Monday, June 11, 2018

LCK Summer 2018 Preseason Predictions

LCK Summer 2018 Predictions and Preseaon Odds

There's not a whole lot of change besides a few names in Korea but we do have ourselves a new competitor in Griffin who will replace Kongdoo Monster after absolutely decimating the challenger scene for the better part of a calendar year now. Let's take a look at the odds to win the split!

LCK Summer 2018 Preseason Odds:

Kingzone DragonX +170
KT Rolster  +425
SK Telecom  +425
Afreeca Freecs +585
Gen.G (formerly KSV)  +825
Jin Air Green Wings +2000
Griffin  +2100
Hanwha Life eSports (formerly ROX) +2100
MVP +3000
BBQ Olivers +3300


B Tier Teams:

10) BBQ Olivers
Roster: Crazy, Trick, Tempt, Aries, IgNar, Ghost (sub), Bono (sub)
Odds to win split (via the sports books): +3300

I'm not entirely sure if it'll be BBQ or MVP in last place but it will almost definitely be one of them. BBQ had a few stunning upsets last season but ultimately I was dead on about them. This team is trash and they didn't make any changes. This team could potentially be something with different coaching but as far as I know that hasn't changed either. Crazy and Tempt were strong players this split but the rest of this lineup is just so poor when compared to the rest of the league. They might not be Kongdoo bad but... I mean maybe they will be...

9) MVP
Roster: ADD, Yondu (formerly Beyond), Ian, Pilot, Max, Maha (sub), Motive (sub) 
Odds to win split (via the sports books): +3000

If MVP decide to start Pilot and Motive over the atrocious Max and Maha bot lane that has been crippling them for years then maybe this team could end up better than this but I still think Ian is the worst mid laner in the LCK and there are challenger leage players significantly stronger than he is. In a metagame that is now VERY mid lane centric as opposed to last season you'll see him punished much more than he has been over the past two splits. I'm kind of thinking this team might actually end up in last now that I'm thinking about it but the meta should be better for Beyond than it has been as well. I don't know, MVP and BBQ are so poor compared to the rest of the league. 


A Tier Teams:

8) Jin Air Green Wings
Roster: SoHwan, UmTi, Grace, Teddy, Nova, KaKao (sub), Justice (sub)
Odds to win split (via the sports books): +2000

The A Tier starts at 8 in Korea to me. I sorta even think the bottom tier Korean teams can hang with the top teams from the rest of the world besides China. Anyway that's soemthing I've said before. Jin Air have a bonafied superstar in Teddy and he's got a support, presumably of his choosing to groom to his needs in Nova who has absolutely dominated the challenger seen for APK. Other than the bot lane this team was extremely shakey last season and that's going to be very important in a meta that's moved away from scaling hyper carries into a more early and mid game skirmishing focus. Weak mid/jungle synergy is going to be punished particularly hard now and this is one of the weakest combinations in the league regardless of who is starting. Unless KaKao still has some gas left in the tank for a late career renaissance then I just don't see this team doing anything other than being better than the worst teams.
7) Hanwha Life eSports (formerly ROX Tigers)
Roster: Linderang, Mightybear, Lava, Sangyoon, Key, Brook (sub), Seonghwan (sub), Kuzan (sub), Clever (sub), Asper (sub)
Odds to win the split (via the sports books): +2100

This team was really impressive last season and not in the way that good teams were underestimating them. They're very well coached and in metagame that's much more about macro movement and teamwork than individual plays then a team like that can succeed. Lava appears to be on the cusp of the top tier mid laners even if he's not quite there yet. This ranking is mostly just a bet on the metagame not allowing them to stall out games anymore and for much the same reason that Jin Air's "protect the carry" style will be punished in the direction the game is going I think the same is true of HLE. I also don't know exactly who is going to be playing and when. Unlike Jin Air I trust the coaching a more here so there's room for a little higher placement than this although I don't think they'll make the playoffs.

S- Tier Teams:

6) Gen.G (formerly KSV/Samsung)
Roster: CuVee, Ambition, Crown, Ruler, CoreJJ, Mong (sub), Haru (sub), Fly (sub), Life (sub)
Odds to win the split (via the sports books): +825

This is probably the "hottest" take on this list but the truth is that outside of international tournaments this team has shown laziness and an unwillingness to adapt to the metagame. They punt games they should win and they refuse to play uptempo even when the game dictates it meaning they'll almost never beat the elite teams and will occassionaly lose to weaker teams that can punish. With the direction the game has moved in I'm going to need to be proven wrong before believing this team is going to show up for the regular season. That being said this is a roster with a ridiculous level of talent and this is also the prediction I think is most likely to be wrong if they show the ability to play the new game.

5) Griffin 
Roster:Sword, Tarzan, Rather, Viper, Lehends, Chovy (sub)
Odds to win the split (via the sports books): +2100

FINALLY we get to see Griffin in the LCK. It seemed like it was an inevitability that they get in last year but they suffered an absolutely stunning loss to remain in the challenger scene where they proceeded to take out all their frustrations on every other team. For those that aren't aware, this team went a PERFECT 14-0 in the regular season with a 28-2 game score in the Challengers Korea Spring. This automatically qualified them for the promotion tournament where they roflstomped both Kongdoo Monster and MVP. I don't think these guys are going to win the split but they're certainly going to be the talk of the town. They're ruthless, cold blooded killers here. Viper could be the next great ADC for Korea, most of the all time greats already think he is. He's been rank 1 on the ladder more or less for the past two years. Griffin are the real deal. They remind me a lot of when Cloud 9 first came onto the scene and utterly dominated but I think the LCK is just a little bit too tough for them to run the table or anything. They'll either take the last playoff spot or at least challenge for it. Don't underestimate a young, hungry squad of rookies. They're going to work harder and have a chip on their shoulder.


