SMITE Season 4 is ramping up, and the full force of the cataclysmic changes is still being felt by Conquest fans and pro players alike. If you've been reading along with us as we covered the Season 4 best picks for mid lane, or our best picks for solo lane, you know the plan. We run the numbers on who's hot and who's not this season, and you do all the shooting and winning.
But you're going to need a good eye, sniper -- the picks aren't the only things that have changed this time around. There's a reason this isn't our "best picks for ADC in the duo lane".
Supports, our tankier half in the old duo lane, have recently been partnering up to the mid lane and junglers in Season 4, leaving us sharpshooting types in the middle of an old Western gunslinger's duel. Don't let your shooting hand get too shaky at the thought of staring down the enemy Hunter on your own, though.
This lane ain't big enough for the two of you -- but these picks will help make sure that you're the one riding off into the sunset with a fistful of victories.
If this line-up looks familiar, that's because it's been the quintessential "Big 3" for a very long time running. These Hunters formed the core dynamic of the duo lane. While rounds of nerfs, new items, and new gods took some of these sharpshooters down a few pegs, recent buffs and item changes in Season 4 have put them back on the map -- specifically the Conquest map.
While they're far from the only game in town like they once were, these three all bring valuable power spikes at different stages in the game, and are all more than capable of carrying any game in which they go unchecked.
A long, long time ago in a Season far, far away, Apollo was absurd. While he didn't have the early game bullying potential of Anhur, or the late-game-murder-machine status of Rama, Apollo was a capable Hunter more than powerful enough to stand in the same lane as these two without breaking much of a sweat.
Then everything changed when the Nerf Nation attacked and So Beautiful was powered down slightly. Without access to reliable wave clear until the mid to late game, Apollo was simply bullied out of the duo lane more often than was acceptable, and all The Moves in the world couldn't convince most ADCs to pick him.
But if you follow patch notes (or follow someone that follows patch notes, like us), you'll also be aware that the later segments of Season 3 and now Season 4 have buffed Apollo's waveclear back to prenerf levels, made attack speed the current fashionable choice for Hunters, and made Hastened Fatalis good again. These are all very, very good signs that Apollo is about to retake his rightful place as a rockstar of the Hunter world.
While he may not scale as excellently into the late game as Rama, or even as well as Apollo, Anhur's free protection shred gives him a clear lead against all opposition early. Competent Anhurs can then snowball from there, denying their enemy Hunter/ADC any late game at all.
As the focus of the old duo lane increasingly shifts towards a 1-on-1 boxing match between carries, Anhur's ability to leap confidently into early engagements is now much more of an asset than perhaps it has ever been previously. If it's all about the ADC duels -- and it is -- the Slayer of Enemies is more than equipped to lead a charge back up to the top of the Hunter ranks.
One of the most common physical ADCs in Season 3, Rama was always the professional's pick. He had a rock bottom floor for less mechanically practiced players, but a sky-high ceiling for people who knew what they were doing. And he more than amply rewarded any Carry player that could fully utilize his skillset. There are very few ADCs -- very few gods at all -- that could contest a fully-built level 20 Rama who could land shots.
And then they buffed Astral Arrows, put Penetration on everything, and gave Rama the option to merely ignore the other ADC altogether as he farms rather safely. What was once a dangerous 4-person tango can now be a leisurely Solo Lane 2 with a hunter, allowing him to farm and reach his potent endgame with far less danger. When you put all of this together, it means that Rama is keeping his place among the ADC stars, and if anything may actually have flown a little higher.
The quintessential Hunters for Mid, Early, and Late game respectively, The Big 3 are back in a big way this Season. If you're shooting for the W's this season, these Hunters don't miss.
Of course, if the physical ADCs were the duo lane stars of Season 2, then the Magical ADCs were the king and queens of Season 3 -- and are still well positioned to make a case for the "EU meta" Magical ADC going into Season 4. While their absolute dominance has taken a hit (mostly in the loss of Chronos and Sol's "free Fatalis" from abilities), they're still perfectly capable of outgunning and outmaneuvering any opponent that underestimates these three magical ADCs.
