Moving into the last week of the Spring Split, we’ve got some interesting matches lined up.
On the EU side, it will be exciting to see how Obey Alliance will perform. After their upset against NRG, they’ve proven they have what it takes to stand up to Europe’s best teams. And with match-ups against Team Rival and Dignitas, we’ll know how they stack up against the best by the end of the week.
Over in North America, it’s still intensely even competition in the Spring Split. After finding their footing in week three of the split, we get to see how far EUnited has come. With matches against the teams that obliterated them in the first week of the split, Luminosity and Spacestation, EUnited has their chance at redemption.
With that, let’s go to the picks.
Team Rival vs NRG Esports
Both of these teams are around the same skill level. However after dropping a game to Obey Alliance last week, I have to give this one to Rival.
SK Gaming vs Mousesports
Mousesports are having some trouble finding their playstyle as a team. Everyone enjoyed watching their crazy picks at the beginning of the split. And while it may not have worked out for them in the short run, it’s better to be the meta definer coming up with new strategies if you aim to be a top team. In the past week, though, Mousesports have been picking fairly conventionally. And they haven’t seen any more success than when they were picking Janus Jungles and Chaac Mids. I don’t anticipate this being a good direction for the team, and I can’t see them finding their footing in the last week of the split.
EUnited vs Luminosity
While Luminosity took this match up 2-0 in the first week of the split, EUnited is stronger than they were back then. While I don’t doubt Luminosity’s skills either, I think EUnited can manage to pull a win this time.
Splyce vs Counter Logic Gaming
Counter Logic Gaming
Splyce is still having trouble finding wins in this split. And while they’re not a weak team by any means, CLG is still looking stronger right now.
Team Dignitas vs Mousesports
Again, Mousesports are having identity problems. If they can’t manage to beat SK gaming, there’s certainly no reason to change my mind in a match-up against the EU powerhouse Team Dignitas.
Team Rival vs Obey Alliance
I want to believe that Obey can take these matches. They’re definitely the team to root for if you like underdogs. But I pick with my brain, not my heart, and my brain says Team Rival.
Obey Alliance vs Team Dignitas
Again, I would love to pick Obey here. But with the information we have, Dignitas is just the stronger team.
Trifecta vs Counter Logic Gaming
CLG has been underwhelming lately. They’ve fallen from grace after looking like the strongest team in the split half way through. On the other side of the spectrum, Trifecta has been fairly impressive. Taking wins off of both EUnited and Luminosity, Trifecta has had a strong showing in the past two weeks. Because of that, I have to predict Trifecta.
EUnited vs Spacestation
This is another match-up where I want to vote for EUnited, but I just can’t. Spacestation has seated themselves on the throne of the SPL, and while EUnited certainly has a chance to take this I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Spacestation vs Trifecta
Just like with the last match, Trifecta is a strong team that has a chance. But it’s hard to deny that Spacestation is the strongest team in North America right now.
Team Rival > NRG Esports
SK Gaming > Mousesports
EUnited > Luminosity
Splyce < Counter Logic Gaming
Team Dignitas > Mousesports
Team Rival > Obey Alliance
Obey Alliance < Team Dignitas
Trifecta > Counter Logic Gaming
EUnited < Spacestation
Spacestation > Trifecta
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Top Image courtesy of Smitegame.com, SPL logo and Esports Team logos courtesy of Esports.Smitegame.com
Now that we’re done with rerun week, I can start actually predicting things instead of regurgitating last weeks results. Which would be more fun in a different SPL climate. But this split’s North American teams are so even that it seems practically impossible to make clear power rankings.
EUnited beat Counter Logic Gaming, Counter Logic beat Spacestation, Spacestation beat Luminosity, Luminosity beat EUnited… All of these teams are in the same tier. It’s great for watching games, but stressful for predicting them.
At least the European side is a little easier. There seem to be two distinct echelons of EU teams, with Rival, NRG and Dignitas being top teams and Obey, SK and Mousesports being lower. But if teams from the same tier face off in EU, it can be just as hard as an NA game to predict.
Oh well, you’ve gotta pick someone. Let’s get into the picks for week 5.
Team Rival VS Team Dignitas
Rival and Dignitas are both great teams, and both could easily take this. But for my money, Dignitas comes out on top. Dignitas are still the standout team of the European Pro League, even if they’ve recently lost some sets.
