Today was Day One here in Atlanta for the Smite World Championship, otherwise known as the Placement round. Two teams were eliminated today, leaving eight teams to move on. Cloud 9 (NA) and Paradigm (EU) have byes in the first round, so there are eight games to be played, and teams need to lose two to be eliminated.
The first game saw one of the favorites, Epsilon (EU) facing Isuras (LATAM). On paper this game is a huge mismatch, as Epsilon went 27-1 during the EU fall split, and were thought to one of the best in the world. While the game opened tentatively, Epsilon scored First Blood about seven minutes into the game, and they never looked back from there. Epsilon applied steady pressure and kept Isuras from scoring a single kill, taking the game 14-0.
Game two pitted Pain Gaming (BRA) against OMGB (CHINA). Little was known about either of these teams, save that they both were rumored to be very aggressive. The game was close for the first nine minutes, but by the sixteen minute mark Pain had established a 10-7 lead, on their way to a 21-8 win.
The third game of today was between Enemy (NA) and Avant Garde (OCEANIA), and many Smite experts gave Avant Garde a real chance of winning. As it turned out those thoughts were misplaced as Enemy really played a solid, calm and collected game, easily defeating the boys from Avant Garde 14-3.
The fourth placement match was between Fnatic (EU) and QG (CHINA). QG return from the 2015 SWC, where they quickly became fan favorites behind the aggressive and quirky play of QG players Night and If. Night tried to recapture the magic of his 2015 performance, picking a seriously underpowered Anubis, and Fnatic took full advantage of Anubis’ vulnerability, taking a quick First Blood, and pushing that advantage to take the game rather handily.
In the next set of games, winning teams would play each other, with the loser having to face one of the two top seeds, and the losing teams would face each other, with the two losing teams being eliminated from the tournament.
Up first was Epsilon vs Pain Gaming. While Epsilon was still heavily favored, Pain Gaming came out swinging, and really held their own for the first twenty minutes, keeping the score close at 4-3. Over the next few minutes, however, Epsilon surged to a 9-4 lead and from there applied steady pressure to defeat Pain Gaming.
Next up was North America’s Enemy, playing Fnatic, out of the EU. This game would pit Enemy’s desire against Fnatic’s experience and resulted in the most entertaining battle of the day, in my opinion. Both teams battled hard for about thirty minutes, when Enemy took their first real lead of the match, going from a 6-5 lead to a 13-5 lead. Building on that lead, Enemy pulled off the (kinda) upset, and handed Fnatic their first loss in the tournament.
The last two games would both be elimination matches, first up was Isuras vs OMGB. Both teams played somewhat tentatively in the beginning, but after about fourteen minutes OMGB started to distance their opponents, building a 7-3 lead that would carry them to a victory, and a berth in the next round. For the Latin American team, this would be the end of their tournament, and Isuras was the first team to be eliminated.
The last game of the night brought Avant Garde and the QG Reapers head-to-head, with the winner advancing to face the team that I have favored to win it all, Cloud 9. Of course, daunting as that prospect might be, it is certainly better than going home, which would be the fate of the losing team. While Avant Garde scores First Blood, QG quickly even the score, and just as quickly take the lead, 5-2. While Avant Garde gamely struggle on, they never really get close, and QG becomes the second Chinese team to move on to the next round, where they will meet the top seed from the EU, Paradigm.
So, after one day of play, we don’t really have any big surprises yet, all five North American and EU teams advance, as do both Chinese teams, which was kind of what we expected all along. The real challenges begin tomorrow, as the teams are much more closely matched in the next round. You’ll get all the scores throughout the day on our Twitter, and another recap of the action tomorrow night!