Week 1 SPL Predictions and Power Rankings

A look at the state-of-the-scene going into the first week of the Season 4 SPL Summer Split.

After what seems like a long, salt-filled journey from the end of the Spring Split, the Summer Split for Season 4 of the SMITE Pro League is finally upon us. It kicks off with a little extra pizzazz, as patch 4.9 literally hits the day before the first matches of the split. Granted, the players have had the chance to scrimmage on the PTS – Public Test Server – it was a regaled as a largely incomplete experience thanks to the lack of notification around downtime and the absence of reliable spectator modes. It also contains several pacing changes, even without the presence of the much-reviled experience changes that would have caused players to hit second level with just a single wave. There are also a plethora of other changes that could impact the meta, but none of the changes the pros were clamoring for on this front. We have a lot to talk about for this first week. As a reminder, I will be tracking prediction records throughout the course of the split, and adding it to our season average overall. Coming into the Summer Split I stand at 40-26 (60.6%), not counting the Gauntlet, but including the Masters LAN. The Gauntlet is discounted solely because it could not be voted on as part of the Season Ticket.

Week 1 SPL Set Predictions | Week 1 SPL Power Rankings

What’s the Meta with You?

After the embarrassment of NA at the Spring Split LANs, expect the teams to really emphasis objective control and work toward solidifying map control over the course of the split. The pace of the game will slow down for NA, and there will be an emphasis on finding the perfect pick to force an engagement rather than taking skirmishes and fighting whenever you are afforded the opportunity. NA games are going to continue to slow down, mirroring what we saw of the EU games at the end of last season and into this one. This was evident in Summer Relegations, and we are likely to see this as an on-going concerted efforts by all SPL teams. For NA, they need to re-focus on what they need to do in order to be more competitive from an intra-division perspective, and how to do on the international scene.

On the EU side, this shift isn’t needed – but we’ll see a further emphasis on capitalizing on the smallest mistakes. This will likely manifest as a preference for more and more individual control options while making the most of any and all modifiers. In short, expect a lot of Runeforged Hammers, characters with slows or team fighters picking up Frostbound, and lots of Frenzy and Sundering Spear. This sounds obvious, but the hard commit to a single pick or two in order to force objectives is likely to be the name of the game in week one.

From a god perspective, the picks we saw at the Masters LAN will still be valid – though picks and bans will see a shift. Cernunnos will see a little less play, Chang’e might not be an insta-ban, but Susano will still be a fairly popular choice. Now, fighting into him will be slightly less awful, but he’s still going to do Susano things. Otherwise, things are going to remain largely the same. Fafnir is incredibly strong, Terra’s change didn’t really impact her. Ganesha will be available, and should be interesting when he makes an appearance. Mages keep seeing indirect buffs through magical items getting slightly nudged up, and physical items being slightly nudged down. Bellona and Osiris will continue to see a lot of play, and be just as annoying as ever until changes occur. Erlang Shen will be played even more, and he was already trending upwards in Spring Masters. Athena will continue to see play. Hou Yi, Medusa, and Cupid will still remain popular. Mages are a more varied lot, though expect to see more Sol show up consistently. Thoth is going to be as popular as ever, the Morrigan should continue to be on the rise, and I believe we’ll see Nu Wa a bit more. The last is a stretch, but the options she brings synergize nicely with the current meta.

The power spike smoothing should also see the mid-game be a bit more level, though a team that is ahead now runs the risk of being even further ahead because that lead can translate into a substantial power spike even earlier. With the changes to the early game – Gold Fury and Portal Demon value reductions – the pressure early should lessen a small amount, though just shift by a few minutes. The power spike smoothing might also allow teams to fight back into a game where they do not possess the lead, though I really think teams need to just practice losing for a while in order to get better at the situation. It’s not an impossible feat, just something people aren’t very good at doing. No one wants to lose, but it happens to all teams from time to time.

Ch-Ch-Changes

There have been a plethora of changes occurring between the Spring and Summer Splits. Some rosters have been entirely remade, some stalwarts saw their line-ups shaken up, some sponsors left, and the EU division saw two new teams join their ranks as part of relegations. In a surprising twist, the NA SPL teams both defended their spots in convincing fashion. This was a shock to many, given how SPL Gatekeepers – formerly Oxygen Supremacy – performed in the Spring Gauntlet. The team just couldn’t perform, and fell apart when it mattered the most. Shortly thereafter, the team broke up and many of their players found new homes with SPL teams – though not without drama.

From a roster perspective, the shocker of the downtime was djpernicus and Divios leaving Team Eager. The team had some internal issues that couldn’t be worked through, causing the two to leave the team. With the new addition of Sam4Soccer2 as Team Eager’s jungler, Divios felt that perhaps the team dynamic will shift, and rejoined as part of their summer roster. I am excited about the changes the team has undertaken, even if it takes a while to find their footing. It was devastatingly clear at Spring Masters the team was dysfunctional, and something had to change. Go back and watch the body language of the team, even in their casual photos. It’s obvious.

