.

When you also chuck in the combo of Hide of the Nemean Lion and Thorns, the power of these full tank junglers really starts to become clear. Thorns thankfully has been reduced to a five second duration from its previous eight. However, these full tank junglers can still kill an ADC pretty quickly. When you are reflecting 50 percent of damage before mitigation and 25 percent of basic attack damage back, there is no option but to run. If you are going any kind of crit build and had a full tank Ratatoskr with Thorns up, you would die without him having to hit you himself. When you consider at the moment both a jungler and solo laner running Hide and Thorns, things start to get a bit silly.


Right now we live in a world where three members on each team are building nearly full tank every game. Something needs to be done about this, although it won’t be easy. This is because defense across the board is incredibly strong in Smite and has a considerable power creep in recent times. We also have Gods like Ratatoskr and Serqet who lend themselves so well to being built in this way. The genie is out of the bottle in that regard, although the problem isn’t that Ratatoskr and Serqet can build like that. The problem is that the tank meta is crowding out a lot of the other playstyles.

In my opinion, a few things do need adjustments. Mainly, the cost of Gladiator’s Shield and Ancille. The damage Thorns reflects probably needs to be reduced by about 10 percent too.

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AMC: The rise of the bee

The rise of AMC

Recently something very unexpected has happened. AMC has taken a prominent place within the meta. AMC was always considered too risky for competitive or even casual play. With his lack of escape, the fear was that he was just too much of a sitting duck, reserved for the occasional pocket pick from the likes of Evan ‘Snoopy’ Jones.

This was a real fear when you think about what he brings in the shape of incredible early clear, a quasi-permanent AS buff and high ability damage; so in hindsight it does seem strange that he was ignored for so long. If I’m honest I think it was partly a case of everyone (including myself) believing the rhetoric a bit too much. However, on top of this I think there are more tangible reasons why AMC is particularly excelling in this meta.



Image courtesy of Smite.gamepedia.com

One of the big things that is allowing AMC to flourish is how much teams are valuing Hide of the Urchin currently. It has been a very long time since we have seen mages and hunters building defense, going back to the days of Kukulkan (Ao Kuang back then) mid being the norm.

This is huge for AMC as it allows him to survive burst damage and use the MS from his hives as a pseudo-escape. Pretty much all mids currently are building Hiding of the Urchin, but AMC’s are regularly building it from the ADC role as well.

There is also another reason why it helps AMC that carries are building defense. He still does ridiculous damage. One of the problems with building Hide of the Urchin is that you’re probably going to have to sacrifice an AS item. That isn’t a problem for AMC as his hives give him a 50 percent AS buff in a 90 unit radius.

Early clear and late game meta

SPL teams are putting a big priority on early clear as a way of controlling jungle at the moment. This is noticeable in the resurgence of Raijin and the early stacking in mid.

AMC has ridiculous early clear. His level one clear is strong but he really starts to shine at level two. Once he hits two he can full clear the wave in seconds. Dropping Honey into a Swarm to apply the bees will kill a wave in a matter of seconds. This frees up the AMC’s team to rotate and look for more farm all over the map.

However, the games are also going late at the moment which suits AMC just fine with his 50 percent AS buff. There are few Gods in the game who fit the bill quite like AMC if you are looking for a God who can clear early and is a powerhouse in the late game.

The solo focus

Solo laners in the SPL must be in some form of shock at the moment with how much they are getting focused. Long gone are the days of solo island and this has allowed mids and ADC’s in particular to thrive.

There are lots of reasons why solo is getting focused so heavily at the moment but for the purpose of this article it is just enough to know that it is happening. This means that while Mid-Laners are still sharing most of their farm, they are not getting focused as much as they have in previous seasons. What this means is that AMC is eating less ults to the face and if people are diving him he normally has a jungler and support to peel.


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

In the duo lane though it is practically dream land for AMC. With all the focus on the solo lane, AMC is just allowed to free-farm with barely a whiff of a jungler. In a 1v1 laning environment there are very few equal to an AMC. So he is propelled to late game with his ability to clear and farm jungle quicker than most hunters. As well as making the opposing ADC’s life much harder with his incredible boxing ability and ludicrous burst damage.


