SMITE Early Game Strats with Ataraxia
Sat 18th May 2019 - 12:08pm
Already this season, we have seen plenty of different early strategies emerging. We’ve seen the level 1 invade, the supports starting in solo, and the ADC being left alone for 20+ minutes to get solo farm. With the amount of different early strats that can be run, we spoke to Dignitas’ Hunter Nathaniel "Ataraxia" Mark about what strats are effective in the early game and what you need to do to effectively execute these strategies.
Supports Not in Duo?
A very prominent start that is occurring is the support starting in on the solo side of the map, splitting farm with the solo laner till they hit two, then linking up with the jungle and mid after this. The has been seen a lot already in the SPL and it leaves the ADC to get free farm throughout the laning phase. The support starting on that side of the map also allows the support to invade speed buff at level one.
Ataraxia mentions, “We've seen a lot of potent early game strats in the SPL so far, most notably out of SK. Having the support start at the enemy speed buff and slow him down, if done right, can really ruin their game and give your team the edge early. It does put the support player behind as well, so they have to be really careful about how they play from behind to not give the enemies an edge while they catch up.”
With the support doing this to give your jungler a lead, it will put the support behind as it is preventing them from getting farm as well as the enemy jungler. The benefit is you are opening the map up for your team, allowing your jungler to invade and take camps. This does mean the support will have to play safe as they have less farm and will be squishier than normal, which does mean you have to look for farm across the map. The pathing from this is linking up and splitting waves with the mid laner (sorry mid mains). The main reason you want to do this is to gain control on mid camps. This is an easy way to get a lead over the other team as if the support and mid get one camp, your jungler can secure the other.
We've seen plenty of support action in the solo lane early game
This doesn’t mean that this works every time and there are plenty of reasons as to why you might want to stay as a duo or why the support should be elsewhere early.
Ataraxia mentions, “It depends what you want to achieve. I think now that the early game stuff has been settled and teams have figured it out, we'll start seeing some teams position back to duo. I think it really depends on who you want to protect - your jungler or your ADC.”
Depending on what you want to do in the game should depend where the support will be. If the ADC is going to need more help early, stick to the traditional duo lane and, if it’ll be better helping the jungler out, you’ll look to push the advantage in other areas of the map. Both are good starts and one is not better than the other, it depends on who you want to gain the advantage and who you want it to be on. Having the support start on the solo side will allow the jungler to farm up red and get to mids quicker to secure the neutral camps with the mid laner.
An issue with this is that, despite your solo and ADC getting plenty of farm in the off lanes, it does mean you are starving the mid laner of farm. With jungle and support basically sitting in your lane, you will be getting limited farm. Three-way splitting is never ideal but it is for the greater good (the greater good).
Ataraxia says, “Three-way splitting is never ideal but, unfortunately for mid laners, [it] is a necessary evil. Part of securing mid camps is having the option to clear in mid first and the more people you have, the easier it is. In a perfect world, waves should never be split by more than two and should be avoided whenever possible, but never at the risk of losing control of neutral farm.”
Mids are a heavily contested camp and oracles are as well, so you want to have as many people within distance to contest. This is why there is three in mid so often. The jungler can go off and take their farm at points and can easily dip from the lane so long as they are back for mid camps. This does mean that mid and support will still be splitting, but so long as the mid has someone to help them secure mids, it is a necessary evil like Ataraxia mentioned. Another benefit to having three in mid so often is, if the enemy team isn’t responding to you having three, you can punish with the 3v2 or 3v1. It goes without saying that there will be very small windows for this, unless an enemy overextends or is out of position. But it can lead to you gaining more control and even open a window to invade.
Three in mid is a nightmare for a mid laner but it is a necessary evil to secure mid camps
It goes without question that ADCs haven’t been impactful over the past few seasons compared to how they used to be, but these early strats work in favour for an ADC. Having free farm on that side of the map allows the Hunter to hit their power spike ASAP, allowing them to be influential for more of the game.
Ataraxia adds, “Personally, I love it. I hate being reliant on another player to do well in my lane, and you end up getting a ton of farm. This leads to ADCs having a much larger impact in the mid-game than we normally might, which allows us to run the game.”