Of course, if the Fatalis effect (which many Hunters have gotten by without for some time) is absolutely crucial to you, that's also fine -- it was always a perfectly reasonable pick up for ADCs, and never stopped being a core item on Freya. Now you even get free Penetration with it, so you deal more damage!
Because that's what these three needed. More damage.
We've talked a bit about how the focus this Season is primarily on wave clear. We've always said that in the Long lane, "boxing matches" (1-on-1 fights) are going to be both much more common and much more game-altering. Without a Support constantly present to guard the lane in case of catastrophic failure (i.e. you die), duels now figure much more prominently into which ADC wins their lane -- and manages to find that much-needed gold and experience as a result.
Chronos has perfectly viable waveclear once he hits his third rank in either Stop Time or Time Rift, has regenerative capabilities thanks to his Passive I + Accelerate interaction, and (perhaps most importantly) is the mid-t- late game king of the 1-on-1. Not Kali, not Mercury, not Bellona, not even Rama. Chronos. When you absolutely, positively must win your duels, you want to be playing the Keeper of Time.
As a Season 4 ADC? You absolutely, positively must win your duels.
Of course, there's more lanes than the Long one, and more to a game than simply winning your lane. Sometimes it's okay to take a back seat. Farm. Bide your time. Relax a little. Take it easy. Take it slow.
And then at level 5 utterly annihilate your lane opponent -- and at level 20 all of their friends as well.
Chronos may be the master of mano a mano, but the Queen of the Valkyries is the mistress of mass mayhem -- capable of destroying entire clusters of enemies as easily as she melts any single target. And we do mean any.
While far less "safe" than her magical ADC compatriots, Freya provides unchecked lat egame potential much in the way of a magical Rama. Either your enemies can leave her alone to tear through the rest of the team, or they can try to face her and get melted before she tears through the rest of the team.
With more penetration on Fatalis and a couple new toys in the "Magical ADC" department, Freya was already flying near the top ADC slots. Now she shows no signs of coming down anytime soon.
Usually, when a character falls comfortably into the middle of two other picks, it's not so great. When those two picks are the unchecked team-wiping carnage of Freya and the nearly unbeatable 1-on-1 mastery of Chronos, however, "comfortably in between those two" suddenly looks a lot better.
How Sol most profits this Season (aside from the same powerful new weapons Freya and sometimes Chronos will access) is actually a result of the Support role moving to the rest of the map. Twice the number of roaming "Jungler"-esque potential gankers means twice as many chances for a lane to go south on the unwary. Sol, however, can easily and safely clear waves from a long distance, and is more than capable of peeling for herself before Disapparating back to safety.
With most of the damage of the other magical Big 3, but a far better defensive suite, Sol can keep herself alive and in the game without much trouble -- until she decides to turn up the heat on her opponent. After a few of Sol's self-heals, the enemy ADC is going to find themselves low on HP, low on mana, and (if they're not careful) totally S.O.L.
Some of the most powerful endgames in SMITE rest in the magical hands of this N-EU Big 3. While the old Hunters are calling for blood, SMITE's recent additional support for physical Supports means the magical massacres aren't over yet. And these three magical ADCs are still high priority picks for the old duo lane.
SMITE Season 4 may be a little more dangerous than we're used to in the old duo lane. And I'm sure plenty of us will miss our duo partner as they wander about, stealing all the glory from Mid and Solo like they stole it from us for so lon...er...I mean as they're off around the rest of the map being their charming, helpful selves.
But this is our Season to shine, carries. This time, our lane is the big stage. Our fights are the legendary duels on razor-thin advantages. When the crowds cheer and Titans fall, it will be because of us. This is why we fight.
Mage or Hunter, magic or metal - which ever school you choose, old or N-EU, these six ADC picks will make sure your lane opponent is well beneath a tombstone while you're telling your team how the lane was won.
Now go forth and Conquer! But when you come back 'round these parts, be sure to tell us your picks and battles in SMITE's Season 4 Spring Split. We want to hear them all -- the good, the bad, and especially the ugly.