While there are numerous reasons for an increase in AMC’s pick rate, the largest reason in my mind is a change in attitude. At the moment we are seeing a big upswing across the board in hyper carries who were seen as too risky and squishy returning to the meta. The willingness to build defense particularly in regard to Hide of the Urchin has given the likes of He Bo and AMC a new lease on life.

It will be interesting to see how the recent changes to Hide of the Urchin change this though. If I’m honest I don’t see a huge amount of change coming. The nerf to Hide wasn’t huge, what it has done though is make the stacks even more important, with the intention of it not being ubiquitously bought, but to fill further into its niche of a ‘win-more’ item. Even if the community thinks the nerfs are bigger than this, you will see these hyper carries but just with different items. My guess is Spirit Robe will now be the choice from behind.


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Hel: The new support meta


Hel has recently found her way back into the meta. What is unusual though, is that she has found her way into the support role. For a god who has been in the game since 2012, Hel has seen very little play in competitive Smite. There have been brief windows where she has been picked, but Hi-Rez for a long time has found it very hard to find the middle ground for Hel. She was either far too strong or far too weak; as such I wouldn’t be surprised if she had been banned more than she had played.

However, it looked like Hi-Rez had managed to make Hel strong again, but nobody seemed to notice. The current version of Hel was implemented into the game on the 1st of February, and didn’t see competitive play until the 5-6th of August at the NRG invitational. Considering that in EU this week she was either picked or banned in 5/8 games played, it is rather extraordinary she never saw play. There have not been many occasions where a character has not seen major changes or adjustments and had their value in the meta skyrocket so quickly.

There are a few contributing factors to why I think Hel was slept on for so long. Firstly, at the start of the year we were dealing with an early game meta. Hel has never been a character associated with early game, and for good reason. I think this in conjunction with the following reasons is the major reason she has only recently started seeing play.

Secondly, Hel is coming into prominence in the support role. Smite has traditionally never really seen healing supports as the meta. There have been notable exceptions such as Erich ‘Shadowq’ Grabowski and his Aphro pick in the support role. However, that was very much a pocket pick and never considered meta.

Finally, and I mean this in all seriousness, it’s Hel. Maybe, a new God released with the same kit would have featured sooner. However, Hel for a long time has been considered trash tier and even the Hel mains were coming out saying they felt she was weaker than her already pitiful state. Although, we all should have known better than to listen to Hel mains.

What makes her good?

Something Hi-Rez Ajax mentioned in his progress report was how big the change to her Dark Stance 1 (Decay) was. The ability to clear from a safe distance was a game changer, especially in the support role. In the duo lane a Hel against good opposition should very rarely be allowed to use Repulse on the wave, without severely risking her life. For those of us who have played the game long enough, we have watched this play out a hundred times when your support picked the pre 4.1 Hel. It was soul destroying to watch your support get repeatedly froze, plucked or stunned in the middle of a creep wave as one of the squishiest characters in the game. This was also an issue in every other role, however this is possibly the biggest change allowing her to transition into support.


Image courtesy of Smite.Gamepedia.com

Her movement speed buff is incredible. Before CDR she has 50 percent uptime on an AOE 25 percent movement speed increase. With full CDR she only has a downtime of 1.2 seconds, considering that ability also has a HOT; to say the least it’s pretty powerful. Bare in mind that at full CDR, Lotus Crown will also only have a downtime of 2.2 seconds. At the moment this has got to be the highest utility ability in the entirety of Smite. The best way to think of it is like a near constant Heavenly Wings, but trading out slow immunity for a protection boost. Combined with her AOE Cleanse any team she is on is almost impossible to escape from and peel off your carries. She is a walking AOE relic bot.

