Summer is finally upon us, yet for the SMITE Pro League Summer is almost over. Well, the Summer Split at any rate. This week saw a twist: the EU prediction mojo took the week off for the first time all split, and the NA mojo was working like gangbusters. This resulted in going 4-4 in the final week. That makes it 35-21 on the split (62.5%), and 75-47 on the year (~61.5%). That’s trending upwards from the Spring Split.
The online stage of the split has come to an end, and we have our teams and match-ups going into Dreamhack. From EU we have – in order – Team Dignitas, Obey Alliance, NRG Esports, and Team Rival. From NA we have Spacestation Gaming, Trifecta, and Luminosity Gaming. The lone wolf from LatAM is Black Dragons. Will we see a repeat of the Spring Split and EU will dominate across the board? Will LatAm continue to show growth? Will NA be a fiesta that clowns would like to attend? Let’s find out.
Last Week Tonight – SMITE Edition
So what have we learned in the last week? First, we saw that Deathwalker‘s (Solo – Team Rival) week-off came at an inopportune time. Team Rival (EU) looked absolutely lost as they dropped a set to Elevate (EU) – who cleanly avoided relegations as a result of the wins. If Team Rival had missed Valencia as a result, that could have had major repercussions for the team dynamic. Luckily, all will likely quickly be forgiven as Team Rival got the assist from NRG Esports (EU) to secure that final spot. It was a closer thing than it appeared, as Eanix (EU) tried their damnedest to pick up the set from NRG. It just didn’t break their way. Burrito Esports (EU) picked up a split with the Papis (EU), and immediately threw shade at Sanguine. Obey Alliance (EU) picking up wins over Team Dignitas (EU) was the story of the day, but did it mean anything? Hard to say, really. Team Dignitas had already clinched the one seed. They certainly wanted the wins, but it’s difficult to say if they wanted it at the cost of any strats they were keeping in their pockets. At the very least, it says Obey Alliance has continued to refine their play as the Summer Split has shifted away from the meta in which they dominated earlier in the year.
Over in North America, two seeds managed to forge their own paths and one needed an assist. Trifecta (NA) took a clean 2-0 over a flagging Team Allegiance (NA), ending Team Allegiance’s increasingly disappointing split. Allegiance started the split off strong, but was unable to adjust to the shifting meta quickly enough to find their way to Dreamhack. Trifecta ends the split in a much better than position than they ended the Spring Split – winning instead of taking several tough losses in a row. This win put them in a position to take first seed if Spacestation Gaming (NA) faltered against eUnited (NA). Fortunately for Spacestation Gaming – and unfortunately for Trifecta – they managed to split with eUnited, securing the first seed out of NA. After eUnited’s loss, Luminosity Gaming (NA) only needed a single win to avoid a playoff situation with them. It…did not come immediately. The first game was a tense match filled with numerous excellent plays, counter-plays, and wasted opportunities. The second game…went easily and cleanly the way of Luminosity, securing their spot.
What’s the Meta with You?
Week 5 was more of the same, with some minor adjustments. The aura changes and support-targeted adjustments in 4.11 shook things up considerably. Fafnir was still the most banned guardian, though his win rate plummeted to 1-5 for the week. He did have some company, as Geb checked in with the same win rate after a much better showing the week before. This means Terra was back on top, being picked the most times with only a single loss to show for it. Sylvanus showed back up in a game after a long absence, and Sobek and Ganesha picked up a couple wins to only a single loss. Khepri – to my sadness – went winless in the only game he was selected. These will continue to be top picks at Dreamhack, though Fafnir will continue to search to find a place. The decline of Khepri saddens me, but it’s expected after all the downward adjustments.
For hunters we continued to see the big three – Cernunnos, Hou Yi, and Rama. The Lord of the Wild earned his name this week, as he went a staggering 9-2. Hou Yi and Rama each clocked in a game below .500, and only Medusa saw a win beyond them. We did see a handful of Jing Wei picks, which is at least some variety. We saw a number of pocket picks here and there, but without success. Snoopy (Hunter – Trifecta) also broke out the Vulcan ADC again, to the same success he has seen in the past. Expect those three hunters to be the most contested at Dreamhack, with the role being an emphasis for early selection.
