This just in: NA is still so unreliable it will make your eyeballs bleed. This also in: once again it’s down to the wire to determine who is going to make it into the LAN for the split finals. Despite being a wild and crazy week, there was some pretty solid SMITE being played, with a lot of implications for the near-future. As far as predictions go, we were 8-4 on the week, making for 31-17 for the split, and 71-43 on the year to date. That’s 64.58% and 62.28%, respectively. All-in-all, not too damn shabby. To be fair, this was a pretty straight forward week on the region-only days, but the mixed region games were heartburn-inducing. Luminosity just forgot how to play for around an hour this week…before putting in a near perfect performance for their last game. It was just…bizarre. Still, is that a trend? Is it a result of what’s going on in the meta? Let’s find out.
Stand(ings) and Deliver
Three teams have qualified for Dreamhack Valencia – three out of the EU, and one from NA. Team Dignitas (EU) will likely be the number one seed, with the rest of the seeding still remaining to be seen. However, that hasn’t stopped Obey Alliance (EU), and NRG Esports (EU) from punching a ticket to Dreamhack. There are still three spots up for grabs in NA, and one spot up for the taking in EU.
The EU spot is likely Team Rival‘s spot to lose, with Eanix (EU) currently being one point behind them in the standings. Team Rival would have to lose out and Eanix would have to at least split, or Team Rival would have to split and Eanix would have to win out. If Team Rival wins out, Eanix doesn’t get in. Team Rival is playing Elevate (EU), and Eanix is playing NRG Esports. Elevate is in a position to play spoiler, and NRG Esports is at least jockeying for seeding. NRG could decide they don’t really care – and they might – which might give Eanix an edge in the overall set. Then again, Elevate could decide they aren’t worried about the outcome of things either, given their standings. I suspect they are, because a single win gives them safety from the possibility of going through relegations. Given that all parties have a stake in things, it’s probable – though not definite – that Team Rival ends up with the final spot out of the EU.
NA is a lot murkier. Spacestation is atop the heap at thirteen points, but that doesn’t guarantee them a spot right now. Luminosity (NA) and Trifecta (NA) are at eleven points, with eUnited (NA) sitting at ten, and Team Allegiance (NA) at eight points. Luminosity is facing the re-jiggered AI (NA), Trifecta is facing Team Allegiance, and eUnited is squaring off against Spacestation Gaming. If Luminosity, Trifecta, and eUnited win out this week, that means Spacestation has to play a tie-breaker to get in. If Luminosity and Trifecta lose out, but Spacestation wins, it’s a three-way tie-breaker between Luminosity, Trifecta, and Team Allegiance. If Luminosity and Trifecta lose out, but Spacestation splits, it’s a four-way tie-breaker that now includes eUnited. If Luminosity and Trifecta split, but Spacestation loses, it’s a Luminosity and Trifecta face out for slot three. Pretty crazy to think about. The sad thing is, NA is so damn inconsistent. eUnited had two good sets, but one was against Flash Point (NA). Does this mean eUnited “is back” or does it mean Luminosity had a bad week? Spacestation had a good week after a bad week the week before. Which is the real team? No one can be sure, and it’s frustrating. My belief is Luminosity and Trifecta probably make it in, but literally no outcome would be surprising.
What’s the Meta with You?
I would like to say we saw some different things with the latest patch, but all we saw was my lovable hug bug go without a win this week – 0/7. That’s rough. Is it a result of the nerfs we saw in 4.10? Was it just bad picks? This week should tell us more, as Khepri’s ult always makes him a valuable commodity. I’d like to believe it was more just bad comps and bad play rather than truly him slipping and costing the teams that much. Then again, the 4.11 changes to tankiness might make him an even more valuable pick due to his passive and the saving ult. Nemesis also had a bad week, going 2/8 – though she was only let through against certain teams. This seems more like a targeted decision and result, rather than a general one – though a slight nerf might tip the balance just a tad (pun intended). Sun Wu Kong went an abysmal 1/11. The safety he brings isn’t really translating into wins, at this stage. Serqet and Ganesha had poor showings – but also low selections. Does this mean they are bad picks? I don’t believe so. It’s just that low representation and early play can do funny things.
