Team Liquid -116 @ Fnatic -116
G2 eSports -217 @ Echo Fox +156
Fnatic -238 @ 100 Thieves +169
G2 eSports -135 @ Team Liquid +100
100 Thieves -159 @ Splyce +117
Moneyline: Team Liquid -116 to def Fnatic (5 units)
PROP: UNDER 23.5 total kills @ -116 (2 units)
Team Liquid appear to be playing this tournament seriously and to me, they're a cut above everyone else here. The fact that this is even is kinda surprising to me. Fnatic do get side selection but we're not going to see odds like this for Team Liquid for the rest of the tournament so I'm willing to eat my hat on this one if they end up losing but we need to strike while the gettin' is good. Either this game will be played cautiously by both sides or Team Liquid will run away with this one. 23.5 kills seems way too high for me.
Moneyline: Echo Fox +152 to def G2 (2.5 units MAX)
PROP: UNDER 24.5 total kills @ -116 (2 units)
PROP: UNDER 31:00 @ -116 (1 units)
I have a hunch that Echo Fox are going to pop off this game but even if they don't they'll lose in the first few minutes leading to a sub 30 minute win in my opinion. Echo Fox tend to play bloodier games but 24.5 kills is fairly high so I'm willing to take the under here. Huni is perhaps the only player in the entire tournament that can outplay Wunder.
PROP: FNC @ 100T UNDER 21.5 total kills @ -116 (2 units)
PROP: FNC @ 100T UNDER 31:00 @ -130 (2 units)
This should be a stomping. 100 Thieves just didn't have enough time to prepare with this lineup. Can't see them taking down a team like Fnatic as a matter of fact I think Fnatic will make this look easy.
Moneyline: Team Liquid +100 to def G2 (4.25 units MAX)
PROP: UNDER 22.5 total kills @ -116 (2 units)
PROP: UNDER 32:00 @ -116 (2 units)
Again, Team Liquid appear to actually care about stomping this tournament and I fully expect them to do so. G2 and Fnatic ought to give them a challenge but I do think they're a cut better than they are so I'm willing to put my neck out for these unders. Clean victories expected.
Moneyline: Splyce +117 to def 100T (3.5 units MAX)
PROP: UNDER 21.5 total kills @ -116 (2 units)
PROP: UNDER 31:00 @ -116 (2 units)
This 100 Thieves team is a mess. I feel bad because they could be good but on such short notice I have no idea how they're this favored over anybody with essentially a new roster. I'll bet against that even if I do believe this will eventually work out. Levi could single handedly steal this one but I'm willing to bet against that happening for now.
Rift Rivals LCK vs LMS vs LPL 7/6:
EDward Gaming -370 @ G-Rex +248
Kingzone DragonX -250 @ Flash Wolves +176
Rogue Warriors -400 @ MAD Team +263
Invictus Gaming -238 @ SK Telecom +170
Afreeca Freecs -417 @ G-Rex +272
Royal Never Give Up -105 @ Kingzone DragonX -128
(I'm going to leave this at the beginning of all of my Rift Rivals Posts but this is from Pre Day One.)
Before diving into these matchups specifically I'm going to do a power ranking for the teams in these events because I think it gives us perspective and lets you all know how I feel about each of these teams relative to the others. I'll leave a space where I think there is a tier break or a dropoff.
NA vs EU Power Rankings:
1) Team Liquid
3) Echo Fox
4) G2 eSports
6) 100 Thieves
To me, Team Liquid are a cut above the rest of the field. I'd have Fnatic right there with them but even with Bwipo performing well, he's not Rekkless and without Rekkless playing I can't see Fnatic holding up to TL. Echo Fox and G2 I expect to show well considering they have the two best individual players in the tournament in Huni and Perkz and that they're both teams that have high ceilings. Splyce have struggled this season but they haven't looked bad they just haven't been earning wins. Something something, best of ones are dumb.... And last but not least you all know how I feel bout 100 Thieves and with their trade of Meteos to FlyQuest for AnDa as well as announcing that Brandini and Levi will start at Rift Rivals I just can't see this team doing much at this tournament and expect them to go without a win.
As a side note, because I haven't really written about it outside of Twitter, I actually think this trade could work out in favor of 100 Thieves. People tend to cling to veterans that were once good too much and while Meteos has certainly surpassed my low expectations of him in the past two splits that doesn't mean a team can't do better. Levi came to NA from a successful career in Vietnam highlighted by an incredible performance with the Gigabyte Marines last year at multiple international events. He's got a lot of promise and could be a real player not just domestically but on the grander world stage as well. AnDa also isn't a joke and was a solid player last year so if Levi doesn't work out that's a solid fall back. On the other hand, FlyQuest get an almost definitely overvalued asset in Meteos that they could trade or use as leverage to get their hands on something they need more (like maybe a mid laner...).
LCK vs LPL vs LMS Power Rankings:
1) Kingzone DragonX
2) KT Rolster
3) Royal Never Give Up
4) Invictus Gaming
5) Rogue Warriors
6) Afreeca Freecs
7) SK Telecom
8) EDward Gaming
9) Flash Wolves
11) Machi eSports
12) MAD Team
This tournament is much closer to call in large part due to an increase in the quality of the LPL over this past year. The top LPL teams I feel can actually compete with Korea for a change because the level of competition domestically has improved drastically. Kingzone is the best team in the world to me despite recent struggles and if you read my work at all you know that. KT Rolster are #2 and it's mostly based on having the highest ceiling. In many ways this list is a "Best in the World" power rankings because the LPL and LCK are the two strongest regions right now in my opinion so if you exclude the LMS squads this is the Top 8 teams in the world.