Warrior junglers are something which I think have benefited Hel to some degree. With more Warriors being run in the jungle it is easier to make up for the front-line you lose from Hel support. Note how NRG played a Ravana jungle with the Hel support, meaning they had a Bellona and a Ravana who could more than fulfill the front-lining duties for the team. However, it is not entirely necessary as Obey showed running a Serqet with the Hel support. It is worth noting though that Serqet pick does make Hel a lot safer as Serqet is one of her natural predators. This was something clearly on Obey’s mind as they also ran one of her other biggest threats Osiris in the solo lane. Plus if you ask Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone Serqet is a support too.

This new version of Hel is an extremely powerful God in the meta and has incredible potential if played properly. The big question at the moment is whether or not the upcoming nerf in 4.17, which will reduce the movement speed she gives to allies from 25% to 10%, is going to knock her out of the meta. If I am honest, I think this nerf is a bit much and we are likely to see that movement speed moved back up slightly in following patches. At least I hope so, it’s been nice to see a support more concerned with empowering their own team rather than disabling the opposing team.

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With the upcoming changes in Season 5, should another ban be introduced?

Repetitive drafts

One complaint you get from spectators in Smite is that teams have the same Gods being played over and over again. This is a complaint you get in a lot of MOBAs. You see it frequently in Smite and Hots. The things these MOBAs have in common are a reduced hero pool and less bans compared to the big two Dota and LOL. Smite has a decent hero pool of 91 Gods, while this doesn’t quite match up too LOL and Dota which are in the low 100s. It is not a bad start, maybe going into Season 5 when smite will have a roster of 100 or over is the time to look at adding the extra ban . Adding an extra ban will hopefully increase the amount of Gods that see play, because teams will have more bans to play obviously. The question is would this just mean we would see all the same God’s banned but just more, I think probably not. As once we get into 10 ban territory we start to move out of S+ and S tier gods. Thus allowing for more of the teams own flavour and thought process to be shown.

This would also filter into ranked as most of the time there is a definitive ranked ban meta. We all know the heroes who are going to be banned at the beginning of a draft and the ensuing riots and GG’s in chat that will follow if not banned. At least with three bans at the start, some flavour and thought could go into the bans, instead of the current cookie cutter.

This would also encourage wider God pools from competitive down to ranked. If a player is known to have a weak God pool then it would become much easier to ban them out. Under-performing because you were repeatedly banned out is not something any competitive team would allow for long. It also should reward teams with more strategies and who are fundamentally the better team due to having to be more versatile.


Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

In ranked, God-spammers would be in a far more precarious situation. The fear of having your favoured God banned in that third spot would be significant. Also a third ban in the first phase would free up the second ban phase a lot more. Roles that haven’t picked could be targeted more because anything particularly powerful that has not been picked would probably already be banned.

Draft theory

Draft theory is something that would only really be noticeable in the competitive scene. Adding another ban just creates more variables and makes the draft a more interesting mini-game to watch. When you take more off the board early it creates interesting situations. One way this interaction works is through teams’ first picks. With first pick only picking one and second pick having two, the question of banning power picks takes real importance.

Is the second pick going to target ban in hopes of leaving multiple strong heroes on the board? How is first pick going to try and get value off that first pick? Is it going to be target banning the other team or trying to remove Gods they consider powerful regardless? While we see some this already, that extra ban just intensifies the game and adds more to depth to it as another phase would have to be added and probably the second ban phase having to come earlier.

It would also allow for much more focused comps, with the ability to ban out 5 Gods teams could really specialise their comp in a draft.  Being able to remove some of the bigger burst and then into anti-heal God’s if you are trying to build a healing comp would be incredibly helpful. Watching this unfold and how teams tried to hide their strategies deep into the draft is something that would be great to develop even further in the SPL.


One possible knock-on interaction this gives is the mid-low tier Gods will be put into focus when it comes to balance. There will be more playtime and demand for the mid tier Gods as the top tier will be banned out. The greater demand should encourage Hi-Rez to look at some of the Gods who are weaker to try and make them viable again. Hi Rez doesn’t want Gods who are never played. We all know the curse of having one of your favourite Gods get buffed too heavily and realising it’s going to be a month or more before you get to play them in ranked again. This would also become more apparent because with five bans a really overpowered God should never make it through the draft. Overall another ban should through necessity, hopefully create a narrowing of disparity in God strength.