Sol was the most selected mage for the week, though ended up sporting a 2-6 record. Nox went a perfect 3-0, Chronos was back this week and went 2-1, and Thoth went a respectable 4-2. Kukulkan went 2-0, and Ra, Isis, and Freya all went a perfect 1-0. The Morrigan went winless in a single selection, though she was banned out for those that primarily played her. Vulcan and Scylla each picked up a win, as well. As you can see, there is an awful lot of variety in the role at the moment. The various strats and counter-strats around these picks is fantastic to see. Diversity in the roll is likely to decrease as the LAN occurs, as many of these fringe picks are favorites of those who will not be attending LAN or due to the week itself. Still, the variety should be more than just 3 or 4 gods. Most of those listed above have the chance to at least make an appearance if they aren’t banned, depending on the individual teams. It stands to be mentioned that Nox was played out of the support role by Dardez this week, to supreme success. You can blame your ranked games on him.
Warriors were less diverse – Osiris, Bellona, Amaterasu, Sun Wu Kong, Erlang Shen, Vamana, Ravana. Oh, and an Odin out of the jungle. We did see Nike get played by Divios – picking up a win, and Tyr showed up in a loss. Hercules only saw a single game as well, losing in his appearance. Look, this is going to remain the same until the meta shifts. It’s worth pointing out Sun Wu Kong went 4-6, still a losing record but better than this abysmal week 4 performance. He’s a safe laning choice against Bellona and Osiris, but it’s just not a guarantee that translates into a team win. In fact, it trends the other way. Osiris and Ravana were also played out of the jungle this week, each seeing limited success.
Junglers saw a mix of the aforementioned warriors, a lot of Ne Zha bans, a lot of Nemesis bans – and a 0-4 record – a lot of Thor and Susano, and then some one-off choices like Ratatoskr, Hun Batz, and a sharp reduction in Camazotz. The Nemesis win-rate is dangerously close to a trend now, no longer providing the safety and security when it allowed that it has in previous weeks. That tanky-meta cuts both ways. Serqet was banned 9 times, and wasn’t selected once. The jungle should see a wide selection of choices at LAN, as jungle is a place where pocket picks can make a huge difference right now. Outside of those instances, we’ll see more of the above.
Once again we are treated to a single-elimination tournament. Why? That’s just how Hi-Rez likes it, at this point. A winners/losers bracket would be great to see, as would a group stage, but it’s not something we the people can easily control. All we can do is keep talking about how we would like to see it. It seems like a waste to fly teams out and put them up for a few days just to have them play two games. Oh well.
Team Dignitas (1 – EU) vs. Black Dragons (8 – LatAM): Black Dragons took a game off of Team Eager in the Spring Split, and pushed them quite considerably. Of course, we found out after the fact Team Eager was incredibly dysfunctional and there were a lot of issues. That isn’t meant to take anything away from Black Dragons – just providing some context. This LAN should show the growth of the LatAm region, based on how Black Dragons performs. The 8th-seed guarantees a game against the 1st-seed in this format, which means Black Dragons faces Team Dignitas. This should be a considerably larger challenge than an anemic Team Eager. Team Dignitas dominated in the Summer Split – outside of a final-week loss to Obey Alliance. Dignitas has looked exceptional throughout the split, improving over a successful – though uneven – performance in the Spring Split. Qvofred (Jungle – Team Dignitas) and Arkkyl (Hunter – Team Dignitas) have been the standouts for the team, though Variety (Solo – Team Dignitas), Zyrhoes (Mid – Team Dignitas), and Trixtank (Support – Team Dignitas) have all played incredibly well. Will the losses to Obey Alliances set them back? Probably not. Dignitas should move on to the semi-finals. Team Dignitas (2-0).
Trifecta (4 – NA) vs. NRG Esports (5 – EU): NRG Esports has seen the meta shift in their favor over the split. The game has slowed down considerably, and the potential of late-game comebacks has increased an equal amount. NRG still needs to clean-up their early play, and turn their attention back to a more methodical approach, but things are continuing to trend upwards for them. Trifecta had a much better end to this split than the last. Snoopy has been the standout during the last few weeks for Trifecta, flexing his mid-mage muscle in the ADC role. The three question marks for Trifecta have been the play of Hurriwind (Mid – Trifecta) and Kikisocheeky (Solo – Trifecta), and their consistency. Ending the split strong helps their confidence and will likely translate to some increase in consistency, but it’s still a concern. Believing Trifecta will take at least one game off of NRG is not outlandish, and NRG has shown they will drop games across extended sets. NRG is likely a better team than Trifecta at the moment, but this will still be a close set if those three questions are answered positively. Still, I believe the set will go the way of NRG. NRG Esports (2-1).
