What a week! There’s always a week in a split that flips everything thing around, and it looks like week 3 of the Season 4 Summer Split was that week. A bottom team picked up four straight. A top team slipped up. A strong team had a brutal week. New players made an immediate impact and reset everyone’s expectations. It was a great week to be watching SMITE, for sure. The predictions for the week were a slightly below our split to date, going 7-5. That’s 23-13 for the split, and 63-39 for the season. Once again, it’s our old pals NA that makes the week harder than it needed to be. It’s not all that unexpected, though. A lot of the teams are very close, and the changes this week greatly impacted the meta play styles. Aggressive teams that were finding success are facing the need to pivot and find new ways to compete. With that in mind, an uneven week isn’t all that difficult to understand.
40 Minutes of SMITE
Twice this week sets had two games longer than 40 minutes: Eanix vs. Team Rival in the EU, and eUnited vs. Noble Esports in NA. Both sets were great for viewers to watch, but the two sets told us very different stories of the teams involved. It would be disingenuous to say the sets were equivalent, but it would be equally disingenuous to either was an unskilled affair that was a result of massive mistakes by the teams involved. In both cases, the teams involved fought back and forth, taking advantage where they could, and defending against a push or call that should have won the other team the game. To attribute these losses to solely bad plays or major mistakes is to short-change the great plays and excellent decisions that came afterwards. That doesn’t mean there is nothing to learn from the teams involved, of course.
Eanix vs. Team Rival
In the case of Eanix vs. Team Rival, the first game might have lasted over 40 minutes, but it was a largely one-sided affair. An early first-blood by Team Rival was the result of a level-one wrap around that has been occurring most of the season – and Eanix even tried in the same game – that Eanix just didn’t react to appropriately. Eanix fought back briefly – taking an early Gold Fury – but ended up dropping the game to Team Rival’s steady aggression, team fight prowess, and tight objective control. Wlfy’s the Morrigan play was just too much, and KaLaS was a monster on the hug bug. The biggest marks against Eanix in that game were some positional issues, grouping too closely, and being unprepared with the support options Wlfy brought to the table as the Morrigan.
Game two looked like it was going to be similar, as Team Rival got the early first blood and went up several kills without answer. The game quickly turned against Team Rival as a needless engagement near Gold Fury went the way of Eanix. After this, we saw the decision-making of Team Rival on full display. Even when the calls were not necessarily the right ones, Team Rival committed. An example of this being less than great was a post-portal demon engagement that went decidedly in Eanix’s favor. For Eanix’s part, the calls sometimes lacked the full weight of the team behind them. The decisions themselves were perhaps better calls, but the commitment was less instantaneous or less complete – it could have been either.
This was most obvious in a late engagement that saw BigManTingz blink into Cataclysm with no immediately team follow-up, and then a staggered engagement that came slightly afterwards. This sort of situation is usually caused by unclear communication, hesitation after a call, or a combination of the two. From an outsider’s perspective, it looked more like the second – especially when taken with the other plays where Eanix players were just a bit out of position for the rest of the play. It was just a moment or two of being caught between playing it safe and playing it aggressively, but it was enough to capitalize on for Team Rival. This will be corrected with the team continuing to play together in the future – provided the roster stays put.
This is a different situation than when Eanix had a 3v1 advantage late after a team victory near the fire giant. Eanix decided to retreat and play it safe rather than push a phoenix. This wasn’t a case of playing it too safely or playing to not lose, but was absolutely the correct call given the situation. Funballer had no lifesteal and was incredibly low. That left two members to push into Vote and a phoenix before the rest of the team respawned. Not much to be gained there, really. This was not an overly safe call. It was just the right one.
eUnited vs. Noble Esports
This was less of a technical affair, and more of a slugfest between two teams that just wouldn’t give up. Noble Esports is a team that pulled similar stunts in the Spring Split – when the roster was slightly different. Even in that “snowball-heavy” meta, the team managed to take In Memory of Gabe late and scrape a win across the set. Now that the meta has slowed down a bit and seen a shift to sustain and tankiness – at least in the short term – it makes sense that Noble would be able to execute feats they have performed before. If anything, their team synergy is better for it, as they no longer have to balance their natural defensive nature against the aggressive shot calling of one of their members.