Top image courtesy of forums.2p.com

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The end of relegation and the return of BO3s in the SPL

Hi-Rez has made some large changes to the way they are setting up the SPL.  The one I am most excited about is three set matches making a return.

When the current format of the SPL was being created Hi-Rez came to the community and asked what they would like to see. In a thread on Reddit, one of the things mentioned was the two game set. The reason behind this was that some people said saving BO3s and BO5s for LANs made them feel more special. I always hated that line of thinking – removing the excitement of deciding games from league play to artificially create hype for LANs just seemed self-defeating. Firstly, I don’t think it made LANs any less hype or made B03s more mundane. Secondly, we should be pushing for more, creating intensity instead of removing, encouraging bigger prize pools and having more on the line. In essence, we should always be asking for more, not less.

BO3s also allow for better competition. We have a bigger sample size within the set so the better team should be rewarded more often than in two game sets, instead of having one poor performance making it impossible to get the full points.

At LAN, we always hear about metas developing within the sets. This is always incredibly interesting to watch develop. With the return of BO3s we will have this in league play too now, hopefully creating more interesting matches, as the approaches of the teams and how they play will become more apparent as these meta unfold. Instead of having a lot of the cookie cutter pick and ban phases we have now, with the few exceptions of the occasional obvious target ban, sets are more likely to feel distinct from one another as teams adapt to each other. The BO3 format will also help this for another reason: not so much will rely on every game, teams can try something different or more targeted and if it doesn’t work they still have the potential to take all the points.

The biggest thing about this though is that the showcase sets will be just that, a showcase. Who wants Obey and Dig to be 1-1 and for that to be the end of the show? Not me, there was always a slight pang of disappointment when a great set went to a split. It always felt like watching the first two parts of a trilogy and never getting to see the end.


No more relegations is an interesting prospect, one I am not sure I am entirely sold on from a viewer’s perspective. In any league from the EPL to the SPL as we have it now the two most exciting parts are the very top and the very bottom. Getting rid of relegation takes away the excitement from the bottom of the league. If we are honest, the scramble away from the trapdoor out of the bottom of the league was the most important part of the Pro League. Seeing as winning the league mainly just gives you seeding going into LAN, being at the bottom of the league and possibly losing your place in the league is far more stressful for players and interesting for fans.


Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com


I also question what a lack of relegation is going to do for team stability. With SPL spots being guaranteed to organizations for a year, what incentive is there to stick with players? One recurring complaint in conventional sports is the lack of patience and need for instant success shown by owners. Now with LANs around the corner every few months, if you don’t have a team that is competing at the top and have no fear of losing your spot, why not tinker?

Hi-Rez has not stated what they will demand of orgs in terms of player retention and they very well may have something in place to stop this.  However, they have already stated that they want to invest into the Challenger Circuit to create a large pool of the SPL ready talent. As there is no such thing as promotions anymore, this means it’s a feeder league. Hi-Rez has clearly made provisions to make Smite a more appealing investment for orgs and guaranteed players a 30k USD salary. I just hope they have not leaned too heavily in favor of the orgs and that one of the ‘certain obligations’ lined out by Hi-Rez is some sort of security for the players.

Top Image Courtesy of SmiteCentral.com

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Importance of the NRG Invitational

With the NRG Invitational beginning tomorrow, it’s time we take a look at why it’s a welcome addition to the Smite Pro League.

Breaking up the grind

Playing an esport professionally isn’t just playing games. For those who have followed the scene, you should be well aware of the amount of time SPL players spend Scrimmaging and watching VODs daily. This grind can start to take its toll on players and wear them down as the season progresses.

Now obviously players are grinding for a reason. These people dedicate so much time because they want to be the best at their craft, and ultimately walk away as a winner. That being said, sometimes losing isn’t so bad, as Kurt “Weak3n” Schray has said. Bummed out because Team Allegiance didn’t make the Summer Finals at DreamHack, Weak3n has been enjoying his time away from scrims and using it to reset for the upcoming split.