For Hunters, it was a case of just waiting on key items during the mid-game. Now, with the free farm, they can hit the power spikes earlier and be more influential in the mid-game and thus means they can run the game earlier instead of waiting for it to get super late to be the big hitters in the teamfights. The key thing that will help you get plenty of farm is simple for an ADC, don’t die. I know that may seem obvious, but so long as you can clear waves and maybe take a few camps, there isn’t much anyone can do. You can try boxing the enemy ADC but you just need to stay focused on getting as much farm as possible to hit your power spike. With how squishy Hunters are, you will need to be aware of the enemy jungler. Just because you’re on your own doesn’t mean the game is a 1v1. You need to ward and watch out for when you could be getting ganked.
ADCs spend most of the game on their own so they can hit their power spikes quicker
Ataraxia mentions, “The easiest place to get kills at the start will definitely be in duo. Having the jungler rotate early to defend or invade a purple buff at the start of the game is probably the easiest place to pick up that cheeky first blood.”
This is for traditional duos. However, it can be used if your ADC has been left alone and the support starts on solo side. This allows you to snowball the lane as you are hindering their farm. It also allows your jungler to consistently gank the lane and keep the enemy ADC behind, as the jungler can add duo to his pathing to help you gain the advantage. If the ADCs are being left alone to farm for most the game, they cannot disregard the possibility of being ganked, so the jungler will be looking towards duo side of the map to gank you and try pick up an easy kill. Buy wards, stay safe, and keep aware of the map and if there is a likely rotation.
The Right Picks
For these strats having the right picks is important and can help push the advantage with the strategy, so who are gods you should look at picking up for early strats.
Ataraxia advises, “For invading speed, safer supports tend to be the best bet. Characters who can contest secure with high base damage on their level 1 abilities like Fafnir or Serqet or those with access to early mobility like Artio do well. For early ganks on duo lane, junglers who have access to strong CC and high chase down are important. Characters like Ratatoskr who can upgrade his acorn for an early power spike or Erlang who has access to the haste effect can make short work of an overextended duo lane.”
High secure damage works well in the invade strat as you can easily secure the buff or prevent them from securing it. Early movement also will help you with the invade, like Ataraxia mentioned Artio has access to this early and does great work while invading. The main things you do need to look at when picking for the invade strat is high secure and disruption, which is why Ataraxia mentioned Fafnir and Serqet. Both have high damage early that can be used to invade the camp and maybe even get a kill off it. The two together can be a dangerous pair.
Both Serqet and Fafnir have great secure and work well for the invade strat
If you are looking to gank duo early and put pressure on that side, high CC is vital as you can set up a lot for the duo lane. Erlang’s ult is a great tool for this and can set up plenty for the duo lane. The hard CC on his ult can set plenty up for the duo lane and allow them to do plenty of damage. His pin and 72 transformations are other tools that work really well setting up for the duo so it doesn’t just fully rely on Erlang having his ult. The other one that Ataraxia is Ratatoskr. His ult can help him get the jump on the enemy duo lane and allows him to start the gank from deep in the jungle. He also has plenty of CC in his kit that can really help his duo lane out with CC and has the mobility to chase down the duo if they are trying to get out. He can get his acorn online early as well, which gives him added damage early that can swing the fight in his team’s favour, also opening up the opportunity to do a really early gank.
Both Erlang and Rat provide a lot of CC and chase down potential that you can use to gank the duo lane
These strategies are great to implement, but each person needs to know what they are doing. The best way for these strategies to work is everyone knows what to do early and what they need to priorities in the early game.
Ataraxia advises, “Carry players biggest focus should be not dying. It's important to not give up early deaths to the enemy jungler or ADC so your team has a stronger chance at keeping up around mid.”
We already mentioned that an ADC's job is to not die and focus on farm. You want to get your power spikes early and start being the big hitter in the mid to late game. Wards and knowing who is missing on the map will help with this. If you get ganked and survive, not only is it good because you’ve done your job (not dying) but it allows your team to get a lead as your jungler can either invade and get farm or look to gank another lane to get a kill there, allowing them to get more of a lead over the enemy jungler as they would have got nothing from the gank.
