As a fellow SMITE player, you have probably already stumbled all over the icons, wards, skins and even frames dedicated to the “SPL”, short for “SMITE Pro-League”.
What started out in 2014 with the “TSM Apollo” skin as a tribute to Team SoloMid’s “SMITE Launch Tournament” win, has quickly been growing and achieving big popularity, especially during the “Summer Split” of 2015.
This was mostly thanks to the “SPL Season Ticket” bundle, which – bought for 300 Gems – offered us players the possibility to gain “Fantasy Points” (or “FP”) by either winning in-game matches or betting on which of the SMITE eSports teams would win throughout the course of a season. The more FP accumulated, the better the exclusive prizes (skins, icons, announcer packs) we could unlock were and soon the system began to mean more than just that: we actually started to get attached to groups and their members.
But what is the SPL and how does one keep track of all the regions and individuals?
The SMITE Pro-League consists of “splits” held over the course of Spring, Summer, and Fall. Every split ends with a LAN tournament held amongst the top EU and NA squads. Additionally, the “Fall Split LAN Regional” tournaments are also the qualifiers for the yearly “Smite World Championship” (“SWC”).
Since many of these (Thursday to Sunday) engagements are played directly from the pro-players’ homes, Twitch- and YouTube broadcasts will be held over the course of an ongoing season. Usually there are anywhere between 2 to 4 – what are called – sets of games; half of them EU, the other NA.
While “Round Robin” (each team faces off against all the other groups one by one) would be the fairest way to determine the best troop, it is also very time consuming. This is why during each set, 2 units fight each other for 2 ‘Conquest’ mode matches, gaining 1 point per win. That way, even if a group has a bad game, it is still possible for them to climb to the top of the ranking board, since whoever has the highest score in the end, wins.
LAN-Tournaments and the SWC are played in a bracket, each in a different format and using a “Best Of 5/3/1” system. “Best Of 5” is common in (Semi)Finals, “Best Of 3” for Quarters and “Best Of 1″ for preliminary rounds and round robins.
Single games can range anywhere between 15mins – 60mins, however on average tend to last around 30mins. Beforehand though, there is a “Picks & Bans” phase – lovingly called “Ps & Bs” by most casters – during which a total of 4 Gods can be eliminated by each of the teams, thus excluding a total of 8 characters that can’t be chosen for the duration of the match.
The Ps & Bs are a critical stage that can heavily influence the outcome of an encounter, since this is where mind-games are played (e.g. baiting the enemies into a specific god selection). Depending on the end composition, groups can either make the event harder or easier for the opponents and themselves.
The team that has first choice of Pick And Ban is called “Team Order” or “Blue Team”. It has the chance to make their first pick, once the enemies (“Team Chaos” or “Team Red”) selected their 2 bans. The advantage of “going first” is, that the potentially strongest, or at the very least most-desired, character can be picked. After 3 picks from each team, both get the chance to remove two additional Gods from the roster, making it harder for the opponents to complete their dream comp and albeit Red chooses the last deity, it also gives them the opportunity to counterpick Blue.
Although there are a total of 5 regions (North America, Europe, Latin America / Brazil, Oceania and Asia), each split usually just hosts the EU and NA teams.
is choosing a god specifically because it’s strong against one or more characters the enemies have already selected. There is a lot more to this though, and I’ll cover that in a future article.