Xbox Invitational Semi-Final 1: Cognitive v Aware EU

As day one of SWC came to a close, only one game was left to be played and it was game one of three for the Xbox Invitational with Cognitive Gaming facing off against Aware Gaming EU. For those of you who don’t already know, Cognitive Gaming qualified for the Xbox Invitational by default at MLG Columbus by reaching the final because Team Eager had already qualified for the Invitational through the UMG Qualifier. Aware EU qualified for the Invitational by dominating the ESL qualifier held at the ESL UK Studio.

After a long day one of watching the group stages for PC Smite and the Open Bracket for Xbox, the grand stage was left with two teams with a console behind their monitor in place of a PC. The two finalists for So You Think You Can Cast were found to be casting the game and seemed rather excited to get this match under way. As captains Zenborne (Aware) and SoupKitchen (COG) took the center stage for pre-game, both seemed rather eGr (see what I did there?) to get the matches under way as well.

Game 1

As we loaded into PnB’s and got ready for game one, we saw some pretty standard bans for Xbox. As the casters didn’t seem to want us to forget, the bigger the circle, the better the god. So we found Zeus, Zhong Kui, Xian Tian & Khepri banned in the first phase, to be followed by Hun Batz & Isis. Not sure if it was just a we don’t want to deal with Hun Batz ban or a target ban at Shing as he played a very solid Hun Batz in MLG and at LAN. What was most surprising was that Hou Yi was picked on the side of Cognitive Gaming but actually ended up being played in the mid-lane by Freya much to the demise of Aware Gaming. However, Skizzle was able to draft Thor whom plays very well to his style of playing rather aggressive early on in the game. Not quite sure the reasoning behind this as I wasn’t able to talk with Aware after the set, but Aware actually invaded not only one camp of Cognitive but both the Attack Speed and Speed camp. However, on the side of Cognitive, Shing’s remarkable experience allowed him and his team to be able to rebuttal quite successfully by just simply outf arming them off of the invade by gathering the whole first wave and mid camps as well as eventually stealing the red buff that Aware didn’t take before the game. Hou Yi mid ended up working out quite well for Cognitive as Freya found himself earning not only First Blood but the first few kills of the match as well. Cognitive was able to take a rather early Gold Fury off of a rotation from Aware on their Solo laner SoupKitchen. The game basically Snoballed out of control from this point, Aware seemed unable to find any advantages against Cognitive besides Watson being an absolute animal in Solo. But his playing Sobek just wasn’t enough to compete with the newest Smite phrase, ‘Shing’s Ring’.

After the matches I talked with Shing and Freya about their first match and how they handled the situations given to them.

You got invaded on not only your Speed buff but your Attack Speed buff as well, how were you able to keep your team from getting rattled and focused on your common strat of dominating early?

Shing: “Well to be honest, they didn’t really gain anything off of taking my Speed buff. They hadn’t gotten any camps of their own so the only experience/gold they gained was from killing the buff. We just responded by taking more than them in the time it took for them to take my buff and get back to lane. We were able to clear a full wave as well as grab both mid camps and eventually their damage buff.”

Hou Yi Mid… What was the reasoning behind putting Hou Yi in the Mid and did you choose him third in hopes that they would assume he was going Carry?

Freya: “I wouldn’t say necessarily that we chose him hoping that they would think he was going Carry but we were definitely using him as a Flex pick. The choice for Hou Yi mid actually came from the fact that I am an ADC and Hou Yi is also my favorite God to play in that role. His CC and damage is amazing as it allowed for us to setup the full damage of both Shing and I’s kits by using the Mark of the Golden Crow into the Ricochet.”

Such a solid performance from this Cognitive Gaming side who not only hadn’t put in the amount of hours of preparation as some teams but had no experience against this Aware EU team.

Game 2

This game was quite the turn of events in comparison to how the first game was played. Aware took Sylvanus very quickly, not sure if too take away from Gustavy after a solid performance in game one or if they just value the heals he brings to a team. As we proceeded into the game, we found an early five man grouping in the Jungle by Cognitive that ended up being a solid pick against Skizzle allowing First Blood to fall for Gustavy. Things were looking a lot better early on in this game for Aware however, SoupKitchen found himself paying for spamming Taunt in game one by getting Solo’d by Watson on Osiris. The big difference maker in my opinion in this game compared to the other was that Watson found himself rotating in rather than being rotated on which allowed for Aware to grab a few keys and found in a lot of scenarios it was Watson 3v1’ing Cognitive allowing his teammates on Aware to grab a few kills. At 18’ Watson made a really solid rotation that looked like it could be what Aware needed to take this game but it fell just a tad bit short and began the downfall for Aware. Cognitive was able to get multiple uncontested Gold Fury’s and a game ending uncontested Fire Giant. This game was really all about Gustavy eLevating (See what I did there again?) his squad past Aware at Support. People always say that Supports really can carry games and that was exactly what happened in this matchup.

So with another victory, Cognitive have booked themselves in the Finals of the Xbox Invitational and will face the winner of eGr v Open Bracket winner. After the matches I was able to catch a word with Shing about their mentality and strategy going into game two.

In game one you tried rotating on Watson a few times, once by yourself and another time with Freya but every time you came up unsuccessful. In game two however we saw you rotating harder on Watson bringing four man rotations. What was the reasoning behind this?

Shing: “We were basically trying to release as much pressure on Soup Kitchen as possible because Watson is a world class Solo laner. When we made the four man rotation, we had really good control across the whole map and could afford to rotate four people to Solo. All Objectives and buffs were on cooldown but Aware didn’t know that so they weren’t expecting a four man rotation on Solo.”

*I think it is important to note that ADC COG Paul interjected during Shing’s statement to remind everyone that SoupKitchen got Solo’d*

While Watson managed to keep himself alive a lot longer than I think anyone else could to a four man rotation, Cognitive found themselves able to use rotations like that to their advantage and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same in the Finals. Congratulations to both teams for making it this far and good luck to Cognitive in the Finals!