The first week of the Winter Split has shown expectations can never be made simply. Teams either smash through their expectation ceiling or fall far from what they thought they would achieve. There is no middle ground.
Incite vs Dead Weight
As tradition in OCE, due to server technicalities the replay of game 1 between Incite and Dead Weight could not be broadcast. Live spectators of the game said that Incite was dominating early game but somehow Dead Weight came back. I wish we could have seen the game but it was out of our control.
Game 2 was a blast from the start with OnlyGoodAtSolo (aka OGA) picking up Bastet for his second game in the OPL as a jungler. Shred picked Cabrakan solo which was out of the ordinary too. Bastet is an uncommon pick for competitive play but OGA was sure to turn that around. Incite started the game with an attempt at stealing the blue buff but were unlucky and were spotted by Shred and OGA. The damage trade was in favour of Dead Weight as Cabrakan Refraction Shield and Bastet Razor Whip dealt more damage than Maxen and TheBeast could do with Thor and Vamana.
First blood went to Maxen, killing OGA in a solo lane gank but the kill was traded back onto TheBeast by a good rotation from Agony. By the 11 minute mark Dead Weight had topped the kills with 6-3 making picks and fighting aggressively as a team. Incite were able to trade some back but their communication of disrupting a Gold Fury from Dead Weight was lacking.
The game continued with trades in favour of Dead Weight until 25 minutes where Incite were able to outplay Dead Weight in one team fight and take the Fire Giant losing only Kikiomeo. Incite were able to take a Gold Fury, tier 1 tower and tier 2 tower. In the last fight, Incite sieged the middle tier 1 tower but the aggressive team composition and play style of Dead Weight went ham onto Incite picking up 2 kills. Dead Weight turned the game around while still being behind in gold and fighting against a Fire Giant buffed enemy. They sieged the middle lane phoenix of Incite then looked towards eliminating the rest of the team before closing out the game.
In the end of the series Dead Weight was 2-0.
Team Pandamonium vs PLT Tainted Minds
Rowe in the solo lane decided to play Sun Wukong into Vamana. Some expected Wukong to lose to Vamana but Rowe had other plans.
The game started out peacefully until 2:30 on the clock where Sporks and Ochita shifted to the duo lane to secure first blood onto Gruff. The damage from Ochita's Raijin was off the charts killing Gruff who was at 70% HP with only Taiko Drums. 3 minutes later Sporks was able to pick up a kill onto Tomolomu who had rotated to the mid lane.
At 9 minutes Tainted Minds attempted to dive the duo lane tier one tower to kill Subfloor. They were successful but Pandamonium were able to turn the trade around and kill iDivine, Slycy and Gruff thanks to a perfectly placed Tectonic Rift by Sporks.
This was story of the game. Pandamonium took everything they could and out traded Tainted Minds in every aspect. Their playstyle was strategically methodical and their team fights were close to flawless every time. Tainted Minds had room to come back but Pandamonium ensured they never took those chances by killing them 24 times in 26 minutes. After Pandamonium took the Fire Giant it was only a few minutes until they closed out the game ending 26-3 at 28:33.
Game 2 was a completely different story to game 1. The only similarity was Rowe on another uncommon solo lane god, this time Chang'e to counter Elkerio's Guan Yu. First Blood was drawn on Sporks in the solo after a great counter-gank from iDivine resulted in Elkeiro picking up the kill. Shortly after, iDivine returned to the solo lane to assist Elkeiro once again this time in killing Rowe under his tower.
The early game was in control of Tainted Minds, however, slowly Pandamonium started coming back. 10 minutes into the game Pandamonium went aggressive in the solo lane getting 2 kills but Tainted Minds were one step ahead and took a sneaky gold fury. TM used their lead to win a few skirmishes up to when the gold fury respawned but Subfloor stole it with a nicely timed Chiron Centaurus. Tainted Minds continued to the hold the lead in kills for a long time but Pandamonium took the lead in gold after they won a team fight around the Gold Fury and took down 2 towers in the middle lane.
This lead for both teams in two separate aspects continued into the very late game. The objective control from Pandamonium kept them in the game, whereas Tainted Minds were winning the majority of fights.