RNG had an incredible showing at MSI and they almost always perform better at international events. They've been solid domestically and with Invictus, Rogue Warriors, and EDward Gaming pushing them the LPL has become just as competitive as the LCK for the first time I've ever seen. I'm grouping the Afreeca Freecs in this pod mostly because I don't think their ceiling is that high. They've had success being the "steady" team in the LCK and while they've taken some big series off the true elite teams I get the hunch that they're going to buckle a bit on the international stage especially because this is the first international experience for the majority of the squad. This should carry some weight because traditionally I'm the guy that says "mid tier LCK teams are better than every other region" but this year I'm not sure that's the case because the LPL is so improved. LPL also have "homefield" advantage if you believe in that. (I do but not heavily) Anyway...
SK Telecom have struggled but seem to know who they are and with potential metagame changes benefitting them I'm willing to give them the "best of the rest" honors at the very least but who knows, this team does have Bang and Faker. Historically SKT have not faired well in Best of One or double best of one round robin style tournaments. They almost always get out of groups but often with a few losses which is bad relative to being the best team in the world for the better part of five years. EDG have looked great in the LPL but I think they're a bit too one dimensional to succeed at such a cutthroat tournament. Flash Wolves are obliterating their region but as I've said time and time again this year, the LMS isn't quite as good as it used to be and Flash Wolves haven't had a lot of good competition to cut their teeth on and keep them sharp. Much like the last international event I expect them to get trounced for the most part. The rest of the LMS, like I just said, just isn't up to the level of this touranment and would likely lose to even the mid and bottom tier LCS teams to me.
I don't normally go heavier than 3 units on best of one series and that formula has been very successful for me this season but I'm feeling pretty confident about my read on this tournament so I'm going to be risking a bit more than usual here. I'd encourage you to limit your action because best of ones are very volatile. There isn't going to be a lot of line value here because of the huge differences in quality and because of the best of one format so I'll be going heavy on the picks I like and making very few selections outside of those because the lines are just too big. If I'm going heavy on a -185 line you know I'm very confident about it.
Moneyline: Kingzone DragonX -128 (5.5 units MAX ALLOWED)
PROP: UNDER 33:00 @ -116 (2 units)
(UPDATE: this has since moved to -137)
Once in awhile my book will cap bets until closer to game time so I'm putting in a max bet for now and I'll probably up it in the morning. To me Kingzone are the best team in the world even if their record doesn't show it yet and they're going to have vengeance on the mind from MSI for this match. I know there isn't truly anything on the line but pride for Rift Rivals but this is one of those cases where Kingzone have a little extra motivation because of their loss to RNG in the finals at MSI and they're going to want to set the record straight that RNG stole one from them. KT Rolster has completely dominated everyone they have faced this tournament so far and they're not even playing their run and gun style that you see them play in the LCK. I think Kingzone are a stronger, more consistent team capable of stronger uptempo play which seems more suited for this tournaments metagame. This feels like a Kingzone revenge stomping to me so I'm going to take the under as well.
Moneyline: SK Telecom +174 (2.5 units MAX)
So this one is a bit odd. I think Invictus are currently a better team but I do think that I'm underrating the fact that SKT play in the LCK, the most competitive region in the world. I think Invictus should be favored here but not by as much as they are and SKT also get side selection. This feels like an SKT win to me. With counterpick they can get enough of an edge to perhaps make this game go a little longer and win that way. I'm not entirely sure how this game is going to be won so I'm avoiding the props but I think SKT can "upset" here. It's not often you're going to see SK Telecom of all teams as a heavy underdog outside of Korea.
PROP: EDG vs G-Rex UNDER 23.5 total kills @ -116 (3 units)
PROP: EDG vs G-Rex UNDER 31:00 @ -116 (2 units)
EDG should obliterate G-Rex who haven't even looked good in their own, weaker region lately. This is both under the average game time as well as WAY WAY too high in total kills. Unless EDG decide to toy with their food and let this turn into a clown fiesta, which I don't think they'll do, this should be an easy 25-29 minute victory with something like a 12-2 final score.
PROP: KingZ vs FlashWolves UNDER 33:00 @ -116 (2 units)
Kingzone didn't play yesterday and Flash Wolves beat RNG so I think people are a tad too high on Flash Wolves. Kingzone should remind everyone why they're so intimidating here and blow this Flash Wolves team out of the water as a statement in prep for RNG later.
PROP: Rogue Warriors vs MAD Team UNDER 21.5 total kills @ -116 (2 units)
PROP: Rogue Warriors vs MAD Team UNDER 30:00 @ -105 (2 units)
Rogue Warriors win games fast and MAD Team quite frankly don't belong at this tournament. It's a miracle they lasted as long as they did in some games yesterday. They're just outclassed on this level. Rogue Warriors are one of those teams that completely obliterate their competition so I fully expect that to be the case here.
I'll also be running a bunch of parlays as I tend to do on these favorite heavy slates. Different combinations of everything ranging from 2 teams to the full slate in a lot of combinations.\