Obey Alliance VS Mousesports
Two of the weaker teams square off in this set. But Mousesports is too inconsistent, and their drafts can get a little too crazy. And while I like experimental drafts as much as the next guy, they don’t translate cleanly into wins.
eUnited VS Trifecta
It’s hard to vote against eUnited in these match-ups after their Week Three comeback. Last week they looked as strong as they did in the World Championship. And while I don’t doubt that Trifecta could take this, the same could be said for the team I vote against in practically any North American match-up. They’re just too even.
Spacestation VS Counter Logic Gaming
On the opposite end of the spectrum, before eUnited’s comeback CLG was looking like the best team in the world. But after taking a loss from not only eUnited, but from Luminosity, they don’t look so tough anymore. Spacestation, on the other hand, is a consistently great team.
Team Dignitas VS SK Gaming
This is the day where that short tier list I made starts coming in handy. Dignitas is in the top three, and SK is in the bottom, which makes this prediction easy.
NRG Esports VS Obey Alliance
Thursdays in the EU SPL seem to be the designated strong team versus weak team days. NRG is good, Obey isn’t. Easy FP.
NRG Esports VS SK Gaming
I like the low stress environment Thursday is creating here. I don’t have to think very hard. But there’s also not much to write about. That tier list is pretty real; so far none of the lower echelon teams have managed to take even a game off of the top three, let alone a whole match. It would be exciting to be wrong about these matches. But it also wouldn’t be responsible of me to predict SK.
Trifecta VS Splyce
This is the battle of teams I’m not quite sure what to think of yet. Splyce has a number of talented veteran players that we haven’t seen in action for a while, and I’d love to see them find their footing in this match. But for right now, they’re not great. Trifecta in the short term is a pretty lukewarm team. They never seem to look that strong or that weak. But in the short term, I have to give this one to Trifecta.
Luminosity VS Spacestation
This is the match that I’m most unsure of. Spacestation is still a consistently strong team, but Luminosity had a strong showing last week. But when in doubt, vote for Spacestation. That way at least John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter fans won’t get mad at me.
Luminosity VS Splyce
I’m still reluctant to give Splyce my vote, and to repeat myself Luminosity has been looking incredibly strong lately. This is probably about as easy to predict as North American matches can get. And even here, I have no doubt that Splyce could take the game. It’s really anyone’s league in North America.
Team Rival < Team Dignitas
Obey Alliance > Mousesports
EUnited > Trifecta
Spacestation > Counter Logic Gaming
Team Dignitas > SK Gaming
NRG Esports > Obey Alliance
NRG Esports > SK Gaming
Trifecta > Splyce
Luminosity < Spacestation
Luminosity > Splyce
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Top Image courtesy of Smitegame.com, SPL logo and Esports Team logos courtesy of Esports.Smitegame.com
At first this looked like a hard week to start on. Not only am I late, but accurate predictions of NA match-ups are getting harder. With EUnited’s comeback, North American teams are so even that it’s nearly impossible to tell who will win in these match-ups. And Europe, while not as bad, is still harder to predict than past SPL seasons.
But looking at the next week’s schedule gave me déjà vu. Which is probably because they’re the exact same match-ups as last week. I don’t understand why, but it does make predicting the winner pretty easy. Just vote for the team that won a week ago. So let’s get into my Smite Season Ticket predictions for the next week of the Spring Split.
Tuesday, April 10
NRG Esports VS Team Dignitas
Well, at least this whole rerun week makes the picks pretty easy. Remember last week when NRG beat Dignitas? I’ve used my expert deduction skills to decide that that will probably happen again.
Obey Alliance VS SK Gaming
Both of these teams have been a little weak so far. And while Obey took this match-up last week, it was incredibly close. This game could easily go to SK as well. But Obey’s chances are still a little bit better.
Wednesday, April 11
Luminosity VS Trifecta
Trifecta won last week, and I don’t see any reason to doubt them this time. Last week they won the set but lost game two. Trifecta learned a valuable lesson during that second game: Ban Nemesis. Even if she winds up in solo lane, you still need to ban Nemesis. And as long as they remember that, they should be able to beat Luminosity again.