The SPL is tough because players don’t get a regular off season like football or baseball, it just isn’t plausible for the scene. Players only have a few weeks in between splits before it’s time to grind again, especially the teams who win. That’s what makes the NRG Invitational so important. It’s extra time off for some of the players, and for others, it’s a way to enjoy the game without the grind. It’s very comparable to an All Star game like in professional sports.

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios

Showing off the stars

As aforementioned, the NRG Invitational is just like an All Star game. The captains were picked based on the top four placed teams at the Smite World Championship, and most of the best players in the league are competing. It’s a great way to expose the stars of the league because of how jovial the LAN will be. Of course, the players still want to win, but not without having a little fun.

What is awesome about the format is that it isn’t just 5v5 conquest. The teams will be competing in four different game modes on Saturday for seeding come Sunday. First will be “Mage Madness”, which is a 5v5 standard Clash where the teams are restricted to Mages only. Next is “Three Amigos”, a 3v3 standard joust where the teams must select a Hunter, Assassin and Warrior. Third up is “Multiplicity”, a standard Assault where each team plays 5x a single God. Finally, “Pick Your Poison” is a 5v5 conquest where each team drafts their opponents’ Gods.

This format allows the fans to see the true skill of the players they’re watching. It’s fairly comparable to the Skills Competition in the National Hockey League, where the All Stars compete showing off their abilities in mini games such as Hardest Shot. This allows fans to root for seeing something amazing from any player instead of rooting simply for the team they support most. It brings a different type of fan interaction that is very much welcome in the scene.

More Smite Pro League

NRG Invitational

Photo by nrg.gg/smite


At the end of the day, fans are still getting what they want, and that’s some 5v5 standard SPL conquest. Sure the rosters may be a bit jumbled, but that just adds to the fun of it all. Everyone still has a favorite player or team they’ll be supporting this weekend.

What we could be getting with the NRG Invitational is important to the scene. We may end up with a small glimpse of the new Meta for the Fall Split, although that could be a stretch as players don’t really want to give up strategy. Due to players being less familiar with each other, these matches won’t be as heavily team based as true SPL matches. This will allow the raw ability to shine through as players won’t have the same type of communication they would with their own squads.

An interesting thing that could come out of this would be an improvement from North America. Again, this is a stretch, but with the NA players being on the same team as European players, it’s possible that they can pick a few things up from the comms. Most importantly, however, is that the NRG Invitational will be the last time we get to see two time Smite World Champion Peter “Dimi” Dimitrov compete this Season. NRG has replaced the Solo Laner, and we as fans are fortunate enough to have one last look at him before he steps into his new role as Coach of NRG.

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Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios


What does Maniakk’s roster change means for EU SPL and SWC?

What it means for Obey

João ‘maniaKK’ Ferreira with his move to NRG has put a massive spanner in the works for Obey’s SWC hopes. There are two aspects to the way in which it affects Obey. The first is what they lose in maniaKK, who is one of the premier solo lanes in theworld. Since his return to the SPL at the beginning of the season he has been a force to be reckoned with. Of his caliber, he is probably the most aggressive solo laner in the SPL.

This is shown by his revival of Osiris in the solo-lane. Being one of the if not the solo laner who put Osiris back at the top of the solo lane meta. He is also incredibly mechanically gifted. Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone recently gave testament to this in a recent interview. iRaffer spoke about how in scrims being on 1 health was terrifying as maniaKK is pretty much unjukable. maniaKK also brings more in terms of intangibles but more on that later when we talk about what NRG are gaining.


Image courtesy of obeyalliance.com

Possibly what is a bigger problem for Obey is not what they have lost, but what are they going to get? At the moment there are three premier solo laners in Europe, Adrian ‘Deathwalker’ Benko, maniaKK and Harry ‘Variety’ Cumming.

The problem is two of them in the last two splits alone have left Obey, so that leaves Deathwalker as the only premier solo laner who hasn’t recently left Obey. I think I can say without too much contestation that Obey will not be getting Deathwalker any time soon.

