If you told me before the start of this Gauntlet that Oxygen Supremacy would be the talk of the Gauntlet for North America, I wouldn’t believe you. Sure, they’re good enough to win some games, but to do something that would get everyone talking and be the most exciting part of the day would sound like a stretch. Well, it happened, and it was incredible.
The Smite Pro League has been a way for me to watch, learn, and enjoy a game that I’ve spent so much time playing. Today, Oxygen Supremacy gave everyone watching the same feeling we get when we see a Cinderella team make a run late into the playoffs of a traditional sport. The feeling we get from watching a double digit seed beat a heavy favorite in the NCAA March Madness Basketball tournament. Esports are absolutely in the same conversation as traditional sports, and Oxygen Supremacy proved that today.
Oxygen Supremacy made a run that SPL fans will not soon forget. This team was formed as a Challenger Circuit team after rosters were picked apart towards the end of Smite’s Season 3. They are comprised of some former pro players, along with some new faces to the SPL scene.
Solo – Ismael “KikiSoCheeky” Torres
Jungle – David “Skeeledon” Dougherty
Mid – Brandon “Venenu” Casale
Support – Neil “NeiruMah” Mah
ADC – Michael “DayToRemember” Galvin
After placing first in the Challenger Circuit, they were given an opportunity to compete in the Gauntlet, with a chance to make it to the Masters LAN at the end of the month, just like the other SPL teams. For OS, however, this meant climbing the Gauntlet ladder and knocking off every team ahead of them along the way. After seven grueling hours of Smite, OS fell just a few games short, but they put on one of the most memorable performances Smite Esports has seen recently.
Match 1: Oxygen Supremacy VS Flash Point
Going into this first game, people around the SPL already had heard rumblings of how good Oxygen Supremacy was, but nobody had really seen what they could do outside of scrims. Flash Point drafted a solid early game comp, with Ryan “Aquarius” O’Neill on Osiris, Eugeen “Mirage” Mathew on Awilix, and Eric “ShadowQ” Grabowski on Sylvanus. True to the draft, Flash Point seemed to be in control of the game, but OS just hung around long enough for their comp to really take over. Recognizing the FP ADC was an Artemis, Skeeledon decided to camp Duo Lane, preventing Nathan “Xenotronics” Hewitt from getting online, while feeding DayToRemember. After falling behind in kills early, something just clicked in Oxygen Supremacy, and their carries took over. Catching up in kills, eventually the Titan fell, and game 1 went to OS.
Game 2 was a different story. Venenu was on Thoth, Skeeledon was on Susano, and they went in! Venenu posted an incredible 11/1/8 line, while Skeeledon mirrored that at 8/1/11, and that was all she wrote. The major point of emphasis from this game was the play out of Skeeledon. He showed up in game 1, but game 2 he showed not only his team, but everyone there watching that he was here to play and he was here to win. This confidence out of their jungler would push OS for the next six hours.
Match 2: Oxygen Supremacy VS Noble Esports
This is where things got really interesting. With Noble just witnessing the game that Venenu had on Thoth, they decided to ban it away from him. However, they let Hun Batz through to Skeeledon and The Morrigan through to Kiki. Bad choice. This game was where the OS hype train took off. They pulled out the double hunter comp, with Venenu on Chiron, which blew everyone’s minds. This game was just Oxygen flexing their God pools. Hun Batz would jump in and Fear No Evil, then Chiron would Centaurus and drop everyone low, then The Morrigan would ult as Hun Batz, and then DayToRemember on Rama would Astral Barrage. All of this would be set up by the hottest Nature’s Grasp you will ever see from NeiruMah’s Sylvanus. It was just absolutely insane to see this comp, and for it to just obliterate Noble.
Game 2 we saw them flex their God pools yet again. Kiki would take Xing Tian to the solo lane, Skeeledon would play the constantly banned Chang’e, and NeiruMah would play Ymir. Noble put up a much better fight this time, with Brett “MLCSt3alth” Felly trying his hand at the hunter mid, and dealing most damage (surprise surprise), along with Andy “Elchapo” Leon pulling The Morrigan into the Jungle himself. Noble started strong. Absolutely insane peel from NeiruMah would prevent them from snowballing and taking control of the game. Venenu would see his only death on Chiron in this game. That didn’t mean much, as eventually Oxygen Supremacy took the game in yet another decisive victory.
