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 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.
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, 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.
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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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?
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.
Photo by Hi-Rez Studios
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.
Photo by Hi-Rez Studios
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.
Photo by Hi-Rez Studios
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.
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:
Photo by Hi-Rez Studios
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.
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.
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.
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!
Kenny ‘Arkkyl’ Kuska has to be the stand out ADC for EU this Split. This must be incredibly pleasing for the French ADC, mainly because he was the one player people were questioning when Dignitas, the new ‘super-team’, was formed. This Split though he definitely put in an all star performance.
It was not the mechanical skill of Arkkyl that was being questioned though. As in his relatively short time in the SPL he had put in some great performances. Rather it was consistency and how he would manage on a top end team, as there is little doubt that his current roster was a big step up. When on a weaker team, it is often a lot easier to show glimpses of your quality rather than prove it every week. This is down to your team being more likely to be behind and if you are known as one of the best players on a weaker roster you are likely to get a lot more focus.
Arkkyl has more than proved himself to be up to the challenge. Last Split he showed he could be consistent and had some performances which hinted at his potential. However, this Split he has been consistently excellent. He has a KDA of 5.91, 3rd highest in the league. The statistics back up how great his play has been even more, he also has 61 kills the 5th highest in the league. This shows that it is not by being passive that he has such a high KDA but through pro-active aggressive plays.
Nobody is going to be surprised at the who MVP in the Jungle for the Summer Split is, it is Kennet ‘Adapting’ Ross, the King is back. He is not just the MVP for the Jungle though he is probably the MVP for the whole of Europe. This guy would make it onto any all star roster, he is probably the best player Smite has ever had.
Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com
Adapting’s stats this split are eye-watering. He tops KDA at 7.85, which is 1.78 higher than his closest competitor, who just so happens to be his mid-laner. He also has the most kills in the entirety of the SPL with 84. This is 16 higher than anyone else’s and over 23 higher than EU’s closest contender Arkkyl. If you think I have run out of ridiculous stats for Adapting, think again. He also has the highest kill participation in the league at 85.12 percent. All this while managing to come in second in deaths per game at 1.21, only slightly losing out to once again his mid laner!
What else is there to say about Adapting? He has just been tearing up the SPL since he joined. He is so good, he was getting called the best player in the world while this team were still in the Challenger Cup. Last Split it was very much a debate about who the best player in the world was, this split not so much. I’ll end how I started, the king is back!
It was hard to pick a solo for this all star roster, as the top three in EU have all had excellent performances from their solo-laners. They are all very close in overall performance, so when stuck lets the stats decide!
Harry ‘Varitey’ Cumming just beats out the other two to take his spot in this all star roster. Varitey is someone who has not always been rated as highly as he is now. However, in recent memory he has been lauded as one of the best solo-laners the SPL has to offer, and rightly so.
It is rather simplistic but I see my Solo-Laners in two categories, the Ryan ‘Omega’ Johnson kind who are looking to destroy you in lane. They are forcing you to base at every opportunity, taking your buffs and essentially trying to ground you into the dirt. These Solo laners are bullies in every sense of the word, doing everything short of taking your lunch money and sticking your head down the toilet.
The second kind are in the Peter ‘Dimi’ Dimitrov role who are more willing to take losing match ups to help a draft and are more macro focused. (this is not to say Dimi will not stick your head down the toilet and take your lunch money Smite-wise but it is not all he does) Variety is definitely in the first mold of Solo laners, being especially dominant on Osiris, undoubtedly one of the best in the league on that god.
This is shown by him having the highest kills in Europe for a solo laner on 47. Variety also has the highest KDA for any solo-laner across both regions at 4.59. Showing he is not just aggressive but incredibly successful at it. Another hallmark of a great solo laner is their farm generation or GPM and again Variety tops Europe at 509, putting him 2nd across the entire SPL. An all star set of stats from an all star player.
Step forward you unsung heroes, ye valiant few who die for others sins. Who among these brave and undervalued players of the SPL stands a top the pile? Craig ‘iRaffer’ Rathbone has just edged out all the others this Split.
Stats are a strange thing to examine when it comes to supports, as their deaths can often come from others mistakes or be the best play to make. Kills are also not something that most supports are going for, often being much happier to give it to a carry on the team.
