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HRX 2018 – Day Two

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Today was supposed to be the day where some of the most anticipated SMITE matches were played: In particular, Luminosity Gaming vs. NRG Esports. However, no matter how much I love Luminosity and their whole squad, something didn’t quite work out in that set. However, the highlight for me was watching China Dream play Paladins. I know Paladins is reasonably new in China, but it has exploded wildly in popularity, and seeing one of their teams get down to brass tacks was a beautiful thing. I did not get a chance to take notes on the match, so I’ll just discuss it here. I have never seen Paladins played at such a high level of skill. Every single attack was pinpoint, and every round felt like I was watching something special. China Dream showed no mercy, and I expect them to climb to finals. But today was more than esports. Colton and I played Paladins Battlegrounds (expect some content concerning that soon), and it was on the Paladins Twitch Stream. We were just in the right place at the right time. Then we settled in to watch some fantastic esports and catch up with some of the devs/marketing folks to talk about the game and upcoming content. I also finally got to see Cerberus’ kit! I heard it at the analyst desk, but I simply could not remember it, but fortunately, I have it all written down for me.

Paladins: Battlegrounds in Brief:

So I’ve played exactly two rounds of Paladins’ new game mode, Battlegrounds. It’s a battle royale mode, with a huge amount of players in squads with the ultimate goal of being the last team standing. For those of you who are going to yell “THEY ARE RIPPIN OFF ANOTHER GAME!!” kindly remember that Paladins’ early Alpha had Survival, which is the same thing on a smaller scale, far before either game blew up at all. But it’s pretty easy to forget stuff like that because it is not convenient. You pick from one of 8 random champs in the game, with the same abilities as normal (two from each role). At this point, it auto-selects your card loadout, for the sake of convenience. This mode is still very much in development. Players are dropped onto the map and need to find chests with items in them, scattered around the gigantic map. These range from common to epic and players that die will also drop chests. This is after they become chickens (which can be resurrected).

But the real secret to winning is watching the skies. Zeppelins drop onto the map legendary chests that have insanely powerful gear, and this is the secret to getting ahead. Sure, you can win without them, but as Hirez Joe showed, they definitely offer an edge. No, you can’t get them with real money. There’s also the death fog that creeps in, but I love that there’s the potential for Tovald to ult a whole team into the death fog to kill them. Your ultimate only really charges when you hit enemies (the passive charge is much much slower than usual). We did make it to #8, which was pretty great for being new to the game. As someone who finds little joy in those style of games genuinely enjoyed what was on offer here. It still has a long way to go and isn’t going to be ready anytime soon, but it’s moving forward, and it’s a new way to experience this rich world. There’s also going to be Team Deathmatch next week, which we’re going to talk about more later this weekend, in video form. So definitely look forward to that.

Cerberus: Warden of the Underworld:

As we’ve seen, Cerberus, Warden of the Underworld, is the 93rd god in SMITE. He’s a guardian, and he’s the best dog. So I’m gonna go over his new powers and why he’s going to be such a blast. As long as lifesteal is in the meta in any form, Cerberus will be there.  His passive, Spirit of Death reads “Any time an Enemy God within 40 of Cerberus is healed, Cerberus receives 40% of the heal, and the Enemy’s heal is reduced by 20%”. As long as this includes abilities like Thanatos that give him insane, huge heals, he’s going to make life in teamfights/ganks very annoying for his foes. His first abilities, Paralyzing Spit, utilities his snake tail to “spit venom that passes through and damages Enemies. If Cerberus’s dog heads are Alert, they then also spit venom when the ability is fired. Each head is alerted upon hitting an Enemy with a Basic Attack, and all are alerted after Ghastly Breath. Each projectile that hits the same target deals 20% less damage, but hitting an Enemy with all 4 Stuns them”.