Meanwhile eUnited is still trying to find their footing after undergoing a complete team identity rebranding, and having to adjust to life without their General. For the health of the team this was likely a good move, but in the near future it means the team is wandering about the woods. This was extremely evident in how the team was able to win fights and even take objectives, but never did so cleanly and was always losing something in the process. The crisp calls and decisions just weren’t there. The fights and engagements were sometimes questionable, but not overly so. It’s just evident the team hasn’t found the confidence it needs to be successful quite yet.
When you combine these two things, it’s clear how the set unfolded as it did. Noble was able to continually fight into eUnited on the back of their defensive plays – particularly those of MLCstealth and Wubbn. MLCstealth was able to make huge defensive stops when it mattered, and provide a level of consistent offensive pressure. This is coupled with the unbelievable defensive and team-oriented play of Wubbn. He’s one of the more quiet supports in the league, but his play in Khepri is absolutely good enough to provoke a respect ban in the future. Of course – with the shift to a tankier meta – his pool is likely to be too big to truly be banned out. These two were joined by the ever-increasingly impressive play of Aquarius – who has been the standout player for the team this split thus far – and the resurgence of Skeeledon. Something of a sour pick for a lot of people, Skeeledon has found a level of comfort in the last two sets Noble has played. He shone bright against Team Allegiance, and he continued to play the role of setup man and secondary initiator and peeler in this set against eUnited. Last – though certainly not least – we have Wowy. He’s been one of the best ADCs in the league for quite a while now, and keeps finding opportunities to succeed.
On the part of eUnited, Khaos has been looking to expand his pool in the mid lane after it was clear he was falling behind from his performance at the Spring Gauntlet. PandaCat has been a bit more reserved and less impactful than in the past, but that is possibly a combination of a new lane partner and a new shot caller. Varizial has had a lot of weight on his shoulders, attempting to prove it was the right decision to remain on the team and remove PainDeViande. He hasn’t looked comfortable yet this split, often going needlessly aggressive out of a desire to make something happen or extended a play that doesn’t need to be extended. Benji is the only member of the team to look more or less like himself, and even then he seems to be out of sync with the rest of the team. He’s still a potent force to be reckoned with, but some of the pressure and synergy shared with Varizial is just lacking a bit where it was evident in the Spring Split.
When you take both of these stories it is easy to see how the teams end up evenly matched and able to fight into each other after each engagement. eUnited had early pressure and objective control, but fell apart and began acting independently rather than as a team once the game started to progress. eUnited was still securing objectives, but was losing engagements around the objectives needlessly, and was unable to follow-up. When the game reached the late game stages, Noble took over this role from eUnited – finding objective control, but losing members in order to secure them and making it so eUnited could defend the base objectives until members and defenses respawned. It took four fire giants going in Noble’s favor to close out the first game – and even then it required Skeeledon to split push to find the necessary momentum. Great defense by eUnited, nonetheless.
The second game was similar, though once again flipped. Noble had the early game pressure before slowly ceding it to eUnited. eUnited began to pick up the fire giant kills as the mid-game rolled into the late-game, forcing Noble to defend their phoenixes this time around. Noble managed to do so through three eUnited pushes, and fought back to take the fire giant so eUnited couldn’t have it for a fourth push in a row. Unfortunately, eUnited had played defense for quite a while the game before, and managed to kill three Noble members before the remaining two were forced to retreat. eUnited pushed into Noble’s phoenix room facing only Wowy. After a huge chain pull by PolarBearMike onto Wowy the rest of eUnited…ignored him completely and got wiped by Wowy on Cernunnos. With all of eUnited now waiting to respawn, Noble respawned, marched down the mid-lane, and took game number two from eUnited. As you can see, this was not a game of small mistakes here and there in the way the EU set from the day before was. It was a set of Herculean efforts to stop teams in their tracks and fight back each time. Again, calling either game a throw would be disingenuous. It was just good defense coupled with teams still finding their footing.
