Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Betting: October 1st-2nd (Worlds Play-in Stage Day One + Day Two)

I just wanted to give you guys a heads up and an update regarding my condition. I'll be going in for surgery on Tuesday so I'll likely be pretty inactive for the first few days of Worlds but I'll do my best to at least get on Twitter and share any selections/thoughts I might have. 


EARLY PICK (This match is on Tuesday)

While we only have one previous year data for the play-in stage we do have multiple years of week one data at our disposal. Historically most of the upsets and unseen winds come in week one of the World Championship. Think of Albus Nox Luna, Cloud 9, Gigabyte Marines, etc. although we only have one year of sample size we saw some similar things in the play-in stage last year. Last year Lyon beat Gambit and Dire Wolves defeated Team One from Brazil. The nature of best of one's is that they are incredibly high variance. It's the primary reason I had to cut wages in half for the Summer Split of both NA and EU LCS this year. I got absolutely crushed going to have the on single game series. Because of the volatility of best ones we see a lot of "upsets." So what's the trick in calling the upsets? Some people believe in tournament situations like this where there are a lot of heavy favorites you just go a low unit wager across the board on the underdogs for every single game and if a couple of them hit you can end up netting money. Similar to last year however, this year's plane stays looks more or less all but wrapped up to me and the only real value were going to find is in the number two versus number three seeds with one very important exception that happens on day one which leads me to my first selection for the World Championship.…

I'm putting two units on Turkey's Supermassive at +233 to defeat G2 eSports. For those of you that read my pre-tournament power rankings you'd see that Supermassive were my top selection for a wildcard team to make it into the main event (except for Phong Vu who are already in). Three of the best Turkish players of all time with multiple years of world experience as well as veteran Korean players GBM and Snowflower make this a formidable team from a region that has historically been relatively competitive at the World Championship. While G2 looked significantly improved in the European regional gauntlet they still showed some weaknesses in the armor. They made a lot of mistakes while attempting to play up-tempo and while it's admirable that they were trying to adjust and showed some proficiency in doing so they were far from perfect. If G2 try to play the trademark late game style against the team with excellent macro like Supermassive they're going to push this game very close to 50-50.

On paper I don't think this line looks too far out of whack but when you think about how these two teams play, the historic unpredictability of the early tournament, the volatility of best of one's, and a team in Supermassive that has the chops to compete against EU LCS teams I really like the chances for an upset here. I legitimately think Supermassive could challenge for playoff spots in the EU LCS if they played there. This is very likely the only #1 seed upset that I'll be playing in the entire group stage. I just really like the spot on day one and Supermassive are quite likely the best of all the wildcard region teams in the world.

Moneyline: Supermassive +233 (2 units)


EARLY PICK (This match is on Tuesday)

With the banning of Shernfire for two games I think this more or less cripples Dire Wolves already long chances of getting out of the play in stage. I really love Inifinity who I had similarly ranked to them at -116 to take them down in this situation. I know Dire Wolves will have time to prepare with a sub and all and perhaps there isn't much film for Infinity to see but I prefer continuity here. 

Moneyline: Infinity eSports -116 (4 units)


Cloud 9 had a 56% first blood percentage during the season but towards the end of the regular split and during both the playoffs and regional gauntlet run they were often victims of first blood as other teams tried to jump out to early leads on them. Historically during the World Championship, the wild card teams will often play aggressive and try to get out to an early lead when they feel outclassed. Kabum had similar first blood percentages to Cloud 9 anyway. I'm willing to drop a unit on the first blood here even if I think Cloud 9 will win this game.

PROP: Kabum First Blood @ +139 (1 unit)


This one is more of a shot in the dark but I'm liking Gambit at plus odds against G-Rex. This is mostly just a gut feeling bet not one for value or anything but I feel like Gambit could upset the LMS squad. I think this line is accurate and that G-Rex will likely win but call it a hunch I like Gambit for a potential upset here.

