The first week of the SPL is behind us, with the second week approaching faster than I would prefer. Memorial Day here in the states means the analysis and predictions need to come fast and furious in order to be useful before the mixed region games on Thursday. The first week saw the predictions clock in at 8-4, putting us at the same for the Summer Split, and 48-30 on the year. Had I listened to my own advice, I’d be at least 9-3, but you sometimes you have to be bold. Even if the pick doesn’t entirely work out, I stand behind the justification that brought me to that point. Regardless, the new week is upon us, and we trudge ever onward.
Previous Weeks: Week 1
What’s the Meta with You?
Last week’s meta predictions were more or less on the money, with a few minor exceptions. Serqet saw more post-nerf play than previously expected, and both Khepri and Rama were popular choices. The biggest surprise is how early Khepri was prioritized in drafts. The takeaway here is the prioritization on his pressure once Terra and Fafnir are off the table when coupled with the strength of his ultimate now that the emphasis has shifted to pick plays makes him a hot commodity. However, his win rate is just 7-6 through week one. Something to keep an eye on trend-wise, but the small sample size doesn’t speak to a huge imbalance yet. Serqet is similar, in that her record was just 2-2, but a ban rate of over 70% speaks volumes. Compare this with Susano, who was 4-3, but only saw a 17% ban rate. The other happy surprise is the return of Isis. We saw this in the Spring Gauntlet and Masters LAN, but it really shone in week one of the Summer Split. The winged goddess was 4-2, and saw an overall participation rate of ~46%. It’s not a big surprise, when you think about it. Her pressure is good, her ult is incredibly value in both team fighting and objective secure, and her crowd control is the size of a Volkswagen.
One of the greatest things I saw in week one was the proliferation of my man Vulcan…but he was 1-7. We might be treated to another week of hot Vulcan picks, but unless he sees more success, we can expect him to retreat to a moderately-held pocket pick. Unsurprisingly, it was Ravana and Nemesis who performed the best of gods who were picked at least five times, though many gods clocked 100% success rates below that mark. Poseidon, the Morrigan, and Amaterasu were all 3-0. Medusa, Rat, and Ymir were 2-0. Small sample sizes, to be sure. Ymir is something of a surprise, but there are more “Ymir players” in the league than I have seen before.
While I have heard that NA always talks a good game – and then never does anything about it – I think we can at least safely say that NA showed the right willingness in the first week. Even if their control was sloppier or less nuanced than their EU counterparts, the fights are now taking place in the right areas, and the timers were more watched than previous showings. Team Allegiance was the most objectively focused on the NA teams, but Luminosity Gaming was not far behind. Both improved in this area from their first matches on Thursday to put in dominating performances against lesser teams on Sunday. Luminosity impressed by doing a great job of looking immediately to other objectives – particularly the portal demon. Likewise, Team Allegiance was laser-focused on the Gold Fury, but also clocked in the fastest tower of the week.
Interestingly, tower-focus seems to be delayed early in the Summer Split. The time from first tower to game end is shorter than the average time from game start to first tower. Teams that took a tower first were 21-3 across the first week. Only securing the first fire giant provides a better win rate at 22-1 (one game had no FG). The first tower statistic is a good look at how map pressure is more around the recurring objectives rather than the static ones. By the time a tower has fallen, two to three gold furies have been secured, and two portal demons have likely been slain. This is a big shift from earlier in the season, when early towers were more or less expendable, and were not a good indicator as to who might or might not win the game. While the sample size is still small, this helps fill in a gap with the way the game ramps and snowballs. Teams that got first blood were 14-10, teams that got the first gold fury were 18-6, teams that got the first tower were 21-3, and teams that got the first fire giant were 22-1. Only portal demon is outside of this linear progression – which makes sense as it is often a secondary objective.
As a closing note on this section, these objectives are actually slightly less meaningful at LANS. Whether this is being players are able to execute more cleanly, or because competition is heightened, there were more mixed records at the Spring Masters LAN. It will be interesting to see if this is a trend that continues.
Looking to the Future
We know Sunder and Frenzy will be getting toned down. Certainly Terra and Fafnir will be addressed in the near future. Expect changes that also push down Bellona, Osiris, and Erlang – likely Death’s Toll related. There is also a need to make more mages viable, but also address the early impact of high-scaling abilities thanks to Bancroft’s. I would also expect some manner of assassin balance-passing done before the year is out. There is a lot there that needs to be looked at, and a few that could use some more tuning.
