Super Regionals

EU Super Regionals: Winners and losers

Elevate

Elevate have come into form at the exact right time this season. While looking decent for most of the season, this split they have come into their own. They started off the split really strong, with a string of solid victories. However they tapered off a bit towards the middle and end of the split.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com

Popular opinion probably marked them least likely to qualify for SWC out of all the European teams going. However, everyone had to reevaluate that after they took Obey to a game five in the semi-finals. Ultimately they managed to qualify through groups, proving that they are a very strong team and now a dark horse for the SWC.

The big story about Elevate is that they by far looked their strongest running double hunter and three guardians. This is the setup that got them an SWC spot, where they look capable of beating any team on the planet. The only question that remains is, by SWC, will other teams have figured out how to beat it, or will Elevate have any other strategies?

NRG

One of the big story-lines this season has been about NRG not performing to their usual high standards. If this time a year ago you had said that NRG would have gotten their SWC spot by coming through the Gauntlet and group play, not many people would have believed you. Yet here we are. NRG had to fight extremely hard to secure their spot at SWC this season.

While NRG by their own standards have been sub par this season, you cannot say that about their groups performance. They looked like the strongest team there and showed probably some of the best and most consistent play we have seen out of them all season. At least now we are in the much more familiar territory of NRG, looking like a very serious contender for Worlds.

Rival

Rival once again showed at Super Regionals that they are a far better team on LAN than they are online. If we are honest, what team wouldn’t want it to be that way? As long as you qualify who cares where you place online.

They no doubt looked like the best team at the LAN and must have given themselves a huge confidence boost heading into Worlds. On their way to winning Super Regionals, they beat what many would have called the best two teams in the world: Dignitas and Obey. If that doesn’t give you belief (something the Rival players have never seemed to lack), I don’t know what will.

Dignitas

What a sad story it is for Dignitas, so impressive all season long, just to completely crumble at Super Regionals when it matters most. Jeppe ‘Trixtank’ Gylling and Anders ‘Qvofred’ Korsbo must think they are reliving a nightmare. As they went through a similar story last season with Orbit, looking incredibly strong online then not qualifying at Super Regionals.

It’s hard to say what happened with Dignitas. Everybody knows they are a far better team than what their performance at Super Regionals showed. Nobody would have expected them to only win against Noble; nobody really expected them to go into groups in the first place.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of team-dignitas.net

The only explanation people have had is that after that game two against Rival where they lost after taking down three Phoenixes, their heads dropped. Their confidence and morale dropped. Then, going into groups, they had two tough games early which they lost and thus deepened the problem.

Overall it is a shame to see a great team lose like that. Dig is a team full of players you would love to see compete on the world stage. Let’s not forget Harry ‘Variety’ Cumming set this team up with the intention of winning Worlds. That is why he left Obey, he didn’t see them as capable of winning at all. Trixtank and Qvo left their team because of the disappointment of not qualifying last year. So it must be gut wrenching for them to look so strong all year and then over the course of five days have it all fall apart.

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EU Super Regionals: The favourites

Super Regionals this year on the EU side has got to be the most stacked Smite LAN we have ever seen. This year EU has been far and away the dominant region. Combined with how competitive the SPL has gotten on both sides of the Atlantic, this has got to be the strongest roster. When you think about NRG having to go through Gauntlet and being the lowest seeded team in this LAN, it shows you how good the competition is. Despite all this there are two teams who have slightly separated themselves from the pack this Season. That is Dignitas and Obey and they are probably the favourites to take Super Regional’s and World’s at the moment.

Obey

Obey came second last season at SWC, and have only gone from strength to strength since then. In the Summer Split Obey were hands down the best team in the SPL; this was despite having what many people would have called their star player, Harry ‘Variety’ Cumming, leave to form his own roster.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of smite.esportswikis.com

This has been a theme of Obey, Solo laner’s considered among some of the top in the world keep leaving Obey on the basis that they want to join a team they think is capable of winning SWC. To prove how solid Obey as a squad look, at no point has this seemed to hinder them. In fact in the Summer Split after they lost Variety they won the EU SPL. This Split after losing João ‘Maniakk’ Ferreira they have done the same again. This Season they have had Maniakk and Jeroen ‘Xaliea’ Klaver return to the Pro League and have looked in better shape than when they left. Although Obey have lost two world class Solo Laners since last SWC they apparently always seem to have another one waiting in the wings. After coming second at SWC last year and being so impressive this year, you do have to wonder what Obey would have to do to convince their solo laners to stay.