Image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com
However, there are some more reliable stats. GPM is one of them, finding farm on a map when none of it’s yours has always been an art form of the support. Admittedly with the power of Travellers Shoes and Watcher’s gift this has become easier in recent times. In this stat iRaffer came second in the league at 474. What supports really pride themselves on though is assists. Here iRaffer outshone the rest of the league with 152 assists at a rate of 10.86 a game.
Some people may say this is skewed with just how high the amount of kills NRG as a whole was getting but with a participation rate of 74.42 percent which is towards the higher end of the league. Personally I think it is even more impressive. This is because it shows how iRaffer was such a big part of getting these kills and why he is on my all star roster.
NRG feature again in this all star roster with their mid laner André ‘Yammyn’ Brännvall. He has been consistently one of the best mid laners in the world for the last two years. This Split has been no different, he has been exceptional.
There are a lot of things on which we can judge a mid laner. Is it their damage output? This is an important factor, as mid laners are the aoe damage dealers for a team. Is it kills? Another important factor but counter-intuitively mages are not the ones to finish off kills a lot of the time with their burst ults. Instead they weaken a team while the more mobile characters sweep in and mop them up. Is it GPM? Well seeming as a mid laner shares most of their farm it seems a hard thing to put at the top, being so dependent on whether or not your jungle and support are taking it. In all these stats though Yammyn is near the top of Europe showing how good is play is.
The stats we are left with and which Yammyn does top the league seem to show a lot more to me. These are KDA and and deaths. Mages are probably the squishiest class in Smite. Incredibly low protection and health scaling, combined normally with a lack of mobility. They are also put into the most contested area of the map meaning there is the constant threat of death. So for Yammyn to only have 15 deaths is an impressive feat. When you combine that with the fact that he has the highest KDA in the league for a mid at 6.07 far above the 4.53 of Emil ‘PrettyPrime’ Edstrom (the man who would replace him in this list) and joint 2nd highest kills, it gets all the more impressive.
ADC – Kieran ‘Funballer’ Patidar Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark
Jungle Anders ‘QvoFred’ Korsbo Benjamin ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight
Support Jordan ‘BigManTingz’ Theaker
If you would like to know what an NA version of this would look like, look no further my colleague Brendon has you covered! http://thegamehaus.com/2017/06/30/spl-summer-split-north-american-star-team/
A quick shout out to @BluesVult who’s spreadsheet was the source for a lot of these stats.
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.
Image courtesy of http://smite.gamepedia.com/Thor
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.
Image courtesy of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGYlz6PKsC8
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
Obey Alliance vs Team Dignitas was the last set of the Spring Split. Both teams fought their way through Smite Masters and proved themselves to be the best two teams in Smite for the Spring Split. So, it seems rather fitting that they will end the online stage of the Summer Split for EU. It is also great to have the EU online portion end with such a great set, as well as being the game of the week
Image courtesy of https://twitter.com/obeyysmite
Things have changed though since the Smite Masters Grand Finals; it seems as if these teams have switched fortunes. The Spring Split was the Obey Alliance show, no doubt. They dominated the online stages and carried that form through to the offline stage. However, this Split their results have been a bit disappointing. I want to stress that they have only been disappointing when compared to the incredibly high bar they set last Split. Also I think it is hard to say that Obey are still not playing great Smite, but maybe the other teams have taken a step forward.
NRG are performing closer to the standard we have come to expect. Let’s not forget either that Dignitas now has a Split under their belt and will obviously have improved as a team. Everyone in Europe has improved though, seeds one through five are probably expected to split with each other now. As well as this Split some dead-weight from the EU has been shed and the new blood of The Papis and Burrito Esports have shown they are more than capable of an upset.
Dignitas have taken Obey’s spot on top of the perch. They are starting to show that for once, the tag ‘Super-team’ is not a curse, nor irrelevant. They are currently 5/1/0 in the standings, setting themselves apart from the pack, four points in front of their nearest contenders. This guarantees them first seed going into DreamHack Valencia, something which must feel great. Especially for the European players, it will be the first time in a long time they will be competing on home soil at a LAN. However, don’t expect them to take it easy on Obey because of this, they will want to maintain not having lost a set this split. As well as the fact that beating what is going to be one of your biggest rivals at DreamHack is a huge momentum boost.