Being able to survive and get yourself to your power spike as an ADC is your biggest priority
For supports Ataraxia says, “Support players should be looking to ensure that as much of the neutral farm on the map is going the way of their own team. Being on time and setting up good vision around mid camps to secure them should be the biggest priority.”
Knowing the timings of camps and being able to go to them when they spawn is most of the support's job early. Making sure your team gets the neutral farm will allow you to establish a lead through these camps. Even monitoring camp timers for your team or the enemy team will benefit you and your team. It allows you to work out if invading to steal the buff is worth it or if the enemy team is looking to invade your camps. If a support can keep an eye on these timers while peeling and setting their team up, it will allow you to gain a slow lead as you're slowly denying farm to the enemy team.
For Mid laners Ataraxia mentions, “Much like ADCs need to avoid dropping early deaths to the enemy team. They need to be securing the neutral farm and should ensure that they are on time and healthy to defend/invade buffs with their jungler and support.”
Similar to the ADC, you just need to not die. If you can make sure of this, you can be there to secure mid camps with your support. Your support will help you with this, as they will keep an eye on the timers while in lane with you. They will also peel for you, so you don’t get low and are forced to not be in a position to help secure mids or to even lose your red buff. Securing the jungle farm and invading the enemy jungle will allow you to snowball the game in your favour, so being healthy (and alive) to do these when they spawn is important for a mid in the early game.
A mid laner has to stay safe and try to avoid early deaths to give their team control over mid camps
When playing jungle, Ataraxia advises, “Junglers have the hardest job early. They need to be reading the map and how map pressure is playing out, assisting those who are ahead and defending those who are being beaten down. Watching how lanes are playing and being ready to gank lanes who are over extending is key.”
Junglers need to be aware of the map 24/7 and be able to help everywhere all at once. Now it may sound like a lot to ask, but it isn’t too bad if you're paying attention to as much as possible. Look to get your camps while rotating to these lanes. If a lane is behind, don’t leave it be. Work on when you should gank it or how to help them. You do need to be around the mid lane for most of the game to help there and allow mid and support to get the neutral farm for your team.
When in solo Ataraxia says, “Solo players should be looking to try their best to gain totem control. It might seem like it has little benefit in solo, but the MP5 gained (particularly in mid) can be really influential to their farm and ability to trade early.”
With the addition of Ku... boy, the solo lane is more than just slap for two minutes, get blue, then continue till a jungler comes to stop the fun (or someone dies). Giving your team the MP5 can be beneficial for your entire team, giving them the chance to stay in lane in the early game and not worry about mana too much. Yes, solo is still the slapfest we all know and love, just with the added pressure of securing Ku for the team.
Ku provides a great buff for your team and is greatly contested in the solo lane
What Items Do You Need Early?
Getting the right items early is important as well and knowing what to prioritise in your build during the early game.
Ataraxia says, “You'll want to aim to pick up items that'll assist your early game allowing you to stay in (and hopefully win) lane as well as farming up to a point where you can have big impacts in teamfights. Boots are obviously important as the movement speed makes you safer and faster to farm. Devourer's Gloves provide the sustain to stay in lane to keep that farm going, and for mana hungry characters like Ah Muzen Cab, Transcendence or Blackthorn Hammer allow you to keep that poke/pressure up.”
It’s all about survival early. If you can win lane, that’s even more farm for you and it will mean you can easily get these items online. Boots (whichever you pick) are the first port of call. The 18% movement speed is great early and can prevent you dying early, as it allows you to manoeuvre out of situations and give you the added survivability during the laning phase.
Boots are important for your suvivability in the early game
In the early game, you’ll need to get key items online and if you’re stacking they’ll be your biggest priority. Devourer's Gloves and Transcendence are two examples of this. Both items need to be built early to be effective in the laning phase as you need to stack it quickly. This isn’t just for ADCs. If mid wants to get a stacking item, you need to look at getting it online early, so you aren’t spending portions of the mid-game trying to stack when your team is looking to fight.
