Today will be the bloodiest day of the Smite World Championship. With yesterday’s double-elimination best-of-ones behind us—and two teams already out of contention—we’re now staring down four best-of-threes and four further eliminations by the end of the day. Every single team will be fighting for their tournament lives in the quarter finals.
What happened on day one?
The opening round was designed to establish a pecking order among the teams—there’s not a huge amount of inter-regional play in Smite outside of Worlds, so this was when fans (and the teams) got to find out exactly how pronounced the European/North American advantage actually is.
The answer is ‘quite pronounced, but China’, if you were wondering.
European icemen Epsilon were expected to do well, and began the day with a very one-sided victory against the Latin American champions Isurus—14 kills to zero when the game ended after a controlled, almost passive performance that simply shut their opponents out of the game.
Then, Brazilian squad PaiN took on Chinese hopefuls OMG. It was a much more active game than the first, and OMG brought a greedy, aggressive roster that highlighted the difference in regional metagames. However, PaiN’s reactive style and strong counter-initiations proved to be an effective counter.
Like Isurus, Avant are completely undefeated on home turf—in this case, Oceania. They faced off against North American dark horses Enemy and seemed to struggle from the start. Enemy’s jungler, Adjust, brutalised Avant across the map as Hun Batz (who had a very good day in general.) Avant’s loss of confidence was palpable, and they lost 22-6.
Next, the Chinese team QG Reapers faced off against European wildcard (and the most veteran team in the tournament) Fnatic. This was my favourite game of the day when it happened, and well worth watching—a fun, scrappy, aggressive performance by Fnatic that worked their opponents over.
The upper bracket games began with Epsilon vs. PaiN. It was extremely passive and close for a long time, with only two kills each by twenty minutes and big engagements followed by equally big disengagements. Once again the jungler turned out to be key, here, with Adapting opening up the game for Epsilon with a double kill by Fenrir. The game ended 13-5 to Epsilon after 30 minutes.
Fnatic vs. Enemy was the game of the day, for me, and it’s embedded above—definitely watch it rather than read about it if you only catch a single match. Good early strategic play to Fnatic gave way to very impressive individual play by Enemy, including a series of great reads by Vetium, a brilliant Khepri ult by PainDeViande, and a game-winning Zhong Kui play by Khaos. These gave Enemy the momentum they needed to win.
The first elimination match was OMG vs. Isurus, which began cagey—as you’d expect, with the tournament at stake—but tipped OMG’s way after an early triple kill by Luo’s Neith. The teams continued to trade, but fights steadily played to OMG’s advantage despite a few casualties. OMG snowballed into a 25 minute victory, and Isurus were sent home.
Finally, Avant faced off against QG. The Australian team scored first blood but immediately traded and seemed nervous afterwards. QG’s beefy front line, lead by Mikasa’s Hades and If’s Sobek, reliably created scenarios that Avant did not want to trade into. Avant managed one or two good defenses in the midgame, but it felt like psychological momentum was on QG’s side throughout—dominance expressed as much in aggressive positioning as in actual kills. When the dust settled, Avant were the day’s second casualty.
Today’s essential match
The cop-out answer here is ‘all of them’—after all, top-seeded teams Cloud9 and Paradigm both got a bye through the first round, and they’ll both play today. It’ll also be interesting to see if Enemy can continue their tear as they face PaiN. Even so, my pick for the day is Epsilon vs. Fnatic at 20:15 EST (17:15 PST/01:15 GMT).
These two European teams are exclusive scrim partners and it’s only by a quirk of the brackets that they find themselves facing off in an elimination match in the quarter finals. They know each other better than any other team does, and they’re close personally, so this will be a close-fought and emotional series regardless of the result. They’re also entertaining teams to watch, which counts for something too.
For further stream and schedule information, check out our guide to the event. Enjoy SWC 2016!
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