We’re coming up fast on the SMITE World Championship at HRX 2018, where the top pro players from all over the world will go head-to-head on the Battleground of the Gods. With just a few weeks left before the event kicks off, the participating teams are finalizing their strategies and pick priorities for these all-important matches. But which gods will steal the spotlight at this year’s event, and which ones will be relegated to the sidelines instead? We’ve got a few predictions about which gods will garner all the glory on the worlds stage, and we’re about to break them down for you.
Though he was only recently added to SMITE with Patch 4.11 around late June, Cu Chulainn has already seen a high pick and ban rate in the SPL. Why? Probably because he’s the first god in the history of SMITE who doesn’t have a mana pool. Instead, he uses a rage mechanic with a Berserk transformation that grants him bonus power, bonus health, and an additional set of cooldowns for 20 seconds.
Timing is key for Cu Chulainn to excel in a team environment. Being able to deploy all his human abilities before going completely Berserk makes this god a scary threat to deal with. As he vents his anger with his second ability, the resulting increase in movement speed is a nightmare for mid laners and hunters alike struggle to escape (especially when the ability continues to tick after a transformation). Add in a crowd-control ultimate that packs huge AoE damage, and you’ve got a god that can transition into teamfights and make himself a tough target that has to be dealt with.
Given the current meta of invading Speed Buffs and Mana Buffs, being a lane bully is a major advantage if you’re playing into that strategy — and Cu Chulainn is one of the few elite gods who can really get the job done.
Though he doesn’t necessarily see a lot of play time in the online phase of the SPL, Tyr usually gets a big turnout at LAN events — especially at the SMITE World Championship. With a strong sustain that only has an 8-second cooldown once it’s maxed out, The Norse Lawgiver is difficult to take out of a fight.
What makes Tyr a top solo pick, especially for Worlds, is his ability to control teamfights. In a meta where getting to the backline to displace the enemy hyper-carries is a decisive strategy, Tyr is up to the task by either popping a Blink relic to engage squishies, or by using hus Lawbringer ultimate and following it up with an offensive Fearless to bring his enemies into No Man’s Land. His Unyielding passive, which prevents hard CC (like Stun, Taunt, Fear, Intoxicate, and Mesmerize) from affecting him for more than one second, allows him to bait himself into dangerous situations with enough leeway to make it out just in time.
A dangerous player with a reckless streak who can pilot this god well on the World Championship stage will tip the scales of victory in his team’s favor.
Fenrir hasn’t been the most popular god by a long shot in Season 4 of the SPL. Only 26 of the 92 gods in SMITE have been less popular than The Unbound. However, the recent change to his Seething Howl so it no longer consumes his Unbound Runes passive will make it easier to use Fenrir as a jungler, or even as solo/support — especially now that players can efficiently gank without worrying about losing the Stun on the Unchained.
Further changes to Fenrir have buffed his Brutalize ability so it now gives him extra protections (5+1 per level to be exact) while channeling. His Ragnarock ultimate now has a cone targeter as well, and a 25% increase in range from 12 to 15 for his bite attack.
Fenrir is stronger now than he has been at any other point in Season 4, so don’t be surprised if he leaps onto the World Championship stage. It’s worth keeping in mind that two-time world champion hunter Adapting preferred using this god at Worlds before the buffs, and piloted the unbound dog with a 100% winrate at both SWC 2016 and 2017. So we’re pretty certain Fenrir will see at least a little play time when NRG takes the stage at this year’s Championship.
The Norse God of Thunder has been and always will be a staple pick for the jungle role. Despite the obvious benefit of his global ultimate, Anvil of Dawn, Thor brings a little bit of everything to the table in terms of team composition. Being able to ping-pong between a side lane and middle is a key factor in controlling the pace of the game, whether you’re engaging or counter-engaging after picking up some necessary farm.
With the current meta being focused primarily around having great mid and solo lane transitions into Speed Buff invades, Thor’s Warrior Madness passive is a perfect fit. Gaining an additional 10 power for each enemy god within 30 units of him (up to 3 stacks), he’s the perfect god for early level one engagements where all you have at your disposal is a single ability and your basic attacks.