This leaves Obey with only three realistic options for a like for like replacement. First of them is James ‘Duck3y’ Heseltine who is currently the solo laner Eanix who has showed a lot of promise in the solo lane. The next would be Ofer ‘N0Numbers’ Rind who is currently playing for Elevate. Similar to Duck3y in terms of potential and maybe it is time to give one of these players a chance at a genuinely top team.

That being said I do think that Eanix could keep pushing into the top echelon through the next split and maybe even break through completely. The other option is to go for Jeroen ‘Xaliea’ Klaver who is currently a free agent. Xaliea has about as much pedigree in the SPL scene as its possible to get. A player who has been around since the very beginning of the pro scene.

However, towards the end of his time in the Pro League he was not the dominating and innovative solo laner he had been before. This is not to say he can’t come back refreshed and even better, I mean maniaKK has to be the perfect example of how that is possible.

Either way whether they get one of these three or somebody else it has hard to see Obey not downgrading in the solo lane. Quite frankly the best players are already somewhere else and they would have to rebuild synergy with whoever the new member is going to be.

This also brings another issue to the forefront. Right now Obey’s biggest challengers for SWC look to be NRG and Dignitas who between them have two of the three best solo laners in Europe if not the world. This could cause serious problems when SWC comes around as Obey have proven they can compete at the highest level in any other role, with recent changes to their solo that will have to be proven there all over again.

What it means for NRG

I have spoken about the in-game aggression and mechanical ability of maniaKK already so now lets talk about something else he brings. His out-of game aggression. By this I mean his incredible confidence and LAN mentality. If you have been watching Smite for a while now you will have heard all about maniaKK screaming at LAN’s and getting as hyped as anyone in the Smite competitive scene has ever been.

An interesting insight interview iRaffer gave was how maniaKK’s trash talk is effective. iRaffer claimed he was one of the best at getting in peoples heads in the league.

Another factor is who maniaKK is replacing. Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov has not been performing to the high level he made us expect from him recently. iRaffer in his interview explained that Dimi has had to prioritize things like school over playing Smite.

Dimi is a great player but it is incredibly hard to stay at the very top end of a professional game. It is also tough to balance school and being a top tier gaming talent.

Lastly this gives NRG a new start. It represents a clean break from the recent disappointments NRG have suffered. iRaffer in his interview spoke about this saying it has helped pick up NRG and reinvigorate them after the disappointment of Dreamhack Valencia.

Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

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NRG Invitational draft recap

With the draft all done, and the rosters set, the NRG Invitational is looking to be a fun tournament before we get started with the Fall Split. Which of the captains drafted the best?

NRG Invitational

Photo by Hi-Rez Studios


Craig “iRaffer” Rathbone of NRG had the first pick in the draft, and with the jungle being such an important role, who better to grab with the first pick than the king himself, Kennet “Adapting” Ros. Not only does he bring a familiarity in being Raffer’s NRG teammate, but he’s considered the best player in the world, and is known to have strong shot calling.

He stayed in Europe with his next pick, and grabbed the Dignitas mid laner in Joakim “Zyrhoes” Verngren. Raffer’s first two picks gave him a lot of strength in two very important roles in this meta. With how late games are going, Mages play a very important role. Zyrhoes also showed his dominance on The Morrigan during DreamHack, a God considered to be the best Mid Mage currently.

Forced to move to North America for his next two picks, Raffer stayed with the same squad, eUnited, taking Ben “Benji” McKinzey and Maksim “PandaCat” Yanevich. Both are very solid players that never look like they’re being outmatched in lane, and very often will win the lane.

Raffer went with power in his first two picks, and reliability with his next two. Both PandaCat and Benji can be left alone while Raffer and Adapting do their own thing and they won’t need to worry about them. The same can be said with Zyrhoes, but along with that he brings a threatening mid lane, especially when paired with Raffer and Adapting. The Minotaurs look to be a very formidable team for the NRG Invitational.

NRG Invitational

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Nathanial “Ataraxia” Mark of Obey Alliance had second pick, and went with his NRG selection, just as Raffer did. Ataraxia filled his solo lane with Peter “Dimi” Dimitrov, the now Coach of NRG. That coach aspect is important, because as Dimi hasn’t looked like he has in the past, you can’t count out his knowledge of the game, and his ability to adapt.