SpaceStation VS Splyce
After the last week, Splyce has been looking like one of the worst teams in the league. Meanwhile SpaceStation looks like one of the best. It’s not quite that simple, though. Splyce is full of team members that have been out of the SPL for a while. And as they continue to readjust themselves to competitive play and learn to work with their new teammates, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Splyce rise above SpaceStation. But that’s in the long term, and this match is next Wednesday. So I have to give it to SpaceStation.
Thursday, April 12
Team Rival VS SK Gaming
Unfortunately for SK gaming, they just don’t stack up to Rival. Last time we saw this match it went 2-0 to Rival, and I don’t see any reason that would change.
NRG Esports VS Mousesports
Thursday is going to be a whole day of strong team versus weak team. And unfortunately for Mousesports, they don’t give Fantasy Points for voting for underdogs.
Team Rival VS Mousesports
It’s bad enough that Mousesports is having to face Rival, but they also have to play two matches in a row. And they’re likely coming into this match after losing to NRG. And they lost both of these matches 2-0 last week. This match will probably feel like a recurring nightmare for Mousesports. But who knows? Maybe they’ll win against NRG and bring that momentum into this match. That scenario’s a little too unlikely to get me to vote for Mousesports, though.
Friday, April 13
EUnited VS Splyce
EUnited proved last week that they’re still a powerful team, taking a decisive victory against Counter Logic Gaming. While this match was fairly close last week, EUnited are sure to be more confident after that comeback.
Luminosity VS Counter Logic Gaming
Counter Logic Gaming
Don’t let their loss against EUnited distract you: Counter Logic Gaming is still a force to be reckoned with. And while Luminosity certainly isn’t a bad team, I don’t see any reason to vote for them over CLG.
EUnited VS Counter Logic Gaming
I was really hoping that I would get the chance to play devil’s advocate and vote for last week’s loser at least once. But after the dominance EUnited showed in this match-up last week, I couldn’t possibly vote for CLG. The message of this game last week was clear: EUnited is back, and they’re still the world champs.
NRG Esports > Team Dignitas
Obey Alliance > SK Gaming
Luminosity < Trifecta
SpaceStation > Splyce
Team Rival > SK Gaming
NRG Esports > Mousesports
Team Rival > Mousesports
EUnited > Splyce
Luminosity < Counter Logic Gaming
Eunited > Counter Logic Gaming
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Top Image courtesy of Smitegame.com, SPL logo and Esports Team logos courtesy of Esports.Smitegame.com
So here we are, the end of the first week of the Season 5 Smite Pro League. There’ve been many twists and turns, some predictable results and some not-so-predictable ones – and I’m here to break them all down for your reading pleasure.
Rival vs NRG – Rival win (2-1)
What a start to the season! Amidst some less-than-ideal viewing conditions while Mixer found its feet, the season was kicked off by an absolute barnstormer.
Game 1 – NRG win
Game One was a rough one for Team Rival. Although they made a decent start, getting First Blood and staying even through 14 minutes, once the team fighting begun it was clear that Alexandru “Wlfy” Lefterică was suffering from hangups from the finals of Worlds in January. Again, his Poseidon ultimates seemed to be panicked and early, leading to several missed opportunities, NRG gaining a 15k gold lead and then ultimately ending the game with ease
Game 2/3 – Rival win
Games Two and Three, Rival really showed their intent and knowledge of the meta. Wlfy playing Janus was the complete opposite of game one and he provided so much utility and pure damage with his cooldown-oriented build, dropping the team all around the map and proving why Rival are the top team in Europe at the start of this season.
SK vs MouseSports – MouseSports win (2-1)
While the second set couldn’t quite live up to the first in terms of pure technical skill, it made up for it in janky picks and out-of-meta plays.
Game 1 – MouseSports win
Game One was dominant from MouseSports. Solo He Bo was ineffective from SK and Mouse cleaned up in 22 minutes, with BigManTingz impressing on Discordia in his first professional game as a mid laner.
Game 2 – SK win
Again, game two was the direct opposite, James “Duck3y” Heseltine securing 7 kills on Solo Camazotz, dominating the lane and doing over 26,000 player damage. The game again was shorter than some Season 5 games and left the set finely balanced heading into game 3.