When it comes to getting in and out of the action at will, Thor is incredibly versatile — thanks to his long-range global ultimate, his wall-clipping hammer with built-in teleport, and his Tectonic Rift to wall off and stun enemies that are chasing or fleeing. This god’s only real downfall, if you can even classify it as such, is that his berserker barrage can be disrupted by hard crowd control abilities.
All that being said, pro Thor players will likely prioritize increasing the rank of the hammer to deal more damage from a distance. At max rank, this hammer can hit for 630 damage (+90% scaling) on the double-tap. With this much base damage packed into all his abilities, SPL players can opt for a more resilient tank build on Thor without sacrificing his damage-dealing potential. However, the recent buffs to Jotunn’s Wrath and Hyrda’s Lament might lead us to see more offensive item builds not only on Thor, but on other junglers across the board as well.
Who doesn’t like a little bit of strife to spice up their life? Discordia, the newest face on the Battleground of the Gods, certainly does — and so will the SPL pros participating in the World Championship this year. Her second ability, Strife, spreads AoE madness that aids her team fighting presence, especially in close-quarter jungle encounters.
Cooldown reduction is the name of the game when you want to succeed as Discordia — and that’s exactly what her Erratic Behavior ability does. Reducing the cooldowns on both her first and second abilities with her stealth fog encourages Discordia to be more of a spam-oriented control mid mage rather than a burst damage dealer. That’s not to say she doesn’t pack a punch, though, because with one single penetration item (like a late-game Obsidian Shard) the Golden Apple of Discord ultimate and its 100% scaling (after base and detonate damage are combined) are all that you need to set up an early pick in an engagement.
Historically speaking, new gods that are released just prior to the SMITE World Championship tend to get plenty of time in the limelight throughout the event. Ao Kuang stole the show during Season 1 Worlds, Chiron and Sol saw strong debuts in Season 2 Worlds, and Nike was a dominant force in Season 3 Worlds. If this pattern continues, and all signs are saying it will, Discordia might just be the fairest goddess of them all at HRX 2018.
Sol has already been a record-making god in Season 4 of SMITE. She’s been the top-picked mage across every split, and the fourth most popular god pick overall. This is really no surprise, especially given that this Goddess of the Sun can work well in either the mid lane or hunter position.
The key to Sol shining so bright in the pro scene is her Disapparate ability. Whether used offensively or defensively, being able to phase out of the game while still moving is not only a huge boost to mobility, but also acts as a get out of free card and an additional Aegis relic. In the professional scene, some damage simply cannot be avoided — and having another added utility to either mitigate or completely nullify that incoming damage is a huge competitive edge.
Sol’s crowd control immune ultimate, Supernova, is yet another cherry on top of her survival sundae. Add that to the short 10-second cooldown on her Stellar Burst, and you’ve got all the makings for a comfortable pick that can aggress heavily on enemies. Last but not least, who can forget the extra 25% increased magical power and 30% bonus attack speed that comes with a full heat meter? This boost is ideal for fast objective clear on towers, Phoenixes, Gold Furies, Fire Giants, and most importantly…the Titan!
Xing Tian is a viable pick in both the solo and support roles — but seeing as there were so many solid contenders for the top solo lane gods at HRX 2018, this relentless Chinese god will claim a spot among the top supports instead.
In the current SMITE meta, providing control in team fights is a the highest priority for support players. Xing Tian’s kit plays perfectly into this, as his Hook Slam ability knocks gods up and roots them in place for two seconds — allowing for a healthy amount of follow up from a mage or a hunter. His double leap also increases his protections and is a great way to engage fights or survive combat. But the most impactful part of his skillset is none other than his ultimate, Whirlwind of Rage and Steel. The CC immunity of this ability, combined with the targeted displacement of enemy gods, can turn the tides of any teamfight in Xing Tian’s favor.
Perhaps the most important tool this god has at his disposal for SPL level play is his Furious Roar. This damage over time ability removes 3% of a target’s health every 4 seconds, and at max rank it can easily shred other guardians. Not to mention that his 50% basic attack damage reduction can be used to shut down enemy hunters!