Week 2 SPL Set Predictions
We saw the waters tested in week one, but it would be foolish to outright crown or discount any given team at the moment. It’s early in the Summer Split, so let’s give it another week – at the least. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t make some informed decisions.
Thursday, June 1 – Mixed Division
Burrito Esports (EU) vs. Eanix (EU) – As predicted, Eanix beat the Papis, but it wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. They bounced back from the tougher-than-expected wins to take a dominating game off of Obey Alliance…before being dominated in kind. Still, a good week one for Eanix. Burrito Esports did…not have a good week. They were up against the second best team in EU, though. Burrito Esports is now facing arguably the 3rd best EU team, and should be in for another tough set. Eanix 2-0
Noble Esports (NA) vs. Monkey Madness (NA) – Aquarius looked good in week 1, the rest of Noble? Not so much. Still, I like seeing the innovation and flexibility coming out of the team. This was not evident in the Spring Split. Monkey Madness took a convincing game off of Team Eager, and looked strong against Flash Point. While I do think Flash Point is better than their Spring Split roster, they still have a lot of room to grow. Noble should pose more of a challenge based on their week 1 performance, but Monkey Madness should pick up the set. Monkey Madness 2-0
eUnited (NA) vs. Team Eager (NA) – eUnited split with a decidedly mixed performance in the first set against In Memory of Gabe, while Team Eager had a likewise uneven performance against Monkey Madness. These two teams are in a similar situation for the split, so this should be a great set to watch. I expect some fits and starts from each team. Across a two game set, this should amount to each team taking a game off of the other. Split 1-1
NRG Esports (EU) vs. Obey Alliance (EU) – I was pretty high on NRG going into the split. I liked their fire post-LAN. I thought they were doing the right things to get back on top…until Raffer tilted off the face of the planet and announced to the world he hated the game and Hi-Rez. Obey Alliance got completely dominated by Eanix in their first game post-Masters, but bounced back admirably in game two. It might be too soon to discount NRG, but this speaks volume to their state of mind. They are frustrated and aren’t sure how to overcome it, or know for sure if they even should. This either results in them just not giving a darn about the outcome, or doubling down in rage. Despite all that’s happening, the safe bet for this set is a split. Split 1-1
Saturday, June 3 – EU
The Papis vs. Obey Alliance – The Papis got a win under their belt and feel more confident, but Obey should be coming off two tough sets in a row and will be looking to get firmly back in control. This should be an excellent learning experience for the Papis, and a chance for Obey to get some bounce back in their step. Obey Alliance 2-0
eLevate vs. NRG Esports – Thursday should indicate which NRG we are getting for the foreseeable future. eLevate split their set against the Papis last week, and will be looking to pick up some steam. Unfortunately, eLevate tends to have issues closing out games and NRG fights from behind better than just about anyone else in the league. Despite the drama around the team, I believe NRG picks up the win. NRG Esports 2-0
Burrito Esports vs. Team Rival – I have mentioned Burrito’s tough first week, and their second week shouldn’t be trending much better. Team Rival is coming off of a split with NRG – which they assuredly wanted to take to prove themselves – and is looking to gain momentum. Burrito will prove better than they have been to date, but Team Rival should be picking up their first complete set. Team Rival 2-0
Eanix vs. Team Dignitas – This should be a great set. Both teams are looking to prove they have improved over their previous split and make a name for themselves in the murderer’s row that is EU. Both teams tend to get showy at times, and throw themselves into situations in order to make big plays. Split is the safest call, but something about this match-up has me favoring Dignitas. Their matches in week 1 showed a willingness to tighten the ship, and I think their playstyle gives them an overall advantage. Of course, both teams are good enough to capitalize on a single error, so it could totally swing the other way. Still, I think Dig takes it. Team Dignitas 2-0
Sunday, June 4 – NA
Flash Point vs. Team Eager – I am very interested to see how Flash Point bounces back from the utter annihilation they received at the hands of Team Allegiance. Their set against Monkey Madness showed a decent first game, but a complete collapse in game two after game one broke against them. They need to work on their fortitude if they want to pick up some wins this split. I very much hope they do well, but I don’t think they will find a win against Team Eager. Team Eager 2-0
