Saturday, August 11, 2018

DraftKings DFS Strategy for League of Legends

Gelati's League of Legends DraftKings Primer

First and foremost I need to clarify that this is NOT for novice DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) players. This primer is targeted at players that already know the basics of how to play and navigate the site and are looking for some insight into my techniques and processes for successful play on DraftKings.

Although DraftKings is the only site I use for LoL DFS anymore there are others and many of these principles and strategies can be applied elsewhere as well.

A little background for those that don't know me. I've been an avid League of Legends player since shortly after beta and still play it frequently to this day. The competitive scene is one I've been dialed into just about as much as humanly possible while still working full time since it's inception before Season 1. I've been an analyst, scout, and coach for challenger teams, played in a tournament level line-up myself, and, perhaps most relevant to you all, have been writing about and analyzing professional League of Legends for years on my own time. I'm also an avid sports fan (GO PHLLY!) with some experience playing mid stakes fantasy football, gambling, and the film review and research that goes into those activities at that level so when I found out League of Legends was coming to DraftKings (end of 2015) I figured I'd try my hand at something I know a lot better than football. In that first month I turned my intial deposit into 20 times itself. After the calendar year I was up more than 100 times that.

Information First

Before setting any lineups it's important to know everything you possibly can before the game starts. Does a team use substitutes or is it just one lineup? Is the their opponent likely to use subs? Is somebody injured or sick and going to be replaced by an emergency sub? Does one team have nothing to play for because they're mathematicaly eliminated already?

Information like this is more or less a Twitter or Google search away for you and you don't want to have a player that isn't playing locked into your lineup when you could have taken ten seconds to find that out and save your money.

Utilizing Odds

In DFS for traditional sports we have Vegas to tell us who the favorites are and by how much as well as point totals to give us an idea of how the professionals think the game will play out. Typically DraftKings is pretty close with their valuations of players in League but we can find value where you least expect it. Keep in mind that it's not the job of DK to accurately value a player based on performance alone. Often "per game" and rate statistics drive their thought process so it's not always necessarily what was recent. There are a number of sports books that take bets on League of Legends and it's a good thing to look into if you're not sure who should actually be favored in a game. Yet again, this is free information that takes very little time to check.

Lineup Construction

How you build a lineup can depend on a number of factors but the main one is what type of contest you're entering. There are two main types of contests you can enter. Cash Games which encompass things like 50/50 contests and head to heads in which the top half doubles up (slightly less technically due to the rake) and Tournaments (GPPs) which are contests with a lot of entries and only a few large prizes. 

When building a Cash Game lineup the most important thing is to find and entire roster of players that can outperform their cost. In traditional sports DFS we use something called a multiplier. In short you figure out who you can expect to perform at one, two, three, or four times their value (usually in points per dollar). In Cash Games you typically play for mostly 3x or 2x value but in League we are mostly trying to get a lineup that has no weak performances from top to bottom. If you have slightly above average or average in every slot on your team you will often place in the top half. It varies week to week but you can usually add up the projected point totals to figure out roughly the number of total points you're trying to reach. Over the last year that number has been somewhere between 165-180 on MOST weeks. Remember in Cash Games you don't need to VERY WIN you just need to WIN. Scoring 250 points doesn't win you more than scoring 170 points if that 170 is in the top half.

Tournament play is a different animal, especially in League of Legends when compared to traditional sports.. With slates typically limited to 5 or 6 games that gives you somewhere in the ballpark 25-35 players to pick from and even fewer legal permutations of said players due to salary cap, tournament play is a bit more challenging and requires a different thought process. In traditional DFS, say the NFL for example, you might think to select an inexpensive player that you think could have a good day due to a matchup and maybe 1% of entries will have that player (This is a concept called ownership percentage). In League you have far fewer players to pick from, in fact you have hundreds less in many cases, and because of this tournament play is all about upsets and stacks. You are more or less building a lineup under the assumption that a team with cheaper players (usually the underdog) will win. Typically if that upset happens, game theory suggests that you will be vastly ahead of the majority of the field (a concept called lineup differentiation). Borrowing from our previous mention of multipliers, we want players that can achieve significantly more than their value and lots of them. Unlike Cash Games, Tournament play requires that you VERY WIN as only the best of the best lineups will win a prize.


One of the best ways to gain an edge over your opponents is a technique called 'stacking.' To 'stack' is to select multiple players from the same game on one lineup in hope that that game will yield more points than normal resulting in a larger amount of points gained. League of Legends has a lot fewer players available to differentiate your lineup so selecting the correct stacks can often be the difference in winning and losing lineups. An example of a stack would be to select the Top and Jungle on the same team, or to select the Mid laner and the opposing AD Carry if you think a game will be high in kills.

Advanced Construction Techniques

(Coming Soon)

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