Rather than keep this segment within the weekly analysis, predictions, and power rankings, those Enshrined in Valhalla and Condemned to Tartarus will be split out into their own article for the foreseeable future. This article is dedicated to the heroes who have risen above the rest of their brethren and sisters during the SPL matches this week, and those who have tragically fallen. This doesn’t necessarily go to the player with the best or worst KDA, damage, or another other specific metrics – instead focusing on the impact each player made with their team and their opponents. It is also not a permanent placement. A hero one week might be a goat the next. Things can change quickly, and mythology has taught us that heroes rise and fall in the blink of an eye.
Condemned to Tartarus
No one wants to be tossed in a horrific pit for all eternity. It just happens, you know? People make one poor decision and find themselves hanging out with Papa Kronos and hoping that his severed parts don’t snack on them for afters. It’s not an enviable position. Unfortunately, that’s exactly where Mirage (Flash Point – NA) and Nika (eLevate – EU) find themselves this week. The reasons for their placement are different, but the results are the same.
There is no doubt Mirage is a good jungler. Anyone who has seen him play individually or throughout relegation should be able to attest to this fact. The problem arises in his desire to be a play-maker. This is a tendency that can result from either the player’s natural personality, or from playing ranked queue as a jungler. Games in the current season are often decided by which team has a competent player in the jungle. As someone talented enough to make it through relegations and return to the SPL, there should be little doubt he is a cut above most other players. As such, he has the capability to single-handedly win games. If his team starts to fall behind, he can make a daring play with a high-likelihood of success. He can run into a 1v2 or 1v3 and either come out on top or swing the situation to his teams favor. It’s obvious he tries to do this in SPL games…but the communications and play of his opponents punish this behavior rather than reward it. Instead of taking this lesson to heart, he doubles down on his behavior, attempting the same rash plays as before. It’s possible that he is “easily tilted” as some people have claimed, but it could also just be this learned behavior from ranked. Either way, it was on full display during the first week. This was particularly unfortunate, as Flash Point looked exciting during relegations, and during the first part of their match with Monkey Madness (NA). For his sake – and the sake of his team – I hope he can settle down and find a good rhythm with his team.
We saw the full-range of Ne Zha on display this week. Hot Ne Zha plays that make you want to rush out to play the god, and brutal misplays that remind you of how punishing even the tiniest of mistakes are on the Ribboned One. Unfortunately, Nika was solely on the bad side of these two outcomes. It would be unfair to say this resulted in his placement this week, but it’s indicative of what led him to this place. When you look across the rest of eLevate, Nika stands out like a sore thumb. Across week one, Nika had a single kill more than the team’s support player, twice as many deaths, and 40% fewer assists. His combined KDA was less than half as good as the next closest person on his team. Again, it’s not as if KDA mean everything, but this obvious disparity between the rest of his team and him speaks volume. He was not on the same page as his teammates, he couldn’t get things rolling on his own, and he just played badly in the jungle. His team found a solitary win against a relegation team during the weekend. While this wasn’t unexpected, the play in their losses was. eLevate was a team that often got in trouble for having an inability to close out games during the Spring Split. They weren’t even getting the opportunity to compete this time around. While no one was expecting Nika to immediately jump in and perform to the level that Faeles (Eanix – EU) was performing, it is not unreasonable to have expected a much better performance from a seasoned veteran who claimed “jungle was his preferred role.” It’s unclear at this point if Nika is off the team for good, or if Cherryo is filling in for a single week. Either way, it’s probably a good thing for Nika to get some distance and perspective, and for eLevate to try something else.
Enshrined in Valhalla
Unlike those Condemned to Tartarus, the heroes who manage to find entry each week into Valhalla are the envy of their peers. They shine bright as paragons, and serve as a beacon to those lost in the hopeless darkness of the SPL. Well, for this one week, at any rate. This week the honor goes to Lawbster (Eanix – EU) and Weak3n (Team Allegiance – NA). While both players performed well on an individual level, it was their decision-making as captains of their squads that helped their teams find success in week 1.
Going into the Summer Split, Lawbster and Eanix performed big moves. Cherryo and Xaliea left the team following a disappointing showing in the Spring Gauntlet, leaving two holes in a roster that was supposed to be competing for the top three slots in the EU. In the off-season they managed to steal away Faeles from eLevate, and Duck3y joined after leaving an equally disappointing Novus Orsa roster. With two new members, no one expected the squad to perform well right out of the gate. The first set against The Papis (EU) went according to script, but their second set of the week saw them taking a game convincingly from Obey Alliance (EU). While there was some regression in the second game, the first game was butter-smooth. Suddenly, the expectations for the squad are a lot higher – possibly as high as the expectations the team has set for themselves. This is all thanks to Lawbster’s decision-making as team captain, and his willingness to make the necessary moves for his squad to be a competitor.
Weak3n had a rough Spring Split. His style of play put him behind in the jungle, and he had trouble fighting into the rest of the game from a disadvantage. When PolarBearMike (eUnited – NA) suddenly left the team prior to the Spring Gauntlet, Weak3n picked up ViviaNx3 to fill the gap. Team Allegiance was knocked out in straight games by Oxygen Supremacy (NA), and the off-season left a lot of questions for the team to answer. Just before the start of the split, Weak3n announced Neirumah had joined the team as a support, following the failure of SPL Gatekeepers (formerly Oxygen Supremacy) to make it into the SPL. The move paid off immediately. Team Allegiance looked better the first week than they had for the entirety of the Spring Split. Neirumah’s playstyle immediately meshed with the rest of the team, and the meta shifts meant Weak3n’s style of play no longer put him far behind the enemy jungler. It also opened the opportunity for him to play some of his most comfortable gods. As a result of the pick-up and meta shifts, Weak3n could now spend most of his time working in tandem with Cyclonespin and Metyankey, rather than committing to awkward engagements and ganks that occurred without purpose in the middle of nowhere. This comfort has translated directly into more objective-focused opportunities. Team Allegiance isn’t squandering these chances, as of yet. Weak3n moves as a captain in the off-season and play during the first week has solidified his entry into Valhalla for the week.