Magic Missile 101: The top 5 Mages in SMITE Season 3
One of the key tenants of SMITE as a game - of SMITE as a concept - is power. Every single player character on the Battleground is a god, a demigod, or something very close to one of these things. Whether you're the God of War, The Trickster, the Master of Thunder, or the Defender of the Earth you are powerful - and in Season 3 of SMITE, very few things are as powerful as Mages.
With 24 options (and assuredly more to come) though, it can be hard to figure out exactly which mage you want to make your mark with. Anubis can certainly shred, but you find yourself ganked into oblivion. Hades was working well...until the enemies picked up Purification.
Luckily for you, my sorcerous apprentices, I've done the research and found more than a few Mages that will improve your score faster than you can say Wingardium Leviosa (or is it Levio-SA?). So put on your robe and wizard hat, and follow me into this grimoire filled with the top 5 Mage picks of Season 3.
I promise - it'll be magical.
The mathemagics behind the list
Before we start naming Names, I'd like to take a moment to explain by what unknown wizardry I've picked each of the following gods or goddesses. 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 -- cause 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 all that out of the way, let's kick our list off with:
It seems only fitting to start a list of the top 5 Mages in Season 3 of SMITE with the Goddess of Magic herself: Isis. One of the older names on the list, Isis was a powerful pick in Season 2, absurd in the preseason, and still retains a place among the strongest of spell-casters in Season 3.
While she bats a relatively unimpressive 37.8% Pick/Ban rate in the EU, she still solidly ranks as number 5 there (8.1% above the next highest). She also sports a rather staggering 75.9% contest rate in North America (landing her at number 2 among Mages there).
What makes Isis so powerful in both pick-up games and competitive team play is her control of space from very early in the game. Wing Gust is both a powerful clearing tool that can shove waves against most enemy mages from level 1 or 2, while also allowing her some measure of safety when she's on the defensive. 25% move speed while running backwards (without a backpedal penalty) is pretty great on its own, but when you're covering your tracks with a torrent of painful magic it becomes fairly simple to force the bad guy back.
Spirit Ball is certainly a powerful long range cannon ball of a poke and secure tool, but where Isis and her zone control really shine is in her Ultimate, Circle of Protection. At once a fantastic teamfight tool and a gigantic "I Dare You" to the enemy team when placed under an objective, Circle of Protection gives the enemies two real options: get out, or get dead.
With a dominating early game presence that flows perfectly into powerful teamfight potential in the late game, it's easy to see why the Goddess of Magic is still the Queen of mages in SMITE Season 3.
Of course where there's a Queen there's a King, and it's hard to argue that King is anyone but:
The God of Portals has certainly transitioned his way just fine into the Season 3 mid-lane, performing way above threshold on this list and running an incredible 79.3% contest rate in the EU, and only being slightly less popular in NA at 71.4%.
Janus does a few things well, and nothing terribly badly. He has unparalleled mobility for both yourself and your team with Threshold, staggering damage with Passages passively boosting the damage on Unstable Vortex, and a solid Crowd Control option, evasive maneuver, and huge personal mobility with Portal.
While the ability to just teleport your enemy way back to a respawn timer with Passages active -> Portal (ground mode) -> Unstable Vortex is solid enough, and his wave clear is strong once Unstable Vortex reaches rank 3 or so, Janus' most powerful asset (and the reason he is so hotly contested) is that he "cheats". Pure and simple. Hacks.
Janus' Ultimate Through Space and Time allows for your whole team to show up to fights and objectives they'd otherwise have no business making in time. Other gods have global or semi-global mobility, sure -- but none of them can take your whole crew with you on your way to defend the Fire Giant. Janus fundamentally changes the rules of the game for your team, and your team only, and for that reason more than makes his way into the Top 5.
Then again, when we talk about changing the rules of the game, at least somewhere in the conversation there's:
A more recent addition than the previous two, when Sol made her way onto the Battleground of the Gods, things were certainly heating up -- mostly in the long lane, as a "magical Hunter".
While she certainly wasn't the first Mage that flirted with being a fighter, she blazed a trail into pro play - and continues to do so, firing off a 75.9% contest rate in North America, and still managing a more lukewarm 58.6% in the EU, putting her in the top 5 slot on both sides of the ocean.
