Analyzing the Four-Physical Compositions of the North American Finals
Sat 25th Nov 2017 - 1:00pm
Smite’s Super Regionals event saw many creative team compositions and strategies. The composition we are covering in this article came from the North American Finals, where both teams brought a version of a double Hunter, four-physical composition. Drafts with two Hunters were common during Super Regionals, but the North American SPL teams eUnited and Luminosity Gaming tweaked the composition further and played with two Warriors in place of Guardians in their set against each other. Each team played this composition once and won that game. This article will break down the compositions and explain their strengths and weaknesses.
The compositions were remarkably similar. Three gods were shared between the two drafts: Cu Chulainn solo, Fafnir support, and Hou Yi in the hunter role. In order to build the comp, the teams also drafted very similarly. Both compositions were made on the second pick Chaos side with Cu Chulainn and Hou Yi being snatched up first. Fafnir was always picked up before the second Hunter. The compositions were still flexible heading into the second ban phase to mask their true intentions and pivot away from a quad-physical comp if needed.
The compositions varied in their mid and jungle positions. eUnited ran Hachiman and Odin in these positions, while Luminosity played Cernunnos and Ravana, respectively. Even with these differences, the compositions were very similar with Warrior junglers and Hunters in the mid lane, so the compositions can mostly be examined the same way with minor exceptions we will cover later on.
When building compositions, people often look for a balanced damage profile, where a couple characters deal physical and magical damage each. This is because having too much of one damage type allows the opponent to easily itemize against you by building just one type of protection. There are exceptions to the rule. Compositions with four physical gods have been run in competitive before, with a Mage as the only source of magic damage. In these drafts from the Super Regionals, the Guardian was given the burden of sole magic user, which is a large departure from conventional wisdom.
Hou Yi was the staple side lane Hunter in these compositions.
The goal of these four-physical compositions is to snowball in the early game. This can lead to an early victory or a level advantage heading into the mid game. In general, a composition with a Guardian as the single source of magic damage cannot fall behind because the opponents can build enough physical protections to fight the rest of team. However, these compositions do have two Hunters and ways to boost their DPS, so getting to the late game is not a death sentence.
The four-physical compositions have some strong aspects. With two Warriors, one being Cu Chulainn, they tend to have early game pressure in the short lane. The other lanes should also be pushing the opponents in. With two Hunters, the composition has very high sustained and structure damage, which only increases as the game gets later. Each character also has a role in the composition.
Cu Chulainn is one of the pillars of the composition. Cu Chulainn is a very strong god and should win the early solo lane. The pick was instrumental in getting both teams first blood at level two or three. The berserker then transitions into an annoying presence, acting as a damage sponge while outputting serious damage and control into the enemy backline.
Fafnir is the only magical damage character of this composition. Despite being a Guardian, Fafnir does a lot of sneakily high amount of damage. This is then amplified by that fact that opponents buy less magic protection than against regular compositions, so Fafnir will end up doing more damage than usual. Fafnir is also highly prioritized in double Hunter compositions because of his Coerce ability. This ability buffs an ally, giving them up to 50% attack speed for 5 seconds. In dragon form, Fafnir can buff multiple allies, increasing the damage of his team by a massive amount, increasing in value with the number of attack-oriented teammates. Fafnir also brings several crowd control and debuff effects that further increase his value on any team comp.
Hou Yi was the only character with 100% presence at Super Regionals. He has very fast jungle and lane clear, allowing him to get additional advantages around the map. Hou Yi is also one of the best boxers in the game and has a great teamfight with his ultimate. Hou Yi is just a strong Hunter than can slide into most any composition.
There are many reasons to run a Hunter in the mid lane. The average mid Hunter will out pressure most meta Mages early and outbox them throughout the game. Hunters also have much cheaper items, so they will scale up faster than their Mage lane opponent even with equivalent gold. Hunters have much stronger objective burn, but often lack objective securing ultimates. In both games, the enemy mid laner was picked before the mid lane Hunter and the Mage did not have a great ult to secure a jungle boss. The primary drawback to running Hunters mid is that a team’s damage profile may lean too much on the physical side, which is less important to these teams and their drafts.
Warrior junglers bring several tools to this composition, especially Ravana and Odin. These characters provide early pressure and pick potential to snowball their team. They can start with Cu Chulainn and generate an advantage in his lane, then invade the enemy jungle to strip farm and grow their lead. Ravana and Odin are both equipped to easily kill Mages or other unsuspecting squishies in the early game. These gods also have ultimates that allows their carries to more easily kill enemies. When looking for tanky junglers to run the early game for their Hunters, Odin and Ravana should always spring to mind.
Cernunnos and Hachiman were the mid lane Hunters of choice.
Having four physical gods in a team composition can cause issues, but both variations on the composition contain many forms of damage amplification for their team, especially the Hunters. Fafnir’s kit contains Coerce to buff attack speed and damage as well as dragon form's Cursed Strength, which strips protections from enemies.
Fafnir was built with several items that also increase his team’s damage. One such item is Stone of Binding, which grants 10 penetration to allies for five seconds every time the user lands a CC, which is on every successful Cursed Strength and Underhanded Tactics cast. Supports also bought Shogun’s Kusari, further increasing the attack speed of their Hunters. Fafnir was also played with a Belt of Frenzy Relic built in the second slot to grant his team a burst of power, attack speed, and penetration. A Fafnir building these items is an even stronger teamfight support.
The Executioner is a strong item that reduces the physical protection of targets hit by the owner’s auto attacks. This effect increases the damage of all the Hunters and Warriors on the team. The primary Hunter always bought The Executioner as a third item, but the mid players were split on whether to build the item or not. All Hunters used penetration-oriented builds.
Each variant of the composition also had its own ways to increase the team’s damage. In the composition built by Luminosity, Ravana’s Ultimate, Mystic Rush, increases the damage of everyone hit by 10% and the Autumn stance of Cernunnos Shifter of Seasons reduces the protections of targets hit by his basic attacks. In the version run by eUnited, the Heavenly Banner from Hachiman increases his team’s attack speed in an area and Odin was built with Mystical Mail to pulse out magical damage that is unlikely to be mitigated by items. Both teams picked these characters to further boost the damage of their teams even in the face of heavy physical protection itemization.
Stone of Binding and Belt of Frenzy were key pickups by the Fafnir players
New and interesting strategies always come out of Super Regionals. This year, the North American finals set saw both teams running a composition with four physical characters and a Guardian. Both versions of the team comp contained Cu Chulainn, Fafnir, Hou Yi, a Warrior jungler, and a mid lane Hunter. These compositions were designed to snowball and amplify the damage of their carries. We are likely to see even more innovation at the Smite World Championship in January.
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