Going into this set, both Eanix and Rival were fairly close in the standings. Eanix was 5-3 and Rival close behind at 4-2. I would have called this set most likely being a split, with these two teams tracking each other in the standings for the foreseeable future. However, Rival walked away with a 2-0 victory. This puts Rival on par with the three other teams who have won two and split two while putting Eanix in a rather tough position when it comes to making DreamHack. Eanix is now very much out of that leading pack, having played more sets and being a down a point.
This match was going to be interesting to see what sort of performance Rival was going to produce after their shock split with The Papis. If anyone expected that to be the end of the Cinderella story of Rival, they were sorely mistaken.
The first game was everything you would expect from top-tier EU teams: slow paced, methodical and objective based. This was a 41 and a half minute game with only 15 kills. The game winning Fire Giant and Titan push was made without a kill being taken, this was EU meta to a whole new level.
Rival took a small lead early on from Gold Fury control and apart from a minor glitch when Eanix managed to take a Fire Giant from a single pick, Rival maintained control throughout the game. The Sol and the Jing Wei picks were great because they are both incredible objective characters. EU has always been objective focused, with the recent dominance of EU over NA they are leading the meta.
We are seeing both Sol and Jing Wei in both regions now and a big part of this is their objective control. Sol, for a mid laner, has relatively good objective secure with the Stellar Burst into Supernova burst damage. What she brings that other mages do not is the objective burn. With her AA damage output, she provides her team with two AA gods when it comes to objectives. This means that many more windows of opportunity present themselves, as you can take advantage of far smaller time frames.
Jing Wei is great for quickly bursting down objectives. Her passive crit coming from Explosive Bolts, combined with the 40 percent attack speed buff from Persisent Gusts, means she is one of the best ADCs in the game when it comes to bringing down the objective. Combine that with the added secure, she brings with Air Strike and the ability to only be about 10-15 seconds from any objective on the map due to her passive, she is an extremely underrated objective monster.
However, the Fire Giant they did manage to get did not generate any real gain for Eanix, who lost a fight at the first tier two they tried to siege, with James ‘Duck3y’ Heseltine dying to the isolation provided from Khepri Abduct.
From then on it was just a slow, and I can’t stress slow enough, choke-out by Rival.
Game two started off looking like it was going to be a bit of a stomp and that Rival’s slow choke from last game had taken the wind out of Eanix’s sails. In the first six minutes, Rival took a 4-0 kill lead and a 3k gold lead. However, Eanix brought themselves back into the game with a great teamfight by their own speed buff. What most likely won them this teamfight was a very early rotation from Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar. This turned a 4v4 into a 5v4 for Eanix, resulting in them winning the teamfight 3-0.
Funballer has been incredible this Split. There has been a lot of talk about Daniel ‘Faeles’ Evans and what he will do for Eanix. However, the stand out player for me in regards to Eanix has been Funballer. I’ve been watching Funballer since Smite was in open beta and I have never been this impressed with his play. This is not to take away from how he has played before – he has always been a very good player. The teams he has been on is a testament to that, if nothing else. However, this split he is just crushing it. The mechanics are there – they always have been – but where Funballer stands head and shoulders above a lot of other ADCs in the league is his ability to rotate. This was something brought to attention on the stream, but he has been doing it all split not just this set.
Funballer has always been aggressive in lane, known as one of those ADCs who wants to fight. This season, however, he seems to have decided fighting just one person in lane isn’t enough, he wants to fight everybody. He is using his vast experience in the SPL to make incredibly impactful rotations. In this game, he probably made the rotation which stopped this game turning into a stomp. We have all seen how in Season 4, small leads can be snowballed and held on too. Rival for a time in the game had a large lead; 3k after six minutes is very much the start of a snowball.
Look at what he allowed Liam ‘Vote’ Shanks to get through his rotation. A proxied wave and a red buff, that’s it! It was too early in the game to put serious tower pressure on and there was nothing else left on the map. The risk-reward calculation was perfect. Funballer was already behind and Vote to get that farm was not going to change the game, Funballer turning a team fight and getting his team three kills very much did. While it may not have changed the result, it definitely changed the game.
From there the game evened out for a while, until near the 20 minute mark when Eanix won a teamfight around the Gold Fury. By the 33rd minute in the game Eanix were leading 14-8 in kills and had amassed a 7k gold lead, things were looking good for Eanix. Then it all changed, Rival won a team fight handily over Eanix.
Mistakes were made. Eanix messed up here, there is no denying it. Firstly, Emil ‘Lawbster’ Evensen blew his Kraken on Aleksandar ‘iceicebaby’ Zahariev. This took iceicebaby’s Beads and Bracer’s and there are a lot of ults in the game where that trade would be considered worth it, however, not your team’s big mage, team fighting ult. Especially as the Bracer usage meant iceicebaby was ready to fight directly afterward. Of all the characters in the game to not have their actives up, Nemesis is probably one of the best. She has her shield to soak damage and heal her, her double-dash to escape and her ultimate to give her protections and movement speed. Next Faeles threw down the Hun Batz ult, only hitting two and with none of his team able to follow up. Alexandru ‘Wlfy’ Lefterică on Isis didn’t even deem it worthy of using his beads on.
I’ve been critical of Eanix in that teamfight but now I am going to sing the praises of Rival who played it beautifully. The ult combo they pulled out was near perfect. Adrian ‘Deathwalker’ Benko immediately Eagle’s Rallied onto the face of Lawbster burning the beads. Straight after that Petar ‘Kalas’ Matejić using No Escape on the now Beadless Poseidon and the Geb, the two targets who are guaranteed to get pulled in. As soon as that happens right underneath his feet comes the Fields of Love and Circle of Protection. Goodbye tank, goodbye mage. This fight was so clean from Rival, if you look at the surviving members of Eanix’s health it’s practically full. In fact, after this it is Rival who run away because they were so selective in their targets, as they had to be, being down so much gold and xp that the rest of Eanix could probably have fought them. If you want to learn how to execute a team fight from behind and capitalise on mistakes, look no further than 33 minutes of game two Eanix vs Rival.
There were three more major team fights in this game, two went to Rival and one went to Eanix. The important thing about them was after the momentum change of that 33 minute team fight it was Rival who were agressing. The team fight Eanix one was to wipe Fire Giant off of Rival and didn’t leave them much to capitalise on. The other team fights were important but make no mistake about it, this game turned in the 33rd minute, with some exceptional team fighting from Rival.
Top Image courtesy of https://twitter.com/eanixgg