Hold the Door: The top 4 Guardians in SMITE Season 3
Look, I feel your pain - being a Guardian in SMITE Season 3 is hard. "Ward this, peel that, engage over here, help, help, I've gone and done something stupid again." Sometimes doing your very best to support your friends that are "carrying" feels a lot like herding drunk toddlers. That are also cats. That have been through a washing machine. While stoned.
The good news is, I've done more than my fair share of babysitting supporting when it comes to SMITE, and have decided it's time you got a little support of your own -- so I went and dug up the stats on which Guardians were the best supporting cast in professional play, and left out all the guards that caught an arrow to the knee.
So strap on your shields and dig those greaves in, Guardians. We're about to keep vision on the top 4 peelers, pickers, pluckers, and protectors of Season 3.
Defending the top picks
Though you can read the general idea in our list of the top Season 3 mages, I'd like to take a moment to show you exactly how and why I support the following gods and goddesses as the top 4 Guardians. While Win Rate or Kill Participation are easy first glances, they fail to account for much when actually assessing a god's performance throughout the season - Hades, for example, is currently batting a solid 100% win rate in the North American SPL.
Of course, Hades has also won an incredible 1/1 games played. With Persephone not yet a playable character, it seems the King of the Underworld is a little hurting for love lately (despite his undefeated performance).
Rather, the metric by which the following picks are judged is mostly the rate of contest: How often they're picked (or banned). Being a contested god says much more about the desirability of any given character than nearly anything else. When most (if not all) of the professional scene operates on the assumption that either you have this pick, or no one does, it's usually for good reason.
Now, this approach has a few of its own flaws - specifically, certain players are just "known for X", tilting the pick/ban rate a little more in a specific god's favor than it would be in a "normal" game -- but overall, contested picks are usually above the power level curve much more often than they are targeted bans. These are some of the best players in the world competing against some of the other best players in the world. While comfort on a pick is certainly something, it's rare that they'll pass up obvious opportunities or advantages, and far more likely they'll simply learn a new god that's above curve if the opportunity presents itself.
With that out of the way, let's see who's holding down the fort the best in Season 3, starting with:
Not only does the Dawn Bringer rank highest among Guardians when it comes to European picks and bans - he ranks the highest, period. Coming in at 94.6% contest rate, Khepri is the single most picked or banned god in Season 3 European SMITE. While that's a solid achievement on its own, he also manages to come in 9th overall in the North American scene, and is the thirst most contested Guardian there.
At a glance, it's easy to see why - whatever a Guardian wants to do, Khepri does in spades. Papa Kheprisun does his absolute best to keep all of his children (which according to his lore is everyone) safe.
Damage mitigation for yourself and allies? Fortitude and Rising Dawn.
Peels and Crowd Control? Abduct and Solar Flare.
Of course, what makes Khepri really unique (and what's kept him at the top of the Guardian roster since his release) is how he fundamentally breaks the rules of SMITE, and can snatch a nearby ally from the jaws of death and magically float them to safety with the Scarab's Blessing.
Well, not actual Death, since Thanatos' Ultimate (and any other "Execute") completely bypasses the resurrection ability, but the Blessing does change the game for very nearly everyone else.
Given his ability to keep all his godly children safe, it's no wonder Khepri shines bright as the smart pick of the Guardians in the EU scene.
Don't let your guard down yet, though. There's a difference between the smart pick and the wise one - and it's hard to choose more wisely the top Guardian on the other side of the Atlantic, the Goddess of Wisdom herself:
Switching spots with the big daddy beetle once you hop to the North American meta is Mama-thena, ranking first in Guardians and third overall in the most contested category with an 80.4% pick/ban rate. While her European contest rate is a much lower 55.9%, worth noting is that EU contest rates tend to be top heavier overall -- of the top 10 most contested picks in each scene, EU is higher % nearly across the board with only one or two exceptions.
Despite the relatively low showing when it comes to EU ("low" here meaning she's picked or banned in just over half of competitive European games), she still ranks as the third most contested Guardian overall, coming in 8.1% lower than the second place support pick Bacchus.
Athena may only fight when there's no alternative, but the sister to the God of War is no slouch when it comes to the battleground. Whether it's protecting your carries (or confirming kills) with Confound, closing large gaps and demonstrating that the best defense is a good offense with Preemptive Strike, or air dropping in to save the day (and probably explode some enemies) with Defender of Olympus, Athena is the perfect balance of offensive and defensive capability.