Team Allegiance vs. eUnited – Team Allegiance has looked really impressive since picking up Neirumah. This meta favors the interactions between Cyclonespin and Weak3n, and allows them to be comfortable on preferred gods and with their preferred playstyles. It is natural to believe they will see a small backslide in their progression, as the shot-in-the-arm from new talent fades after a few games, and some of the underlying issues re-emerge. eUnited is still trying to find themselves after a complete team image overhaul, but they have PolarBearMike as their support – formerly a member of Team Allegiance. This should be a very good set, as the pros and cons of each team are revealed. Split 1-1
Noble Esports vs. In Memory of Gabe – In Memory of Gabe had a better week than Noble Esports in week 1, but they still struggled. I loved the solo Athena play coming out of Kikisocheeky, but I also loved the Chiron coming out of MLC_St3alth on Noble. This should be a good test for each team, honestly. Both of these teams have more potential than they showed last split, and are looking for a little credibility. There is something still not quite right with IMOG – their shotcalling and decision-making seem to worsen as the game goes on – but the addition of another could make things gel a bit better. Alternatively, if Noble can get on the same page, they could do some really good things. Look for the split as both teams are figuring things out still at this stage. Split 1-1
Luminosity Gaming vs. Monkey Madness – Full disclosure: no team frustrates me more than Luminosity. They are top two when it comes to team fighting, NA when it comes to objectives, and Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to Picks and Bans. Some of this seems to be in the process of being addressed, but you just can’t tell. Likewise, Monkey Madness has its own issues which have been on display through their wins to date. No one can be sure which team is going to show up. The safe bet – and one that won’t give you a headache trying to analyze – is split. Split 1-1
Week 2 SPL Power Rankings
||One rusty game against Eanix isn’t enough to knock Obey Alliance out of 1st place this week.||1|
||A slow start in the first set isn’t much pause for concern, as the second set of the week brought us a completely dominate team.||2|
||Team Rival showed some much needed resilience against NRG, though they also fully displayed their weaknesses. Moving them up might seem premature, but time will tell.||5|
||Same ol’ Luminosity. You never know what you are going to get. Still, they are putting their words into practice, even if they need work. No cause of alarm or anointment quite yet.||4|
||NRG is still the best team at fighting from behind, but their mental state right now is open to debate. There are a lot of questions around them right now, but it’s not all doom and gloom.||3|
||Jumping two places to the 6th spot, Eanix put in a simultaneously impressive and dull performance against the Spring Split winners. They also struggled against the Papis to some degree, but managed to find wins. This week will be an equally tough one for Eanix, but playing well into losses against Team Dignitas would be a huge step for this new roster.||8|
||Monkey Madness falls one spot due to a little shakier play than would have been expected, but this is still a very solid team at the moment. They face one of their biggest challenges this weekend. It’s anyone’s guess as to how it shakes out.||6|
||The first week went more or less expected for Eager, but their win was a little less secure than it should have been. Will Sam4Soccer2 be a good fit for the team? No answers quite yet.||7|
||Team Allegiance put in an impressive performance in the first week of play. While they still have challenges overcome, this is the best the team has looked this season. By far. An exciting team to watch the rest of this split, for sure.||14|
||IMOG put in an uneven performance in the first week of play. Lots of questions remain, but the team didn’t seem to regress even further.||10|
||Interesting first look at the new squad. They still looked very raw, and will need to find their new identity in a hurry.||11|
||Their first week went exactly as expected. Some major mistakes, and some great plays. The future sets will show how rapidly they become accustomed to the SPL.||12|
||eLevate did not have a good look for the first week. While their record is exactly as expected, their losses were worse than it seems at first blush. Cherryo has joined as the jungler for week two in place of Nika. A question mark for the team, either way.||9|
||Noble climbs solely based on the performances of the other two teams and the play of Aquarius. Lots of potential, but it remains to be seen what they do with it.||15|
||The same questions remain, and were not helped by their beating in week 1. They will improve as the split goes on, but it won’t be gentle.||15|
||Woof. Absolutely brutal week 1. They can still grow and improve this split, but they have to stop being their worst enemies.||16|