Game 3 – Mousesports win
In a game notable for weird picks, Mouse brought three assassins to a very janky team composition. In a support match-up battle, Kumbhakarna was no match for Bastien “Dardez” Proust’s Fenrir support. Although the game was close, and SK even had more kills, ultimately when jungler Mohaned “Cherryo” Walied soloed SK’s midlaner at 38 minutes, the set was all over.
EUnited vs Luminosity – Luminosity win (2-0)
The most shocking game of the first week, this was a fantastic upset. Going into the set, the vast majority of players expected Kurt “Weak3n” Schray’s team to have very little chance against the reigning world champions, however, the opposite was the case!
Game 1- Luminosity win
Almost immediately, it was easy to say that everyone had underestimated Luminosity. A perfect early dive for First Blood by Weak3n set the tone as Luminosity quickly proved they understood the early S5 meta better than the world champions. In a back-and-forward first game, Luminosity established a mid-game lead only to be pegged back by EU. The game was ultimately decided twofold, by first a huge through-the-wall titan defense by new player Keegan “keegsmate” Twoeagle, followed by an incredible siege at 50 minutes, to take game 1.
Game Two – Luminosity win
Game two seemed almost completely one-sided; Luminosity looked dominant with Eunited potentially tilted from throwing game 1. Establishing a 10k gold lead by 20 minutes, courtesy of a perfect 4-0-2 score by Weak3n, the LG team were easily able to convert the game into a 2-0 clean sweep, to the shock of almost all observers.
Splyce vs CLG – CLG win (2-1)
Showing once again how close all of the teams are in the league this season, this was another very close set. CLG ultimately won out, with great performances by leader Connor “Jigz” Echols from the support role as well as the veteran mid-laner Tyler “Hurriwind” Whitney proving the difference.
Game One – Splyce win
The set started out with a confident performance by Splyce. Gaining an early lead which was fought back by CLG, Splyce were able to win pivotal team-fights twice in a row to end the match around 41 minutes.
Games Two and Three – CLG win
Making a decision to put Alec “fineokay” Fonzo on Sobek, a god he could be far more effective with in teamfights than in game one, CLG was able to edge a close match. Their double hunter composition provided too much objective damage for Splyce to win out. Game Three was very similar, a close game in which CLG ultimately was able to win a very close set overall.
Dignitas vs MouseSports – Dignitas win (2-0)
Looking to atone for their Super Regionals horror show at the end of the last season, Dignitas had a lot to prove having gone from being one of the favourites to win worlds to not even qualifying. MouseSports fresh from their earlier win picked up where they left off with weird and wonderful picks, however Dignitas were just too strong and managed a relatively easy win.
Games One and Two – Dignitas win
Janus Jungle was not quite as horrible an idea as it sounded, with Dignitas needing 40+ minutes to win, but ultimately Joakim “Zyrhoes” Verngren and Anders “QvoFred” Korsbo proved too mechanically gifted for Mouse.
Game two MouseSports decided to play Chaac in the mid lane and Morrigan support. While neither were horrible ideas in theory, neither worked in practice with QvoFred proving himself once again as one of the best junglers in the world, finishing the game with a cool 9 kills and 0 deaths.
Rival vs Obey – Rival win (2-0)
In a game many expected to be much closer, it took the new Obey squad (Craig “iRaffer” Rathbone joining last season’s squad) a little longer than some had expected to mesh together, and although the set was close overall, Rival’s teamplay was exceptional and lead to an easy victory.
Game Oneand Two – Rival win
Alexandru “Wlfy” Lefterică picked up where he left off in game 2 and 3 on Monday, hitting multiple two-man Ra snipes and carrying the game from the start. Finding picks before teamfights broke out was the clear strategy, with setup provided by Petar “KaLaS” Matejić proving too strong for the obey roster. Game two picked up where game one left off, with Rival maintaining a similar composition and winning in a similar way.
Dignitas vs Obey – Dig win (2-0)
Continuing a horrible start to the split for fan-favourites Obey, Dignitas joined Rival in having two victories in week one of the split.
Game Oneand Two – Dig win
In game One, Obey proved their lack of understanding of the early season 5 meta. Their composition with Chang’e, Arachne and Neith was dubious, and iRaffer still seemed to be on a different page to the rest of the roster. Game one lasted only 25 minutes, and was not a good look for Obey.