For assassins we are going to keep seeing Ne Zha, Camazotz, Thor, Susano, and Nemesis when she gets through. We’re likely to keep seeing some warriors in the jungle – particularly Ravana, SWK, and Odin. In the last week for some teams that are safer than others, you might see some goofy picks for fun. I keep hoping someone will be brave and ridiculous enough to run KUZENBO!!! jungle. A man can dream.
When you are looking the mid lane, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is that you should ban Sol. The second is that if you cannot ban Sol, you should pick Sol. That’s where we are right now. It’s great to see that all it took was item changes and some meta shifts to get Sol into this powerhouse state, but if I am picking and banning I’m doing something with Sol. You just have to. Likewise, if you aren’t aware of what the Morrigan has been doing, you are going to get punished. Early on this split I spoke of how we would likely see the Morrigan and how she would cause trouble for teams – particularly from PrettyPrime (Mid – Obey Alliance), Wlfy (Mid – Team Rival), and Hurriwind (Mid – Trifecta). Well, she just picked up her first loss of the split this weekend after a silly number of wins. Beyond that, it’s possible we are going to see some return to double hunter after the physical protection nerfs, but that will be a per-match-up thing rather than a general trend – at this point, at least. There might be some hunter mid, depending on the duo lane, too. After the success of Scylla in week 4, it should not come as a surprise to see her pop up more frequently this week. Beyond that, Thoth, Ra, and possibly the greater return and success of Poseidon and Zeus this week. Once again, I’d love to see Janus make a showing.
As far as hunters go, there will be some flex for individuals to pick up Sol in that role, provided she goes unchecked. Cernunnos will continue to see selection, despite him having a sub-500 showing last week, and across the split in general. He’s still strong, but synergy has to be there to make it count. Vote (Hunter – Team Rival) broke out Chiron last week, and Ataraxia (Hunter – Obey Alliance) has long been extolling the virtue of the great teacher. Likewise, Snoopy (Hunter – Trifecta) unleashed his Apollo this past week to similar success. With the reduction in physical protections, it is possible to see some of the more aggressive hunters make a return, as well as the impact of mid-game hunters be felt more keenly. Skadi started popping back up, and she’ll be a real threat to see more frequently, this week. Rama will continue to see play, and success.
Support players will need to adjust to the gauntlet of thebes and sovereignty changes this week, as well as the continuance of Fafnir nerfs. Fafnir will offers the early aggression, but his late game has been hit several times now, and the survivability changes might be enough to see his prioritization decrease. Then again, teams are still likely to try him out this week and see how it goes. Geb has seen a lot of success recently, and he is likely to see continued success this week. A reduction in physical protections makes his shield more valuable, and his passive helps out with any ruffian deciding to build crit. I suspect Khepri’s impact is going to be more meaningful than it was last week, even with his recent nerfs. Cabrakan might be a choice that makes his way back around, as the damage reduction can cover a lot of sins. Terra will continue to be valuable. I suspect warriors will still see some minimal play, though that trend is probably concluding unless there are further changes.
In the short lane, most choices are going to be viable. We’ll still see a lot of Bellona, Osiris, and Hercules. We’ll see a good bit of Vamana, Ravana, Amaterasu, and Erlang Shen. We’re even likely to get at least one Odin pick. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some guardians make a return – Athena and XT are the most likely. Warriors are in a fairly good, strong place right now, all considered.