Match 3: Oxygen Supremacy VS Team Allegiance
Yet again Oxygen decides to go to a double Hunter team comp. This time we saw Skeeledon on Ao Kuang, his 4th different God in five games. NeiruMah was on Terra, his 4th different God in five games. Venenu was on Skadi, his 4th different God in five games. Seeing a pattern here? You could not target ban this team all day long. Allegiance seemed to have drafted very strong, with Kurt “Weak3n” Schray on Serquet, a God he’s known for. Jarod “CycloneSpin” Nguyen was also playing a God he was known to bully on, Osiris. For quite a while in this game, ALG seemed to control the tempo. The game was slow, and for the longest time there was only one kill on the board. That changed during the second Gold Fury fight, a fight that Oxygen won handily. The game then spiraled out of control for ALG, and OS was back to the fast paced machine they had been in the previous two matches. Before we knew it, this one was over too.
Just for fun, Oxygen showed they weren’t done with flexing their God pool. Kiki took yet another God to the solo lane in Nike, while Skeeledon played his 3rd Mage out of the Jungle, with fan favorite He Bo. Weak3n actually counter picked the He Bo with Fenrir, and first blooded Skeeledon, something he had been doing to opposing teams all day long. Like game 1, this one hovered pretty even for a while, until Venenu popped off, finishing his Chiron play 7/0/4, totaling an incredible 20/1/24 line on the Mid Hunter. Just like that, everyone was all in on Oxygen Supremacy.
Match 4: Oxygen Supremacy VS In Memory of Gabe
At this point, nobody could figure out what to do when it came to banning out OS. There were just too many Gods that they had been playing well all day long. This game was a fight for OS, that’s for sure. However, we didn’t see them struggle, or even change the way they had been playing. NeiruMah still had incredible pulls to set up some important kills on Sylvanus. Venenu ended up with Thoth and was able to burst down the members of IMOG. DayToRemeber did his thing on Medusa, controlling his lane. Somehow, some way, Oxygen Supremacy won yet another game. Seven in a row, it was unprecedented. Then IMOG figured something out.
Gabe had spent all day watching Oxygen and learning their strategies. They were able to play them the toughest we had seen all day. They took Thoth from Venenu and put it on Tyler “Hurriwind” Whitney in Mid lane, who completely dominated OS, going 9/0/14. Sinjin “Eonic” Thorpe took Sylvanus away from NeiruMah, and was able to keep his team sustained in order to win the long team fights that Oxygen had been winning throughout the day. Then they shut down DayToRemember. By far it was his worst game of the day, going 0/9/9 on Medusa. Suddenly OS got a taste of their own medicine, and they were blown back by IMOG. A minor setback as it was a three game set. With the score tied at 1-1, Oxygen Supremacy still had their chance to pull through.
The first game 3 we had seen all day was another rough one to watch. With Hurriwind’s performance on the Thoth, OS banned it out, letting Zeus slip through for the first time today. Not only that, but Eonic was back on Sylvanus, a God who pairs extremely well with Zeus. Not only that, but after a strong game on Thor, Jungler Brooks “Cynosure” Mattey was poised for another strong game on the God. This one was hard fought by Oxygen. They fought as long as they could, but it just appeared as if the gas tank was empty. That’s just what playing seven hours straight of Smite against the best players in the world will do to you.
What You Should Take Away
At the end of the day, Oxygen Supremacy fell 2-1 vs In Memory of Gabe. That’s not what this is about. What it’s about is the way this was done. Sure they could have made it past Flash Point, Noble, and Allegiance losing a couple games here and there. They didn’t. This Challenger Cup team pulled off seven straight wins against the top Smite players in the world. The Gauntlet could have been incredibly boring, with each team winning the match they were “supposed” to win as the higher seed. And sure, we still got In Memory of Gabe vs SoaR Gaming in the end; but we still got a taste of what’s to come in the Smite Pro League.
Challenger Cup may have been weak before, but there are some phenomenal players ready to take that jump and become top SPL players themselves. Venenu showed he’s just as good, if not better then some of the Mid lane players currently in the SPL. Same goes for Skeeledon, NeiruMah, and the rest of Oxygen Supremacy. Relegations are no longer just a tournament that needs to be played before the season starts, because the Challenger Cup teams are gunning for a spot in the SPL. These guys are good, they’re thirsty, and they just might take the Smite world by storm.