Ataraxia then went with long time teammate Emil “PrettyPriMe” Edstrom, in a shocking twist that nobody saw coming. But don’t get confused, this isn’t just about picking his friend. PriMe has been considered one of the best mid lane players in the world for some time now, and this pick gives the Titans an incredibly powerful duo when it comes to damage output. One that knows how to play together and can maximize damage.

Ataraxia was then forced to North America for his last two selections. His first selection was Derek “Wubbn” Gibson, which was a player that maybe wasn’t on the radar of fans. Make no mistake, Wubbn was selected for his ability to make plays out of the Support role. He’s played with Jacob “Wowy” Carter for a long time, and has a certain comfort level to not have to watch his carry as much. It’s safe to assume that Ataraxia wanted someone he knew would let him do his own thing and not stay glued to his side from not knowing each others’ tendencies.

Suharab “Mask” Askarzada was the last pick, and it was a good one. With the Titans needing a North American jungler, taking Mask, who may be the best in North America, was a no-brainer. He has a large God pool, and knows how to win because of his experience with Luminosity. The Titans ended up with three players who are going to be able to set up for their carries perfectly. Look for Ataraxia and PrettyPriMe to farm kills in these games.

NRG Invitational

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John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter from Luminosity Gaming captains the Juggernauts, and had the third pick. Following the trend set before him, Barra went with yet another NRG player, mid lane Andre “Yammyn” Brannvall. Yammyn is a former World Championship MVP, and is still one of the best mid lane players in the world. Just like the Titans, this gives the Juggernauts a powerful damage dealing duo.

Next Barra went tried and true and took Rosario “Jeff Hindla” Vilardi, his long time lane partner with Luminosity. Familiarity will play a role with the NRG Invitational, and who’s more familiar with Barra than Jeff? Jeff is one of the most selfless supports out there, and is always willing to sacrifice himself for the team.

Barra’s next two picks were from the same team as well. Anders “QvoFred” Korsbo and Harry “Variety” Cumming both found their way onto the Juggernauts from Team Dignitas. Qvo is fresh off being the DreamHack MVP, and Variety is considered one of, if not the top solo laner in the world. Having these two players together isn’t something any of the other teams can match.

The Juggernauts should have the least amount of communication issues out of everyone. Jeff and Barra hold down their lane, Variety calls Qvo when he needs him, and Yammyn just blows people up in mid lane. This is a team that if put together in the SPL would have a legit shot at winning worlds.

NRG Invitational

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Rounding things out is Maxwell “Aror” Jackson from Team AI. With the fourth pick, Aror was “stuck” with reigning World Championship MVP Emil “emilitoo” Starnman. Getting Emil gives the Manticores a very aggressive duo lane, one that should be very exciting to watch early game.

For Aror’s second round pick he went with Benjamin “CaptainTwig” Knight, an aggressive jungler who is hard to control when he gets going. He was the Spring Split Masters LAN MVP, and is one of the top junglers in the world. He brings a diverse God pool, dipping into warriors like Ravana and Odin.

Aror’s last two picks stayed in North America. First he went with the same familiarity we saw out of all the other teams, and grabbed AI teammate Jeremy “TheBest” Dailey for the mid lane. Each team went with players they were comfortable with, so this is no different for the Manticores. Next Aror took Ismael “KikiSoCheeky” Torres from Trifecta, who had an outstanding DreamHack, and showed he’s one of the best Solo laners in North America.

The Manticores were the only team that went with three players from North America, trying to prove that NA can still compete.

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NRG Invitational

A mock draft for the NRG Invitational

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

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

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

Round 1: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer

Round 2: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror

Round 3: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer

Round 4: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror

The rest of the rules are as follows:

NRG Invitational

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Round 1


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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’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.


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 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


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


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.


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


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


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


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

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Takeaways from day one of DreamHack

Europe is better than North America

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

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

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


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Resurgence of Odin

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

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

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

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