Obey have the two things needed to create a top level team: top level talent and great synergy. In every role their players must be considered in the top five in the world and with the potential to be unplayable if they are on form. They also work very well together, and are all extremely innovative. Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark, Emil ‘Emilzy’ Nielsen and Ben ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight are all known as extremely experimental. Ataraxia has always been the ADC making new builds and is famously the creator of the Unicorn build. Emilzy is well known for his theory crafting and was the first player to bring out the Amaterasu support. Twig was one of the first people to bring out the warrior jungles on a regular basis and the full tank assassins. Obey’s ability to innovate and stay ahead of the meta is a huge weapon in their arsenal.

 

Dignitas

Dignitas, formerly known as Variety’s New Team, were a super team created at the beginning of the year with one purpose in mind, winning SWC. From the start they looked good, although in the Summer Split it was a story of Obey and then everyone else.

In the Spring Split however Dignitas were the dominant team and it looked like they were firmly on the way to accomplishing their goal of winning World’s. However, this Split they have been just behind Obey in terms of performance and results.

Super Regionals

Image courtesy of team-dignitas.net

Players like Jeppe ‘Trixtank’ Gylling and Anders ‘Qvofred’ Korsbo are desperate to relive the success they had at Launch Tournament and win the final LAN of the year. They have been near the top of the pro scene since its inception and have been consistently on teams viewed as capable of winning SWC. They are both also players who at certain points throughout their careers have been seen as the best player in the world.

 

 

It is this sort of pedigree and experience that Dignitas will hope to capatalise on, to win Super Regional’s and propel themselves to World’s in good form and high on confidence.

 

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NA

How Dreamhack highlighted the ever growing gulf between NA and EU

How we got here

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

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

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

Where we are at now

na

Image courtesy of neogaf.com

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

Why?

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

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

How?

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

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

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

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

NA

Image courtesy of smitepedia.com

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

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

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

What this means for competitive Smite

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

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

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

Top Image courtesy of twitter.com/SmitePro

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The EU SPL Games to Watch Out For This Week

Overview

This week on the European side of the SPL we have two games which could be very important for Dreamhack Valencia qualification. The four teams mentioned in this article are along with Rival the most likely to be going to Dreamhack. While it is still early in the Split and not many games have been played, all these teams are close at the top. Obey VS NRG and Eanix VS Dignitas would be great games just for the spectacle. However, with the added pressure of such a short split and such a competitive field, things are likely to get spicy.

NRG VS Obey

NRG vs Obey should be a very close set. We have the best team in the world for the past two years, pitted against the best team in the world from last split. This split could very well define how the EU side of the SPL turns out.

NRG

NRG have not been the dominating team of past seasons so far in Season 4. There have been multiple reasons given for this decline. The most prevalent to hear last split was they had taken their foot off the pedal. This theory came from the team admitting to having done so at the start of the split, in an attempt to avoid burnout. If you want evidence of potential burnout, you only have to look at Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone’s recent reddit post. In it he claims he does not enjoy Smite anymore and at the moment plays it purely for ‘business’ not for pleasure. While he puts this down to game-state, in particular Sunder, part of the evident frustration shown here may be due to burnout.

Image Courtesy of esportsedition.com

 

NRG are still a top-tier team though. They are still the mechanical monsters they have always been and have nearly three full seasons of an unchanged roster behind them. When you win two World titles in a row, that sort of stability is most definitely a plus. In Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ross, they still have, for my money, the best jungler in the world. A player also at least still in the conversation for best player in the world.

