World Championship Wrap Report
Recently I had the opportunity to cover the Smite World Championship, held at the Cobb Energy Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Hi-Rez invited the top two teams from four regions; North America, European Union, China and Latin and South America, to battle it out for the title of 2015 Smite World Champions. The China, Latin and South America regions have had less access to Smite in their own regions, and many Smite community pundits feel that, while their mechanics might be solid, the teams from those regions don’t have the experience to deal with the North American and EU teams.
Day One would see two teams eliminated, and two teams gain a bye into the Semi-final. COG Prime won both of their matches handily, and SK Gaming stages a nice upset, beating COG Red in their game, 14-9, and claiming the second of the two byes available. DiD and 404 are the two teams eliminated.
Day Two was divided into two parts, all four 1-1 teams play a best-of-three match, the losers will be eliminated, and the winners will go one to face COG Prime and SK Gaming in the next round. COG Red handily defeats OMG two games to none. DaGarz, playing Thor, dictates the pace, and the rest of Red follows suit, combining tremendous map pressure with flawless execution. The final kill tally for both games combined is 69 for Red compared to only 13 for OMG. Titan also defeats Bacon two games to none. We Love Bacon keeps it close in the first game, losing 25-16, but Titan uses the momentum from the first game to cruise through the second game, winning 22-3.
The second half of Day Two would see both North American and EU teams facing their countymen, eliminating any chance for an all single-region final. In the first match SK Gaming and Titan would face off to determine who the best team in EU was once and for all. While both games were hard-fought, Titan proved to have the mastery of SK in this match, winning the first game 21-14, and then taking the following game 17-9. The final match of Day Two pitted the two North American giants, COG Red and COG Prime against one another. These two teams share more than a sponsor, they also share their coach, Smite veteran Mattypocket. In addition to that, Prime and Red also scrimmage each other exclusively, so they are very familiar with one another. Red opens up blazingly fast, claiming First Blood in game one at :30 seconds. The teams go blow for blow for a long time, until Red scores a deicide at the 38:00 mark, and uses that edge to push for a game one win, 25-22. Prime recovers well however, and they come back and take the next two games, and they are headed for the Grand Finals, to face Titan in a best-of-five. Red has to settle for the Consolation round, where they will have SK Gaming in a best-of-three match.
Day Three, the big day, but before we get to the Grand Finals, the Consolation Match will be played, to determine third and fourth place. Pitting COG Red vs SK Gaming, this match promises to be a good one; SK defeated COG Red on Day One, the first loss Red had suffered in several months, and the kids on Red are sure to be looking to even the score. The first game opens tentatively by both teams, but around the 5:30 mark COG Red picks up First Blood. The teams exchange kills for a solid ten minutes, and the kill score favors SK 6-5 at the 16:00 mark. By the 20:00 mark Red has built some momentum, along with a 9-6 kill lead. They push that edge for another eight minutes, and take the game one victory near the 28:00 mark, final kill score being 18-7. COG Red rolls the momentum from game one right into game two, crushing a demoralized SK Gaming 16-1, in about twenty-three minutes. COG Red takes third place, and SK Gaming has to settle for fourth, and that sets the stage for the Grand Final.
COG Prime- the North American powerhouse, COG Prime plays the part of Apollo Creed in this Cinderella story, dominating the North American Smite scene for much of 2014. Prime is amazingly consistent from match to match, and have shown a great ability to adapt to their opponents play-style quickly and efficiently. They use an aggressive, pressuring style that forces their opponents to make mistakes, which Prime jumps on and exploits to great advantage.
Titan- the European Union top seed, who advanced to the SWC by putting together an amazing string of games after they managed to stage a tremendous comeback against Cloud9 in the opening round of the EU qualifying tournament. One game, really one kill, from elimination, Titan's KanyeLife led his teammates in an incredible turnaround, winning the game they were previously losing, and then winning every match they played after that, to qualify for the SWC. These guys play the part of Rocky in this story, an amateur team that has managed to make it this far against all odds, can they cap off this Cinderella story with a win and a World Championship?
In game one both teams come out cautiously, until Prime picks up First Blood at the 3:15 point. After a couple of engagements, Prime extends the lead to 4-1, but Titan picks up a couple of kills as well, and at the 7:00 mark Prime's lead is only 4-3. Prime really tightens up then, applying pressure across the map, steadily building their lead, until, by the 10:00 mark Prime is pushing Titan around the map, en route to a 21-7 victory at about the 35:00 mark.
Game two goes even more poorly for Titan, they give up First Blood at 1:20 and never really challenge Prime from that point. Prime is up 3-0 in kills at the 8:00 mark, but Prime is also up almost 4000 gold, and they use that advantage to continue bullying Titan, until Prime scores the game two victory, 17 kills to 1, after almost twenty-seven minutes. The teams take a short break here, retreating to their ready rooms to regroup and discuss strategy. At this point, many people would think this match was all but over, but Smite fans have seen this from Titan before, and no one is willing to close the book on these guys just yet.
Game three begins, and Titan first-picks Thor, getting him away from Prime's Andinster, and into the hands of Repikas, Titan's jungler. Titan also selects Ares, a god often considered less than top-tier in the North American meta. With Thor and Ares, Titan is able to dictate the pace of the game and keep heavy pressure on the mid-camps, and they get out to a 6-2 lead after nine minutes. Titan keeps pushing Prime, not allowing them any victories to build on, and growing their own lead to 12-5, at the 18:00 mark. Despite their best efforts, Prime is not able to create any momentum, and Titan takes the victory at the 36:00 mark. They are not done yet, and they appear to have regained their composure.
In game four Titan uses a clever ruse, picking Athena early, seemingly for KanyeLife, and following that pick up by selecting Ares again. Titan gives Athena to Repikas in the jungle spot, and, once again, turns Ares over to KanyeLife. As game four progresses it becomes apparent that Prime still has not adjusted to the Ares selection, and Titan takes a 6-2 lead by the 10:00 mark, and continues to build on that during the match. After holding off several comeback attempts by Prime, Titan has extended their lead to 18-10 in kills, and are up by about 9000 gold, twenty-seven minutes into the game. The end comes shortly after, Titan evens up the match, defeating Prime just past the 30:00 mark. Another short break, and Prime must be wondering what they need to do to make these Titan guys go away.
Game 5- Prime bans Ares and Ymir, two gods that Titan has used to good effect all tournament. Titan falls back on some unusual choices, while allowing Prime to select some of their best gods, including Scylla, one of MLCStealth's favorites, and Ao Kuang, who has spent much of the tournament banned due to how dangerous he can be. Another thing that Scylla and Ao Kuang share are absolutely devastating ultimate powers, that are both exciting to watch and demoralizing to be subjected to. Titan opens up game three by taking First Blood at the 3:30 mark, but Prime has evened the kill score 2-2 by the 7:00 mark. Prime takes full advantage of the power of Scylla and Ao Kuang, and the crowd is going wild every time these gods score a kill. Sixteen minutes into the game Prime is winning 14-6, and they look unstoppable. A final run by Scylla that results in four kills, and Prime pushes into Titan's base, amid thunderous applause, taking the game, the match and the Smite World Championship for 2015.
Prime's MLCStealth is selected as the tournament MVP, and deservedly so. His performance in the final match was incredible, using a god that he is renowned for, and his timing and mechanics were impeccable. The whole tournament was fantastic, with a Hollywood-inspired ending. If Smite can conjure such successes in only their first year of release, it speaks greatly of what the future holds for this up-and-coming MOBA and its fans.