Versus: It’s Not An Argument
This week, we introduce a new series called ‘Versus’ in which two writers discuss opposing, and sometimes controversial, points. It’s not an argument, it’s a civilized discussion (at least that’s what we tell our Editor). Today, Joshua ‘Epipsychidion’ Newberry and I, Timothy ‘Tim63’ Tian, will be debating the topic of whether the idea of a two jungler composition would provide an advantage to its team or bring about a negative effect instead.
Season Two of SMITE is underway, and with it many changes have been made to our understanding of competitive Conquest. Along with a brand-new map for the premiere eSports game mode, Season Two has also brought some less-than-ideal changes for the least-thanked position: Support. By reducing the distance at which a player gains experience for a minion kill or assist, Hi-Rez has reduced the overall Experience Points gained by the Support role in the early game. This limitation to the experience gained has forced Support players to do more rotations around the map in order to farm levels and prevent themselves from falling too far behind the rest of the players in the game. The result has been a more mobile support, for sure, but the overall team composition in competitive SMITE has not changed all that much in Season Two. The gods chosen are still typically within the Guardian role (despite the fact that the top-tier choices are different, largely due to changes in the items), and they are still looked at as a tanky, front-line character.
The gold spooling for Support players has already undergone some changes in Season Two, with a large change to the popular starter item, Watcher’s Gift, forcing players to re-evaluate their choices from the outset of a match. This led to a fracture in the SMITE player community regarding which item is best for the early game: Watcher’s Gift or Mark of the Vanguard. Though the change was somewhat reverted, the sting is still felt by Support players who worry about the best possible start to their matches while also aware of being almost perpetually behind the rest of their team in level and itemization.
Because of these changes, it is worthwhile to examine our assumptions about the Support position altogether. Should we adjust to a different style of play for the role entirely, and cast off the Guardian expectation or would the traditional Support role still bring out the best in a team? Support players could act as a second Jungler, of sorts, providing early kill and ganking opportunities to players in the other roles, while also closing the gap between Experience Points and Gold currently experienced within the role.
YES, a change is needed (Tim):
A two jungler meta would mean many things. One such advantage that it brings to the table is in terms of the early game potential. With the addition of a second Jungler, an Assassin to be more specific, the chances for early invasions would be significantly increased. Another Assassin in the team lineup would equate to higher damage in the early game especially in terms of auto attacks compared to the average Guardian. Mobility also helps in this case as Assassins generally do not lack in that department whereas Guardians tend to suffer here. With these traits of the two Assassin Junglers, the team’s early game presence would then carry on to the mid and finally, end game. In the current state of the game, being ahead early is just as vital as getting the Fire Giant when the enemy team is respawning.
It is no surprise that a Jungler is capable of carrying its team. Their burst potential and generally high mobility allows one to get a kill fairly easily with little room for getting bursted down themselves. Therefore, the chances of obtaining a win would normally be increased if the enemy Jungler isn’t doing as well as your own. This would again be possible when there are two Assassins roaming around the map. Buff camps can be cleared quickly and with ease. Once their jungle is cleared up, it opens up the opportunity to clear the enemy jungle as well. With these two Junglers either working on their own or together as a two-man subteam, the enemy Jungler would definitely face a more difficult time in getting to their buff camps. More importantly, the mid camps, holding a significant role in providing Experience Points, can be controlled with the extra roamer. With the opposing Jungler facing a decline in their experience and gold, falling off in the middle and late game would become inevitable, thus allowing your team a better chance of getting off that losing streak on those gem weekends.
With great control of the game (early game potential and buff camps) comes great lane push. Ganking situations become more apparent and with it, the ability to pick off the enemy team one by one in the laning phase would be close to effortless. A kill would almost always occur with every gank. To fully utilise the kill obtained, one would then need to push the objectives. One Jungler could aid in that purpose, getting ‘The Crusher’ as part of their build, while the other could keep the clearing of camps as their main objective. What if all the camps have been cleared? That would make taking down the objectives even quicker with the two Assassins by your side. Lane push is further cemented as an advantage when split pushing becomes possible because of the two Junglers. Similar to the situation previously mentioned, one could be part of a team fight while the other may push objectives. High mobility is required for split pushing and again, Assassins have no problems here. To sum it up, a two Jungler team would bring a better early game, more control of camps and, eventually, better lane pushing.
NAH, Guardians are fine (Joshua):
Tim presents a very convincing argument for changing the way our Support role is currently considered. Helping a team to get ahead in the early game is certainly valuable in terms of long-term strategy and winning a game of Conquest, particularly at the upper levels like the SMITE Pro League. However, we are forgetting one of the crucial aspects of having a Guardian or tanky Warrior Support in the first place: protecting the Hunter from early deaths in order to get his/her build online as soon as possible. While the Assassin Support would certainly help with kill potential in the Duo (long) lane, the role does not possess the tankiness necessary to repel a determined attack on a Hunter. Guardians and Warriors are able to withstand poke and turn the battle in favor of your team. Having an Assassin in the Support position might allow both gods to survive, sure, but not likely with the Hit Points necessary to turn a fight around in a way that would produce a kill that would be possible if a character with a more tanky nature were in the lane.
Another consideration in terms of recasting the Support as a second Jungler would be overall team composition. As it stands, the current SMITE competitive team composition consists of two magical gods (Mid and, typically, Support) and two physical gods (usually Hunter and Jungler) with the remaining position (Solo) being contingent on the overall composition. The suggestion to line up a second Assassin would force the Solo lane player into picking a magical god in order for the composition to remain balanced–a pick which might be detrimental in a matchup against, say, a strong Assassin like Bakasura. Having a limited pool for god selection in the solo lane would result in that lane either losing outright or needing more attention paid to it by the Junglers. Transitioning the Support position to a second Jungler would eliminate the ability to have a Warrior on the team in most situations, and would force the solo lane meta into something resembling the current mid lane.
I also have concerns about the team fight possibilities when there is not a Guardian in the team composition (especially if the team also does not have a Warrior in the Solo position). The Guardian’s job in a team fight is twofold: to tank as much damage as possible from the more vulnerable gods on the team, and to zone and control as many of the opponents as possible. While having a second Assassin on the team would certainly increase the overall damage output during team fights, being faced with a Guardian who can withstand such punishment long enough for the remainder of the enemy team to engage successfully would be risky indeed. Remember that the Guardian is not there to just take damage, but also assist in the securing or outright stealing of objectives such as the Fire Giant and Gold Fury. This is made more difficult when we imagine an Assassin in such a position, as they are less resistant to the damage the enemy team can punish them with, should the Assassin successfully steal one of these crucial objectives. Losing your second Jungler to gain a Gold Fury might at first be acceptable, but currently it is possible to both steal and escape without punishment. Being able to also withstand tower and phoenix shots makes having a traditional tanky Support more convincing. In taking map objectives and marching on the opponent’s Titan, it’s beneficial to have someone on the team that can withstand damage long enough for the other players to destroy those objectives.
To us, it’s too much of a risk to switch the Support position to yet another physical god on the team. However, we admit that it becomes far more tempting to do so if Hi-Rez implements more variety in gods and kits in the future. Cabrakan, for example, proves that a Guardian does not need to be based purely on his tankiness, and Ao Kuang shows that we can create a Mage who fulfills the necessary mobility and damage of a Jungle player. These gods, and hopefully more like them in the future, allow us to see ways of opening up our thinking about the Support position.