This is where the third ability, Ghastly Breath comes into play. “Each of Cerberus’s 3 heads releases a cone of noxious breath in front of them, damaging all enemies in range 7 times over 2.4s and reducing their Protections up to three times. Enemies in the center of his breath are also Slowed up to three times. This attack immediately puts all three of Cerberus’s heads on Alert for Paralyzing Spit”.   Want to set this up easier? Time for Soul Expulsion. “Cerberus leaps a short distance forward, dealing damage on impact and severing the souls of Enemies. These souls will not block Cerberus’s attacks, and killing the souls heals Cerberus”. The final great power of Cerberus is Stygian Torment and it is a doozy. “Cerberus’s haunting wail summons below him the souls of the damned, which then lift all Enemy Gods into the air while stretching the link between their bodies and souls, Damaging them. A short time later, Cerberus uses this link to pull the Enemies to him”. Ready for silly Hades+Cerberus wombo combos? Well, they’re coming.

LG vs. NRG Grudge Match:

The NA dream was alive and well during much of this match. I took some notes to break down as much of the action as I possibly could because it’s good practice and definitely was a match worth experiencing.  I’m not entirely sure where everything went wrong for Luminosity because I know they take NRG seriously. At first, I considered “not banning Ravana”, but that was debunked by Ravana perhaps not being a worthwhile ban, as well as the fact that you simply cannot ban out Adapting. That’s not possible.

Game 1: 20 – 11
LG Bans: Ullr, Serqet, Cab, Hou Yi
NRG bans: Fafnir, AMC, The Morrigan, Geb

Supports boxing in Solo? Hunters and Mages hanging out mid? Nonsense. Lots of pokes but nothing serious in the way of invades in the first few minutes. However, LG does get the all-important vision on Gold Fury around 1:40~. There were few close calls in the first couple of minutes, but escapes were made in the solo lane. First blood to Adapting! Cu almost got out but took that tiny last tick of damage under the tower. A fairly early FB for teams of this caliber, around 3:35. Looks like around this time that NRG is pushing forward a bit more towards the LG side of the map, peering into their jungle, but not invading. Baskin was almost deleted by Adapting around 5:10 but burned portal to get away from the Ravana dunk. It was split-second timing, and I was pretty impressed. Now, if only people in regular ranked games could place wards even a fifth as frequently as NRG is, games would probably snowball out of control far less. A lot of vision up from NRG around the 7-minute mark.

 A 1 for 1 exchange, Yammyn, and Mask dropping in the mid lane, but it was almost way worse. The rotations mid were picture perfect, preventing that fight from spiraling wildly out of control. However, LG has a very (very) minor gold lead at 26 to 25k, despite being down one kill. Around 11 minutes, LG stomped NRG in the jungle, taking a 1 for 3 exchange and pushing ahead. I can’t hear anymore, deafened by the cheers. The pincer was terrific though, pushing the mighty EU team back. Baskin absolutely came to fuck, picking up a delightful triple in that teamfight. The gold is still pretty much even despite that, but it has to be demoralizing to be snuffed out that easily. And just like that, NRG pull ahead, picking up two kills at Gold Fury, and succeeded in grabbing up Gold Fury at 15 minutes. LG tried desperately to steal it but was too late. It’s a very back-and-forth match, edge-of-your-seat stuff.

Adapting lurks, trying to find a pick but meanwhile, a teamfight happens mid, a 2 for 1 as well as a tier 1 tower. But all is not lost! Aquarius out of nowhere with the Berserker Rage to stomp out NRG and push them back! The score is tied yet again, 8-8. Uh oh, The Fire Giant was a bait! Maniakk was plucked and killed, and iRaffer quickly followed. Emilotoo moved in and killed Mask, the chase is on and Adapting got Barra for their hubris. A triple for Adapting and they move on the Fire Giant. They claim the first FG around 19 minutes. Adapting just sneaks around and pops out of nowhere, cleaning up everyone. It’s disgusting.

