There have been a lot of dramatic games at the Smite World Championship, but so far few upsets. Yesterday saw the brutal truth of regional skill discrepancies assert itself, with every remaining team that isn’t from North America or Europe falling to more experienced opponents. It also looks like the rankings established in the NA and EU leagues pretty much hold true as well: as we go into day three, only the teams considered to be the best in NA and EU prior to this event remain.
What happened on day two?
European first seed Paradigm looked confident going into their best of three against China’s OMG. A cheeky buff steal by Paradigm’s Trixtank in the opening minute of game one set the tone for their performance overall. OMG got first blood and initial exchanges were trades that kept the match relatively close, but Paradigm steadily extended their lead into an insurmountable problem for OMG. After a triple kill by Paradigm hunter Funballer and a follow-up teamwipe, OMG started their surrender vote.
Game two was much more one-sided, with a very fast first blood going to Paradigm. Jungler QvoFred’s Thor was the playmaker, here. OMG fought back, getting kills on the board steadily, but they simply couldn’t keep up with Paradigm’s aggression or their momentum. A pickoff kill late in the game gave Paradigm the opening they needed to push and end it.
Then, US anti-heroes Enemy took on Brazil’s PaiN. The MVP of game one was far and away Enemy captain PainDeViande’s Geb, a defensive and offensive bulwark that shored up Enemy’s advantage in every single encounter and ultimately delivered them the game. The second round was even more one-sided, with a highly confident NA side rolling from the first minute and giving PaiN very few opportunities to get back into the game. PainDeViande was perfectly happy to trash-talk in his post-game interview, setting him and his team apart from the friendly (and, in Cloud9’s case, huggy) tone of pro Smite.
Speaking of which: Cloud9 vs. QG Reapers was a strident performance by North American defending champions. They had a strong read on their Chinese opponents from the beginning, anticipating their aggression and countering hard. By two minutes, the score was 5-0 in C9’s favour. They continued to take what they wanted and give nothing back for the first ten minutes, when C9 hunter BaRRaCCuDDa got punished for being a little too cocky. It didn’t make much of a difference: QG resisted a little around the twenty minute mark, but the game ended 24-5 shortly afterwards.
Legendary C9 support JeffHindla got first blood in game two with Khepri’s DoT, and C9 looked very comfortable after that. They were up 11-1 by the 8:40 mark, and by 16:30 they were bullying QG inside their own base. C9 had a staggering gold and experience lead by twenty minutes in, but respected their opponent and played carefully—but all it took was a Fire Giant buff and a teamfight to end the game, and QG’s tournament.
Fnatic vs. Epsilon was set to be the day’s most closely-contested game, and in many senses it was—though not quite as close as some would have hoped. Game one (embedded above) was the standout, demonstrating just how well these two European teams know each other. A tense, passive start resulted from both teams knowing exactly how each other play, and shutting out each other’s preferred options while refusing to cede mistakes of their own. Fnatic traded favourably and built up a decent lead in the first couple of encounters, but a series of aggressive plays around the Gold Fury ended up granting Epsilon a 5k gold advantage that they’d never give up after that point. The star here was Epsilon captain iRaffer’s Ymir, an unusual pick but one that countered Fnatic’s Khepri and Zhong Kui with immovable walls of ice.
Fnatic looked angry at the end of game one and this is a team that has historically struggled to maintain morale after a loss. They seemed much more subdued going into game two, particularly after an engagement around the buff camps ceded first blood to Epsilon’s dangerous jungler Adapting. Epsilon seized the advantage and secured a 2k gold lead by eight minutes as Fnatic started to get caught out around the map. Epsilon secured with Fire Giant at twenty minutes with a sizable advantage in every single metric. Fnatic seemed broken as Adapting’s Mercury and Yammyn’s Janus dominated teamfights. Adapting would shortly secure a double kill under Fnatic’s Phoenixes, prompting a surrender vote.
Today’s essential match
Two best-of-fives will be played today, among the four best teams in the world. Honestly, either of these matches could be a world championship final in another context. Paradigm vs. Enemy has the underdog element going for it—few expected Enemy to get this far—but my choice nonetheless is Epsilon vs. Cloud9. These are both world-class teams with broad god pools and smart, strategic playstyles. Their match is scheduled to be the second of the day, but it’s tough to give an exact time given that the games on day two ended up running three hours ahead of schedule due to short matches.
With that in mind, I’d definitely like to see closer contests today. Stomps are expected in the opening days of a championship, particularly in a best-of-one format. Yesterday’s clean-sweep of 2-0 matches is a bit disappointing, however. For one thing, it suggests that the idea that a Chinese or South American team could come out of nowhere to upset the EU/NA veterans was a bit of a pipe dream. For another, it shows that it’s currently very difficult for a team to come back into the game from an early disadvantage. In case after case, the confidence boost from an initial win carried victorious teams through their second games as well. It’s time to see teams trade games in these best-of-fives, and ideally try to outmanoeuvre each other in the pick/ban phase: I’m sure the crowd in Atlanta has heard Bellona bellow ‘RALLY HERE!’ enough times for one tournament.
With ten teams reduced to four, however, the odds are good that this is where SWC gets really competitive. If you’re planning on watching the games today, play begins at 11:00 EST (08:00 PST/16:00 GMT). Find team, stream and schedule info in our guide to the event.
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