The Smite World Championship is an eSports event taking place in Atlanta, Georgia. The prize pool is just over $2.6 million making it the third biggest in eSports history. Pip is out there writing daily reports, exploring the event and putting Hershey bars in her handbag (just in case).
Kicking off day two of the Smite World Championships, Europe's top seed Titan took on the Brazilian team, We Love Bacon. Titan were in the quarter-finals after dropping a game to the American side, Cognitive Prime while WLB made their way into the match after defeating the Chinese side, Doage Is Dog.
The first of the best-of-three seemed surprisingly even although the game eventually went the way of the Europeans. In the second WLB took a punt on a relatively old school Zeus/Odin combination - a pickup popular back in the game's beta. The risk didn't pay off and Titan dominated the match from a Zeus kill before minions had even spawned, through a deicide (Smite's term for a team wipe) at 11 minutes and onward to the point where Titan had almost double the amount of gold their rivals could muster. The EU team went through to the semi-finals and prepared to face off against SK Gaming in a repeat of the regional finals.
The other quarter-final of the day was between Cognitive Red (a casualty of SK's day 1 aggression and swagger) and the Chinese team OMG. OMG were a slightly different side from the one which qualified as visa issues meant a number of the team couldn't attend, leaving members of OMG's B-team to make up the numbers. Whether the original side would have fared better is one of those unanswerable questions, but the side they did field were unable to offer anything approaching a challenge to the North American side.
Cog Red clearly thought as much. In the second game the team went with... not exactly a troll lineup but one with enough oddities to show that they didn't feel threatened in the slightest. I did ask the team about the picks afterwards - a Ne Zha and Zeus combo particularly - and jungler DaGarz' answer was: "We were just trying to have fun with it and we had a bit more security being up one game and we're very confident in our abilities. Those are picks I've been wanting to try for a long time and we finally got a chance to do it."
It also didn't help that OMG left Thor unbanned an unpicked - a gift which DaGarz was only too pleased to snap up. The resultant Cog Red victory meant the second semi-final would be an entirely North American affair. I'd like to add at this point that despite relative inexperience and some bad decisions, OMG clearly have some strong foundations on which to build. Give them another season with the game and I suspect they might turn into a truly monstrous side.
The EU v EU semi-final was the first of the afternoon's two regional face-offs. Titan admitted the week of scrimming prior to the tournament had been a rough one with SK winning about eighteen of the twenty or so matches. There was no trace of that horrible track record at the live event, though - as the team said later, "We used everything we learned against them - it worked out, I guess". A balanced back and forth in the first game started to give way to an escalating Titan lead. There was a brief facepalm (literally, on the player cam) as Titan's hunter Ataraxia got killed by one of SK's phoenixes but soon after Titan secured a win just as Ataraxia bagged a triple kill.
The second game was far less of an even fight and a Vulcan ban (a respect ban given how well PrettyPrime had been doing with the god) put the mid laner on Nox. There's no simple way to sum up the ensuing match other than to say Titan wrecked house - which I guess might seem like a weird analogy given their support, KanyeLife, spent so much time putting up impenetrable walls as frost giant Ymir.
The last match of the day was the North American semi-final between the two Cognitive teams; Cog Red and Cog Prime. In the first match the younger side - Red - had the upper hand but during Prime's post-game press conference the older team confessed they felt it was more of a throw on their part than a win for Red.
In the second of the best of three I thought we were in Aquila/Cloud9 territory as Prime pressed their advantage too hard, taking on Red's titan and attempting to close out the game at around the 27 minute mark. But Prime failed to deal with Eonic's Athena. They couldn't seal the deal and were chased out of base. For a while it looked like Red might find a way to claw their way back into the game. It wasn't to be and Prime finally went back to finish that titan off fifteen minutes after they'd first started the job. The first titan attempt and an engagement near the Fire Giant were categorised by Prime later on as "almost throws", the main takeaway from the match being "never be this stupid ever again".
It was a strong strategy for the third game of the series. Another Thor slipped through for DaGarz but, unlike in the OMG game, this wasn't an error. Prime simply aren't scared of DaGarz' Thor. They ended up proving their point as an ineffective Thor hovered around the same level as the enemy support, Sylvanus. Prime simply outplayed Red. Their decisive victory in that third game means it's Cognitive Prime vying with Titan in the grand final for that $1.3 million first prize cheque. Meanwhile SK Gaming and Cognitive Red will duke it out for third and fourth place.
"We think we're going to beat Titan easier than we beat Cog Red," was Prime's assessment of their day three chances. "We think we're all the best players in our respective roles and we've said for a while the only thing that can beat us is us. If we're all playing at 100 percent we're going to win every game we ever play."