Week 5 SPL Set Predictions
Saturday, June 24 – EU
Elevate vs. Team Rival – A set with a lot of implications on the line. Elevate needs at least a split to avoid being put through relegations. Team Rival needs a 2-0 to guarantee their position at Dreamhack. Anything less, and each team needs help from others to make it to their desire states. These two teams had a pretty fierce competition in the Spring Split, with the games being loose with lots of engagements just for the sake of fighting. Neither team, at the time, was capable of ending a game succinctly. That was before Team Rival went on a tear at the end of the Spring Split and into the LANs, and before Elevate had personnel setbacks. As of now, Team Rival is the team that is performing better, but it’s not been the success envisioned post-Spring Finals. Elevate has good players and flashes of great synergy, but it’s just infrequent this split. With each team having a good reason to get a least one win, this should be a tense competition with just that outcome. Split 1-1.
Eanix vs. NRG Esports – The second-half of the final EU Dreamhack spot puzzle. Eanix needs to win at least one more game than Team Rival wins in the set before them. In two game sets, that’s a lot of pressure. NRG Esports is going to Dreamhack, but still cares – in theory – about seeding. A second seed for NRG should guarantee them playing against the bottom NA team that makes it in, which would be a good position for them to be in. It’s possible there would be some tie-breakers for seeding, but it’s probable they just seed based on past performance when ties arise (as Hi-Rez has previously stated in the past). The biggest unknown is if Team Rival wins out. If Team Rival wins out, Eanix has nothing to shoot for, and might just look to have a good time. Regardless, let’s assume Team Rival splits with Elevate. In that case, each team taking one is quite reasonable. Split 1-1.
Papis vs. Burrito Esports – While Burrito has put in a better effort than Sanguine did last split, they still find themselves winless. The Papis have put in a great showing for their first split in the SPL, though the performance has been all over the place. This should be a great set that looks towards relegations. Burrito doesn’t have much to fight for here besides pride, while the Papis could avoid relegations if they 2-0 and Elevate loses out. As far as the play of the teams, the Papis have grown more over the split and are performing better than Burrito. It will be a closer set than the one at the beginning of the split, but the result should be similar. Papis 2-0.
Obey Alliance vs. Team Dignitas – Clash of the Titans! Well, at least of two titans. It’s a rematch of the Spring Split Finals, if nothing else. This split, Team Dignitas has only dropped a single match, and Obey has not looked like the dominant force of the EU that it did in the Spring Split. The meta shifts have been hard on Obey, and the focus has seemed less like a laser, and more like a flashlight. That said, it’s not as if Obey has been bad. They learn quickly from their mistakes, and haven’t dropped a set, despite some individual game losses. Then again, Dignitas has only dropped a single game to NRG. This should be a great set. A sweep from either team is certainly possible – especially with Team Dignitas already locked as first seed from EU – but once again a split is the most likely occurrence. Split 1-1.
Sunday, June 25 – NA
Team Allegiance vs. Trifecta – After a hot start to the Summer Split, Team Allegiance has been more or less a no-show after the aggression and burst nerfs that have gone in. This is a small surprise, given how they were playing early on. While understandable, the sunder changes caused a massive change in play style mid-split. It probably feels really bad for a lot of teams. Trifecta had had a mixed two weeks, going 3-2-1.
As mentioned above, Team Allegiance must get a 2-0 here if they want into Dreamhack. Trifecta must get a 2-0 to guarantee the spot. The second is more likely than the former, at this moment in time. This set, like all NA sets, could go either way. Given the situation, it is tempting to say Trifecta takes it clean. Trifecta 2-0.
Spacestation Gaming vs. eUnited – This is the most important set of the day. If eUnited manages to 2-0 SSG, then all hell can break loose. If they don’t, then it’s on the other teams to not shoot themselves in the foot. Trifecta will have already played, ratcheting up the pressure on eUnited even further. eUnited had a good week, really hammering LG in a surprise win, and then stomping Flash Point like everyone else had. Is this the real eUnited? Some people seem to think so, but I think SSG’s run after the defeat by Luminosity is a more impressive turnaround with more data points. SSG wants to be the best in NA and wants to show they have improved over the end of the Spring Split disappointments. Even though eUnited has been trending back up and is fun to watch, SSG is probably going to bring them back down just a bit. The bad blood from the Benji situation is probably gone, but that doesn’t make it a less interesting set. Even though any outcome is possible. This is probably the most difficult set to call. Split 1-1.
