Each year, we at HiRez put on an invitational to celebrate our Smite World Champions from the previous season. The invitational has always varied slightly in format, but up until this year has always included complete rosters from the top teams we are used to seeing in the SPL. We decided to spice things up this year and borrow elements from some of the more traditional sports leagues for the NRG Invitational. Yesterday (July 26th) we held a ‘pick em’ style draft where each of the four team captains were able to pick from among the best of the SPL players and assemble their own All-Star team. Each of these teams will compete in several non-traditional game modes and competitions during Day 1. Day 2, however, will be more in line with what everyone is used to seeing in the SPL: Conquest. Saturday will surely be filled with fun picks, nonsensical bans, and trolling from everyone but on Sunday the competition will definitely pick up as the 1st place team goes home with over 15k!
Let’s break down each round of the draft to see who has the advantage coming into the NRG Invitational!
Round 1 (Pick Order: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror)
This was the easy round. Each player was required to select a member of the reigning world champions here. There honestly isn’t much analysis to do. When you are ‘forced’ to select from a team that has won back to back SWC titles, is there really a bad decision here?
Unsurprisingly, Adapting was selected 1st overall by his teammate iRaffer.
Dimi going 2nd to Ataraxia also makes sense, especially in retrospect. There are a few players that are almost inseparable in the SPL and one of these duos is Ataraxia and PrettyPrime. Saving a spot for his mid lane teammate takes Yammyn off the table. Ataraxia himself is a hunter, so this essentially eliminates emilitoo as well. iRaffer and Adapting obviously aren’t available at this point, so this makes Dimi the only choice here.
BaRRaCCuDDa only had one choice realistically available to him here so he chooses Yammyn, which leaves Aror with a new duo partner in emilitoo.
Round 2 (Pick Order: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer)
For those not familiar with different draft formats, we used what is commonly referred to as a “snake” draft. This means the draft order reverses each round so that the captain who picks last in one round gets to pick first in the round that follows. This helps to ensure that the captain with the last pick isn’t at a disadvantage during every round of the draft. This is the reason why Aror gets two successive picks.
The popular consensus seems to be that Aror ended up with the weakest overall draft. CaptainTwig getting picked up here is definitely not indicative of this. Twig has always been known to excel in game modes that focus on individual skill, especially joust, and this gives an edge to Aror’s team. Drafting a player like this helps ensure that you have an advantage on Day 1, where other teams may not play as seriously. Oh, and it also doesn’t hurt that he has easily been one of the most consistent junglers during Season 4.
BaRRaCCuDDa picks JeffHindla. Ataraxia picks PrettyPrime. In other news, the sky is still blue. Moving on.
Who is the best team in the world right now? Who is their Mid? Does Raffer like winning? This is why he picks Zyrhoes.
Round 3 (Pick Order: iRaffer, Ataraxia, BaRRaCCuDDa, Aror)
Up until this point, the draft has pretty much gone by the numbers. This round, however, is where most teams have to start drafting NA players. 3 out of the 4 choices this round were from NA, as a couple of the teams have already reached the maximum allowed number (3) of EU players.
At first glance, Benji seems like a strange pick. iRaffer explains this pick to Aggro saying that “He has synergy around a certain pick.” This makes Raffer’s last pick very obvious to anyone who watches his stream: PandaCat. As a side note, Benji usually seems to step up his play on LAN, which could be a secondary factor in making this pick.
Ataraxia shocked everyone (especially F.) with his pick of Wubbn here. Several other prominent NA supports were available, but Nate alluded to keeping with the “underdog” theme of the Titan(s) moniker with the selection of Wubbn.
This just in: Barra also likes winning. So he picks arguably the best solo in the world. Duh.
Aror choosing TheBest for the final pick of Round 3 wasn’t exactly a surprise, but other prominent NA Mids were still on the board. Hurriwind, andinster, and Baskin were definitely the most notable. The rules for the event stated that each captain was only allowed to choose two members from the same SPL team, and as such, Aror wanted to make sure he drafted his teammate here. An understandable pick, but it potentially came at the cost of more talented players.
Round 4 (Pick Order: Aror, BaRRaCCuDDa, Ataraxia, iRaffer)
This is the last round of the draft, and it offered really only 1 sleeper pick.
Kiki was probably not on many people’s draft board, but after his performance at Dreamhack Valencia he definitely justifies his spot on this roster. Aror rounds out his draft with the NA solo laner.
QvoFred is really good at Smite. This is why he is picked. Definite last pick value from Juggernauts captain BaRRaCCuDDa.
Ataraxia still needed 1 more NA player to finish his draft. The two most obvious choices here were Homiefe and Mask. There was really no wrong answer here, and he chose Mask.
iRaffer covered this earlier in his interview, and for once, wasn’t trolling. He chose PandaCat, as he alluded to, for the last overall pick. If PandaCat is your last overall pick, your team is probably pretty good.
NRG Invitational Power Rankings
@SmitePro on Twitter ran a poll on who won the draft. At the time of writing, the poll still has a few hours left, but the results are definitive:
- Juggernauts (BaRRaCCuDDa) 74%
- Minotaurs (iRaffer) 16%
- Titans (Ataraxia) 6%
- Manticores (Aror) 4%
Top 5 NRG Invitational Snubs
As always, there are players that just barely don’t make the cut in these All-Star events. This is the list of the players I think should have been selected, but weren’t.
*All SPL players were asked their availability to attend this event before the draft. Players that would not be able to attend were omitted from the draft.