Spacestation Gaming (2 – NA) vs. Team Rival (7 – EU): Of all the initial sets, this one is the one that leans in favor of an NA team from the outset. That isn’t to say NA teams can’t or won’t win games – just that the team are underdogs in their matchups at this point in time. SSG has picked up a new coach going into Valencia – former Cognitive and Team Eager jungler djpernicus (Coach – Spacestation Gaming). djpernicus is considered by many to be one of the more innovative SMITE minds, and to see him move into coaching now that he has left the scene as a player is not too surprising – particularly considering there is a free trip to Spain involved. SSG ended up atop the pile of NA, and finished the season fairly strong after a mid-season drubbing by Luminosity. fineokay (Solo – Spacestation Gaming) has been the standout for the team across this split – and last split when he was picked up, for that matter – but the entire team has been playing well. Andinster (Mid – Spacestation Gaming) has grown considerably as a mid, and the jungle synergy with homiefe (Jungle – Spacestation Gaming) has improved by roughly the same amount. Vetium (Hunter – Spacestation Gaming) has been quietly killing it in the ADC role, particularly after some strangeness that occurred with the Zapman situation. Team Rival ended the season with a bad loss to Elevate – though Deathwalker’s absence makes that pseudo-meaningless. Likewise, Team Rival has been incredibly unreliable after their excellent Gauntlet and Masters LAN performance. That doesn’t mean Team Rival won’t show up just like they did in the Spring LANs. If you recall, their Spring Online showing was actually worse from a points perspective. When these teams last went head to head, SSG came off the worse for wear, but that was an entire split ago. Right now, the slight edge in the contest favors SSG, though we are talking like 52-48 or 55-45 at most. For the moment, look at SSG to squeak out a win, evoking many a hot take. Spacestation Gaming (2-1).
Obey Alliance (3 – EU) vs. Luminosity Gaming (6 – NA): Wouldn’t a double elimination tournament be great so we could have either of these two teams play a second set? That would be pretty fantastic. Instead, one of these teams is going home. If Luminosity plays like they did in week 4 and the first part of week 5, there isn’t a chance they will win. If Luminosity plays like they did in week 2-3 and the second game of week 5, they have a fighting chance. Obey Alliance trended the other way this split, starting out wobbly after winning the Spring Split, thanks to a reduction in the efficacy of aggression. However, Obey ended strong, and ends up with an arguably easier path to finals than Dignitas or NRG, as they have to face each other. That is, if they can get past Luminosity. Luminosity has a history of playing up, and really rising to a challenge – but only if they are expecting it. Luminosity sometimes faces problems when their expectations are not met, and they are forced to redefine their play on the fly. Obey is a very flexible team at the moment, and does not face this complication. I don’t think there is any real question Obey is the stronger team in the meta, but it doesn’t mean LG is an easy opponent for them. This could go either way, though the most likely outcome is Obey picking up the win after two back-and-forth games, that leads into something of a tense early, but snowbally late game. Obey Alliance (2-1).
Team Dignitas (1 – EU) vs. NRG Esports (5 – EU): This is honestly the match-up I am most looking forward to seeing. If you recall, Variety formed the team to beat NRG – something he believed other teams were not capable of doing. Of course, his old team did immediately that, and so did Team Rival. Dignitas hasn’t played NRG in a set that had a clear winner so far this season. They have only faced each other in online play, with the sets being split. The match-ups will come down to Adapting and Qvofred, and Variety and Dimi. Each of the match-ups will focus around their individual level of play weighed against their contribution to the team as the game progresses. Variety is a tremendous individual player, but can lose sight of the greater team goals in order to make plays. That isn’t to say the rest of the match-ups aren’t engaging. iRaffer and Trixtank have very similar mentalities, with Trixtank being perhaps a tad more aggressive. Emilitoo and Arkyll are fairly evenly matched, with Arkyll having a slight edge this season. Zyrhoes has had moments of inconsistency, with moments of brilliance. Yammym has been uneven. That match-up favors Dignitas. However, it’s less the individual performances, and more of the team performances. As mentioned before, the meta continues to shift in NRG’s favor, lending their old tactics and comfort a bit more weight. This should be a great set. I will go against the grain and say NRG Esports takes the win here. NRG Esports (3-2).
