Over the course of this past weekend, we got to witness 14 teams from both North America and Europe battle it out among each other for a shot to be one of the three teams that would qualify for the SMITE Masters LAN at the end of April. A Cinderella story seems to be the most prominent theme of this past Gauntlet LAN, and the fact that it occurred in both Europe and North America goes to show the amount of talent the SMITE scene still has to offer.
Oxygen Supremacy 2-0 Flashpoint
Oxygen Supremacy 2-0 Noble
Oxygen Supremacy 2-0 Team Allegiance
In Memory of Gabe 2-1 Oxygen Supremacy
SoaR Gaming 2-1 In Memory of Gabe
Starting things off on Friday in North America, Kiki’s new team, Oxygen Supremacy, completely blew everyone away and en-captured the hearts of fans everywhere when this Challenger level team surpassed all expectations and went on a 7-game win streak against some pretty formidable SPL opponents. Taking down Flashpoint, Noble, and Team Allegiance in a very convincing fashion with clean 2-0 sets, Oxygen Supremacy seemed as though they had no intentions of slowing down; however, In Memory of Gabe proved to be their kryptonite, and despite having dropped their initial game versus OS, IMOG managed to comeback and finally halter their win-streak with a 2-1 victory over Oxygen Supremacy. IMOG soon encountered their own difficulties though after having to face off against SoaR Gaming to ultimately determine who would be able to take on eUnited on Sunday for a guaranteed slot at Masters LAN. IMOG was in complete control of SoaR in game one, but the tables were quickly turned and in the end it was actually SoaR who managed to defeat IMOG to progress to Sunday’s match against eUnited.
Optimus Gang 2-0 Sanguine
Lion Guard Esports 2-0 Optimus Gang
Elevate 2-0 Lion Guard Esports
Team Rival 2-1 Elevate
Team Rival 2-1 Eanix
Not to be left out by any means, Europe had a chance to display their talents on Saturday, starting off with Sanguine versus the top seeded Challenger team, Optimus Gang. Unfortunately for Optimus Gang they were competing with three substitutions, but that didn’t stop them from ensuring Sanguine continued their win-less streak, defeating the SPL team and once again proving that the Challenger teams had turned up to play. Optimus’s hopes of an Oxygen Supremacy run were cut short by Lion Guard Esports, as the veteran squad piloted by ShadowNightmare secured their set victory over Optimus Gang. Lion Guard Esports LAN was cut short though due to an unforeseen medical issue with one of the players, leaving the team to opt to forfeit their set against Elevate. With a bit of momentum in tow, Elevate faced off against Team Rival, which ended up surprising everyone when Rival managed to pick up the 2-1 victory over Elevate. Typically regarded as a “win scrims only” team in EU, Rival finally managed to make the transition from scrims to the battleground, and against all odds were able to upset the fan favorite team Eanix consisting of Lawbster, Funballer, and Xaliea. As impressive as it was for Rival to topple Eanix in a best of three for the conclusion of Saturday’s matches, the final boss of two-time world champions NRG was more than enough to have everyone convinced that Sunday’s games would spell the end for Team Rival.
SMITE MASTERS LAN QUALIFIERS
Team Rival 2-1 NRG
SoaR Gaming 2-1 eUnited
NRG 2-0 eUnited
Team Rival 2-0 SoaR Gaming
Sunday’s matches were the ultimate determining factors for the fates of the remaining four teams in the Gauntlet LAN. Team Rival were first up to bat Sunday morning, having to take on the EU LAN-imals of NRG, who held an impressive 6-LAN win streak over the past two years in SMITE. Underdog is an understatement for Team Rival–the vast majority of pro players along with the general public were heavily expecting NRG to qualify straight away for Masters LAN, but Team Rival’s morale remained unaffected, and their confidence was at an all time high after their performance on Saturday. Determination to overcome the odds was obvious on Rival’s end, but game one ended up being a complete disaster for Team Rival. A remarkable triple bounce play on Hou Yi by Emilitoo single-handedly changed the entire outcome of the game for Team Rival, and NRG managed to find themselves drawing first blood in the best of three set versus Rival. At this point in time it seemed as though history was going to repeat itself yet again, and that NRG would just find themselves as the victors headed straight for Masters LAN. Rival on the other-hand had other plans, and managed to accomplish what no team had been able to for the past 6 LANs against NRG–win. Rival came back from their initial loss to devastate NRG with a 2-1 set victory, proving that anything and everything is possible with enough determination, synergy, and talent.
Team Rival weren’t the only ones looking to prove themselves on Sunday. SoaR Gaming had to play against eUnited, but more importantly this meant a chance for revenge against their former teammate Benji, who after leaving them at the last minute to join eUnited in the middle of last split actually forced SoaR into being unable to field a roster–leaving SoaR to forfeit their SPL set against eUnited. Things were looking grim for SoaR after the first game, as eUnited completely dominated SoaR, leaving many people to believe that this would have to be an unfulfilled vendetta for the roster of SoaR Gaming. Failure wasn’t an option for SoaR though, and they managed to keep their composure and by the end of the set SoaR were the ones having the last laugh as they soundly triumphed over eUnited in a 2-1 victory to find themselves well on their way to Masters LAN.
Down but not out, both NRG and eUnited had to face off for the final slot of qualifying to SMITE Masters. For PainDeViande, captain of eUnited, this was a moment of deja vu from Season 2 Worlds where Enemy (now eUnited) and NRG had to clash to see who would become the Season 2 World Champions of SMITE. This wasn’t the world’s stage, but for Pain and a couple other members on eUnited, this was certainly a chance at redemption for what happened at Season 2 Worlds. The odds were not in their favor however, and NRG quickly saw to yet another set victory over eUnited, securing the final spot at Masters LAN for themselves.
With the three Gauntlet LAN winners decided, it was now up to SoaR Gaming and Team Rival to determine who would be the overall victor and top seeded team coming out of the Gauntlet LAN to SMITE Masters LAN. Team Rival ended up beating SoaR 2-0, establishing themselves as a notable threat to both North America and Europe this past weekend, and certainly as a team to keep an eye on at the upcoming Masters LAN which starts off on April 27.
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Melissa “thebesttaco” Posada is an Associate Esports Specialist at HiRez Studios. You can follow her on Twitter @thebesttaco.