Interview with Nika, Solo for Sanguine Esports
One of the newer players in the competitive SMITE scene, Nika has been playing in the SMITE Pro League since the beginning of Season 3. Nika was a member of the original roster for The Leftovers during the Season 3 Spring Split. Following the departure of former captain Badgah, The Leftovers gained new talent in the form of TheDarkDodo for Middle and Murrdurr for Support. Even with this new roster, Nika and the rest of The Leftovers, now under the banner of Sanguine Esports, were ready to face whatever challenge they were presented with in the SPL Fall Split. Now the team moves into the Group Phase and is excited and optimistic about the future.
With the Group Phase just on the horizon, I asked Nika if he would join me in an interview about himself, his team, and his experiences playing in the SMITE Pro League.
How long have you been playing SMITE?
Nika: I have been playing SMITE for the past 4 years around the time of the Bacchus/Apollo patch, a friend of mine introduced a group of us to the game, it took a while for me to take interest in the game but eventually I was hooked and SMITE became the main game I would play over anything else.
What made you decide that you wanted to play SMITE competitively?
Nika: It’s hard to find one deciding moment that made me want to go competitive, in reality, going pro was something that I never intended on in the first place, I always saw SMITE as a casual game that I’d play with a group of friends. Around August 2015 I started to put a lot of time into the game during my summer break and this led me to getting to masters within a few weeks which gave me some recognition amongst the EU pro players at the time which got me into some high level in-houses where I could get some real practice against the best players in the region. Personally, I’d have to say that seeing Kennet, better known as Adapting, win the SWC made me want to give competitive a shot - he was somebody I knew for a long time before he went pro and seeing his growth and success made me want to emulate it.
How do you feel about the meta for the Solo lane? Is it in a healthy state right now or does something need to be changed?
Nika: The solo lane right now is in a very rigid position - 99% of the time we will see a warrior or a guardian in the solo lane which limits the playstyle of the solo laner to be either a backline disruptor or a supportive role for your carries. In previous metas we have seen mages, assassins and hunters be somewhat relevant in the solo lane which made the lane a far more flexible role compared to now, as the player in the lane would determine what playstyle they wanted whereas now we are all forced to fulfill a certain role - personally I’m enjoying solo right now but the main changes I would like to see is to somehow make more gods viable in the lane by reducing the importance of early pressure as well as reducing the effectiveness of defense items which are way too dominant in builds right now.
What player and/or team do you enjoy playing against the most?
Nika: The player I enjoy playing against the most is Dimi who plays for NRG, I see him as the best solo laner in EU so I always enjoy playing against him to see how well I can compete with him as well as being able to learn from the way he plays matchups and teamfights - we are also good friends so it’s always fun to play against each other than discuss stuff afterwards.
The team I enjoy playing against the most is probably Orbit, preparing to face them is always fun - they’re a very skilled group of players who have incredible synergy, plus they are extremely unpredictable so games against them are always entertaining.
How excited are you and the rest of Sanguine for the Group Phase of the SPL?
Nika: Everybody is super excited to meet each other, being able to meet the people you practice and play with every day is going to be a great feeling. The opportunity of playing at LAN is also something new to most of us on the team so we can’t wait to play at the studio.
What do you and the rest of the team do to help maintain a high level of synergy?
Nika: The main way to maintain and build on synergy is to practice as team by scrimming. We scrim 6/7 days a week against other SPL teams as it allows us to work on drafts and strategies which we may want to play in the future and testing them against other high level teams helps perfect ideas. As well as this, spending time with teammates outside of scrims and just playing together in ranked and casuals or just having conversations with each other helps us bond as friends rather than just a group of 5 players.
What has been your favorite moment of playing in the SPL?
Nika: It’s hard to pick one specific moment in the SPL but I would have to say that the 2v1 against Dignitas last split was probably one of my favourite and memorable moments. Also, my first ever SPL set vs HFM (now known as Obey) will always be memorable to me since we 2-0d on my debut which was a great feeling, going into that game I was super nervous so being able to overcome that and get the perfect result was amazing.
What advice would you give to anyone that wants to get into the competitive SMITE scene?
Nika: Firstly, playing as much as you can is the best way to get into the competitive scene - the more hours you put in the more you’ll be noticed by the higher ranked players as you climb the ranked leaderboard which could potentially create options for you to spend time playing with those teams or give you opportunities to tryout. Secondly, I would recommend that players look into entering the challengers cup - the CC is a good way of finding new talent for SPL rosters and it could also potentially lead to you getting into the SPL with a group of players that you enjoy playing with which is pretty much what happened with CycloneGG and now they’re a solid team in the SPL. Lastly, being a competitive SMITE player takes a lot of commitment - you need to make sure that you can balance your education or employment with practicing and playing SMITE, if you’re having to sacrifice education or even your job you need to be 100% sure that the move to full time SMITE is going to be worth it for you in the long run.
What are some common mistakes you see less experienced Solo laners make?
Nika: Not knowing matchups is probably the biggest mistake newer solo laners make, especially in our current meta winning the laning phase is vital as having that early control can just win you the game before the late game teamfighting takes place so matchup knowledge is the key to success. Making sure that you can play against every meta character in lane is crucial to being a solid solo laner, additionally, knowing your role within the team composition is also something less experienced solo laners struggle with sometimes, knowing the difference between when to be the backline bully or the supportive peeler for your carries is very important to the current solo lane role.
Thanks for doing this interview, Nika; Any final thoughts or shoutouts that you would like to say?
Nika: Shoutouts to Sanguine for being incredibly supportive ever since we signed with them, everybody involved with the organisation is great and it’s a pleasure working with them. Also, thanks to all the fans who support us even through the tough split we’ve had, we’re spending a lot of time to make sure that we perform to our full potential at the upcoming group stage LAN and pull off the results we know we are capable of. Also follow me on Twitter - @Smite_Nika :D
Thanks again to Nika for agreeing to do this interview with me. Nika and the rest of Sanguine Esports will be playing in the Group Phase of the SMITE Pro League on the 7th through the 9th of October. You can watch Sanguine play live over on Hirez’s official Twitch Stream. Finally, make sure to follow @SanguineEsports for everything about Sanguine.