S Tier Teams:

4) SK Telecom T1
Roster: Thal, Blank, Faker, Bang, Wolf, Untara (sub), Blossom (sub), Pirean (sub), Leo (sub), Effort (sub)
Odds to win the split (via the sports books): +425

SKT looked a lot better as the season progressed as they seemed to figure out their roster. I still think they should start Blossom and perhaps they will but they'll almost certainly be better than last season. With that in mind, I still don't think it's likely they win the title with such a stacked region. They just have too many good but not great players. Then again it is Faker and the game is moving toward a metagame that will let him "do Faker things" with mid picks like Irelia, Yasuo, and other creative options he could easily go back to the Faker of old and just take over games. Don't let the looks and results fool you, he was still completely dominant last season if you look at his metrics. This is still the greatest player of all time we're talking about here and he's not that old ... 

3) Afreeca Freecs
Roster: Kiin, Spirit, Kuro, Kramer, Tusin, Summit (sub), Mowgli (sub), Ruby (sub), Aiming (sub), Jelly (sub)
Odds to win the split (via the sports books): +585

This team proved me wrong over and over again last season. They were the real deal. Afreeca were versatile, disciplned, and just rock solid through and through but they didn't have those truly dominant ceiling performances like the best of the best squads did. I'm expecting a down tick here while they experiment with some substitutes but they'll still be a top team. I'm just not putting them in that S+ tier. Kuro and Kramer were lights out as usual and Kiin as a pleasant surprise. I'm curious about how the metagame will affect this team but they're well coached and disciplined so I think their floor is extremely high even if their ceiling isn't. 


S+ Tier Teams:
(Korea gets S+ Tier)

2) KT Rolster
Roster: Smeb, Score, UCal, Deft, Mata, Rush (sub)
Odds to win the split (via the sports books): +425

I know this team had their struggles and gave up a few really big upset losses but other than that they just obliterated everyone. UCal stepped right in and did nothing but improve this team as a rookie. With half a split worth of games under his belt he can only improve and he'll have to in a competitive mid lane field and a metagame that will revolve around his position more than it has in the past few splits. This is still a squad of four Hall of Fame caliber players and a rookie that showed he's ready for the spotlight and will only improve. For my money, this is the 2nd or 3rd best team in the world currently.

1) Kingzone DragonX
Roster: Khan, Peanut, BDD, Pray, Gorilla, Cuzz (sub)
Odds to win the split (via the sports books): +170

Do I really think Kingzone is that much better than KT Rolster and the rest of the field? ... I mean kinda?? Look, this is the best team in the world. I know they didn't win MSI and I know they actually lost games but Korean teams have had poor showings at MSI in the past and it hasn't had any influence on how dominant they are. This is still the perfect blend of young talent and veteran leadership except it's three of the best veterans of all time and two legit superstars as the rookies. Khan is the best player in the world to me currently. He's toying with his food every single game, it's reminiscent of Faker when he first emerged onto the scene. It's like he's playing on a different plane of existence or something. You've got three of the best of all time in their position, a mid laner in BDD that's arguably the best in the region and the current best player on the planet and they all play well together AND the meta is tipping even more and more in their favor every day with more carry heavy teams falling into favor over low variance tanks. The LCK is extremely competitive but I'm fairly confident Kingzone would not lose a series in any other region. I could see them finishing 15-3 or 16-2 or something along those lines and that's in a ridiculously stacked LCK.

Preseason Bets and Predictions:

Value Bet to Win the Split: KT Rolster +425 (also like Griffin at +2100 if you're feeling frisky)

Again, to reiterate, this bet is meant to get the most bang for your buck. A team that isn't likely to win but is perhaps the most likely of the unlikely choices to do so. KT Rolster have the tools to actually take down Kingzone. The finals is more than likely going to be the two of them anyway so you might as well put a chip on the 2nd best team in the world at this kind of value. I like Griffin as a dark horse because we've seen rookie squads do unbelievable things recently like Vitality. Thinking back to Cloud 9 and when SK Telecom T1 K first crashed onto the scene. It's been awhile in the LCK but it could happen.

Summer Split VOTING MVP: 1st choice - Viper,  2nd choice - Faker  (Dark Horse: Teddy)
Just to clarify, in the LCK we have player of the match voting so I'm going to go by who I predict will finish atop that leader board here. If SKT are going to be strong it will inevitably be on the back of Faker and for similar reasons I think Griffin will play around their superstar ready stud in the bot lane in Viper. Along the same lines, Teddy has to solo carry Jin Air or they don't win games.

Summer Split MVP (Eye Test):  1st choice - Khan, 2nd choice - Smeb

If it's not Khan then it has to be Smeb because he uprooted him in finals or something insane.

Biggest Disappointment: Gen.G

I'm willing to be wrong on this and perhaps it's a bit spiteful because they REKT me last season betting but I think people think this is still the world championship team just beacuse the names are the same but that was a flash in the pan. They're not a bad team they're just not going to be one of the elite teams. I'll probably be wrong about this again. The smart money for this would be on Griffin to not deliver on the hype but I'm a believer in them. You could also go with SKT as there is a chance their issues aren't fixed and they start too slow to recover.


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