Plantronics Tainted Minds came close to upsetting the current champions, PandamoniumGG, in a tight and hard fought battle, in the first LAN final of the SMITE Oceania Pro League season.
The final was played in front of a live audience as Tainted Minds lost 3-2, as part of CyberGamer's CGPL Autumn LAN at the Australia Technology Park in Sydney over the 16th and 17th of April.
Reaching the final has been part of a long journey for the Tainted Minds squad, who originally established themselves in February and were picked up by Tainted Minds 3 days, before the start of the Oceania Pro League this year.
"The last four months have been a roller coaster of emotions", said team captain Tom 'Tomolomu' Morgan. "From trying to build a solid team, to grinding day and night to become better and the emotional and physical drain of OPL matches each week takes its toll. But I wouldn't change anything".
In a match which looked set to be a one sided affair, as Pandamonium took the first game of the series convincingly. PLT. Tainted Minds came back strong and defiant in the following games, eventually leading to both teams being level at 2-2.
In the deciding match Tainted Minds gained the upper hand early, and were on the path to victory and a major upset over the Pandas. However, in stunning play by Pandamonium's Mid Laner, Ochita, the Pandas were able to steal a powerful buff reward from the clutches of Tainted Minds. Which in the end led to them steadying the ship and and turning the match on the challengers, eventually winning the series 3-2.
You can check out the final moments of the deciding game and the stunning play from Ochita in the video below.
It was a dramatic final where the Tainted Minds SMITE team showed they have the talent and spirit to go head to head with the best team in the region, and one in which team captain 'Tomolomu', said he felt immense pride for how his team played.
"It was a very hard fought dog fight. Nothing compares to the exhaustion we all felt after that set, but it was an enriching feeling knowing that my mates sitting beside me, had put absolutely everything into those games."
Tainted Minds in the end finished in 2nd place and received AU$2,500 as part of the overall AU$10,000 Split One Prize pool, for the Smite competition.
The total 2016 prize pool of $100,000 AUD and a trip to SMITE World Championships are still to be awarded through two more upcoming splits.
With such a close Split One Final, eSports fans are sure to be in for an exciting season of SMITE in ANZ, with up and coming teams such as Tainted Minds raising the level of competition to new heights.
Although they fell short against Pandamonium, the Tainted Mind's team felt they had gained valuable experience. They have set themselves big goals to be the best SMITE team in ANZ, and are already focusing on the next tournament and what they need to do to prepare for their next outing against the Pandas.
"The ultimate goal for Tainted Minds SMITE, is to be competing in America early next year at the SMITE World Championships and to be the top of OCE SMITE for the remainder of the season.
As to how we achieve this is to get back to the grind, studying our opponents hard whilst also continually analysing our own game plays and working closely with our coach to perfect our game. I have total faith we can achieve this, and after last weekends LAN showing, I think the rest of the community does as well."
Looking towards the future, there will be a Split Two Relegation tournament on from the 23rd-24th of April as the bottom four Pro League teams (3-6) face the top 4 Challengers Cup teams. The top four of this tournament will join Pandamonium and PLT.Tainted Minds in the Split Two Pro League.