Moneyline: Gambit +122 (1 unit)


Saturday, September 22, 2018

World 2018 Pre-Tournament Power Rankings (Tier List)

World 2018 Pre-Tournament Power Rankings (Tier List)

This will be my personal power rankings going into the tournament. These do not factor in group draw or matchup strength and are strictly attempting to look at these teams relative to each other and with my opinions. I find that a tier list is the best way to group these teams together. The tier is the first indicator of overall strength and ranking within that tier will represent where I actually rank the 24 teams in list format.

These are my opinions and aren't entirely based on results so there will be some variation in what you'd consider to be consensus. I tend to place a lot of weight on both regional strength and strategic potential and less on results for the year.

Only 16 teams actually make it to the main event from the starting 24. While there are going to be a lot of hipsters out there trying to say otherwise, I think it's reasonable to expect the NA, EU, LPL, and LMS #3 seeds to be the last four teams in this tournament. As mentioned earlier these are pre-tournament power rankings not necessarily the order of finish. Certain teams have already qualified that I think might be worse than teams that haven't. My power rankings will be the baseline for how I compare teams to one another before diving into specifics of matchups.

The Tiers:

Tier 1 - Favorites to win the tournament, truly world class teams that I expect to get out of groups and make a run to win the entire tournament.

Tier 1.5 - Better than the rest of the tier 2 teams but not quite as high a ceiling and likelihood to win the entire tournament as the tier 1 teams.

Tier 2 - Teams that I expect to get out of group stage and could potentially give a competitive series to the tier 1 and 1.5 teams but aren't likely to go past the Top 8.

Tier 3 - Teams with a 50% or less chance to get out of group stage. Some of these may get out depending on group draw but require a favorable draw and matchups to do so.

Tier 4 - Outside favorites to get out of the play-in stage but not likely to win more than a game or two in the actual group stage IF they get there

Tier 5 - Teams that I don't think will get out of the play-in stage.

Some pre-rankings discussion...

  • ·         To me Korea and China both had 4.5 Tier 1 teams and unfortunately only get to send three teams each. Unfortunately we got both of the 1.5 teams (EDG and Afreeca). Korea had KT Rolster, Griffin, Gen.G, and Kingzone as Tier 1 teams and Afreeca as a tier 1.5 type of team. China had RNG, Invictus, Rogue Warriors, and JDG as tier 1 teams and EDG as a tier 1.5 team. Any of the top four teams in both China and Korea would have been favorites above the field to win the tournament.
  • ·         China took a step forward as they historically only have 1-2 world class teams and sometimes one other 1.5 level team to me. With significant improvements in China I think it brings a couple new wrinkles to this tournament. Korea always has 4-5 world class teams and now China can compete, upping the level of competition to make all the teams in the LPL better.
  • ·         It also means that, despite improving as a whole region, I think NA has a really long shot to do anything better than Top 8 in this tournament because of China's new found improvement.
  • ·         EU I think is slightly worse this year despite having new kids on the block Vitality representing them. Overall the region I think got slightly weaker relative to last year but not by much. The top teams in Europe are still good and can compete on a world stage.
  • ·         The LMS, overall, has also been downgraded to me similar to Europe. Other than Flash Wolves, the other top teams simply aren't as good as they were in past years and it has made the region as a whole slightly weaker. Much like last year we don't have a competitive #2 or #3 from Taiwan. You saw with how poorly AHQ performed last year relative to previous years that Taiwan doesn't have the depth of competition it used to. Flash Wolves is still a great team but the fact that they have weaker competition works against them in my rankings.
  • ·         I haven't watched a lot of wildcard regions other than Turkey and some CIS but I don't really expect any of the wildcard regions to make a splash this year. Every year there is a surprising wildcard squad but I think the major region teams have finally wised up to taking these teams lightly. Unless this patch proves to allow some really weird picks and strategies (which it could), then I don't really see the wildcard regions holding up or surprising anyone with more than one, maybe two game wins IF they were to get out of play-ins.

