The goal in a Smite Conquest match is to kill enemy players, destroy their fortifications and eventually take down the titan guarding their base. In the first match of the 2016 Smite World Championship, one team accomplished none of those things. Thursday marked the first day of the annual competition, a series of best-of-one placement rounds setting the stage for Friday's quarterfinals. The first match pitted European runners-up Epsilon against the undefeated Latin America regional champions, Isurus.
Long story short, Isurus is no longer undefeated, in the worst way possible. Epsilon played a textbook game against the largely Argentinian team, securing a win in under a half hour without sustaining a single casualty or losing a single tower, thanks largely to a tank-heavy line-up that proved pretty much untouchable.
I spent most of the day at the event in Atlanta, much of it feeling really bad for Isurus, who were eliminated in the seventh match of the day by China champions OMG, who will go on to face European champs Paradigm in Friday's quarterfinals.
There were several really exciting matches, including a pulse-pounding sixth game between North American underdog Enemy, a team that was basically completely scrapped and rebuilt by its captain mid-season, and wildcard Euro team Fnatic.
Enemy, fresh from trouncing Avante Garde, the first Oceanic team to participate in a Smite World Championship event, was expected to lose to the somewhat more seasoned Fnatic. Indeed, things looked grim for Enemy early on in the match, as Fnatic took out half of the team's towers. After an extended face-off around the Gold Fury, a map goal that gives the team that takes it down a substantial cash advantage, Enemy went to town, systematically taking Fnatic apart in an astounding demonstration of teamwork and communication.
My favourite moment was when Enemy's Saltmachine followed an opponent deep into enemy territory, securing the kill just in time to be teleported to safety.
And so, after a day of fierce competition, Latin America's Isurus and Oceania's Avant Garde have been eliminated from the competition, but don't feel too bad for them — the winners of the losers matches have to play the top-seed European and North American teams in the quarterfinals, and while I'd love to see some miracles happen, it's very likely that will be the last we see of China in the competition.
Looking at the quarterfinal lineup, I'd say we'll see Paradigm, Enemy, local favourite Cloud 9 and Fnatic in the semis on Saturday. Beyond that, its hard to say, by which I mean I really would love to see Enemy take the whole thing but Cloud 9 has been playing ridiculously well as of late, and everyone loves them.
Oh, and Cognitive gaming won the first Xbox One semifinals match but everyone had left by then and no one really cared. The end.