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Hirez Expo 2018 – Day 1 Recap

HRX 2018 Logo

Things here in Atlanta are just getting started, and as you probably saw in the earlier news posts, all the major announcements were made today in the Keynote Speech. It was the first keynote they have done, and I have to say, it was a fantastic ride. I only got to see a handful of matches today, but they were certainly something. I only saw one Paladins match, Elevate vs. Gankstars in the Console Wars, and the Knockout Matches for SMITE PC (Entity vs. Black Dragons and Nocturns vs. Scylla Esports). I’m very disappointed more of Paladins isn’t on the main stage, but at least Grand Finals will be there, and that’s okay. With so many competitive games in their pockets, there’s only so much time in the day. I missed most of the Hand of the Gods matches, but I did wander over there to talk to Adanas about some stuff that may be in store for the future, but I can’t say!

Announcement Discussion:

I was asked which game had the biggest announcements, and I won’t lie, I’m torn. I enjoy Paladins more, but I don’t play Battle Royale games much. Conversely, this one is a class-based Battleground, so I will likely enjoy it quite a lot.  But SMITE I actively play more and keep up with more.  Plus, the next god, Cerberus is a Guardian. I have to give the big win of the day to Paladins though! Team Deathmatch is coming soon, a new flank (Not so excited about that part), and Paladins Battlegrounds! 100 people, grouped into teams, with awesome class-based powers? I have so very many questions about it, which I aim to have answered when we sit down with Todd Harris, sometime in the coming weekend. So there will be knowledge!

I’m very excited for Cerberus, as well as a new Adventure mode coming to SMITE in the coming year, as well as the Voodoo/Slavic pantheon. I’ve really done a fair amount of research on the Voodoo Pantheon, and before I get to a few matches, some thoughts.  I really want the leader to be Baron Samedi, who is linked strongly to magic, ancestor worship, and death.  He’s the perfect fit. Other ideal spirits would be Legba, who holds the key to the spiritual world, or Ghede, who presides over the crossroads of life and death. Ghede in particular I think could make a very interesting addition to the SMITE roster.  As far as the Slavic Pantheon goes, I could see Rod (primordial god/supreme being) or Beloboog/Chernobog (Light and Darkness respectively). There are so many possibilities of interesting deities in these. We won’t see these til at least summer I believe, so I have plenty of time to do more research and figure out some potential ideas.

SMITE/Paladins Matches:

I didn’t see the SMITE Console matches, except in passing, unfortunately. That was when I moved over to watch Paladins (which also ended up being Console).  But I did see both of the “knockout” rounds for Smite PC, and they were just that. I think the biggest lesson is some teams simply either need better coaching or need to be more aware of metas of other regions. Or in short: Adaptability. Every single match started off pretty even, with some impressive first blood ganks/invades, but very quickly slipped wildly out of control. This is partially due to the state of the game in season 4, with how bad the snowball effect can be, and partly due to teams falling for pretty bad traps. There was a lot of chasing/overextending when a team would be behind and only get further into that hole. The first match of the day was Entity vs. Black Dragons. I picked this to be a 2-0 sweep, and I turned out to be correct.

I loved the double-tank comp of both teams, Entity picking Ganesha and Fat Loki … I mean Cabraken in game 1, against Black Dragons’ Artio and Fafnir (which in my estimation is the far stronger team).  First blood didn’t take too long, with Cabraken sneaking it out with his tantrum/earthquake. I did notice that a lot of attention was placed on the solo lane in game 1, and around the five-minute mark, Entity Gaming was ahead with three kills. Once Black Dragons got the first Gold Fury, it just spiraled out of control.  The longer it went on after that ten-minute point, the more insane it got. I missed game 2 sadly because it took forever to get lunch. From what I understand it was much of the same.

Nocturns vs. Scylla Esports was up next, and those matches felt even for maybe the first five minutes or so. Nocturns double Warrior comp paid pretty big dividends (with Erlang Shen and Osiris), but the First Blood at 0:00 (the timer was just getting going) was pretty damn hilarious.  At about the 12-minute mark, the gap started to widen, sitting about 3k gold ahead for Nocturns. One of the things that helped this was the chance respawn of Gold Fury minions, causing Torrie to pluck the minion on Sobek, instead of someone on Nocturns. Some would say that Beltway was the MVP here, but overall I have to give it to Nozq’s Isis, between him and Sylvanus setting up incredible, insane wombos with the knock-up+stun combo. Game 2 was much of the same, except for Scylla banning out Slv/Isis. Instead, Nocturns picked Thoth and Fafnir, and while Thoth didn’t deliver a ton of kills, he did assist Erlang and Serqet in becoming quite fed. This match just … if I’m being honest, felt unfair.

But that’s not really down to mismatching. The teams felt to me like they were on the same page at first. I and Epip were talking about it and figured it came down to Scylla simply putting themselves into bad positions, walking right into engagements that Nocturns wanted them to be in. They did not learn the lesson from game 1 and kept right on doing it.  The Paladins console match I saw was Elevate vs. Gankstars, and that would be a piece all on its own.  The most important thing I took away, is every match, Elevate tried a new composition, a new strategy. And it always worked, because they did not let Gankstars catch up. They didn’t allow the other team to adapt, because it was always some new tactic. Two healers, two flanks, whatever it took.  They forced Gankstars to be on the defensive, stratgy wise from game 1 and just kept that pressure going.

So, that’s day one for us in a nutshell! We’ve got more content coming, such as interviews, and more game analysis, so stay tuned!

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