Friends and foes, we are now entering the last week of the online split. Like the other splits this season, there are still several spots ripe to be claimed. Unlike in past splits, each division has two teams that have already locked spots, and will be meeting in week five to determine the number one and number two seeding for each. Exciting stuff! We will go over the possible scenarios and likely outcomes. The record last week was 8-4, bringing the split total to 27-17 (61%) and the season total to 105-68 (61%). Not too bad.
Let’s get down for Esports!
Not much changed this week in the way of rosters. The biggest news is A Mighty Storm was picked up by Team Cryptik, and SPL Gatekeepers were picked up by Vigilant Esports.
The only roster change of note is Grave (Sub – Team Vigilant) stepping away from the main roster and Mirage (Jungle – Team Vigilant) taking his place. It’s unclear why exactly Grave stepped away, but most rumors place the central cause as a disagreement with PainDeViande (Support – Team Vigilant). Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Mirage is a veteran, but has spent most of this split away from the SPL. Further, he had a reputation as an underperformer when he was with Flash Point (NA). Will that change under the guidance of PainDeViande? It will be interesting to see.
We’re now down to the last week of the online split. Two teams in each region have clinched a spot in Super Regionals, though seeding it still up for grabs. Obey Alliance (EU) – the current #1 seed in Europe – squares off against Team Dignitas (EU) – the current #2 seed in Europe. Obey Alliance has two sets left – one against the current #3 seed, Elevate (EU) – and one against Team Dignitas. If Obey manages to 2-0 Elevate, they are #1 seed, no matter what. If not, it comes down to the games with Team Dignitas. If Team Dignitas manages a 2-0, they overtake Obey as the first seed. If they do not, they stay in second place. North America has a similar situation. Luminosity Gaming (NA) is in first place by virtue of eUnited (NA) having not played six sets as of this writing. That changes on October 5, 2017, as eUnited squares off against Team Vigilant. If eUnited wins out, they are first seed going into the Sunday showdown with Luminosity. If they split, it’s a tie, and if they lose, Luminosity holds the advantage. Like in Europe, these teams are guaranteed first and second seed. It’s just a matter of who comes out on top.
The rest of the field is much murkier.
In Europe, five of the six teams that are not qualified could possibly qualify. However, some teams have a better path than others.
- Current Point Totals: Elevate (7), Valance Squadron (EU) (7), NRG Esports (EU) (6), Team Rival (EU) (5), Burrito Esports (EU) (2)
- Teams with two sets left: Elevate, Team Rival, Burrito Esports
- In order to guarantee qualification, Elevate has to go at least 3-1 in its remaining games
- In order to guarantee qualification, Team Rival has to go 4-0 in its remaining games.
- In order to guarantee qualification, Valance Squadron has to go 2-0 in its remaining games.
- In order to guarantee qualification, NRG Esports and Burrito Esports need to go 2-0 and 4-0 respectively, plus additional help.
- NRG needs Elevate to lose a set, and at least drop one game to Valance Squadron.
- Burrito needs Team Rival to split with NRG, and either Elevate or Valance Squadron needs to end with 7 points (Elevate going 2-2 and Valance going 0-2, or Elevate going 0-4, with Valance going 2-0).
- If Elevate lose to Obey and split with Valance, Valance and Elevate would be at 8 points.
- If Team Rival manages to 2-0 either NRG or Burrito, but loses to the other, they need Elevate to end with 8 points (some combination of 1-3) or fewer.
- If Team Rival splits with Burrito and NRG, both NRG and Team Rival would need Elevate to go 0-4 for the week, or for Valance to go 0-2, resulting in a 3-way tie between the 7 point teams.
- If Burrito goes 4-0, Team Rival 2-0’s NRG, and Elevate and Valance split, it’s a 3-way tie between Burrito, Team Rival, and Valance.
This isn’t outside of the realms of possibilities, but these aren’t the likeliest situations.
In North America, the situation is a little clearer.
- As long as Spacestation Gaming (NA) at least splits with Trifecta (NA), they are in as the #3 seed.
- In order to guarantee qualification, Trifecta needs to 2-0 Spacestation Gaming, and at least split with Team Allegiance (NA).
- In order to guarantee qualification, Team Vigilant needs to 4-0, and for Trifecta to at least split both sets.
- In order to guarantee qualification, Team Allegiance need to 4-0, need Trifecta to go 0-4, and need Team Vigilant to do no more than split their sets.