What’s the Meta with You?
Much like Camazotz before him, Ne Zha saw success this week after not finding a lot of victories the week before. Giving the pick time to gestate – and have more practice in a competitive environment – is important. Seeing the shifts in the jungler role to Ne Zha is fun to watch. Ne Zha is high risk, high reward, and brings a level of excitement not even seen with gods that execute. Outside of Ne Zha, we saw more Nemesis, Ravana, Camazotz, Serqet, and Thor in the jungle. We also saw a bit of Hun Batz pop up again. That…pretty much sums up everything we saw in jungle outside of the Bastet pick. We will continue to see more of the same here for the next week, at the very least.
In the support role we continued to see Terra, Fafnir, Khepri, with sprinklings of Ganesha. Geb has started to make a resurgence to some fair success after a rough time in the Spring Split. Ares will occasionally make an appearance for certain players – PBM and Dardez in particular – and is a very real selection. Warriors in the support role have fallen by the way side for the moment, as the hyper-aggression of earlier in the season has slowed down and the bruisers are back in town. I still think Erlang Shen and Amaterasu could have a place in support, but it’s not the strong guarantee it was in the Spring Split. Likewise, I’m sure we’ll continue to see a smattering of Athena going forward.
Hunters are still Cernunnos, Rama, Hou Yi, Medusa, and Cupid, but we’re also starting to see some legit Jing Wei picks for the mobility. Skadi made an appearance again in a game that was more or less of a practice session for the team in question, so I am not sure we should talk about the ice queen being back just yet. The hunters are all fairly well balanced against each other, so seeing these picks is more a question of what’s banned, the hot streak of the ADC, and the team comp. A few hunters could use some love, but it’s really not a bad place for most of them to be in. All of them have their uses and strengths.
In the mid-lane, the situation remains the same. Lots of Sol, Thoth, Vulcan, Isis, and the Morrigan for those who can be trusted with the Morrigan. A few pocket picks showed up – as they always do – Kukulkan, Agni, Ra, etc. The oddity was ManRay breaking out the Anubis twice against LG and seeing how it could perform. It did translate into early objective focus, but the pressure wasn’t able to be maintained. We’ll probably see the same picks for the rest of the split, depending on how the 4.11 patch shakes out.
Solo is likewise the same affair it has been for a while. We did see some more Nike this week. It was not a good look. That doesn’t mean it won’t work – see Camazotz and Ne Zha – but it did not work this week.
Week 4 SPL Set Predictions
Thursday, June 15 – Mixed Divisions
Team Rival (EU) vs. Obey Alliance (EU) – Obey Alliance has looked less impressive than their Spring Split, splitting with Eanix and NRG, and taking full sets off of the Papis and Elevate. Team Rival split with the Papis and took a full set off of Eanix in the same week, split with NRG, and defeated Burrito Esports. Obey knocked out Team Rival in the Spring Split semi-finals in convincing fashion, but that was weeks ago under a different meta. Where does this leave us? It depends on how the teams continue to adjust to the slower paced meta. The styles of the teams are very similar, and the games could go either way. A split is a safe bet. It’s almost as likely as Obey Alliance or Team Rival takes the set. All outcomes make sense, but I’m sticking with split Split 1-1.
In Memory of Gabe (NA) vs. Team AI (NA) – Team AI managed a split in its first week as a new unit – taking a game off a semi-reeling Team Allegiance. In Memory of Gabe lost handily to a Monkey Madness team looking to bounce back. IMOG needs to pick up a win here if they want to keep their Valencia changes alive, though a split keeps them hanging around. Team AI doesn’t have a lot of expectations on their shoulders and might find that more relaxing and freeing. I liked what I saw out of Team AI in their first week. They were obviously having fun, even in a mixed set. IMOG seems to be a little more serious and tense than is probably good for them. Neither is exactly an indicator of the future – more just how they felt in the moment – but it will probably prove true for this week. Each game should take one off of the other, keeping the drama alive for another week for IMOG. Split 1-1.