Game two was slightly better, Obey gaining six early kills and a small lead, however, the Arachne pick for CaptainTwig again didn’t work out and once Dignitas caught up in gold in the late midgame and killed the entire of Obey, the result seemed inevitable.
Trifecta vs CLG – CLG win (2-1)
CLG came out looking strong on Wednesday and this Friday game was no exception. Game 1 was won by CLG, Game two by Trifecta, and then game three, the pick of the set, was run by CLG’s solo laner Fineokay, leading to the overall victory.
Eunited vs Spacestation – Spacestation win (2-0)
What a fantastic set! In the first matchup between two of the top teams in a region, these heavyweights slugged it out over two games. This set had everything, and I would recommend watching it, if you missed out.
Game Oneand Two – Spacestation win
In a 57 minute slugfest between two teams who earlier in the week played in a spectacular “showmatch” in Vegas, this game is better watched than read about, so please check out the VoD on twitter. Spacestation ultimately came out on top, but Eunited were on top for a lot of the game and couldn’t quite get the game over the line.
Game two was entirely different. Andrew “andinster” Woodward and Kim “Baskin” Woon-young were on a completely different level. Both playing assassins, Camazotz Mid lane and Daji Jungle. They were able to completely run the game right from the first minute, ending the game in under half an hour with a combined score of 16 kills and zero deaths. Domination!
Trifecta vs Spacestation – Spacestation win (2-1)
The final set of the week was also exceptional. Spacestation again looked amazing, and the only thing which stopped this being a sweep like the previous match was Ronnie “ScaryD” Belair, who’s triple kill at the end of game two won the game for Trifecta. However Baskin’s game 1 fire giant steal combined with another spectacular combination of Thoth and Camazotz for Baskin and Andinster in game 3 closed out the set in Spacestation’s favour.
Team Rival has been with the smite scene since 2017. image courtesy of Team Rival https://twitter.com/TeamRivalGG
Most of us know Team Rival from their showings in the SPL for the mid to latter half of Season 4. You can be forgiven for this, as Rival had a brief tenure on the North American side of Smite in 2015, where they had a brief tenure. This isn’t the story being told of the Rival that made a small showing in 2015 though. This is the story of Rival, a highly successful team that joined in the early days of season 4. This is the story of Rival’s achievements thus far, and the exciting story that they will be telling for Season 5.
Season 4 Spring and Summer Splits
Rival picked up what was the former roster of Cyclone, and headed into the Spring Gauntlet with a new look. The Impact was immediate with Rival winning the Spring Gauntlet and punched their ticket to the Masters tournament. Things didn’t quite go so well, as they fell to Obey Alliance, who went on winning the tournament overall. Rival then went into the Summer split, starting slow with a 7-7 win/loss record, though showed a lot of resilience. It was at Dreamhack Valencia where Rival made it big, as a low seeded team, and advancing to the Valencia finals against Team Dignitas. It was Rival’s off-meta picks that gave them a narrow loss in the finals, though it was clear Rival had become a powerhouse of EU, winning the hearts of the Smite fan base.
Fall Split, Super Regionals and SWC
With their success at Valencia, it was on Rival to show that they were a top tier team in the final split of the year and win on the biggest stage of them all, the Smite World Championship. However, despite making a name for themselves where it counts, Rival fell to another 7-7 record, struggling with the top teams of EU, clinching the 3rd seed only on the last week of the split. Did Rival lose its momentum from Valencia during the fall? Absolutely not, as it was business as usual for Rival however, as Super Regionals came around and Rival once again found themselves on top of all the other EU teams, avenging their Valencia defeat against Dignitas (taking a 3-0 series), before winning the EU Super Regionals against Obey Alliance (3-1).
With the momentum back in their favor, it was onto the Smite World Championship as the team to beat. For Team Rival this was business as usual, playing at a top tier LAN team. Rival just did Rival things at the SWC, dispatching Nocturne Gaming in the Quarter finals. It was up to Rival’s unusual off-meta tactics to carry them further (let’s say using Thoth in the ADC role is just brilliant). From there, it was onto fending off the reigning world champions NRG, in a nail biting 3-2 set.