They follow up with Gold Fury, picking up a minor gold lead. The next step is another tower for NRG, taking the duo-lane tower. A fight breaks out at tier 2 duo lane, and then a rotation to the mid lane tier 2. From there, they rotate out, instead of moving on the final tier 2, leaving back to snatch Portal Demon. The lead is becoming greater, as the last tier 2 tower. One Fire Giant encounter spelled potential disaster. They probably should not have chased…Jeff, Aquarius, and Mask fall, and NRG could easily take a phoenix, but choose to move to FG and the LG Speed buff instead. Free FG for NRG unless Janus ult sniped it (Need that vision). NRG continues to hover around a 9/10k gold lead, taking Gold Fury and pushing into left Phoenix. It doesn’t seem like there’s much LG can do about it. 28 minutes, a Phoenix drops and the rotation mid. Baskin with the incredible reads, but it was not enough, a 2-1 loss for them, just to get Emilitoo. Game 1, NRG.

I feel like that game simply broke Luminosity’s spirit because the next match felt even more crushing. I took far less in the way of notes for game two because it just felt like a beatdown. It was sincerely disappointing. I have a few other matches I did play-by-play/analysis of, that I might write up and clean up over the weekend. But this one definitely felt worthy of mention. If you missed it, I’d watch this, as well as the insane chess match of Obey vs. Elevate.

Game 2: 20-5 NRG
LG Bans: Ullr, AMC, Hou Yi, Geb
NRG Bans: Fafnir, Sylvanus, The Morrigan, Ganesha
That spicy, bold Discordia pick! I’ve been waiting to see how she holds up on the big stage. But NRG got Rama and Ravana yet again, which can be protected with Athena’s ult and having a double taunt. Triple technically. NRG’s comp has a lot more lockdown. I blinked and Yammyn snatched first blood, but over in the solo lane, Luminosity evened it up for Cu Chulainn. I’m not really sure why Barra picked Hachi over a more powerful hunter, but a utility hunter with an ult that can’t miss in his hands is not so bad. Around the five minute mark, the game is dead even on gold and kills, no one really pushing too far. There’s a 600 gold difference…not major. NRG pulls ahead with iRaffer taking a double kill as Athena, which is the power of her global ultimate. An iRaffer that can be anywhere is dangerous. Both hunters dropped ults but the escape on Hachiman’s got him away from Rama. This game feels slower, but about 11 minutes a brief teamfight broke out, Adapting getting a kill and getting out safely.

At 12 minutes, the score was 6-1, after Rama ulted, pushing Jeff around. He avoided all three arrows under his own tower, only to fall to Adapting’s mighty Ravana-based fist. It’s slowly starting to get out of hand. Yammyn gets a safe kill in the next fight and leaves, but Baskin gets a kill on Discordia! NRG gets a tier 2 tower shortly after, but Emilitoo got caught out, using his ult to wait and see if his friends would come; no friends came. The drums were sounded, and another victim was found. Aquarius and Mask are down, witha score of 9-, along with another tower. NRG at 15 minutes has yet to lose a tower. As far as I’m concerned, this is done. NRG secures a 16 minute Fire Giant, and Adapting stomps more LG players down. Adapting gets yet another kill, dying to save Baracudda. NRG began pushing towards Phoenix at the 17 minute mark, but rotate instead to get a tier 2. At this point, LG has no towers, and NRG has only lost one. It’s a rough day for the NA dream. Why? Why did they not ban Ravana? I don’t understand. Another teamfight, a 1 for 2, Jeff Hindla doing his level best to save his team with the ultimate. But it’s 14-4 with a 12k gold lead going to NRG. At 22, POrtal Demon and Fire Giant went to NRG, and the hill grows taller.  From here it simply spiraled and snowballed into defeat.

The biggest thing I learned, was that teams should focus more on their own gameplan and less on trying to potentially counter everything. Make them play your game, don’t chase and fall into their trap because they are “low health” or “doing something risky”. If you make the assumption that your opponent is dumb or making foolish choices out of nowhere? Perhaps it’s not what it seems. There’s a whole lot more coming this weekend, so please stay tuned or the rest of our exciting coverage of HRX 2018!

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