A favorite pick among a few SPL support players (especially Luminosity Gaming’s JeffHindla), Xing Tian has a powerful arsenal at his disposal that will make him a worthwhile pick at worlds this year.
A truly selfless god, Ganesha has found a nice niche for himself in the support role. His kit aims to solve an age-old problem that has plagued duo lane comps since the early days of SMITE — where supports accidentally “kill-steal” from their carries. If Ganesha lands the killing blow on an enemy, his Good Fortune passive will pass the kill credit to the nearest ally god instead. With his Turn of Fate and Ohm abilities, Ganesha can also amplify the damage of his teammates and increase their protections at will in order to take control of any engagement.
In Season 4 of the SPL, a number of strategies have revolved around picking off the enemy support in the early game before they can buy up a lot of tank items or amass a high pool of health from leveling up. However, Ganesha has proven to be slippery than most other guardians — and the fact that his dash can pass through player-made deployables makes him a great counter-pick against the likes of Ymir, Cabrakan, Thor, and especially Odin.
Like any support god who’s well-suited to the S4 meta, control is the name of the game for the God of Success. His ultimate, Dharmic Pillars is a great way for Ganesha to control space in lane or in the jungle. Between slowing opponents, dealing damage per hit, and reducing enemy protections if they’re hit by the magical force field, this ability is a great way to engage or zone enemies — especially with a shorter 75-second cooldown.
Versatility is what makes certain gods a higher priority pick in the SPL, and Ganesha has it in spades. So we’re willing to bet that when these teams put themselves to the ultimate test at the World Championship, Ganesha will get plenty of exposure.
In the current meta, hunters are usually left alone to farm in the longer Gold Fury lane while everyone else battles for control over the Speed Buff. This means that hunters are earning the most gold and experience before team fights begin in earnest. As a result, it’s imperative that hunters be able to hold their own and farm their lane without assistance.
At first glance, it might seem like Ullr doesn’t fit the bill for this setup since he doesn’t have any sort of early-to-mid game sustain without increasing the rank of his ultimate stance switch to give him lifesteal while wielding axes. But that’s not quite the case. Now that his Expose Weakness (Invigorate) and Hail of Arrows (Glory Bound) abilities have gotten a mana cost reduction in patch 4.21, Ullr is less mana-hungry in the initial game phases — even without building into Transcendence.
During the laning phase, there are some moments when hunters might find an opportunity to box with each other. This is where the newly buffed Ullr gets to shine. Having an additional 10% power scaling on both Bladed Arrow and Thrown Axe, plus a faster 0.2-second casting time on the axe, few hunters can stand up to The Glorious One.
Already a preferred pick for some top SPL players, such as Team Rival’s Vote or NRG’s emilitoo, Ullr will likely be a top pick for this upcoming World Championship.
Though he’s the newest addition to the roster of SMITE hunters, Hachiman has been no stranger to the spotlight during his tenure in the Japanese pantheon. Much like Ullr, he doesn’t need to build into Transcendence to pad out his mana poo. With a passive that grants him MP5 so long as he successfully lands basic attacks, this god rarely has to return to base to replenish depleted mana when he’s in the hands of an experienced player.
Finding a balance between safety and aggression is a fine line for hunters, but Hachiman walks it more gracefully than most. His Eagle Eye ability increases a few basic attacks to 80 range (as opposed to the normal 55) so he can shoot from a safer distance. Add in a CC-immune Mounted Archery ultimate that allows him to cover a lot of distance and make long-range shots, and you’ve got some serious potential for chasing or escaping in any fight.
Repositioning and safety are key for a hunter’s survival in late-game teamfights, and Hachiman is the god for the job when the right pro player is piloting him. The Lord of the Eight Banners has already seen some decent play time in the regular phase of the SPL, and we expect to see a lot more of him at this year’s World Championship event.
That wraps up our predictions, but what about yours? What gods do you think will dominate the battlefield at HRX 2018? Drop us a comment or tweet us @SmitePro and let us know! And be sure to tune in to the official HiRezTV Twitch channel from January 4 – 7 to see how these predictions pan out. For more info on what matches are happening when, you can check out our streaming schedule for the SMITE World Championship for all the details.
See you then!