This isn’t to downplay the roster changes of other teams, by any means. Both Team Allegiance and Noble Esports pulled a similar move, removing players on their rosters shortly after the players from SPL Gatekeepers became available. Copebby had helped Noble retain their SPL spot, but was unceremoniously dropped for Skeeledon. Likewise, ViviaNx3 was dropped after a single game in the Gauntlet for Neirumah. In both cases, the moves came fairly late in the pre-Summer Split cycle – leaving Copebby and ViviaNx3 on the outside unless a mid-season shake-up occurs. Had the moves been made earlier, it’s possible the players would have found homes on the relegation squads, or been available for other teams. I am not casting dispersions – I am not a coach or team member for any squad (though I can be paid in coffee, just an FYI) – simply stating the unfortunate way things broke.

Similarly, we saw some dramatic shifts with existing players, as well. PolarBearMike joined eUnited as part of a coup-like roster change that occurred just recently. PainDeViande left the team, Scream (Varizial1) rejoined the team, and Khaos became the new captain. The rest of the roster changes are just typical re-org stuff: Faeles and Duck3y joining Eanix, Nika joining eLevate, and Whalrus leaving IMOG and IMOG’s sub, Meerkat, taking his spot. These are all meaningful changes, and synergy will be something to look at during the first few weeks of the Summer Split. Teams often – though not always – receive a small boost from changes, so time will tell what the divisions actually look like.

Week 1 SPL Set Predictions

The first week of any split is going to be less informative than the following weeks. It will be even more true this week. Patch 4.9 went live today on May 24…one day before the Summer Split begins in full. That isn’t to say teams haven’t been scrimmaging on the PTS – they have – but playing solo in ranked and such allows for a more comprehensive view. It’s going to be a weird first week.

Thursday, May 25 – Both Divisions

eLevate (EU) vs. Team Dignitas (EU): Dignitas came in second at the Spring Masters, completely dominating until their match against Obey Alliance. eLevate underperformed during the Spring Gauntlet, and lost their jungler to a competing team. The only questions about this match-up are – 1) Has Dignitas overcome their loss? and 2) Will Trixtank have his head in the game after a masturbation-related mishap on stream? I think the answer to both is yes, and Dignitas should pick up both games from eLevate during this first week. Team Dignitas 2-0.

The Papis (EU) vs. Eanix (EU): Eanix’s off-split messaging has been…weird. Lots of meme-tastic public trolling of each other, and something of a hazing and frat mentality on display. Meanwhile, the Papis have a rabid fan base and enter with a chip on their shoulder. This is certainly a clash in styles for week one. Eanix is 40% of a new team, and the Papis were hot in relegations. Eanix probably wins out in this one, but it will be closer than they would like. Eanix 2-0.

Flash Point (NA) vs. Monkey Madness (NA): Flash Point did great in relegations, and their new roster already showed more synergy than their Spring Split one did…even if they never win a game this split. Monkey Madness ended the Spring Split on a down note, taking a step backwards from their hot-streak at the end of Spring Onlines. Their roster didn’t change, and that says a lot about their focus as a team. Monkey Madness takes both games. Monkey Madness 2-0.

Team Allegiance (NA) vs. Luminosity Gaming (NA): Luminosity looked the best of the NA teams during Spring Masters LAN, and Team Allegiance looked out and out bad in the Spring Split. PolarBearMike should bring some life to the team, and Luminosity might struggle with yet more balance changes while wanting to continue focusing on their shortcomings on the international stage. That said, Luminosity is the better team at this point in time, and both games should go in their favor. Luminosity 2-0.

Saturday, May 27 – EU

Burrito Esports vs. Team Dignitas: Burrito Esports looked decent in relegations, and got past the first round in the Spring Gauntlet, but let’s not read too much into that. Team Dignitas is far and away the better team right now, and Burrito Esports will have a hard set ahead of them. Burrito Esports should continue to grow over the course of the split, but Saturday will not be their day. Team Dignitas 2-0.

Team Rival vs. NRG Esports: This is match of the day, in my opinion. NRG made comments to the effect that if they had been playing how they played at Masters during the Gauntlet, Team Rival would not have won. For a team looking to prove they are “the new NRG,” that should be the horn that calls them to battle. Unfortunately, Team Rival got a rude awakening at Masters LAN, and the did not appear to be handling their misfortunes well. Conversely, NRG sees themselves as underdogs for the first time in a long time. A split is the safe call for this set, but I believe NRG will be fired up. NRG Esports 2-0.

The Papis vs. eLevate: Look to the matches on Thursday to determine how this match might play out. I expect both teams to be 0-2, but the Papis would likely have the performance boost from playing against Eanix. eLevate will have learned a lot from their set with Dig, but still need time to grow. Both teams should have ups and downs during this set. Split 1-1.

Eanix vs. Obey Alliance: The only question is if Obey Alliance is slow playing it after their Spring Split win. My bet is no. They are on a mission this year, and want to keep the pressure on and force teams to question themselves whenever they have to play them. Eanix will either play up or crumble a bit as their new team faces their biggest challenge of the split in the first week. I hope Eanix plays up, as I would like the team to find success. I don’t seem them finding much success this week, however. Obey Alliance 2-0.