Obey will be fighting tooth and nail for the set victory this weekend. The momentum boost of taking down one of your biggest rivals is huge. What is more important though is that they are still in a scrap for seeding. By the end of this weekend, Obey could end up anywhere from second to fourth. Do not underestimate the value of seeding, as any Esports fan can tell you many tournaments have been won through favourable brackets. For more information on all the permutations of the EU standings, look no further, TGH has you covered http://thegamehaus.com/2017/06/20/going-dreamhack-valencia-eu-standings-end/
Predictions and contested picks
The mid lane is going to be hotly contested for picks. For Dignitas, Joakim ‘Zyrhoes’ Verngren Sol is a very important pick. Sol has taken the mid lane by storm and become an important pick in any draft, but Zyrhoes was one of the people who pioneered the Sol pick. If this gets through the banning phase, look for Dignitas to pick it up at the first opportunity. However, I would not expect to get through the banning phase. If this happens, things get more interesting for the mid lane.
Image courtesy of pcgamesn.com
They get more interesting because all of a sudden The Morrigan comes into focus. This has been a fall back for Zyrhoes in recent times, something Dig prioritises highly. To show how much they prioritise it, in their last set against Burrito Esports when the Sol got banned, they first picked The Morrigan. Emil ‘PrettyPrime’ Edstrom also prioritises it, as their last set he played The Morrigan both games, as well as numerous times before this Split.
Ne Zha has come back into the meta, with a lot of SPL junglers picking him up. Benjamin ‘CaptainTwig’ Knight has always played the Ne Zha and has taken full advantage of his return to the meta. He does not just play the Ne Zha a lot, he plays it very well. Obey Alliance as a whole play around the Ne Zha well though, as he is one of those picks that requires coordination with your teammates. He also recently picked up Sun Wu Kong in the jungle, so that is a possible pick out of left field.
Another potentially interesting pick when these two teams meet comes from the Hunter role. Jing Wei is creeping back into meta and is a God that both Kenny ‘Arkkyl’ Kuska and Nate ‘Ataraxia’ Mark have been picking occasionally. This is not going to be as contested as The Morrigan in mid as both these hunters have played a lot of God’s recently and there are probably more top tier ADC’s at the moment. It is something we could potentially see though.
These are two incredibly evenly matched teams, with a ton of skill and experience on both sides. If I were to call it, I’d say it’s probably a split with perhaps Dignitas on recent form just edging it out.
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 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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
He is a two-time SWC runner-up, winner of the Masters LAN, captain of what is currently the best team in the world Obey Alliance, winner of the 2014 EU regional championship, creator of the famed Unicorn Build of old, the 2nd highest esports earner from the UK (no points for guessing who is in first) and long-standing veteran of the Smite competitive scene.
If you want to learn more about Smite and its competitive scene, Ataraxia is the sort of person you should be listening to!
On top of the recent success you have been seeing as a team, you must be very happy with your own personal performances. Over the Spring Split you have the highest K/D, KDA and GPM, What more could an ADC want? You are now pushing for the title of best player in the world. What would you attribute that too? Do you think that you have progressed in any significant way, or is it more that your current team gives you a platform to produce these performances?
I don’t think I’ve really changed. I’d say I’m less anxious about what people think of me, what I build and how good of a player they actually think I am. I don’t think many viewers, or pros, actually rate me that highly and that’s something that I used to fight against and get upset about. I like to think I’ve overcome that now; I don’t need other people to validate me when we’ve been performing as we have, as well as myself being personally relevant in the scene for such a long time.
More than that, though, I think it’s always been the team that’s made me look good. Prime, Twig, Variety and Frezzyy have been making me look good since S3 and now I have maniaKK and EmilZy making me look even better!
Worlds is what everyone always has one eye on. As great as the success Obey as a team has seen so far, I assume you have a focus on making sure you are the best team in the world going into Worlds. How do you hope to achieve this?
The hope is to keep on doing what we’re doing. We’re meshing really well as a team and I’m confident we’ll only grow stronger as the season goes on. We all get along better than any team I’ve been a part of before, and everyone is always keen to test their ingenuity as the game is updated. So long as we keep that fire and passion we have, I think we’ll be well on our way to becoming one of the top teams in the world.
When talking to Hi-Rez at one of the recent LANs you said if you were to win Worlds it would be down to Emilzy. His stats speak for themselves – from the Spring Split he had highest assists, but more impressively for a support, he had 3rd highest KDA and 9th highest GPM. He is quite clearly putting in great performances, as someone tagged as a cerebral player, what does he give outside the game on top of his great in game performance?
EmilZy brings a ton of energy to the team for sure. He’s the youngest player on the squad by a fair bit and he definitely brings that youthful enthusiasm. I think it’s such an underrated feature that a lot of teams lack, but EmilZy is genuinely excited by the game and loves it a lot. He’ll talk about stuff that happens in the SPL, LAN or scrims days afterward because they were awesome moments. A lot of people get disillusioned with a game after they spend so much time playing it, but I’m glad EmilZy isn’t one of those players because it’s something that makes us all better as a result.
We have seen a lot of criticism recently of Season 4 from the community. I will admit having played from beta at the start of the season I was just happy for some genuine change, although the priority on pressure and early snowballing is starting to grate a tad. We have seen the removal rituals (rightly so), we have had complaints about the map and we are seeing adjustments to experience thresholds in early levels. Overall what are your feelings on Season 4 and do you think these changes will be an improvement to the game state?
Like you, I’ve always loved change for the game; playing the same thing for so long definitely gets stale and I’m glad that Ajax and the rest of the design team aren’t afraid to try new things and test the waters, regardless of how much the community moans. It keeps the game fresh, it keeps the game growing and most importantly it IS making the game better. I’ve really enjoyed Season 4 so far through its highs and lows, and I’ve had a ton of fun playing it. Maybe it’s because of the roster we have now and the fact that we’re doing so well, or maybe it is just the state of the game. Either way I’m having a blast.
With that said, I am very excited for the changes that are rumoured for Season 5, with a map overhaul and what not. I think it’s going to be the season that really shows the vision Ajax and the rest have for Smite and I can’t wait to see it. Should be extremely spicy!
As a follow-up, in what ways would you like to improve Smite in its current form? This does not have to be minor changes, it could be drastic changes you hope to see in Season 5.
I think map changes are something I’m keen to see. Snowball and pressure have been essential to competitive Smite for as long as I’ve been playing, and while they should be important I do feel like comeback mechanics are lacking right now. I think currently if you win a teamfight, then you usually swing a lead big enough that unless you and your team seriously cock up, it’s insurmountable. To counter that, I’d like the number of things you can do off a won teamfight to be lower, at least in the early to mid game. A teamfight won right now usually means you snag all the contestable objectives on the map and/or enough towers. Perhaps making objectives harder to kill, towers harder to kill or much shorter respawn timers for levels 5-16 would be a suitable way to counter it.
That’s all off the top of my head though, honestly so long as the game keeps changing I don’t mind where they take it!
As captain of Obey, what extra responsibility does that put on your shoulders? To those of us not playing competitively, it can be hard to understand exactly what the role of captain of an esports team is.
There’s not much, really. I think a lot of teams bring their own definitions to ‘captain’. Personally, I just try and keep the team focused. If we’re going on a tangent with picks, then I try to get us coordinated. If we’re getting too flustered in game, I try to direct the flow of the game. These aren’t things that are unique to captains though, and I’m definitely not the only person on the team who does it. All in all, it’s really hard to quantify what it means. You’d probably get a better answer from a non-captain team member!
Not focused on Smite in particular but on esports as a whole, how sustainable do you see esports as a career? It requires dedication, skill and a lot of time to be an esports pro. In its current state, the exclusivity and effort required to make it to the top, combined with the lack of longevity, does not seem to have the economic rewards those economic factors would normally provide. As well, eo you think in general enough is done by the companies and organisations who profit from esports to make it sustainable for players?
I think if you go into esports, you’re almost certainly doing it for the passion, not necessarily for the economic reward. Personally, the money is a means that allows me to keep doing my dream job, which is competing in a video game. Any extra I make is obviously fantastic, but after this is all over for me, I’m under no illusion that I’ll probably be in a less than ideal situation job prospect wise.
That’s something I’ve made my peace with, and I fully understand that it’s my fault. I COULD stream, I COULD produce videos and I COULD go the extra mile to ensure job viability after I’m done playing.
In the end, I think it’s up to players to decide how much they get out this. There’s a lot of room for players to make this a sustainable income for themselves if they’re willing to put the work in!
To end, I would just like to say good luck in the rest of the season, hope you win Worlds, would be great to see another Brit lifting the hammer!
Top image courtesy of esports.smitegame.com
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