·       Generally speaking I think the tier 1 and 1.5 teams won't lose to any of the tier 2 teams in a best of five.

Now without further ado, the rankings...

Tier 1 (The Favorites)

1) KT Rolster (KR #1) - Most people will have RNG in this slot but most people have KT next anyway. I don't think anybody would debate that these two are the consensus favorites to win the tournament but the reason I prefer KT Rolster is due to a combination of factors. Although RNG have  won Rift Rivals and MSI as well as both domestic splits of the much improved LPL I can't help but think the LCK teams will show better at Worlds. They always do. Historically the Korean teams use information better than anybody else and I feel that over the course of the tournament they'll gain enough of an edge from this to end up the eventual winners. On the more instinctual and emotional side of things, there is simply something different feeling about this year's KT Rolster. They haven't been punting games to bad teams all year and have steadily improved as the year has progressed. They're extremely well-rounded and have four Hall of Fame level players and debatably the best young talent on the planet in UCal. If you think KT and RNG are the favorites to win the tournament I think looking at them head to head is a reasonable tiebreaker and I think KT Rolster would win the best of five.

2) Royal Never Give Up (CN #1) - As mentioned above, most people think this isn't even a debate that RNG are the top team in the world right now. They've been utterly smashing domestically and in international competition all year and have even looked like they're just toying with their opponents in a lot of games. This team is scary good. The main reason I don't have them listed as the favorites is less to do with them and more to do with the Korean teams looking particularly bad in international competition this year. Not that we're all necessarily sleeping on Korea but I think we're automatically giving RNG the nod simply because they won a couple of tournaments that the Koreans either didn't care about or didn't show well at (perhaps both). Make no mistake this team is excellent and I think KT and RNG are more or less equal odds in my mind to win this entire tournament, I just prefer KT. They're the two best teams in this tournament.

3) Invictus (CN #2) - Invictus brought RNG to five games and have been a team that has flown under the radar to non-LPL fans all season because RNG has taken the spotlight at all the international events. Really until the end of Summer Split in the LPL you could argue Invictus was the best team in the LPL and just lost a heartbreaker in Spring Semifinals to RNG in five games. There's a really good chance we could have seen Invictus with the top LPL seed to international events and taking those down in much the same way. This team is just a tad snakebitten. If you look at how dominant RNG have been both domestically and internationally then you have to respect that Invictus have been one of the only teams that can challenge them they just haven't beaten them yet. For about three-quarters of the year I had Invicuts as the best team in China despite RNG winning Spring and winning the two large international events. Invictus are severely underrated going into this tournament especially by the "public" and I expect we can take advantage of this misperception to get some good odds!

4) Gen.G (KR #3) - You all know how much I loathe this team. Back to back years now they've knocked out a team that I would have rather seen at the World Championship over them but I have to admit what I see and that's a team that's motivated to defend their title. Gen.G looked ridiculous in the Region Gauntlet, the best they've looked all year in fact. Coming in hot can be bad but I think in this case the confidence will make a world of difference for this team. I'm interested to see which players they choose to bring to the tournament but I don't think it particularly effects where I'd rank them. Gen.G could go back to back and if they're even 80% of the team they showed themselves to be in the Regional Gauntlet I think they get out of groups regardless of the group strength and make a deep run in the tournament. I don't see anybody outside of the Top 3 teams being favored in a series against Gen.G unless they show horribly in groups.

Tier 1.5

5) Afreeca (KR #2) - To me Afreeca were the 5th best team in Korea by the end of the year. I thought Griffin, KT, Gen.G, and Kingzone were all stronger teams by a decent chunk but because of these strength of the region and the fact that this team is capable of beating higher level teams I can't push them all the way down to tier 2. The only thing Afreeca have done wrong is not be as absurdly individually skilled as the top four teams in their region. They're a great team just not the class of the world. Typically teams in this spot are really narrow but particularly good at their main strategy but Afreeca are very well-rounded and have excellent coaching. Their preparation will be top notch but their ability to overwhelm opponents individually is the only thing keeping them out of tier 1.