As for why, well, Sol herself says it best -
This fiery Freya-esque Hunter/Mage hybrid is sporting some stellar damage output right out of the gate, and it never really lets up. While she might be a little unstable, her ability to destroy everything in front of her certainly isn't -- even if she's out of cooldowns, her passive lets her fire off basic attacks far more powerful than those of her more traditionally wizardly peers.
Of course, if only damage was what would make or break a top 5 pick, Anubis would be on this list (spoiler: he isn't). While she certainly has the damage to go on a hot streak whenever she gets out of control, Sol also has an incredibly important ability for professional play -- the ability to survive.
With her self-heal from Radiance, and the immunity to slows and movement penalties (and after 3s immunity to just about everything for a short time) from Disapparate, Sol manages to leave many enemies in a no-win scenario. She has too much damage to fight toe to toe, too much sustain to profitably trade with, and if the lane gets a little too hot to handle from ganks, well...she can always just leave.
For a newer face in the game, Sol has certainly left her (scorch) marks on SMITE Season 3. Of course, she's not the only challenger to the old Tier 1 gods this Season -- joining her is the Master of Thunder himself:
While we've talked a little about Raijin before, he's been beating on baddies even harder since we last left him. With a 65.8% contest rate in EU, and a 55.4% rate in NA, Raijin is pretty low on the list - but low on the list of "five best anything" is still worlds above some of the competition, and he's only been getting more play as the Season progresses.
Raijin still retains the strengths he had on his release - he's incrediblly mobile thanks to Thunder Crash, has fantastic wave clear with Percussive Storm, has great damage on both single targets and on groups thanks to Raiju, and has a has an ultimate that will let him roll over enemies like so much thunder.
The Master of Thunder is a powerful asset to every team for precisely the reason he's almost never the best asset to any -- he's incredibly solid at nearly everything from pressure to survivability, a first rate "quality" pick, but fails to change the rules of the game in any significant way. His control of space isn't as good as Isis, his damage is very high but not as sustainable as Sol's, his mobility is great but not nearly as rule-bending as a Portal.
Of course, there's something to be said for just being "better than most picks at most things, and easily slotting into most strategies" - and the Master of Thunder certainly fits the bill there. Sometimes everything is a nail, and all you need is a hammer drumstick. Luckily, he has a couple.
Speaking of a couple, the fifth pick in our tome of the top 5 Mages of SMITE Season 3 is actually...well, two:
Zeus // Chronos
The Ruler of the Sky, King of Thunder and Lightning has an odd slot to share with the Keeper of Time - Zeus sports an absurd 83% contest rate in the North American scene, ranking him #1 Mage NA by a massive 7.1% over runner-up Isis, but fails to make the top 5 of the European scene at all, coming in at 29.7% (6th place, just below Isis).
Chronos, on the other hand, manages a fine 68.5% in the EU (and ranking in the top 5), but spends most of his time in the NA scene near the bottom with only 17% contest rate (coming in 8th).
What we're left with, then, is a sort of regional disparity. Chronos certainly fits the EU style much more - from Freya to Sol, the European side of the game has always leveraged magical attack carries much more than the North American scene . But Chronos sees next to no play in the states despite his ability to fire up in the midgame and "hypercarry" in the very late game. Shredding target after target with spells and huge basic attacks, while remaining safe and topped off with Rewind makes Chronos the undisputed king of 1v1s and one of the few true hypercarries in the game.
Zeus, on the other hand, was king of the hill very early on in SMITE history, dropped off the face of the Battleground for awhile, then came back with a mighty vengeance post-rework. While he has no mobility option anymore, it turns out "completely erasing literally anything that gets near you" counts as an escape -- especially when you can do it from a distance in team fights, and totally control the zone around an objective or in a teamfight with your Ultimate.
When picking between these two (or any character in any role, really), try to assess the strengths and weak spots of your composition. A team with a Chronos and a Kali is certainly a favorite in any match that makes it to the late game, but a Zeus and Thor combo can shut out your opponents hard, making that late game a little too late to come online.
With Zeus and Chronos added to your list of tricks, our time here is nearly over -- though hopefully you've found at least one Keeper among the listed Mages. Whether it's the Goddess of Magic, the God of Portals, the Sun, the Master of Thunder, The Ruler of the Sky, or the Keeper of Time, these top 5 (fine, fine. 6) picks will be sure to have you pulling victories out of a hat for ranks to come.
Now go forth and conquer! But be sure to come back and tell us all about your favorite Mage (or Mages) in Season 3 of SMITE.