- Ties can arise between Spacestation Gaming, Trifecta, and Team Vigilant if Trifecta splits with Team Allegiance, beats Spacestation Gaming 2-0, and Team Vigilant goes 4-0. All three teams would be at 11 points – each owning a head to head over the other, with Trifecta and Team Vigilant having split.
- Ties can arise between Trifecta, Team Vigilant, and Team Allegiance if Team Allegiance goes 4-0, Trifecta splits with Spacestationg Gaming, and Team Vigilant wins one of their sets – but goes 0-2 in the other.
Fewer outcomes, certainly.
Artio maintains a 100% pick/ban rate through four weeks, with a fairly abysmal win rate when she gets through. The suspicion is teams allowing it through do not fear the teams that get the pick – with seemingly good reason. On the flip side, why are teams still letting Raijin through? Then again, why does Hi-Rez keep buffing Raijin? He was fine before the last damage patch, never mind the current patch of the next one. I love me some Raijin – I played him when he was “bad” – but guys, too much.
The mid lane is pretty much the same as it has been – Raijin is killing it. Thoth is popular and doing well. Sol is popular but isn’t doing great. Scylla is more popular but doing poorly. Neith and Ah Muzen Cab are seeing some mid play and are a mixed bag. Ra, Janus, Chronos, and Poseidon are popping up to more success than not.
The solo lane is pretty much Erlang Shen, Cú Chulainn, and Osiris – with the broken god doing the worst of them. Sobek and Cabrakan are doing quite well – meaning Variety (Solo – Team Dignitas) playing Ymir will be an ongoing concern. Hercules has shown back up with good success. Chaac continues to be a signature pick for Aquarius (Solo – Luminosity Gaming). That’s…pretty much it of note. Amaterasu has shown up a tad without success, and there was even a solo He Bo sighting.
In the jungle, the rat is back, with Ratatoskr doing very well. Thor is again a huge threat. Nemesis is all over the place in the tanky meta. Ravana keeps getting broken out, without a ton of success. Odin has seen a bit of play again, winning when he does appears. Serqet is popular and doing alright. Camazotz is performing decently post-nerf, but is much less of a guaranteed pick or ban. Likewise, Susano is creeping back into play. It’s still a surprise Fenrir isn’t seeing play in the jungle or in the solo lane. It seems like a natural pick in this meta.
Over in the support world, a few players tried out Terra again, and mostly found wins against safe opponents. The changes are a huge deal, and it shows. As expected, that just means ALL THE FAFNIR. It’s also seen the continued rise of Ganesha, as less double warrior makes him a safe choice with a good amount of control – both in fights and on objectives. Sylvanus continues to make a solid return – going slightly under 50/50 in a smaller sample set. Expect some more tree dad. Sobek is seeing play quite frequently, as well. His success has been more muted, but he still finds some wins. Geb is being picked too, but with much, much less success.
The hunter role has seen Funballer (Hunter – Valance Squadron) whip out He Bo ADC, but – other than Chronos making an occasional appearance – it’s been fairly mundane in the hunter role. Lots of Jing Wei, Hou Yi, Rama, and Cernunnos. Some AMC that is now seeing the traditional AMC focus. Skadi still shows up as a nuisance. Beyond that? Not a whole lot going on, here.
Thursday, October 5 – Mixed Division
Elevate vs. Obey Alliance (EU): Elevate would be in an excellent position going into the games on Saturday if they can manage at least a split with Obey Alliance. Elevate is coming off a disheartening loss to Team Rival, after a very successful split prior to that set. Obey Alliance can lock in the first seed with a full set win. Honestly, Obey Alliance has just looked so incredibly good this split – even when they falter – that it is hard to bet against them in any capacity. While Elevate could certainly force a split in this set, I don’t think they will manage to do so. Obey Alliance 2-0.
Burrito Esports vs. Team Rival (EU): Team Rival turned up against Elevate last week, in a set that was do or die. This set is also do or die, or at least from a “control your own fate” perspective. To do otherwise requires a lot breaking Team Rival’s way. Likewise, Burrito absolutely must 2-0 in order to have a chance to go to Super Regionals. With the immediate future of both teams in jeopardy, expect a highly contested set. A split wouldn’t be out of the question, but it is more likely that Team Rival guts it out and picks up the win. Team Rival 2-0.