eUnited (NA) vs. Luminosity (NA) – eUnited has not had a good split. I like the team they have the potential to become, and how they were looking to redefine themselves. Luminosity has looked like the powerhouse of NA they have been, coupled with a real focus on objectives meaning they are putting their money where their mouths are. It should be a clean 2-0 victory for Luminosity. Unfortunately, Luminosity tends to be more loose and silly in games they know they should win, screwing around more than is good for them. This was clear in the early part of the Flash Point games – even if they did pull it together at the 15 minute mark to stop screwing around and just win. That pulling it together gives me hope, but you just can’t tell. Honestly, split is a safe bet here because eUnited can actually punish Luminosity if they get silly. That said, I will stick with Luminosity. Luminosity 2-0.
NRG Esports (EU) vs. Team Dignitas (EU) – Variety mentioned Dignitas was put together to be the team to beat NRG. This year, other teams have managed to do that, while Dignitas only had the opportunity to play a split against them. In the Summer Split, Dignitas is the EU Team to beat – having not yet dropped a game. NRG has looked stronger as the meta has continued to shift, and are exhibiting a public fire if not a private one. If the early aggression of Dignitas is punished early, NRG can win. If the late focus of NRG is abated, Dignitas can win. This should be a great game, with a split as the likeliest outcome – though a 2-0 on either side would not be entirely unexpected. Split 1-1.
Saturday, June 17 – EU Division
Burrito Esports vs. Obey Alliance – Burrito is a team that is making a lot of mistakes due to their inexperience. They are not bad by any stretch, though they have shone they are having a difficult time adjusting to the SPL. Obey Alliance should be looking to get a full set win over Burrito to look to solidify their spot at Valencia. Burrito can make it difficult, but it is unlikely that Burrito takes a game from Obey. Obey Alliance 2-0.
Team Rival vs. Team Dignitas – After hard games for both teams on Thursday, this should be a great set. Team Dignitas has an edge in terms of how they have played so far this split, but Team Rival is looking to prove they are competitors. If Obey shuts out Rival on Thursday, Rival will be hungry to ensure at least a split to keep a hold of their hope of going to Dreamhack. The math is in their favor, but that doesn’t mean all that much in a league where teams are so close. Team Dignitas is in a much safer position, which could lead to them being in a better place, or allows them to not worry so much about their play. Given the factors at hand, a split is the likeliest outcome. Split 1-1.
The Papis vs. NRG Esports – The Papis turned their early pacing into a win against Team Rival, before losing the second game and getting bodied by Team Dignitas. NRG Esports is absolutely susceptible to the way the Papis play the early game – though the Papis trouble in maintaining that pace into the late game heavily favors NRG. Given the way the split has looked for both team, NRG should be able to turn the tide in the games if the Papis do get ahead, and if they don’t then NRG should be able to punish that handily. NRG Esports 2-0.
Elevate vs. Eanix – Elevate has not had a good split. Eanix started off strong – as they did in the Spring Split – but have tumbled as the split has gone on. Eanix needs to pick up a full set win here to keep their hopes of Dreamhack alive. Elevate needs to find a win to try and salvage their confidence. Elevate isn’t technically eliminated at this point, but they require everything to break their way to get in. It’s not likely to happen. Elevate had problems closing out games in the Spring Split, but faces more challenges in the Summer Split than before. Some of this can rest on Faeles – the jungler now on Eanix – leaving the team after the Gauntlet. Elevate is now in the position to play a bit of spoiler for Faeles, as even a split here makes it incredibly challenging for Eanix to make it to the Summer LAN. Eanix should pick up both games, but Elevate will be motivated to play the best they can for this set. Split 1-1.