Noble Esports vs. Flash Point – Flash Point took the set back in relegations, but Noble has actually showed up this split and performed quiet well. Noble does have a habit of crumpling under pressure or playing down against lesser teams, but Flash Point has just been a mess. Even though this could potentially be a close set, it is likely to just go the way of Noble Esports, looking to close out the split on a win. Flash Point can’t avoid relegations with wins, but Noble can. Noble Esports 2-0
Luminosity Gaming vs. AI – Ah, Luminosity. Which Luminosity will show up? The team that demolished the first three weeks of the split, or the team that looked lost in week five? Does AI care about avoiding relegations or are they going to look to break-up after the split anyway and reform under something else? There are a lot of questions here, but only best-guess answers. AI and Luminosity had the same score line last week, and even played the same opponent. In that case, Luminosity came out better with a split. Back when AI was still Eager this split, they dropped the set to eUnited – just like Luminosity. Unfortunately, this is NA and that all means very little. Given the current team compositions, Luminosity should absolutely win at least one game. They should take the set cleanly, but you just can’t predict LG. It’s a shame, they are one of my favorite teams, but we have to be truthful. Still, AI hasn’t looked great with their new team, though they at least look like they are having fun. AI is probably looking on avoiding relegations if the team is wanting to stay together, but needs at least a split with help from Flash Point or an outright sweep to get clear. Luminosity has their Dreamhack hopes on the line. I think Luminosity takes it. Chaac help us all, for that prediction. Luminosity 2-0.
Week 5 SPL Power Rankings
||Only team to already punch their ticket to Dreamhack, and a single loss under their belts. Well deserved position, right here.||1|
||Obey has a chance to face off against Dignitas this week as a gauge of how they are looking post changes. While the split has been hard, they are still a strong team.||2|
||NRG Esports had a good week. 2-0 over the Papis and handed Dignitas their first loss. There is little doubt NRG has stepped it back up this split.||5|
||Spacestation Gaming (formerly Monkey Madness) looked great last week, and stands tall atop of NA. At least for the moment.||6|
||Team Rival had a bad week, but they are still more reliable than the other teams beneath them. They still have the potential they have shown, too.||3|
||Who is the real LG? The teams in weeks 1-3, or the team that barely showed up in week 4? Has the meta hit them that hard? I guess we will find out, and this ranking is based on the rest of the split and belief in the team, more than last week’s performance.||4|
||In Memory of In Memory of Gabe. Trifecta had a good week, picking up a 2-0 over AI and a split with LG. Trifecta controls their fate for Dreamhack. Let’s see what they do.||11|
||Eanix hasn’t looked great since they dropped the set to Team Dignitas. They have a slim chance remaining for Dreamhack. Can they seize it?||
||eUnited had a great week, and now has a shot at Valencia. They need to play their brains out and get some help to go along with it. Still, quite the resurgence…if they can keep it together.||14|
|10||Elevate is in a position to at least close out the split strongly, after picking up a split with Eanix last week. They are definitely looking for a win in week 5.||13|
||The split against AI knocked them out of the Dreamhack picture, but picking up a win this week can go along way to avoiding relegations.||12|
||After a mixed – but good – start, the Papis have had it rough. Losing against the top teams isn’t bad, but it does mean they aren’t quite there yet.||9|
||After a strong start to the split, Team Allegiance hasn’t been able to change their play style to adapt to the meta shifts. There is still a chance they can make it to Dreamhack, but they need so much help.||8|
||Post-Zapman, Post-Eager, Post-Dominance. They can seek to avoid relegations with wins against LG, but it’s a hard path.||10|
|15||Can Burrito find a win against the Papis? Relegations are ensured. This is about pride and the future.||15|
||One more week to go. At least one more round of relegations in the future.||16|