Team Vigilant vs. eUnited (NA): Team Vigilant isn’t in the worst of positions, but winning a full set against eUnited puts them in a much, much better one. However, if eUnited manages a win, it puts a lot of pressure on Luminosity on Sunday to 2-0 or end up second seed. This is a big deal, as the number two seed is going to be facing off against a more-or-less rejuvenated Spacestation Gaming squad with a lot to prove. Going against a beleaguered four-seed is a much better position. Team Vigilant also experienced a team change going into this week, and there is plenty of drive on PainDeViande’s part to take at least one game off of the team that sent him packing in the Summer Split. Of course, that does mean eUnited is looking to show they made the right decision. This should be an excellent set, but it’s going to come down to the performance of Scream. If Scream maintains at the pace he has been playing, it not going to be a contest. If Scream falters under the emotional weight of the set, there will be issues. It’s unlikely eUnited has any issues, and should go into the last game of the season with a perfect record. eUnited 2-0.
Team Allegiance vs. Trifecta (NA): Trifecta managed to luck into a set win after being bodies by Luminosity in an unexpected set. There is something wrong with Trifecta, and it’s not entirely clear what it is. There is something wrong with Team Allegiance, and everybody knows what it is – there is no trust, team synergy, and the role players are all lacking. Team Allegiance is almost certainly the worst team in North America at this point, and is the likeliest candidate to be cut from the SPL in season five. Team Allegiance – through the miracle of scheduling – can still find a way into Super Regionals, but it’s not at all likely. There might be a split by these two wayward teams, but the most probable outcome is Trifecta finding a 2-0 and going into Sunday’s games with some high tension. Trifecta 2-0.
Saturday, October 7 – EU
Elevate vs. Valance Squadron: If either team takes the 2-0, they are set for Super Regionals. If they split…get ready for some bonus SMITE. Both teams have the potential to be real competitors – particularly if they find momentum. They also tend to be hot and cold – crashing and burning at a moment’s notice. Each team has also shown a willingness to break out some wonky picks. This is a fresh look for Valance over the rest of the splits, but becoming a standard for Elevate. This should be a great set, with a lot of questionable calls, some sloppy plays, and a whole lot of excitement. Each team should be putting it all on the line. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely either team is going to find the full set – though the slight edge is given to Elevate. Expect a split, and extra innings. Split 1-1.
Team Rival vs. NRG Esports: If Thursday goes as predicted, NRG is going to need to 2-0 to get into Super Regionals without going through the Gauntlet. Rival should only need to split to get into Super Regionals. If they don’t win out over Burrito, this set gets a lot more heated. These two teams are evenly matched at this point in time, with the momentum favoring Team Rival. Even if they have stumbled as of late, it would be foolish to count-out NRG before everything is said and done. Depending on the outcome of the Elevate and Valance set, it adds that much more pressure – likely to NRG. This is a lesson Team Rival should take to heart, especially given their tendency to drop game ones this split. This is an incredibly tough set to call, but – even with all their faults – I think NRG finds their way to a win. This is by no means guaranteed, but it just feels that way. Gut, don’t fail me now. NRG Esports 2-0.
The Papis vs. Burrito Esports: Burrito has looked like the better, more consistent team this split. The Papis continue to have more upside, but if you can’t do anything with it, it doesn’t matter. This set isn’t likely to be for anything other than bragging rights. It’s certainly possible Burrito could be looking to send NRG to the bottom coming into this set, but that’s not likely. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that these two teams won’t be in the SPL next season. These games are just for bragging rights. Much like in the Summer Split, the likeliest outcome is a split. However, I think Burrito will want to show their growth, and look to show off individual performances. Everyone familiar with the SPL knows that Dracomarino (Support – The Papis) and Dheylo (Jungle – The Papis) are superb players, and they will almost certainly find their way back into the league – Warchi (Hunter – The Papis) too, for that matter. Burrito doesn’t have that, outside of maybe Dzoni (Jungle – Burrito Esports). Burrito’s players will be looking to distinguish themselves. This might pose an issue in terms of overall team synergy – the area where Burrito excelled over the Papis this split. Still, think of these games as auditions for Season Five. Split 1-1.