NRG play things pretty meta, so in regards to their picks, that’s what you should be looking for in the draft. More specifically though look for Athena to be picked up by iRaffer. Athena has been creeping back into the meta ever since the start of the Spring Split offline events. This is something we have seen iRaffer on a lot recently, but also something NRG clearly value quite highly. As when they opted for the Khepri over the Athena in Game 2 vs Rival, they made sure to ban Athena out.

Camasotz, a God who has burst, instead of crept, into the meta is also a priority pick for NRG. Noticeably in their set against Rival picking it 2nd both games.

Obey

Obey Alliance were incredible last split. The addition of Emil ‘Emilzy’ Nielsen was always going to make them stronger. Emilzy has always been a good player on mid-tier teams. Since he got his opportunity at Obey, he has shown he is a truly great player. Probably the best support in the world as it stands currently. At least that’s what the stats and his performances from the Spring Split suggest.

The big question after the way he ended season 3 was, how much was the loss of Harry ‘Variety’ Cumming going to effect Obey? They brought in João ‘Maniakk’ Ferreira and he has more than capably filled the big space left behind by Variety. Like the rest of the Obey squad, he had a dominating split in Spring. Seeing as they went from 2nd at Worlds to 1st at Master’s, beating NRG to get there; a team worth noting who dominated them in the SWC finals 3-1. I think Obey are more than happy with the results of roster changes.

Image courtesy of Smite.esportswikis.com

 

Again, Obey play things pretty meta, but like NRG there are some particular things to look out for. Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark has always been a fan of Jing Wei. With the recent buffs she has seen and her gradual re-entry into the meta, look for Ataraxia to play her. Cernunnos is also a pick to look out for from Ataraxia. We have heard a lot about how strong Cernunnos is, and Ataraxia is probably one of the SPL players who is best at showing that. Benjamin ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight may again pull out his Ne Zha, a God he favours more than most in the SPL. When it comes to Emil ‘PrettyPriMe’ Edstrom, you always have to look out for his burst mages, in particular the Vulcan. What he has recently been running with much success, more than a lot of the league’s other mid-laners, is Morrigan. This is something he has been running to devastating effect recently and will most likely, if possible, be picked up in this set.

Predictions

MY Fantasy Points will be going on the split in this set. However, both teams are so closely matched there is the potential for it to go either way over a two game series.

 

Eanix VS Team Dignitas

Eanix

Last split, Eanix was at the top end of the mid-tier teams. However, in between the Spring and Summer Split, they have cherry picked some of the better players from the lower ranked teams and look to be a genuinely top tier team this split. Dispatching The Papis, which was expected, but also splitting with Obey which is no mean feat.

The new jungler Daniel ‘Faeles’ Evans looked very strong through the Spring Split and has taken that form into the Summer Split. The best example of this is in Eanix’s split with Obey. In the game they won, Faeles went 3/1/13, having 100 percent kill participation. Nemesis is seeing a lot of love at the moment, and that is what Faeles played in that win over Obey. He has already picked the Serqet twice this split, so look for him to pick one of those two in this set.

Image courtesy of Eanix.gg

 

James ‘Duck3y’ Heseltine took over for Jeroen ‘Klaver’ Xaliea in the solo-lane. For those of us who have been watching since pre-season days, it is sad to see one of the old greats leave. However, Xaliea has not been the same solo-laner who used to embarrass solo’s and teams as a whole for a long time. He was the original Bakasura solo, instantly changing the scene with his realisation that Baka countered Chaac. Duckey has storied shoes to fill, it looks like he is up to the task. While not having the same level of innovation, his game play when compared to Xaliea’s of recent times definitely seems stronger.

Emil ‘Lawbster’ Evinsen and Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar have been teaming together for a long time now. They have also both been in the competitive scene since its beginning, both featuring in the Smite Launch Tournament. Lawbster doing far more than feature, actually winning the event with the original TSM. These two veterans should be a great base for this team to build from and power on through this split thanks to their vast experience. This is not to take away from their own personal skill, which both have in spades.

