The first ever NRG Invitational will soon be upon us. This two day event pits four teams – each lead by the team captains from last year’s SWC semi-finalists – against each other with a series of fun and silly events to determine seeding, followed by a short single elimination bracket competition the next day. If this reminds you of the all-star weeks of professional sports…it should. This is totally an all-star game without the public vote component. However, since the weekend is funded by the organization on the backs of the NRG Chronos skin they can sorta dictate however they want it to go. In the future there should be a public support component to drum up further interest in the event in addition to the teams each selecting players. Most professional sports have a split between public and coach selection – which balances each side of how the game is viewed. Players and coaches have a much different perspective than the casual viewer – and even analysts.
Meet the Teams
There was some confusion around how the draft actually played out. Apparently the fact that NRG members had to be selected in the first round was stated on stream when the event was announced, but it didn’t appear in any of the promotional material. This affects draft composition fairly heavily, especially when coupled with the fact that the two member caveat meant team captain+1 – when it was applicable. That said, there were still some interesting selections and a few surprises. Looking at the initial predictions, here how they shook out:
- 13 of 16 selected players were predicted to be taken
- Jigz, Andinster, and Deathwalker were not selected, while Zyrhoes, Wubbn, and Kikisocheeky were taken in their place.
- The final scores for players predicted vs. players taken were: Minotaurs (iRaffer): 3/4, Titans (Ataraxia): 2/4, Juggernauts (BaRRaCCuDDa): 2/4, Manticores (Aror): 2/4. Overall hit-rate of 56%. NRG teammate predictions 100%.
Final team rosters are as follows:
- Minotaurs: iRaffer, PandaCat, Zyrhoes, Adapting, Benji
- Titans: Wubbn, Ataraxia, PrettyPrime, Mask, Dimi
- Juggernauts: jeffhindla, BaRRaCCuDDa, Yammyn, Qvofred, Variety
- Manticores: Aror, emilitoo, TheBest, CaptainTwig, Kikisocheeky
Placements and Saturday Fun
The seeding for the elimination games on Sunday will be determined by points gained from the challenges that occur on Saturday. There are five events that grants points. Points are listed in the event breakdowns, but it doesn’t mention scaling totals for non-winners or even state the winner receives that many points, or if that is the amount of total points that will be distributed. Anyway, that all doesn’t really matter. What we are here for is the fun.
The first challenge up is Mage Madness. This is a game of Clash where each team must play only mages, and it’s blind pick. Beyond those caveats, it’s a standard Clash game. Call me crazy, but I think the Manticores have a slight edge in this one. Aror enjoys non-standard supports, emilitoo has both Sol and Chronos back in the meta, TheBest a mid player, CaptainTwig plays around with picks like He Bo jungle, and Kikisocheeky is known for playing goddesses like Aphrodite. Each player has a decent amount of experience playing mages and playing them well.
Granted, there isn’t a public full perspective of the mage skill range of all players – and the players can all play most gods competently, without question – but it stands to reason not all of the players share the same level of comfort with all of the god categories in all of their roles. Benji does play some mages out of the solo lane – the Morrigan, for example. Variety might do so, but it is less of an open secret if that is the case. This isn’t meant to focus solely on the solo lane, but rather representative of the larger case. Aror is more likely to have a mage support up his sleeve than jeffhindla, for example. Anyway. The Minotaurs pick up the second win, with the Titans and Juggernauts pulling up in last for this one.
In this challenge, each team must select a hunter, assassin, and warrior. Further, aegis or purification beads are not allowed. This is a standard Joust game, in all other regards. Here, I have to give the edge to the Juggernauts and the Minotaurs. Qvofred and Variety are the jungler and solo laner for their team, and similar is true for the Minotaurs – albeit hunter rather than jungler. The other teams don’t have the natural synergy, though – again – everyone is a strong player so the impact is infinitesimal. It’s a toss up between which team has the advantage, but Juggernauts is more likely to squeak out a win. The Minotaurs pick up the second, with the Manticores and the Titans falling short.
Assault, but every team member must play the same god. This should be amazing. I’m looking forward to the 10 the Morrigans in a single game. BaRRaCCuDDa and jeffhindla are Assault mains, so the advantage has to go to them. Obviously. Them’s the memes, folks. In truth, this one might benefit the weird flex picks of the Manticores or the Minotaurs. The Manticores come up ahead, and the Juggernauts will end up with wins . The Titans and Minotaurs doing not so hot.
Pick Your Poison
Conquest, but each team drafts the opposing team’s gods. This is interesting, as this plays to the game sense of each team, along with relative god pool and experiential strength. Taking that into account, I again think the Manticores end up in a good spot. These type of prop games just play into their wheel house. The results should be very similar to Multiplicity.
Anhur 1v1, but teams get to pick who they play against from the opposing team. All of the ADCs are exceptional and are not likely to be picked. The players with wide god pools are not likely to be picked. Mids will most likely not be considered, as most have an opportunity to play ADCs and practice with them in the normal course of their duties. There is a lot to consider. That all said, here is the list of who should be targeted:
- Minotaurs – iRaffer
- Titans – Wubbn
- Juggernauts – Variety (jeffhindla and BaRRaCCuDDa role swap a lot in casuals)
- Manticores – Aror
Out of that list, Aror comes out on top.
Across the events, that would leave the seeding as follows:
Based on seeding, the potential first match-ups would be Manticores vs. Titans, and Minotaurs vs. Juggernauts.
- Manticores vs. Titans: The three members of Obey Alliance to be selected square off against each other, and it should be interesting to see if it is Ataraxia and PrettyPrime that prevail over CaptainTwig. In a normal game of Conquest, the flexibility of the Manticores will be important, but less important that standard game sense and objective control. That isn’t to discount the strange picks the Manticores are sure to pull out. It should compliment the shotcalling likely to be provided by CaptainTwig, in fact. The biggest question for the Titans will be whether the general lack of aggression by most of the team will mesh with the more aggressive playstyle of Mask. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem, especially in a fun environment. However, I think the pacing and strangeness of the Manticores might be too much for the Titans, ultimately. Manticores 2-1
- Minotaurs vs. Juggernauts: Most people considered these to be the strongest teams on draft day, and in a normal tournament these two might be meeting in the finals. However, the challenges aren’t normal seeding, and here we are. Each team has dual-team synergy going on, with Zyrhoes and Yammyn being the odd men out. Both are exceptional mid-laners, and both have two teammates on the opposing teams. I give the edge to Juggernauts because Qvofred and Variety will have existing map synergy, as will BaRRaCCuDDa and jeffhindla. That slight advantage might be enough, across three games. The X factor will be how Adapting, well, adapts, and who emerges as the shotcaller for the Juggernauts. Juggernauts 2-1.
Look out, everyone. NA is back on top! Well, for this one LAN. Also their teams are filled with EU players. Also also, they…you know what? Let’s skip it. NA! NA! NA! We have to take it where we can, folks. Anyway, watch this be entirely wrong and it’s an all EU final. Whoops in advance.
- Manticores vs. Juggernauts: The relatively strengths of the team should be more apparent in a standard game. The Manticores will be facing a stronger team in the Juggernauts than the Titans. Again, these are all relative strengths. The Juggernauts will have an advantage when it comes to map synergy, and the Manticores will have the ingenuity advantage. The map and objective synergy could tip the games the way of the Juggernauts, but CaptainTwig could dictate the pace and control the game a bit better – as the shotcalling roll is a bit muddled on the Juggernauts team. It will likely be a closer set than most people would think, even if the result ends up being the same. Juggernauts 3-2.