Getting your stacking items online early is vital, so you need to make them your priority
With the other roles, it is important to get your core items on early. For supports, getting Thebes stacking is vital so even though it is similar to the ADC and mid to get Thebes stacked early getting other core items is even more vital so you can frontline and help out your team. For jungle, it's about getting your damage items online, such as getting Crusher early so you can provide damage early and help set up plenty of ganks. Solo laners need their sustain early so they can box. Afterwards, it's about doing frontline things and being obnoxious. Having that sustain early will mean you can be more influential in the mid and late game teamfights. It isn’t much sustain, but it can still be impactful during the game and cause a lot of problems for the enemy team.
The Snowball Effect
Getting the early lead can cause the snowball and give your team a lead that you can constantly build on. The snowball isn’t as impactful as it used to be in previous seasons, as it takes a while for it to be impactful. In Season 6, the snowball has a timer as well as you need to get it rolling before EFG, but what do you need to do for the snowball?
Ataraxia mentions, “Recent balance changes have attempted to curb how effective snowball can be, particularly with reduced XP from invading enemy buffs. That said, snowball is always a viable strat if you can apply the pressure well enough and consistently enough. I think as it stands right now, snowballing comps are on a 25 minute timer as the enhanced Fire Giant is a very easy objective to contest, even from behind. In order for snowball to work, your team needs to be very disciplined at stripping away enemy experience. The easiest method is taking their buffs, and ensuring that you get your backs in and are on time to repeat invade is incredibly important for effective snowball.”
With the snowball, you need to be in massively ahead before 25 minutes and maybe take FG in this time period. The Enhanced FG has the ability to swing fights with its damage and it can be difficult to kill it, meaning teams can contest it even from behind. If you time it so you get FG just before it changes, you can really push the snowball and push the enemy team into a position where EFG will be free for your team.
Enhanced FG can swing games and allow teams to come back into games with how much damage it does
Like Ataraxia said, the best way to do this is strip as much experience away from the enemy team as possible. Having good discipline as a team can help this, but you do need to be aggressive and look to take as much of the enemy’s farm as possible. Look to try and spend a lot of the time invading their jungle while also making sure you secure your camps. Stripping the jungle farm from the enemy team not only increases your lead but puts a lot of pressure on the enemy team. If you spend most of the game in then enemy jungle, it can rattle them and force them onto their back foot, allowing you to push advantages and apply a lot of pressure on them.
Early strats focus on different areas of Smite and can lead to you exploiting weaknesses in the enemy team or using your team’s strengths to dictate the pace of the game. The big difference seen so far is the support starting in duo, like we mentioned earlier, but this is used to help the jungler out and allow them to get the neutral camps early for their team. The big thing is whether it better overall having the support in the solo lane or in the duo lane early?
Ataraxia says, “By the nature of how the map is played, both roles end up getting a large amount of solo farm regardless of where the support decides to start. That said, I'd say right now it's probably better than the solo laner gets the lion’s share of farm. We've seen characters like Achilles, Camazotz and Arthur dismantle teams in the SPL with the leads they've had, and they're definitely more impactful than Hunters in the early and mid-game.”
Achilles and King Arthur both can dominate the mid game and be influential in those fights
Both sides lanes get plenty of farm throughout the game because of the nature of the game, but like Ataraxia mentions the solo laners in the meta currently have the ability to carry the mid game and can be really influential on teamfights in the mid-game. Having an Achilles or King Arthur rotating into the mid lane to collapse on the enemy team can cause a lot of chaos and potentially see you win the fight in mid by getting the jump on them. This doesn’t mean that the support has to start in duo, as the solo laner can still get a lot of solo farm, it just hinders their farm slightly. An ADC will still get plenty of farm throughout the game despite where the support starts, as if the support heads to mid, the ADC then gets plenty of farm. The support starting on solo side does mean that the ADC get to their power spikes quicker but, because of the nature of Hunters, they hit this a lot later then the solo laner and thus have less impact on the mid-game then a solo laner, mostly because the ADC will still be farming at this point.
Hopefully this guide helps you understand a bit more about these early game strats and give you an idea of how to implement them in game.