33 minutes into the game a fight around the Fire giant was the fight that decided the winner. Tainted Minds were on the losing end of the fight as Tomolomu was the first to die and Gruff was split pushing as Apollo in the duo lane giving Pandamonium the numbers advantage. In the end Pandamonium were able to win the team fight and take Fire giant and recall to stop Gruff from taking a phoenix.
The end was nigh as Pandamonium sieged every remaining tower and phoenix from Tainted Minds. Though Tainted Minds did well in pushing Pandamonium off for a small amount of time, Pandamonium were able to close the game ending 2-0 in 44:08.
Avant Garde vs LlamasInPyajamas
On paper Avant Garde would close this game in a close 2-0 but LlamasInPyajamas wanted to put on a show.
The start of game one was especially astonishing as Avant Garde went for a blue buff invade but Torreyskiez (Ao Kuang) said he's not having any of it and secure his own buff in a 1v2 with a basic attack and enough health to continue jungling. A few minutes later, Torrey was able to execute ElChuckles (Bellona) for First Blood after finding him in the jungle with Shruix (Ravana).
The early game showed Llamas being very dominant but at 19 minutes Avant Garde overtook Llamas through a gold fury and a very one sided team fight resulting in a tier 1 and tier 2 mid tower being destroyed on the side of Llamas. Avant Garde didn't waste any time with their lead relentlessly fighting Llamas and taking everything they could.
Within 10 minutes of taking the lead Avant Garde defeated the Titan with ease showing they are still the strong roster they were from Split 1. Llamas had to change something quickly.
Game 2 took off when Torreyskiez (Mercury) decided to gank the duo lane. All was going well and Llamas had nearly secured First Blood on Tomahawk (Sobek) until LiquidRenegade (Thor) turned it around with a counter-gank and kill on Torrey for First Blood.
Llamas took the lead back after Avant Garde went too aggressive taking out Swifty (Janus). Maus (Scylla) put himself way out of position and was destroyed by Erraticc with the help of the tower and Torrey. Afterwards, Avant stayed around too long and a nice rotation from Ranabarana (Hou Yi) resulted in 4 more kills and a Gold Fury for Llamas.
For a while the game seemed stalled until Avant Garde decided to kill off 2 members of Llamas and take a Gold Fury. Swifty was able to pick off Tomahawk as he tanked the Gold Fury but Llamas steal attempts were unsuccessful. The trades were back and forth for the rest of the game. When Avant pressured mid and took a tier 2 tower, Torrey split pushed and took a tier 2 and a phoenix in the solo lane.
The next 12 minutes of the game was back forth trading between kills, towers, a Gold Fury and dancing around Fire Giant. An overextension of Llamas placed them in an unsatisfactory position and got 3 of them killed so Avant Garde turned towards the Fire Giant. A bit of harass from Torrey and Shruix slowed Avant down but Avant were able to acquire the buff and kill both Torrey and Shruix.
Avant Garde pressure mid and took a phoenix, looked towards duo for the last tower, took the gold fury, backed and set their eyes on the solo lane phoenix. Llamas put up their best defence and were able to thwart the attack of Avant. Once again the back and forth trades happened and after 12 minutes of team fights, multiple Fire Giants for both teams and phoenixes destroyed, Llamas were finally able to defeat the Titan and close the game picking up their first ever win in the OPL.
Something that seemed to go unnoticed was the fact that Kikiomeo will no longer be playing in the OPL. This is the first split he won't be participating in. While his last game was not spectacular his SMITE career was certainly nothing less than fantastic. Starting as ADC for Slap'n'Tickle in the 2015 Invitational League Qualifiers and playing in the Invitational League under Dire Wolves, laning with his brother RichardCastle. Moving to mid in the 2015 OPL, playing at PAX Regional Finals. He played in Split 1 2016 OPL as mid once again before moving to ADC for this series in Split 2.
iDivine is a veteran in the Oceanic scene. His first team was Team Kamikaze with Gruff back in 2014. He played in the open ladder in 2014-15, made it to the Invitational League 2015, played OPL 2015 with, played at PAX Regionals and played 2016 OPL Split 1 and finally week 1 of OPL Split 2. iDivine has been one of, if not, the best solo laner in Oceania. His prowess showed in every game he played and it will certainly be a massive hit to the scene to loss him.
It will be strange to not have Kikiomeo or iDivine in OPL anymore but I wish them well in their future endeavours and everyone should commend them on their long SMITE careers.