Sunday, May 28 – NA

Noble Esports vs. Luminosity: Noble performed well in relegations, but then they swapped junglers. Instead of building on existing performance, now they need to rebuild their dynamic. Doing so against Luminosity is not the best time to be needing to do that. Of course, Luminosity likes to get goofy when they know teams are not as good as them, so it’s hard to say definitively this is an easy set. Again, LG’s comments post-Masters sounded great, but I need to see the serious side of them before I am a complete believer. In spite of that, LG should win without too much issue, provided they show up as themselves. Luminosity 2-0.

In Memory of Gabe vs. eUnited: This should be a really interesting set. IMOG lost Whalrus, but picked up Kikisocheeky after flirting with the idea of promoting their sub. eUnited changed leadership and picked up PolarBearMike. These are two teams looking to redefine themselves after a bad look in the Spring Gauntlet. For eUnited, it was something of a total and complete collapse. For IMOG, it was a slow downward trend over the Spring Split. This should be a highly competitive match, and it like sees a split. Split 1-1.

Flash Point vs. Team Allegiance: While less personally compelling than when Incon was on Flash Point, this should still be a very interesting set. Both teams should be coming off dropped sets from Thursday, making this a good set for the teams to find some wins and build some confidence. These teams probably take the opportunity to take one game off of each other. Split 1-1.

Monkey Madness vs. Team Eager: This is the NA match of the day. Eager will have to handle their new shotcalling process and new adapt to their new jungler. I suspect they will be trying the “whoever is ahead” model of shotcalling that Obey has discussed, but it remains to be seen. The other point of note here is Monkey Madness will already have an SPL set under their belt for the split. While new Eager is an unknown quantity…so is how Monkey Madness will be performing. I would lean towards split with the caveat of “if Monkey Madness collapses on Thursday, give it to Eager.” Split 1-1.

Week 1 SPL Power Rankings

Rank  Team  Commentary Last Week
 

1

 

Obey_1000x1000 (1)

The Spring Split winners are still the baddest dudes on the block. Look for more of the same this split.  

 

2

 

Team-Dignitas (1)

The second place team from the EU showed great growth, and a passion for the game. Look forward to great competition from them this split.  

 

3

 

NRG_Logo

I know, NRG this high? It sounds strange, but I think they have actually found a new passion for the game and will enjoy being underdogs. It will take some time, but I think they start to look good.  

 

4

 

Luminosity-Logo_300x300

Higher than the team that beat them in LAN?! Yes, mainly because the things they have been saying and doing show the right kind of growth. The games against Rival were honestly close ones.  

 

5

 

300px-TeamRival

Lower than the teams they beat at LAN?! Yes, due to the regression they showed against Obey Alliance, and the sullenness on display afterwards. They are a great team I like to watch, but they need to continue growing.  

 

6

 

monkeymadnessLogoGradient

Possibly the second best team out of NA right now, depending on how their consistency holds up. No roster changes and a dedication to performance will make them a threat.  

 

7

 

EGR_New_300x300-1

The loss of a shotcaller and the lingering tensions that could remain make them an unknown quantity when coupled with a new jungler. I expect they get back on track quickly, but we will see.  

 

8

 

Eanix-Black-and-Red-Logo

Two new members will mean the team needs to find their style and make it work. Some growing pains expected this split.  

 

9

 

elevate_1000x1000_wht

eLevate needs to learn how to end games, and some members need to expand their god pools. If they can perfect that with their new jungler, this team will go places.  

 

10

 

Gabe-1

IMOG saw an underplayed roster change during the off-split, and a downward trend at the end of last year. It remains to be seen if they can right the ship.  

 

11

 

eUnitied_1000x1000

After the spectacular crash and burn job at the Gauntlet, the team finished imploding and a new structure emerged. What the team identity will be is anyone’s guess.  

 

12

 

Papis

The Papis looked great in relegations, but will face stiff competition in the EU. If they learn quickly, they will go far.  

 

13

 

FP-AVA

Like the Papis, Flash Point looked great in relegations. Honestly, they looked better than I had seen them look all Spring Split. I want them to perform well, but they have bigger challenges ahead of them.  

 

14

 

Allegiance_Dark

I wish I had seen more of ViviaNx3, particularly after Weak3n praised him at Gauntlet, but oh well. Neirumah seems inconsistent from what I have seen, and reminds me of Frezzyy to some degree. The team needs a lot of work to climb out of the basement, still.  

 

15

 

Burrito-Esportslogo-square

The biggest mark against them is mental fortitude. They can hopefully pick that up this split and really increase their potency as a team.  

 

16

 

2016-Noble (1)

Another team searching for a new identity. Relegations showed a more methodical Noble, but will it stick? Hard to say, especially with new members and a bit of drama behind them.  

  1. […] Previous: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 […]

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: