Winners and Losers: A SWC 2016 Recap

It has been a long and exhausting weekend after covering the SWC in Atlanta. After 15 hour days of reporting, watching games, interviewing players, and writing articles, my body needed a rest. Feeling refreshed, I’m ready to give you my take on the entire weekend, and who I thought were the real winners and losers of the weekend.


 

Sneak Peek_Opening & Game 101

Photo Cred: Gabriel Mughelli/HiRez

Winner: Attendants of the event 
For those of you who were able to actually attend the event this weekend, I’m sure you felt you got your money’s worth for the weekend. The crowd was quite electric during games, even though every time Sean tried to pump up the crowd, most were out at the food trucks or the HiRez Expo room checking out all the cool stuff. If you were a fan of meeting your favorite players and Smite personalities, you only had to walk around for 5 minutes before you found someone you knew, and everyone was very receptive and friendly to random people coming up to them to talk and take pictures. The atmosphere was a pretty cool thing to be a part of, even if I was working most of the time. Special shoutouts to RedBull for keeping me awake all weekend for free, you are the real MVP.


Loser: Fans at home

For many of the people at home, not only were the games ResidentSleeper, but without knowing, you would’ve thought nobody was in attendance. I had many friends asking me if there was anyone even in attendance, as the crowd seemed bare and quiet when the interviews occurred. When it came to games, every set was a sweep, aside from the Cloud9/Epsilon game and the Enemy/Paradigm set. For a fan at home, nothing could’ve made the event worse than having to watch a team be completely dominated by a more skilled and qualified team.


Winner: Trash talking/BM

Sean did a great job getting the players to speak some banter and try to make the games more spicy and entertaining. iRaffer, Omega, and PainDeViande were great at causing an uproar among the crowd when they would say something out of line in regards to their opponents. Every sport needs a trash talker, someone who gives fans another storyline to talk about besides just the games. It gives the viewer a reason to cheer even more, whether it’s to see the trash talker eat his words, or to watch him prove that he was right. Without these guys, this event would’ve been a whooping pile of MEH until the semifinal games.


Loser: Sensitive fans

I’ve seen a lot of people whine about the above mentioned players and their “bad manners” and lack of professionalism, and I can tell you, these people need to grow thicker skin. What most people don’t understand is that these pros, for the most part, are really good friends behind the scenes. The same guys who said the games were easy and the other team was trash, were having drinks with said players at the after party and having a good time. The words aren’t meant to hurt the player or team, but rather get in their heads a little bit. After all, they were playing for money and the title of world champion. Why wouldn’t they say something off color to maybe get in the opponent’s head a bit and gain that small advantage before the game even started? Sure, there’s a line between good banter and over the line trash talking, but the players this weekend never went over the line in my opinion, and should be applauded for making the event much more entertaining.


Winner: Epsilon

Obviously it goes without saying, they were after all the world champions. But, it was more than that. iRaffer and the boys were very confident all year long and weren’t settling for nothing less than being number one. Many of the North American faithful didn’t really believe in the hype of the European powerhouse, going as far to say they were overrated and only had their amazing record because EU was a lesser region than NA. Instead, Epsilon went in and dominated in front of a crowd full of NA faithful cheering against them.


Loser: International teams

It was an amazing opportunity for these teams to be able to come in as unknown competition and make a name for themselves and their regions. Instead, we saw a huge disparity in skill, with every international squad being decimated by the SPL teams. Part of this obviously comes from the lack of experience from the lesser regions. But more than that, these teams weren’t able to scrimmage the better teams at the event. In a post game press conference, PainDeViande really hit the nail on the head when he talked about how a top level team would rather play against a team they knew were good than to “waste” their time with the unproven international teams. This is a glaring issue that Smite will need to tackle before next year’s event to assure the fans of this game a more competitive championship.

Game 2_009

Photo Cred: Gabriel Mughelli/HiRez


Winner: Fans of the Underdog

A surprise to everyone including myself, Enemy were able to defy all the haters and make it to the SWC finals. When I interviewed him before the SWC, he spoke about expecting nothing less than a 2nd place finish. When I read it, I thought he was being a bit over confident in his team and their skill. Boy, was I wrong, and it’s one of the few times I’m glad I was wrong. Enemy was truly a sight to see. A team full of overlooked players and lesser known talent were able to smack Fnatic and Paradigm in the mouth, and were so close to grabbing a game off of Epsilon in the finals. These guys should only get better next year, and I expect to see them next year, with this time being a favorite.

NME Final Win_003

Photo Cred: Gabriel Mughelli/HiRez


Loser: Cloud9

A favorite among a lot of Smite fans, Cloud9 were heavy favorites to defend their world championship this year. After blowing through QG in the quarterfinals, Cloud9 would get their chance to beat Epsilon and silence the EU powerhouse. Instead, we saw Cloud9 look completely out of sorts, play out of their comfort picks (Neith mid still blows my mind), and just play overall sloppy. Not taking anything from Epsilon because they earned their title, but having watched Cloud9 play all year, it was just odd to see how they looked against a team of the same caliber. Andi didn’t play up to the Andinster we all know, Barra hardly played aggressive, and Stealth seemed out of sorts on Neith.


Overall, the competition lacked just that: competition. The Super Regionals in November were more fun to watch and way more exciting. It really shows Smite needs more inter-competitions throughout the year, between not only the NA and EU teams, but also for the international teams. Without these sort of LANs, Smite will surely always be dominated by the SPL teams, and will lack the excitement for their biggest tournament of the year. The best teams will drop off the inexperienced ones every time, and leave the fans with something to be desired. It also begs for Smite to have more presence outside of North America. Fans need to see EU LANs, they need to see Smitegame host Oceania league matches, among the other smaller leagues. These things are obviously money and time consuming, but would do wonders for the fans and esports followers alike. Smite may never be on the level of League of Legends, but they can continue to grow and not be the red headed step child of MOBAs.

 

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  • Sean