Two very interesting match-ups in today’s Semi-finals, both pitting a North American team against an European Union team.
First up we had Paragon (EU) pitted against Enemy (NA). In the first game Enemy sets a slow, measured pace to start the game, refusing to be lured into a run-and-gun battle. First Blood goes to Enemy at around six minutes, but Paradigm fires right back. The first real lead of the game come around eight minutes in, when Qvofred from Paradigm picks up a nice triple kill, giving Paradigm a 5-2 edge. Enemy is undaunted, and they return to a very solid farming game. By the twenty-one minute mark Enemy has recovered, and even taken the lead 7-5. Then comes the drama, around twenty-five minutes in Paradigm wins a big team fight, scoring a deicide, but when Paradigm tries to take the Fire Giant, Enemy delays them long enough to steal the buff for themselves, in addition to a Tier 2 tower, and a Phoenix. With that advantage Enemy exerts pressure across the whole of the map, taking objective after objective. The end is not long off from that point, and Paradigm’s Titan falls around thirty-two minutes in, giving the win and a 1-0 edge in the match to Enemy.
Game two starts much the same, with Enemy keeping the pace very deliberate and safe. Paradigm gets First Blood a little after one minute, but by the fifteen minute point Paradigm has a 5-4 lead in kills, but trails by 3000 gold, giving the edge to Enemy. The teams trade kills for a bit, but at the thirty minute mark Enemy takes a team fight and the Fire Giant, giving them a 12-7 kill lead, and they parlay this edge into a win, dropping the Titan around thirty-five minutes in. Enemy now has a stranglehold on the series, needing only one more win to advance.
Game three is faster paced, with the two teams literally trading kills for the first twenty-five minutes. With the score locked at 9-9, Paradigm manages to secure an uncontested Fire Giant kill, giving themselves the edge. Over the next five minutes they rack up kill after kill, leading up to a 16-10 lead and a successful Titan rush at the thirty minute mark, and bringing Paradigm within one win of tying the match.
Going into game four, the question amongst the audience is: will Enemy tilt and lose their focus, or will they recover and close the match out? While Enemy scores First Blood four minutes in, the game progresses similarly to earlier matches, while Paradigm keeps the kill score close, Enemy has the superior farm game, and builds a significant gold lead. Thirty minutes in Enemy wins a big team fight, giving themselves a 10-7 kill lead, but, more importantly, picking up a Phoenix and the Fire Giant. Pressing the advantage, Enemy scores a deicide, breaking the Paradigm defense, and dropping the Titan around the thirty-three minute mark. Enemy (NA) eliminates Paradigm (EU) 3-1, and continues their trek to the Finals on Sunday.
The second of today semi-final matches is considered by many to be the REAL finals, as it pits last year’s champs, Cloud 9, vs Epsilon, the team that went 27-1 in the EU Smite Pro League. All season I believed that Epsilon had built such an incredible record preying upon weaker teams in the EU, but this match proved that Epsilon more than earned their victories.
In game one, Epsilon started fast, scoring First Blood, along with three more kills, en route to a 4-0 kill lead a little more than three minutes into the game. Epsilon maintained the pressure, building their lead to 10-3 with a ton of gold as well. This one might have spiraled out of Cloud 9’s control by ten minutes in. Cloud 9 looks a bit perplexed, and they go into a careful delaying action. By eighteen minutes the kill lead is 14-6, but Cloud 9 looks like they might have regained their composure. Cloud 9 makes a huge play, closing the kill lead to 15-11, but more importantly, Cloud 9 picks up 2 Tier two towers, closing the gold gap. Minutes later Cloud 9 completes the turnaround, knocking all the towers down, scoring the Fire Giant kill, and only trailing 16-15 in kills. Cloud 9 has all the momentum, and Epsilon looks stunned. Cloud 9 continues applying pressure all across the map, pushing Epsilon back into their base, before taking yet another Fire Giant, and pushing Epsilon back, exposing, then killing, the Titan thirty-five minutes in. Huge comeback, and potentially breaking Epsilon’ spirit for the remainder of the match.
Game two plays out a little differently. While Epsilon once again builds a big 4-1 lead by the five minute mark, this time they do not squander it. At sixteen minutes in, Epsilon scores a deicide, pushing their lead to 11-5, and starting to push Cloud 9 around the map. With their hyper-carry, Freya, coming online, Epsilon builds the lead to 15-5, then 16-6, then taking the Fire Giant twenty-five minutes in. At thirty-one minutes the final siege starts, and two minutes later the score is 21-7, and Cloud 9’s Titan is dead, tying the match at 1-1, and establishing that Cloud 9 is not unbeatable, as many have believed.
The start of game three is similar to the first two, Epsilon scores First Blood and second blood around two minutes in. Again, Cloud 9 goes into a defensive style, farming the best they can and avoiding extraneous fights. Nineteen minutes into the game, Cloud 9 ties the kill score at three, but has built up a gold and experience lead, by way of excellent farming. Cloud 9 continues to build their lead, and they get a solid team fight win to go up 7-4 in kills, as well as dropping all of Epsilon’s towers and a Phoenix. At twenty-nine minutes Cloud 9 takes the Fire Giant and begins their siege of the Epsilon base. At thirty-one minutes the kill score has become 13-4 in Cloud 9’s favor, and the Titan falls soon after. Game three belongs to Cloud 9, and Epsilon is on the brink of elimination.
The start of game four is slightly different, it takes Epsilon eight minutes to get out to their accustomed 4-1 kill lead. This time when Cloud 9 tries to go into their defensive game style, Epsilon is having none of it, and they push their lead to 8-3 with a solid gold lead as well, by the twenty-one minute point. Epsilon hits the gas and a Fire Giant kill gives them the edge they need to push down the rest of the towers and Phoenixes. Cloud 9 cannot withstand the pressure, and their Titan falls at thirty minutes. Match tied 2-2, with the momentum in Epsilon’s favor.
To this point, this match has been one of the best I have ever seen, but alas, all good things must come to an end, and this match closes not with a bang, but a whimper. As every game to this point has gone, Epsilon gets out to an early lead, 2-1, at one minute in. Cloud 9 cannot stem the tide, and Epsilon is up 4-1 at eight minutes. By seventeen minutes Epsilon’s lead is 10-2, and the door looks to be closing on Cloud 9’s chances. Epsilon’s ability to adapt to Cloud 9’s strategies has proven to be exceptional, and Cloud 9 has not been able to respond. Epsilon continues to pressure Cloud 9 and Cloud 9 has no answers. Epsilon pushes Cloud 9 into their base, and drop the Titan at the twenty-four minute mark, completing their own comeback, and moving themselves into tomorrow’s Final, where they will meet Enemy. Cloud 9’s defense of their title has come to an end, and they are eliminated.
Today was by far and away the most exciting and competitive day of the SWC, and I can only hope that Enemy can continue their excellent play tomorrow against Epsilon. They’ll need to, because Epsilon’s record was most certainly deserved coming into this tournament.