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Smite World Championships 2016

Yes, I’ve harped about Smite for years, almost since its inception, but it has become one of the top E-Sports spectator games available. That is a fact, Giga Bytes. Riding off the success of League of Legends treatment of high level play and showmanship, Hi-Rez has created an amazing environment for community members, fans, and players that rivals all other gaming events.

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This year’s World Championships saw some awesome match ups and included a whole new platform with the release on the Xbox One. Both tournaments were filled with exciting moments from Thanatos triple kills to Adapting‘s dominating presence with Thor. Every god kill, tower takedown, and objective acquisition was met with the roar of thousands of diehard fans at the event. Even I, at the comfort of my home on Twitch’s livestream, found myself shouting and clapping with each battle.

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On the Xbox One, controls were still a factor, even after being available for almost a year, making dangerous gods like the Egyptian assassin Serquet less mobile. Even with less precise options, the players in the finals make it look easy. In fact, some teams opted most of their members out of the PC bracket to try to take the gold on the newest console.

The final match-up on the Xbox brought EnVyUs against COGnitive, who won last year’s World Championships. One player in particular, dubbed Omega, showed excellent play for EnVyUS with the tanky Xing Tian, forcing COGnitive to keep an eye out for his mobility and dominance.

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Unfortunately, COG was dominated by EnVyUS 3-0. The competition was fierce, but a closer margin would always have been better. Despite a fairly split record this year, COG, last year’s champions still impressed by earning second. EnVy, celebrates as the first to claim victory on the Xbox One.

The PC tournament held the most excitement, bringing more than 50,000 people on Twitch, let alone the packed house at the venue in Atlanta, Georgia. While this pales in comparison to League of Legend‘s numbers, it stands as a testament to just how far Smite has come.

The final match up put the North American underdogs Enemy against the European Epsilon who’ve put up consistent victories throughout the year. Would Enemy’s new team prove the perfect formula to combat Epsilon’s solid structure?

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No secrets here, I wanted Enemy to pull through with a victory for North America. Even though, I usually spend my picks on Epsilon, due to their record, remaining almost undefeated with a 27-1 record for the year. Enemy were definitely the underdogs, almost completely reforming their team not long before the Championships. Many were surprised at their positioning, but their skills just weren’t enough for the expert objective coverage of Epsilon.

In each match, Epsilon kept objectives on their minds, rotating in and out of their lanes, baiting in Enemy at every turn. It seemed like every time the Fire Giant was contested, one of the game’s strongest power ups, Epsilon was there to capitalize on it. The third match was the closest, as Enemy lead significantly in overall character levels and stayed ahead a few hundred gold.

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However, smart plays by Epsilon turned their potential Championship victory around, not even giving Enemy a single match victory. The European Epsilon finished out their amazing year as the top Smite team in the world, beating Enemy 3-0. Epsilon takes the one million dollar prize pool, the beautiful champion cup, and each of them earn a championship ring.

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Now, I eagerly await a character skin to congratulate them, and give them a permanent mark in Smite history.

Not only did the Smite World Championships bring high octane competition, but it also brought a god reveal. A while back, Hi Rez confirmed it would be adding a new pantheon. Japanese gods will prove to add some more variety in the character roster, starting first with Amaterasu, The Shining Light.

Adding Japanese deities is a big step for Smite as a game that will stay in the minds of players for many years to come. Fans have been asking for new pantheons for quite some time, asking for Japanese, Celtic, and the twisted creatures of Lovecraft. Hi Rez have been at the forefront of letting the community help shape Smite, adding a Cthulhu inspired skin and many, many balance changes over the years.

All of this was built on the free to play model, offering much of the game’s content for no cost at all. Combine this with the ability to purchase every character and all future characters for about thirty dollars. Smite has become a dominant force on the PC marketplace.

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E-Sports continues to fascinate, considering most of my peers are into professional football and basketball. What’s interesting is that these people miss some games due to it not being on a TV station or stingy leagues having the rights to live streams. On the other hand, almost every major E-Sports event is streamed on Twitch for free. That alone is a dead giveaway for the popularity of the sport, aside from the support developers have given.

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Smite has been a game that I continue to come back to. It’s mechanics and competitive nature creates a timeless play environment. Hi-Rez continues to impress with their support of the game and of high level competitions.

Needless to say, Smite has a permanent home on my PC’s hard drive.

Watch the final day of the Smite World Championships in full below. Might have to skip a countdown timer to get to the action, but there are some truly epic moments.