The Rise of Double Hunter Compositions in the SPL Part 1: The Gods



Thu 10th May 2018 - 12:56pm

In Week 6 of the Smite Pro League, compositions with two Hunters exploded in popularity across the North American scene. These compositions are very similar to the double Hunter lineups that were popular near the end of Season 4. North American teams are running characters that amplify the damage of both of their Hunters and pair them with dedicated itemization to create terrifying wrecking balls. This topic will be split over two articles and in part one, we will analyze the dual Hunter compositions and why they are resurging in the SPL.

Teams with multiple Hunters have become popular in the North American SPL

At the start of Season 5, changes were made to lessen the impact of Hunters. This class and the duo-lane-carry role had way too much power at the end of Season 4. Through map and number tweaks, Hi-Rez tried to keep Hunters in check going into the new year. Hunters were much weaker at the start of Season 5, even to the point of some pros trying to run Warriors in the duo lane.

However, with nerfs to Assassin itemization and buffs to Hunter items, combined with player perception shifts at the top end, Hunters are strong once again and we are starting to see a rise in the amount of games that feature compositions with multiple Hunters. I say a rise because North American teams have been successfully running these two Hunter compositions since Week 1 of the SPL, but it wasn’t until the last week of the Spring Split that almost every North American set had these types of compositions.

In general, these double Hunter compositions play a strong early game Hunter in the mid lane and have a hypercarry in the duo lane. Junglers always bring an early game presence and some type of protection shred or debuff. Supports and solo laners are tanks that bring team fight prowess and often ways to control enemies or otherwise allow their Hunters to bring the damage.

A calling card of this type of draft is a Hunter in the mid lane. At the start of Season 5, the public perception was that Mages were very strong, but over time, it has been revealed that the mid lane, where Mages are usually played, is the source of their power because the role gets a lot of farm early, allowing gods to feel good going into the mid game. The mid game is where Hunter damage typically starts to skyrocket, so putting a Hunter in the middle lane means you have a strong sustained damage dealer when team fights start to roll around.

The types of Hunters played in the mid lane tend to be strong early game. These Hunters have abilities that are great at clearing the wave, often going even with, or even outclearing, Mages. Hunter’s Blessing provides an additional 15 damage per auto attack before it is evolved, which is a massive boost to clearing the first couple waves. In addition, Hunters are much better boxers than the majority of Mages, easily able to win the 1v1 between waves or force their opponents to base at bad times. Even though these ability-based Hunters are strong in the early stages of the game, all Hunters boast impressive late game DPS. Hunters such as Ullr, Chiron, and Skadi can find success in the mid lane.

Ullr is the most popular Hunter to throw in the mid lane.

A Hunter with a strong late game is generally played in the duo lane. These Hunters have the protection and assistance of supports to get them through the early game and help them clear the wave until the Hunter can hold their own. Over the course of the Spring Split, these long lane Hunters have been given more and more solo farm, accelerating them towards their insane late game state.

Hyper carries tend to have attack speed steroids that allow them to quickly chew through the enemy team in late game team fights, chunking out tanks and killing squishies in just a couple shots of their very fast, very damaging basic attacks. Examples of Hunters played in this role are Artemis, Rama, and Jing Wei.

Some Hunters, such as Hachiman and Apollo, can be played in either the middle or duo lane in double Hunter compositions. Both characters have strong early clear and boxing, as well as great late game steroids and team fights. Where to put these Hunters depends on the other Hunter you are running, as well as their matchups.

Hachiman and Apollo are both flexible Hunters

In double Hunter compositions, junglers have a strong early game and ways to amplify the damage of their Hunters. This usually takes the form of protection shred, which Serqet, Nemesis, Ratatoskr, and Ne Zha, all meta junglers, provide. Ravana, another popular jungler in these team comps, causes enemies to take more damage instead, another way to allow your Hunters to do more damage to key targets.

In the season 4 versions of two-Hunter compositions, junglers were tanks or Assassins built tanky. In Season 5, the paradigm switched, with junglers building towards burst, even the Warrior Ravana is buying Assassin itemization. Most junglers in Season 5 have great early games, able to just snowball if given a lead or build some protections and facilitate their Hunters in the late game. Tank junglers that provide additional frontline and meat shielding have been tried, but are seeing less success because Assassin junglers are very strong right now.

The double Hunter compositions in Season 4 usually had a Warrior solo, with Cu Chulainn highly prioritized for his raw power level. In Season 5, more Guardians are being played in the solo lane because it is harder to pressure them out of the game. With two Guardians on a team, the double Hunter composition provides more magic damage than they used to, forcing opponents to maybe buy magical protection, which means less economy for itemization against Hunters. Guardians tend to have more team fight control than Warriors, who overall have better laning and pressure on opposing carries. Which solo laner to play mostly depends on how the player and team are feeling and think about the matchup and team compositions as a whole. A solo laner needs to be able to control a fight, either by CC'ing opponents or bullying someone caught in the wrong place.

Multiple characters can be played in the solo lane to backup their Hunters.

The best support in these multi-Hunter lineups is, has always been, and probably will always be, Fafnir. His Coerce spell just provides so much additional damage for Hunters and in his Draconic Corruption form, he can buff an entire team with extra damage and attack speed. In addition, Fafnir has multiple stuns to keep enemies in place, a lot of damage in his own right, and protection shred to allow his Hunters to do even more damage.

Other supports can be used in double Hunter compositions in case Fafnir is banned or taken away, but they often rely on increasing the damage of their Hunters. Artio, Ganesha, Khepri, and Sylvanus bring protection shred while Terra and Amaterasu provide damage amplification. Other supports can be run that set up their carries with strong crowd control, such as Athena. In general, a support in a double Hunter composition has to bring a way for their Hunters to do as much damage as possible to break through the armor of their opponents.

While constructing any team composition, you must keep in mind the damage profile. Or, the spread of physical and magical damage in the draft. If a comp runs too far in one direction, the enemy can just buy that type of protection and mitigate loads of damage. Typically, a three-two split of the damage types is preferred, but in double Hunter comps, the majority of the damage is physical. Having two Guardians is one way to force some investment away from physical defense because some Guardians can do respectful damage and two can cause some trouble.

In addition, double Hunter comps love running characters with protection reduction and damage amplification because the enemy frontline is likely to be focusing on physical defense, so the more damage the Hunters do, the better they can break through bulwarks regardless of the amount of protection in their way.

Fafnir is highly prioritized because he brings protection reduction and damage amplification  

Double Hunter compositions are rising to the forefront yet again in the SPL. These team comps are designed around boosting the damage of its primary carries, either through buffing them or debuffing the enemy. In part two, we will look at itemization and strategies for and against double Hunter compositions.

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