In the battle of North America versus Europe, North American team Splyce came out on top against European opponent Rival in the SMITE World Championship.
Splyce had a slow climb in the 2018 SMITE Pro League. The team, which at the time was Cyno on jungle, Divios on solo lane, CycloneSpin as ADC, TheBest on mid and Aror as support, finished sixth in the Spring Split.
Moswal replaced veteran TheBest in the mid role, and the team started gaining unprecedented steam, working their way from last place at one point in the Spring Split all the way to a third place finish in Spring and second place in the Fall Split, which guaranteed the team a direct invite to the SMITE World Championship.
Rival, however, has had hardly a moment when they weren’t considered a top team. Since 2017, the stable roster of solo laner Deathwalker, jungler iceicebaby, mid player Wlfy, ADC Vote and support KaLaS has been either been winning it all or coming darn close to it, including taking second at the SMITE World Championship in January 2018.
In fact, since July 2017, Rival has only gotten lower than second place twice: a third place finish in the 2017 SMITE Pro League Fall Split and a fourth place in the 2018 SMITE Pro League Fall Split, which nearly cost them their entry into this year’s World Championship. The team had to climb their way out of the placement stages, but in the end, Rival secured a spot and were looking ready to claim what they couldn’t in January.
The best-of-five set went all five games, played live in front of an energetic crowd at DreamHack Atlanta.
Rival looked dominant in game one and immediately had the audience going crazy with an uncommon Ares support pick. Ares’ chains countered the dashes on Splyce, and his No Escape ultimate ability was devastating versus Splyce’s two gods without built-in crowd-control immunity, Artio and Vulcan. Rival’s draft shut down Splyce in 36 minutes, 26-8 kills, with almost a 30,000 gold lead. Splyce banned KaLaS’ Ares every game after their loss in game one.
In game two, it was Splyce’s turn to make it look easy, taking down Rival’s Titan sub-30 minutes with Cyno’s signature Ne Zha jungle, CycloneSpin’s Freya, Moswal’s Agni and Aror’s Artio. The Ares ban let the gods without innate crowd-control immunity excel, and a Geb pick for Divios made it even harder for Rival to burst down a squishy.
In game three, Splyce again had a quick win, finishing around 30 minutes. Everyone was playing well: Cyno’s Ne Zha was looking unbeatable with a 7-0 performance, Aror’s initiations with support Fenrir were spot on, Divios had unstoppable team fight presence with Terra’s damage and healing, and Cyclone and Moswal were constantly outputting damage with Xbalanque and Raijin respectively. After game three, it was looking like Splyce was going to take the set 3-1.
Rival was able to pull out a win in game four, taking the set to the fifth and final match, but it was a 50-minute, back-and-forth slog. Instead of banning Cyno’s Ne Zha, Rival picked it for iceicebaby, but he was behind in the early game to Cyno’s Ratatoskr. To make matters worse, it was impossible to get on top of Moswal’s Ah Puch with the zoning ability of Empty the Crypts. The outcome looked grim for Rival, but a quadra kill from Wlfy’s Raijin, as well as a well-timed ultimate ability from iceicebaby to take out CycloneSpin’s Xbalanque in the late game, allowed Rival to finally storm the Titan room.
Game five finally saw the ban of Cyno’s Ne Zha instead of Rival trying to take it away. However, it opened up the board for Cyno to get Mercury, a staple pick of this meta that was banned in game one but forgotten about after that. Splyce once again showed that they play the game at their own pace, finishing sub-30 minutes — thanks to a 20-minute Fire Giant — in a season typically thought of as hard to siege. There was massive damage and zoning from Moswal’s Ah Puch, utility from Divios’ Terra, Aror’s expertise with support Fenrir once more, and solid rotations and game sense from CycloneSpin on Freya.
Splyce became the second North American team in a row to win the SMITE World Championship — eUnited raised the hammer at the last SMITE World Championship — and Rival were the back-to-back runner-ups.
Cyno was awarded the MVP trophy for the tournament.
“I literally wouldn’t want to win Worlds with anyone else,” said Cyno of his teammates.
Of his Ne Zha play, he said, “I can play anyone, but you also have to ban Ne Zha.”
The team post-game interview was emotional.
“There’s so much that went into it from everybody on the team,” Aror said. “There’s not one person that you can give all the credit to. Everybody’s just amazing.”
That’s the end of the 2018 season
The SMITE Pro League picks up again on Feb. 7, 2019.Follow @SMITEScrub