The reason she's so hotly contested, though, is her ability to be that perfect balance anywhere. Defender of Olympus is one of only a handful of truly "global" Ultimates, allowing the Goddess to save a complete idiot unaware of the minimap perfectly reasonable teammate in distress no matter where they are on the map. Pairing her with any of the other gods sporting a highly mobile Ultimate like Thor or Apollo allows any team with an Athena to put up resistance at major objectives long enough for the cavalry to close the gap.
While we're talking about gaps, though, we might as well bring up the next two picks, and the meta gap between them. We'll start the party off on the European side of things with the greatest of revelers, the God of Wine -
Ranking second on Europe's contested guardians list (and 10th most contested god overall in the EU), Bacchus pulls a solid 64% pick/ban rate in the land of the current SWC champions - though his 17% contest rate in North America is a little harder to choke down.
I'd like to go over Bacchus' amazing defensive capabilities for a moment. His ability to peel, to protect, to disengage. I'd like to...but I can't. The truth is Bacchus' strength (and the reason he's so popular) is his aggressive nature. The big man is thirsty for blood as much as wine, and with burst damage and disruption like his he usually drinks his fill of it.
While that might seem strange for a support character, Guardians in general tend to fall into one of two camps. There's more defensive roles, like the ones Khepri and Athena fill, or more offensive, "engage and disrupt" roles, like Ares or Xing Tian.
Bacchus is very much in the latter category -- and he is very, very strong at engaging and disrupting. After all, the enemy can't attack your friends if they're busy running from a large, insane drunk man wielding a gigantic turkey leg. They have other things on their mind at that point.
With the ability to zero squishier targets all by himself, and deal massive damage (as well as inflict stuns and drunkeness on opponents) with his Belly Flop, Intoxicate, Belch of the Gods combo, Bacchus can bust open entire enemy lines single-handedly. For that, he more than secures a spot in the top Guardians of SMITE's Season 3.
While mass intoxication certainly does the trick, there's still one more Guardian lurking in this top 4. It's fitting that Denial is a SMITE squad from North America, because that's also the home meta for:
With a healthy 64.3% contest rate in the North American metagame, Sobek snags a solid second place among NA Guardians, edging out Khepri by 1.8%. While his rate of contest is down to just over half of that in EU at 38.7%, he still manages a respectable fourth place finish and so makes the list.
The Death Sentence himself doesn't have the raw team disruption of Bacchus, the global presence of Athena, or the nearly impenetrable defense of Khepri -- but what the God of the Nile does have are one way tickets to the fountain, courtesy of his Charge Prey -> Tail Whip combo. And he's handing them out free of charge to any enemy he finds lurking in his waters.
If you've ever been in lane against a Sobek, you know the drill. You hear the "haumph" of his charge, then suddenly you're airborne, then you're a mile behind enemy lines, and then you're dead.
What Sobek lacks in raw capabilities he makes up for by being a precision pick machine. If any of the enemy squad leave themselves open, they're soon to be surrounded by your allies -- and that spells easy death for all but even the tankiest of frontliners (and even most of them, really).
When you add the utility of having a self-heal (and built in healing reduction on his Sickening Strike, freeing up an item slot against enemy healers usually reserved for Pestilence), Sobek becomes a very dangerous presence that can harshly punish even the smallest mistake.
As a bonus, he manages to make it on his own in the Solo lane just fine as well, providing a solid, tanky counterpick to sustain heavy enemy solo laners like Hel or Hercules, or brawlers with long wind-up animations on abilities like Bellona.
With these top 4 Guardians, you'll be able to keep even your army of headless chickens friends and allies safe and sound. You'll still need to keep your shield arm ready and your wits about you, but these picks should help carry some of the dead weight.
Now go forth and conquer! But keep your vision up, and be sure to tell us all you've seen playing your favorite Guardians in SMITE's Season 3 - because now, your* watch begins.
*As for mine? No way. I'm retired. Have you seen the carries out there? It's like they want to get killed. "Here, enemy team! Here! I have gold for you! Come, you look hungry! Let me feed you! Hey, what's a ward?" Uh-uh. That's all you. I'm not pulling any more Daycare Duty than I already have.
Good luck, friend.