Obey Alliance (3 – EU) vs. Spacestation Gaming (2 – NA): Making it to the semifinals over an EU team will be a good boost for Spacestation Gaming – and all of NA – but moving past Obey will be a Herculean task. Obey should be able to flex their muscles and play variations a little more in a longer set. Flexibility is something that SSG has had a problem with throughout the season thus far, as the unexpected has been…well, unexpected. Obey has shown several setups that should be able to be analyzed – especially with the addition of a new coach in djpernicus – but that definitely isn’t all they have up their sleeves. Likewise, djpernicus should bring some new theories to SSG – allowing them to show the same growth and strange strategies that he brought to Eager. However, the team might not be fully comfortable at this point – leading to a few picks here and there that might be outside of their wheelhouse. This match-up, much like the previous one, should skew in the favor of Obey Alliance. If SSG can get in some good games and indeed does make it this far, it will benefit all of NA – but SSG will get the biggest boost. Obey Alliance (3-1).
NRG Esports (5 – EU) vs. Obey Alliance (3 – EU): The next chapter of a great rivalry…provided the predictions are correct. Obey has had the edge this season, beginning with the Spring Split defining 2-0 victory over NRG. They won a 2-1 over them in the Spring Gauntlet, and split in the Summer Split. This should be a good opportunity for either Obey to really solidify themselves as the new kings of EU, or for NRG to make a statement and prove they are back. NRG has the opportunity to state they are back with authority, and prove they are still the team to worry about as the season continues. I would be surprised if the set didn’t go the distance. Obey has the advantage currently, but NRG will be able to push them to their limits. In the end, Obey will walk away with the Dreamhack Valencia win, and the Summer Split title. Obey Alliance 3-2.
Dreamhack Power Rankings
|1||Obey picked up a 2-0 victory over Dignitas in the final week of the split, illustrating some excellent play and confidence. Obey is looking to defend their title, and despite their 3 seed, they have a great chance to do so.||2|
|2||NRG Esports split with an Eanix team that was fighting and clawing to get into Dreamhack, and managed to fend them off. NRG didn’t drop a full set this split, and performed well against the top teams of the EU. NRG is showing a tendency to play down a bit, but that’s essentially meaningless for the the Summer Finals.||3|
|3||Ending the split with a tough 0-2 loss to Obey Alliance isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not a great place to be in knowing they will have to face them again if they make it through NRG. Oh, and Black Dragons. The second shouldn’t be too hard, but the first has a chance to really trip them up.||1|
|4||Spacestation Gaming has a new coach in djpernicus – largely regarded as one of the better minds in the pro scene. SSG also faces a reeling Team Rival in the first round, giving NA a slight edge in a match-up against an EU team in quite a while. Sure, it’s NA’s 1 seed against EU’s 4 seed, but that’s the world we live in right now.||6|
|5||Trifecta mauled a floundering Team Allegiance to close out strong in the last week of online play. Trifecta has a tall order in going up against NRG for their first set, but even a loss can be something to work with provided they perform well.||7|
|6||Deathwalker will be in Spain. That should be a tremendous improvement for the team over week 5. Yeesh. Team Rival hasn’t had the best split, but they didn’t in Spring until the Gauntlet and LAN. Let’s find out if history repeats, or this was a backslide.||5|
|7||LG had a knock-down, drag-out fight with AI in their first game, and then demolished them without blinking in game two. The play of Baskin and ScaryD was promising, and Jeff had some great plays, but Mask and Barra were MIA in their first game. The team needs a lot of work right now. Maybe this will be where it comes together. The team always plays up, and they will need to against Obey Alliance.||6|
|8||The top team out of LatAm will face Team Dignitas in round one. This will be a great opportunity to see how much the region has grown. The answer will probably be “not enough…yet,” but they keep getting better and better. It’s exciting.||N/A|