European second seed Epsilon have lifted Thor’s hammer as 2016’s Smite world champions. They defeated North American underdogs Enemy 3-0 in a run of tense, exciting games.
A confident first win suggested the Epsilon had figured out the North American metagame after their 3-2 victory over returning champions Cloud9 yesterday. Once again, captain iRaffer’s Ymir—a support character that isn’t valued in the US—proved to be a vital playmaker, while jungler Adapting turned in a brilliant performance as Thor.
Enemy fought back convincingly in game two, particularly jungler Adjust on Serqet—where Epsilon had a good hold on the map in the first game, here repeated pickoffs prevented them from mustering the same control. However not everything went Enemy’s way: Epsilon solo laner Dimi, who has been struggling with flu throughout the later stages of the tournament, went on an absolute tear as Tyr, soloing Saltmachine’s Bellona and acting as his team's unstoppable frontline in crucial later engagements. Along with a brilliant performance by Epsilon midlaner Yammyn as Isis, he was instrumental in turning a late teamfight that tipped a losing game in Epsilon’s favour.
Enemy once again came out ahead in game three, but Adapting once again had Thor—and, once again, Enemy couldn’t quite win the battle of the junglers. Enemy's Adjust fell behind on Hun Batz (the same character he fell behind with in game one) while Adapting played an even better game than he had previously. Epsilon captain iRaffer proved that Geb shields win Smite championships, and a great late kill on Adjust by Yammyn’s Medusa tipped another close game Epsilon’s way. As Enemy fought for their lives, Adapting landed the Thor dunk to end all Thor dunks—and, in this case, to end Worlds. With Enemy wiped off the map, Epsilon stormed through the Phoenix and right onto the Titan, ending the tournament and earning $500,000.
Afterwards, Yammyn was awarded tournament MVP for his consistently powerful performances, the second time the accolade has been granted to a midlaner—last year, it went to Cloud9’s MLCSt3alth. This is however the first time a European team has won worlds, something that many believed wasn’t possible when Epsilon fell behind against Cloud9 in the semi finals. This is also a notable result for British esports: iRaffer is now among the highest-earning British players ever, across all games.
This has been a really entertaining, positive-feeling tournament: the crowd cheered for both sides, and chants of ‘USA USA’ gave way, as the trophy was lifted, to ‘Epsilon! Epsilon!’ (‘EU’ is hard to chant, it turns out. Also, three members of Enemy are Canadian.)
Smite will now enter its post-championship break period, but expect bigger things from season three: including, hopefully, a return to European soil for the game’s LAN circuit. After all, the game has a lot of fans in the region—and now, a trophy.
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