Smite World Championship Finals
The stage was set for Rival, on the grandest platform of them all and where teams are immortalized in the battleground of the gods, they held the task of taking down the North American powerhouse eUnited, to win the Smite World Championship. Both teams came out with victories in game one and two respectively, showing that they deserved to be there as the best. Unfortunately on that day, eUnited proved that they wanted the title of champions more by taking the last two sets, and winning the championship once and for all. For Rival, it was just another split where they came so close but couldn’t quite finish the job. Through their success in Season 4, Rival went from a mid-tier team to the best team in Europe and became known as a powerhouse at LANs.
Team Rival’s successful season 4 roster carries into season 5. image couresy of http://www.teamrival.gg/
Now that we’ve reached Season 5, it’s time to look ahead to what Rival brings to the SPL. The most impressive thing about this squad since the beginning, is their ability to adapt and change with the meta and all the teams around them. You know that team that went to every LAN and had success in Season 4? It’s the exact same team of guys from the onset of Rival to today. In fact, they are the only team in the Smite Pro League that can say that they have not had one roster change since its inception. This team just grows together, and builds on their success.
At the ADC role is Liam “Vote” Shanks, a man that commands success with his diverse god pool in the duo lane(remember that Thoth ADC? yeah that was Vote.) In the Support and team captain role is Petar “KaLaS” Matejić a fearless support who will not allow his opponents to wipe out the team’s backline. In the mid lane is Alexandru “Wlfy” Lefterică, who has a commanding knowledge of any and all mages in Smite. Jungling for the team is Aleksandar “iceicebabyy” Zahariev, who can lock down an enemy jungle no matter who he is facing. Finally, probably the most publicized of the group is Adrian “Deathwalker” Benko, the solo laner for the team and master of any and all things related to it(Go watch Dreamhack Finals game 3 to see what I mean).
These gentlemen are back for season 5, and you can bet that they are ready for the new map that comes with it. This time it’s different however, they are the team to beat in EU. They are the standard, they are ready for their opening game against NRG. If they somehow struggle during the season, don’t panic because you know when it comes to a LAN, they will show up. They always do.
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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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Going into the final week there are numerous permutations the EU side of the league can go through. The two major points of contention are going to be fourth spot and second spot in the EU standings. With first spot already wrapped up for Team Dignitas, it is the other spots which will be grabbing most of our attention.
The Battle for Fourth
Fourth place in EU will be hotly contested this weekend. It will be the last spot sending teams to Valencia. The difference between fourth and fifth spot is the difference between a failed Split and a possibly great Split for these teams.
The two teams desperately trying not to be fifth are Eanix and Team Rival. Team Rival have some slight advantages over Eanix towards this end. The biggest advantage is that they are one point ahead in the standings. This point advantage is compounded by the fact that they also took the set against Eanix 2-0. This means that even if they end up on the same amount of points, Eanix are not going to DreamHack Valencia. What this means is that Eanix need to get a 2-0 this weekend while hoping Rival lose both games in their set.
This brings us to the second advantage, the teams they have to face this weekend. Rival are facing sixth seed Elevate this weekend. They have only managed to secure one set victory this entire split. Sitting at sixth in the standings only ahead of two brand new teams to the SPL, this is a team that Rival should beat.
Image courtesy of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2GcC1FKkXY
Team Eanix have much sterner opposition in the current World Champions, NRG. Having to 2-0 the current World Champions going into the final week of the Split rather speaks for itself. They would have to be the first team all Split to pull off this difficult challenge. When we consider as well that Eanix only secured 2-0’s against The Papis and Burrito Esports, the two SPL newcomers, the chances look even worse. There is also the fact that against the top two teams their results have not been overly impressive. They got 2-0’d by Rival and Dignitas, and unfortunately last week they couldn’t put away Elevate, severely hurting their DreamHack chances. Do not expect NRG to take it easy on them either as this week is important for them too, with many permutations in the standings still possible.
The Battle for Second
NRG or Obey could end up in a tie-breaker for fourth, but both of them will be focusing on how they can get second. Currently NRG and Obey are on 12 points with a 3-3-0 record. If Rival win and either or both these teams get shutout in their sets, we will be in a tie-breaker position for second place. If these three teams all split against each other, a tiebreaker will have to be played, meaning we could end up in a three way tournament for seeding.