Obey Alliance vs. Team Dignitas: This might not actually matter much in terms of seeding, but it should matter for psychological advantage. Likewise, it’s a chance for Team Dignitas to finish strong and regain a spring in their step. There might be a bit of trolling here from each team, but that’s more likely in the second game than the first game. However, both teams probably want these wins, even if they might not act like it will matter all that much. Each team should give it their all. If that is true, Obey Alliance comes out on top. Team Dignitas is just slightly off from a synergy perspective this online split. That should be corrected come LAN. Until then, Obey holds the edge. Obey Alliance 2-0.
Sunday, October 8 – NA
Team Allegiance vs. Noble Esports: This set is one of two that should determine who ends up being relegated. Each team has more or less the same identity, at the moment. They aren’t playing poorly, but they aren’t playing well enough to find wins. They just aren’t getting it done. A split puts both of the teams in a bad way, with a win helping Noble more than it helps Team Allegiance. Even with all of their issues – Team Allegiance is probably the better team. It’s just a matter of if they show up. In this set, it’s likely they do just that. Team Allegiance 2-0.
eUnited vs. Luminosity Gaming: Oh goodness, a match-up of scrim partners and trolls. eUnited almost certainly keeps their undefeated record coming into this set, requiring Luminosity to take two off of the team in order to get first seed. Now, it would be a huge advantage for Luminosity to take first seed – SSG is their worst match-up outside of eUnited. However, LG often takes their foot off the gas when they don’t feel any pressure. eUnited isn’t likely to do that. In a head to head match-up at this point in time, it has to favor eUnited. Of course, that’s only if they decide to take these games seriously or just troll and keep trolling. Who effin’ knows, frankly. Just because of all of the uncertainty, let’s go with split – knowing that this outcome could be very, very wrong. Split 1-1.
Team Cryptik vs. Team Vigilant: This version of Team Cryptik is a stronger team than this version of Team Vigilant. Team Cryptik needs to find a 2-0 in order to avoid getting dropped from the SPL – and for some things to break their way (Vigilant losing on Thursday). Cryptik has more motivation than Vigilant, as Vigilant is in a safer position – provided they don’t get 2-0’d here. On the heels of a solid performance against SSG, Team Cryptik is going to be a lot more confident. This should be an extremely good set, and one that Team Cryptik surprises us in. Team Cryptik 2-0.
Trifecta vs. Spacestation Gaming: Consider this the battle for third and fourth seed. This should also be a great set. Aror (Support – Trifecta) going up against his old teammate in Zapman (Hunter – Spacestation Gaming). Trifecta will need to find a 2-0 in order to grab that third seed, but that’s a tall order. Both teams should slug it out, make a few mistakes, and end up taking a game off of each other. Split 1-1.
Week 4 Power Rankings
||Obey is back on top. We should have answers on how they stack up against Dignitas by the end of the week. Of course, this is just the online portion.||2|
||Dignitas has faltered a little bit this split compared to last. Nothing to necessarily worry about, but it adds up.||1|
||eUnited looks like the best team in NA. No one is considering them underdogs any longer. Let’s see how they close it out.||3|
||LG continued to crush it in week four, when they would have traditionally stumbled. Does that mean all doubts are gone? No, not yet.||5|
||Rival finally showed up for a full set, 2-0’ing Elevate in convincing fashion. they have a hard week ahead of them, if they want to avoid the gauntlet.||7|
||Elevate had a bad week, but that doesn’t mean they are worse than they were a week ago. Rival just had a good week.||6|
||SSG split a contested set in a predictable manner. SSG isn’t necessarily all well themselves, but they are in a better spot than those below them.||8|
||NRG is not well. Where do they fit? Right in the middle, and even this high might be generous.||
||Valance is still as inconsistent as ever. Expect a wild time going into the end of the split.||9|
||Trifecta picked up a much needed 2-0, and still has some life in them. They need to finish strong.||10|
||Hey, they took a game off the ailing NRG. They deserve a spot bump.||12|
||Vigilant had a bad week four. They have had some personnel issues, and face a tough week five. Can Pain do it again? It’s a hard road for them.||11|
||Team Cryptik found their footing against a team that kicked 40% of them at the end of the Summer Split. It’s not a huge turn around, but it’s a needed win – mentally and point wise. They have a chance to stay in for Season 5, now.||16|
||They look game at times, and lost at other. Will they even be a team next year?||13|
||The same as Team Allegiance, folks.||14|
|16||The Papis haven’t had a great split, nor lived up to their expectations. Some of their players have a future in the league, others do not..||15|