Thanks To Hi-Rez, Smite Is The Best eSport On The Market

Dota 2, League of Legends, and Tekken fanboys are going to kill me for saying this, but it’s absolutely true. Granted, I like playing Smite more than any of those, but I actually have some legitimate arguments to make in favor of Hi-Rez and the MOBA everyone should really be playing.

It comes down to three main factors that separate Smite from all of the rest: the game, the gimmicks, and the presentation.

 

The Game

I never really could get into the click fest style of MOBA. I played League of Legends, DOTA 2, and Heroes of Newerth a little bit, but the constant clicking is just way too tedious. Because of that, I had a hard time getting into the MOBA genre in general, until I played Smite. The 3rd person view, having direct control of where your character goes and how they manuever, and the seemless use of abilities while moving in any direction  is a much more appealing and palatable way to play this style of game. Add in the lore and mythology from the different pantheons of world religions and it makes for an incredible gaming experience.

 

The third person view that Smite uses, as opposed to the top down view of LoL and other MOBAs, makes it a harder, more tactical, game. More team communication is needed so everyone has full map awareness. It’s played at a much faster pace with a lot more chaos when those big team fights finally happen and the synergy and cooperation you see from high level pro Smite teams is some of the most amazing team play I have ever watched.

Maybe the view and the controls are just a preferential thing when playing, and everybody can find the flaws and strengths to each style, but if we’re talking about this from an eSports viewing perspective, then the 3rd person style lends itself to a much more intense and entertaining game to watch. Nothing is even close to some of the plays we just saw from the Smite World Championship Grand Final between EUnited and Team Rival.

The Gimmicks

I think we can all agree that one of the best parts about watching eSports is the fact that we as the viewing gamers feel so much more involved and plugged into the scene because we all play the game. It’s not like other professional sports where we’re just fans that watch the pros do all of the work and we have no connection with them other than cheering for them. We play these games with these guys. This is where Hi-Rez kills the competition—catering to their fan base.

Between the massive amounts of god skins, new god releases almost every other month, Adventures and special events that can unlock goodies (skins, emotes, etc.), and season ticket passes that can unlock even MORE goodies, Hi-Rez does everything they can to make their player base feel like they are a part of the Smite family.

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A perfect example is of this was them doing giveaways to players throughout the entirety HRX 2018. I loved getting chests and loot just for watching the SWC on Twitch the entire weekend. It gives people even more of a reason to watch and makes them feel like a part of the experience even while sitting at home.

I truly don’t even think it’s just a ploy to make money either. We all look at bigger developers/publishers every time they do something good for the gaming community and immediately wonder if they’re doing it for US or for their bottom line. I’ve never felt that way with Hi-Rez.

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They continue to make this game great because they love doing it. They love that they’ve made a great game, they love to make it better for their fans, and they genuinely seem to love their jobs more than any of us ever have. That incentivizes them to continue improving and evolving their games because they want us to love them so they can keep doing what they love.

It’s the perfect partnership in gaming you just don’t see in an era of gaming  that’s filled with nothing but greed.

I’ll keep giving Hi-Rez all of my money for as long as they continue to make great games.

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The Presentation

I know I can be a victim of the moment and a little hyperbolic sometimes—ok fine, all of the time—but I can honestly say, devoid of any hyperbole, that the Hi-Rez Expo this year had the best presentation of any eSport championship I have ever seen. LoL may get bigger crowds, and Dota 2 might have all of the money, but this year’s Smite World Championship was the best viewing experience I’ve ever had on Twitch.

Hi-Rez has had a few bumps and learning experiences over the past 4 years while trying to figure out how to run their broadcasts, but they finally figured it out for Season 4. The broadcast systems they’ve put together to seemlessly transition between a top down view that gives an overview of the total battle, move down into the player specific third person view, switch between players, and do cut transitions into replays is on par with any NFL, NBA, or MLB game I’ve ever seen. They’ve put together a phenomenal broadcast and producing team that seem to have worked out all of the kinks and mishaps that you have seen from them, and other eSport broadcasts in the past. It makes for an incredible watching experience.

Another huge step they made this year was in their commentary. Thom “F.” Badinger has become one of my favorite casters on the eSports scene. He’s the perfect example of being able to teach a pro how to do play-by-play. His ability to keep the energy up between team fights by explaining strategies that could be used next, and asking great  questions to easily set up his other casters, is perfection. However when team fights start up, that’s where “F.” really shines though. The amount of energy he uses without being too over the top is something very few casters have figured out and he nails it perfectly every time.

The casting team of F. and Aggro is an amazing 1-2 punch of commentary that is going to set Smite apart from every other game as long as they keep them together.

Also, the addition of “Taco” to the analysts desk made for an incredibly strong casting team this year. I loved seeing her with Kelly Link doing commentary in between matches. You can add any third to that duo and they can carry them with great commentary and analysis. Hi-Rez has put together an incredibly strong broadcast team.

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It won’t be long before Smite is the top dog in the MOBA genre. With Riot Games using their unbanning of Tyler 1 as an obvious ploy to bring Twitch viewers back to their stagnant game, and Valve being forced to sit and watch Dota 2 die out as other, better games just become more popular, it’s the perfect time for Hi-Rez to use the momentum they have right now to build Smite into the eSport giant it needs to be.

So, if you haven’t given Smite a chance, now is the right time.

I’ve never played a game that I’ve loved more and I’ve never been in love with a developer the way I am with Hi-Rez. I would marry them, but that would be weird. I mean—if they’d let me I might do it though.

 

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