Both these teams have the ability to guarantee top three for themselves. Having only to secure a Split to guarantee third or better in the Summer Split. Of course though there is still the possibility of a tie breaker between these teams for the coveted second position. As I mentioned earlier, they are on the same amount of points and went 1-1 in their set this Split.
They are equal in all regards other than the challenges they have ahead this week. NRG are facing Eanix this weekend, a team who I expect to come fifth. Compare that to Obey who are facing Dignitas, the top ranked team in the league this Split. To put into context how great Dignitas has been, they have only lost one game all Split. It took until the last week in the Summer Split for them to drop a game against NRG.
Luckily for me, first place is all wrapped up for Dignitas, but this is where I believe the EU standings will finish.
Dignitas 5-2-0 17
NRG 4-3-0 15
Obey 3-4-0 13
Rival 3-3-1 12
Eanix 2-2-3 8
What I believe is most likely to change is that NRG and Eanix will split, resulting in a playoff for second place between NRG and Obey.
The Papis dominated in relegations, making short work of every team who came up against them. However, the question was always going to be whether they would look as good in the SPL.
Coming into this past week, The Papis were sitting on a record of 0/1/2. This wasn’t the dream start to the SPL that they would have hoped for. When you look at the teams that they had to start with though, it’s no surprise. Eanix is a team who will expect to be challenging for a place at DreamHack, currently sitting in second place in Europe with a record of 2/1/1. The other team they lost too was Obey, who came first in Europe for the Spring Split as well as being the winners of the Smite Masters. It would be unfair for us to expect a brand new team in the SPL to beat such high-level opponents.
The Papis split their match with Elevate. This is by no means a weak team. It may have been a bit of a blow to lose Daniel “Faeles” Evans to Eanix, but Elevate is still a strong outfit. They are not in that top echelon of teams, but to most neutral observers they are well capable of beating a team recently out the Challenger Circuit.
The Papis split with Rival looks more surprising when you take a closer look at their split with Elevate. In the first game, they were firmly beaten in 19 minutes, with a kill count of 16-0 in Elevate’s favour. The next game was a tight affair. The Papis did have a minor lead through the majority of the game but were also trailing in kills, showing it was no walk in the park for them. This suggested the higher regarded team of Rival would make quick work of The Papis.
Rival is a team who, due to their offline performance at the end of the last Split, have propelled themselves into the upper tier of SPL teams in a lot of peoples eyes. Admittedly, the upper tier is a little crowded at the moment. In EU the top five teams are all genuinely competitive. So, a quick 2-0 was what most people would have locked in their fantasy points for. However, in the first game of the set The Papis really dominated them.
The Papis held a lead throughout, minor at first but really grew their advantage from the 23rd minute onwards. In this game The Papis dominated the objectives getting three Gold Furies and a Fire Giant, with Rival only able to pick up a consolation Gold Fury as The Papis were pushing down the right Phoenix. The Papi’s also dominated kills, ending up with an advantage of 16-4.
What fans of The Papis should be excited about is the future of this team, which is guaranteed to be good because of how well they work together. This is not a one-man show by any means. In their victory against Rival, every member of the team did their part. Their lowest kill participation was from Marc “Warchi” Gomez and Ojoboom, who had a very respectable 75 percent kill participation. This shows how much of a unit The Papis are when they get it right.
This is a team just finding their feet in the SPL. However, they have been together for a long time, trying to make that jump from Challenger to Pro League. This means that they already have a lot of synergy. One of the questions when entering the SPL was always “Is there going to be any member of the team who is going to get found out at the pro level?” Happily, for The Papis, this does not seem to be the case.
I think it would be very unfair to say that any of these players look woefully unequipped in the SPL. They have had players performing better than others, but we have all seen how players can thrive and improve their game when consistently playing at this high level. You only have to look at the solo-lane monster that is Adrian “Deathwalker” Benko to see how much a player can improve from their first split.
All that is now required of The Papis is for them to get comfortable at the very top level of play. They have a great base to work from and it will be very interesting to see how they rise to the challenge. Although, for this split it would just be a great achievement for them to avoid relegations. But with the strength of the European scene right now, it’s unlikely to happen. However, I do expect to see them in the SPL next split.
Top Image Courtesy of https://twitter.com/thepapissmite
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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.