Pick wise there is nothing that should really surprise anyone. At least Eanix haven’t shown it yet. Picks you should be looking for in the Mid are Sol and Lawbster’s almost signature Poseidon. These have been Lawbster’s go-to picks so far this Split. With the recent play that Agni has been seeing, that is another very real possibility, as Agni most definitely is a signature Lawbster God. From Funballer, look for any of the following three: Hou-Yi, Cernunnos and Rama. He is dangerous on all of these Gods. Jordan ‘BigManTingz’ Theaker has played a different God every game this season, however he does have a proclivity for aggressive supports, so a Ymir and Ares may see some more play from him. Duck3y will be following meta and picking an early pressure Warrior most likely. However, if he is on Hercules, something special may happen, as he wrecks on Hercules.

 

Team Dignitas

Dignitas are a team of veteran bonafide superstars of the European Smite scene. The Spring Split was their first Split in the SPL as a team. It was nearly the perfect entry into the SPL, but it ended up being a case of always a bridesmaid never a bride for Team Dignitas. Coming second to Obey in the regular season and then getting rather handled in the finals of Smite Masters by Obey again. In all seriousness though, coming second is not a bad start to your team’s Pro League career. This is the Split to really look for Dignitas to kick on. Going from being a very good and promising team to a powerhouse of the scene. They have had time to gel and gain synergy between all the players, and there will be no doubt that this team has the potential to contend at the sharp end of World’s.

In Mid Lane we have Joakim ‘Zyrhoes’ Verngren. Zyrhoes has been in the competitive scene for a very long time. The man is a born mid-laner. If you need evidence of this, he started off as a jungler, but would bring Vulcan to the role. He also has incredible game knowledge as shown by NRG picking him up as their coach on their last World Championship run. Zyrhoes has been playing a lot of Sol in recent history and was doing it before she became a top-tier pick again. He has already played Sol twice this Split. As well as having also played Morrigan twice, look for those two to be his focus in this set.

Image courtesy of play.esea.net

 

Kenny ‘Arkyll’ Kuska was the biggest question mark in this roster when it was formed. Out of all the players on this roster he definitely had the least pedigree in the scene. However, he has more than justified his inclusion in this ‘super-team.’ Arkyll killed it last season and has been performing just as impressively this season. His slash lines this season have been 4/0/7, 5/2/8, 8/2/4 and 6/1/2, showing his stellar performances. Look for Rama and Hou-Yi, although he has been one of the hunters testing Jing-Wei in the SPL this season, making it a possibility.

Anders ‘Qvofred’ Korsbo had a great season last season. There was talk of him being the world’s best player and dethroning Adapting. Unfortunately for him and Jeppe ‘Trixtank’ Gylling, the off-season went incredibly poorly. However, Qvofred is another veteran of the scene who has shown his class numerous times. Qvo’s God pool is extensive, so with Qvo expect anything. So far he has stuck to the very meta Camasotz and Ravana; but his favourite has been the Nemesis, so expect to see at least one game of Nemesis this set.

Variety had an incredible end of Season 3 and has looked just as strong at the start of this Split. He has been dominating laners and is an intimidating match-up for most solo-laners in the league. Look for Variety to try and secure Osiris, something he has played three times already this season.

Trixtank is desperate to win big again. It is something which comes across in every interview he does. He won the Smite Launch Tournament, but the teams he has been on have struggled at LAN’s for the most since then. Trixtank made his name back in the day of warrior supports. For a while he was the most feared player in the world, especially on his signature Sun-Wukong. Things have changed since then. He is still a great support, but recently he has been playing far more defensive supports. This split he has only played the Geb and Khepri, look for more of the same.

 

Prediction

This could be another one which easily goes to a split. I reckon if it is going either way, it is going Dignitas’ way, they are probably the stronger team. However, Lawbster and Funballer would love to get one over Trix and Qvo as they were long standing teammates. Only splitting after the disappointment of the end of Season 3.

Summary

These are going to be close sets most likely. All of these teams will be going into these weeks sets knowing the importance of them, but also being reasonably confident of a win. This week will teach us a lot about EU. Are Obey going to be the powerhouses they were last split? How much has Team Dignitas improved? Something their toughest opposition of the split will give us an idea on. Are NRG getting closer to their old form? Or is it another lacklustre perfomance this split, by their incredibly high standards? All important questions that these important sets should give us a better understanding of.

 

Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com