This Saturday was a very important day for the EU SPL. Not just the EU SPL but the entirety of the SPL, as this Saturday was the fight for seeding for DreamHack. With EU being the dominant region this season, I am sure there were some players across the Atlantic paying some very close attention. With EU having their current dominance recognised by Hi-Rez with an extra spot at DreamHack, four spots were up for grabs this weekend.
The most important spot in the entire EU SPL as it is the final golden ticket to DreamHack. This was being fought over by two teams, Eanix and Team Rival. Team Rival before Saturday looked like hot favourites to take that spot as they were one point ahead, had an easier opponent and had the head to head over Eanix. This meant Eanix would need more points than rival before they could start booking plane tickets.
Saturday changed this though when we found out that Adrian ‘Deathwalker’ Benko would not be able to play and that TheLittleLegend would be subbing in for him. It did not go well. TheLittleLegend did not perform considerably worse than the rest of Rival, but Rival as a whole did not look like the team they have shown themselves to be over recent months. They got destroyed both games, it was not even close. This is not something Rival fans should be awfully worried about as we have seen this sort of thing happen before. Smite teams have looked entirely different when they have had subs before and then just gone back to normal when their full roster is back.
This was great though from a viewer’s perspective because it meant that the NRG vs Eanix set took on real significance. If Eanix could 2-0 they would be 4th in the EU SPL and going to DreamHack. However, one does not simply 2-0 the back to back world champions. Eanix looked great and won the first game. The second game though was the NRG show.
The two things I would put it down to are Kennet ‘Ross’ Adapting putting in a monster performance on Thor and the Ne Zha pick for Eanix.
Adapting is no longer the undisputed best player in the world. That in mind though he is still one of the best; occasionally as well he will remind us just what he can do when he is feeling it. He is one of those players who are rare but inestimably valuable in both esports and sports who will occasionally just win you the game. All great junglers have a great Thor, Adapting is one of those great junglers. It is not quite like when Peter ‘DaGarz’ Gary was just not allowed the character, but Adapting on Thor will always bring the hype. He showed why against Eanix, running the game with a slash line of 8/1/6. His ability to be everywhere and the inherent damage within Thor’s kit allowed Adapting to be the omni-present terror to Eanix throughout this game.
I have often said in these articles that Ne Zha, while a good pick, will also be a heavily contributing factor in you losing some games. This turned out to be the case for Eanix this game. It is incredibly hard to win an SPL game when your jungler ends up 0/5/3. The pick seemed odd to me, you just performed incredibly well and beat NRG with a lower risk comp, why risk it all now?
There wasn’t a huge amount of synergy with the comp either. When you see a team pick a Ne Zha, often the first thing to look at is who is their mage? Who is going to instantly delete Ne Zha’s target? For Eanix it was a Sol, while very capable of deleting someone it is not the ideal pick. Her damage is oxymoronicaly sustained-burst, her ult comes out over time and a lot of the Sol burst comes from using Stellar Burst as well. This means things like Aegis or the Terra ult (something NRG was running) has a much higher chance of being able to save their life.
The only real synergy you could see from the rest of the team were the Hou-Yi and the Ares. Hou-Yi is one of the better ADC’s for the Ne Zha as the suns can be dropped right before the Ne Zha and his target land. While it is nice because there are not a huge amount of ADC ults which synergise with the Ne Zha, it again suffers the same problems as the Sol and doesn’t guarantee the deletion. Make no mistake when you run a Ne Zha you should be running it as a deletion comp.
The Ares does very much synergise with the Ne Zha though as it can burn multiple beads at once fairly consistently, allowing Ne Zha multiple targets for the Windfire Wheels. However, it is another big risk into your comp. With your LAN chances on the line it was a twist on the old classic by Eanix and they ran a go hard or stay home comp. Unfortunately they will be staying home. I may be a bit harsh on Eanix, but why risk your chance for LAN, cash and a free holiday to the beaches of Valencia on what is such a coin-flip of a comp?
There is a lot less to say about these two seeds. This is surprising as the top end of the EU SPL seems like a congested area with top seed being a hard-won trophy. The lack of talking points is because first seed was already secured for Dignitas and Obey beat them rather comfortably to secure 2nd seed away from NRG.
Obey did look great in this set though and that is something worth touching on. This Split has seen Dignitas and Obey switch positions in seeding and probably in performances as well. Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark recently said in an interview that Obey got over-confident and maybe took their foot off the pedal.
It looks like they have their focus back now, as they were really impressive in their 2-0 over Dignitas. The only team who managed to do this all Split.
It is a bit hard to judge if this means Obey are back to their Spring Split dominance, where they showed themselves to be unquestionably a cut above the rest of the teams in the world. This is because, for Dignitas, it was essentially a friendly. They had nothing to gain and nothing to lose, except for possibly momentum and a bit of confidence. If you know though that you are hiding strats and not taking a series overly serious, it is not likely to knock your confidence very much.
So is this Obey coming back to form, or Dignitas just not showing up this set? As with most things in life I think compromise is the best answer. Obey look on the up but I would not expect any set between these two at DreamHack to look like this one. My main takeaway from this set is that it was just a bit of a disappointing way to end the EU SPL, as this looked like it could have been a blockbuster.
Top image courtesy of https://twitter.com/smitegame