Sunday, June 18 – NA Division
Noble Esports vs. Team AI – Noble still has a chance to make Dreamhack based on the play of others and their last two games, but Team AI is standing in their way. Team AI now sports Elchapo, the former jungler for Noble kicked at the end of the Spring Split. Noble has won two sets in a row that were something of surprises, but it also proves need to take them seriously. Team AI will be playing only their third set under their current roster, leaving them something of a question mark. Both teams should be motivated for victories over the other, making this a good set. Each team picking up one is the most likely outcome. Split 1-1
In Memory of Gabe vs. Luminosity – This is one of the two big NA sets of the day. In Memory of Gabe is likely to be tied with Team Allegiance for 3rd in North America, and looking pick up any amount of points they can going into the last week. Luminosity won’t make that easy, and will be trying to make their path to Dreamhack finals as easy as possible by getting the best seed they can. In Memory of Gabe is going to have more on the line than LG, but LG will still have the drive to succeed. It should be a good set, with a split as the result. Split 1-1
Flash Point vs. eUnited – Our fall relegations preview. Flash Point has yet to secure a victory, and eUnited has had two bad beats in a row. This is a chance for each team to find a little dignity prior to the end of the split. eUnited is still favored in this match up, despite their recent challenges. This might be an opportunity for the squad to right the ship. On the other hand, Flash Point’s new members might make this more difficult than it seems. A split is a very real outcome for this set, though after their loss to Noble, I think eUnited does course correction and figures out some things that work for them. eUnited 2-0
Team Allegiance vs. Monkey Madness – ALG dropped a set to Noble unexpectedly, and then split with a Team AI that no one gave much of a chance. Monkey Madness dropped a set to LG, but bounced back with a convincing win over IMOG. Going into this match, MM has the definite edge, but that doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion they pick up the win. If ALG manages to adjust to the less aggressive meta and find their footing again, it’s a real contest. If not, then MM should run away with it. There is some unconventional mid-pick overlap between Andinster of MM and Metyankey of ALG, so it should be interesting to see who ends up playing what. Split is – once again – the likeliest outcome for this contest, though a 2-0 in either direction wouldn’t be the wildest thing. Split 1-1
Week 4 SPL Power Rankings
||A quick and by-the-books win over the Papis. Dead on target.||1|
||Obey has looked more like themselves in the last two sets, though the meta changes are still giving them some growing pains. They should continue to look strong for the rest of the split, however.||2|
||An incredibly impressive win over a tough Eanix team allows them to retain their spot after an ugly set against the Papis. The toughest road is ahead of them, though.||3|
||Let’s be honest – a win over Flash Point doesn’t really tell us a whole lot.||4|
||NRG continued to look strong with a win over Burrito Esports – but that’s the EU equivalent of LG beating Flash Point.||5|
||After a tough loss to LG, MM bounced back to take a convincing set off of IMOG. Great play from this team last week.||8|
||The games against Team Rival could have been split if things had just been slightly different. Tough losses, but not bad losses.||7|
||A loss to Noble and a split against Team AI. Not a good week for ALG, but not as bad as the weeks for some of the other teams.||6|
||Sure, they lost to Team Dignitas. So what? They managed to play a great game 1 in a win against Team Rival. No small feat.||10|
|10||Team AI (logo pending) had no expectations going into their games, and managed to find a win against ALG. Relaxation and fun can be its own reward in AI’s current situation.||11|
||A bad beat again Monkey Madness sends this team reeling. They will need some help and some great play to reach Valencia.||10|
||Great week for Noble – a win over ALG and eUnited. The team has a long way to go, but these games showed skill and poise. This is good encouragement for the future.||15|
||Losing to Obey Alliance is bad, but it doesn’t mean Elevate needs to move down any.||13|
||The losses to Noble were undeniably tough, but they weren’t bad losses. eUnited held it together and just made a few mistakes here and there to cost them. They have a long way to go, but it’s time to reset expectations.||12|
|15||Burrito started off well with NRG. They didn’t end well. LIke some of the other losses, this doesn’t tell us a lot other than Burrito has potential in the future – just not right now.||14|
||A slightly different look for Flash Point. I liked the commitment to experimentation. I didn’t like some of their decisions.||16|