In the vast world of MOBAs, it’s hard to stand out. For every success - like League of Legends, for example - there’s a flop. It’s a genre that is pretty stuffed but seems to hold infinite possibilities for another gem. SMITE, Hi-Rez Studio’s popular PC and console MOBA, is one such gem and has floated around ESports tournaments and the mouths of gamers for a few years now. With a tremendous lineup of gods to battle with, SMITE offers gamers a thorough MOBA experience that changes constantly, and it divvies up plenty of unlocks and mastery levels to keep players hooked. Its competitive life is strong as ever, and the SMITE DreamHack Valencia tournament (the pro and console league summer split) came to a thrilling conclusion a couple weeks ago, dealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money.

I’ve taken to SMITE a bit more recently than early adopters, so I’m not exactly the SMITE virtuoso. I play a pretty mean amateur Cupid, and when teamed up with my clan and buddies, I tend to play well. Typically, we’re a successful team. Once my supply of CRIT arrived, however, I knew I had to test it out with my static. About thirty minutes before we launched into a night of SMITE, we each popped two CRIT capsules and waited for the magic to begin. That night, we played as a trio and stuck mostly to Joust and Arena game types. Joust matches focus on one lane combat where three gods face off against another team of three gods. The goal is to eventually eliminate the opposing team’s Titan after barreling through their defensive tower and phoenix. Off branches of the main lane provide players with the opportunities to slay creatures and gain attack, mana, and attack speed boosts, while the bull demon will instantly destroy the other team’s phoenix if slain. Arena pits five gods against five gods in a deathmatch with a twist gameplay. The idea of arena is to feed enough of your minions into the enemy’s portal. Each team has a set number of tickets that dwindles when minions are fed to the portal, though hero kills will take chunks out of a team’s ticket total.

The first few games we attempted while using CRIT were Joust matches. I rolled with Cupid, and my partners played as Hades and Odin. Our main strategy consisted of Hades slithering through the off lanes while Odin and I pecked away at minions and kept the other players at bay. When Hades was in position, Odin would launch into the enemy gods and drop his cage, locking, hopefully, all three players in a small ring with him. Hades would then drop his ultimate (a devastating swirling pit attack) on the imprisoned gods while I flung arrows and my special (Cupid rains down a series of heart arrows in a large AoE attack, stunning and damaging any enemy in the blast). If executed to plan, the stratagem would eliminate the entire team. And if we planned accordingly, our minions would swarm their tower, and we could demolish it before the other team respawned.

On CRIT, you’re in the zone. Team communication narrowed to specifics, and, at least for me, my accuracy with Cupid increased. We came out victorious in each of the Joust matches we played, and I sported a high K/D/A spread while dealing large amounts of damage and healing for more. The same applied for Odin and Hades, as we seemingly manhandled the competition. It is worth noting, however, that my friends are much more seasoned individuals than I when it comes to SMITE, and their performances on CRIT, while excellent, were not necessarily out of the ordinary.

Our next set of matches fell to the Arena. Depending on our foes, surviving as a damage dealer can be quite a task. Again, I chose Cupid, but this time, my teammates rolled with Bacchus and Odin. This is where, I thought, the real test would show. Since Arena pits five gods against five gods, my team and I that night would have to rely on two strangers. In the world of MOBAs (or, really, any multiplayer game) random teammates can completely kill a team. Should we have teammates dying in double digits in Arena, then leaving the match victorious would be a hard sell. As it went, we split our two Arena matches. We won the first game by a landslide and lost the second by a matter of three tickets. For our first night on CRIT, however, a 4-1 record certainly wasn’t bad.

Since part of my job is writing for and about video games, I do a lot of work from home. My research includes playing games during the day, so I am often able to play a few rounds of CRIT from home. Finishing off my last few CRIT capsules, I tested the SMITE waters alone - and, damn, was I surprised. Once CRIT sunk in, I felt like I couldn’t be stopped. My first Arena match as Cupid ended in a 14/0/17 (Kills/Deaths/Assists) line - the top performer in our game - with massive amounts of damage and healing to boot. Sure, there were a few close calls mid game, but my accuracy and decision making skills were so fluent, it didn’t matter. I played a few more games of Arena - each wildly out of my hands as far as victories go - and netted similar positive lines. Of course, none matched that first game, but I often came away with a spread of 7/2/18 and 2/0/25. It all depended on where the arrow fell.

Fans of MOBAs know: concentration, focus, and skill easily dictate who will typically thrive in a match. The ability to improvise and alter strategies based on enemy gods, strategies, and abilities is imperative to victory. Crit took a set of three amateur players and helped us reach new highs. When working in tandem (we usually play at the same location for improved communications), my team is usually as good as any opponents we face. Could we hold our ground against professional SMITE players? Probably not; I’m not sure even CRIT could replace the knowledge, experience, and skillsets of the pros. One this is certain, however; I sure as hell felt like a champion when each match finished and I shined at the top. As competitive gamers know (both in the professional and emotional sense), winning is king, and it feels damn good.

I’ll be testing CRIT out on more highly competitive games, so keep your eyes peeled.