6) EDG (CN #3) - I almost wanted to put EDG at the top of tier 2 but they've looked stronger than they have all year in playoffs and the regional gauntlet and that combined with the overall strength of their region I'm going to up them to Tier 1.5 despite my gut telling me to push them down a tier from Afreeca. EDG are much more specialized than Afreeca. They're less versatile than Afreeca but are more individually gifted and explosive. EDG are a team that have game winners. They have individuals that can simply take over a game and often play aggressively to do so.

**I think both EDG and Afreeca are stronger than the rest of the field but a cut below the top four teams hence putting them in their own half tier.**

Tier 2

7) Team Liquid (NA #1) - I wiffed hard on TSM last year going into Worlds. I thought they were the strongest roster NA has ever sent to Worlds and I still feel that way but I don't think Team Liquid are that much different and I think this team has a swagger and confidence that TSM didn't have. I legitimately think Team Liquid will get out of groups unless they rip into some crazy group of death situation. This team isn't as one dimensional as people think they are, they simply didn't need to show anything else domestically in order to win. Doublelift is playing the best league of his career and if the rest of his team shows up in a metagame where ADC's are relatively strong they'll be a force to be reckoned with and could even go as far as Top 4 with the right matchups. With experience, hunger, individual talent, versatility, and great coaching I think Team Liquid are well positioned to make the deepest run NA has ever made at the World Championships.

8) Fnatic (EU #1) - It's easy to say Fnatic always "clutch it out" but this is a team with a lot of experience and much like TL are well-coached and more versatile than they look. With world class carry players a team can go far and if you subscribe to the "only as strong as your weakest link" philosophy then Fnatic are in a decent spot with rookie Bwipo showing well in both positions. Ultimately I think this team does have some weaknesses that can be abused but the combination of individual talent and experience as well as a region that, I must admit, was better than I thought to test them week in and week out in a variety of different styles all add up to create a team that I expect to get out of groups barring a brutal group draw.

9) Flash Wolves (TW #1) - Flash Wolves are perennial Top 8 finishers and known as the "Korean Slayers" but they always prove challenging to rank going into the tournament. Historically Taiwan has had two very strong, world class teams that can test each other but last year and this year they simply lacked that. The region isn't as strong overall as it used to be. Years ago we had AHQ who, while not as strong, were competitive enough to challenge Flash Wolves and the rest of the world competitors. I don't see G-Rex or MAD Team in the same light as I saw a 2015 AHQ. These teams weren't really challengers for Flash Wolves. As I said at the beginning of this post, I put a lot of weight on regional strength because it breeds improvement and innovation but at the same time I can't completely hold it against Flash Wolves because they smashed a weaker region. If that's all they can do then it's all they can do. It's like a Super Bowl contender smashing a bad division, you can't fault them for doing that but you can use it to break ties. I think Flash Wolves aren't as good as Fnatic or Team Liquid but they are better than the rest of the field. The LMS isn't what it used to be and I don't think Flash Wolves would be favored against any of the teams I have ranked above them and potentially even below them depending on group stage performance.

Tier 3

10) Cloud 9 (NA #3) - Cloud 9 are red hot right now and I'm interested to see what the down time does to their momentum. I'm also interested to see which players they end up bringing but I don't think they're on quite the same level as the top international teams. I'm cooking a little bit of regression to the mean into this ranking otherwise they'd be in tier 2. I don't think Cloud 9 are quite as good as they've been playing. I don't think they're that much worse though and they're playing really confident right now which means something. Cloud 9 have one of the higher ceilings of the remaining teams especially if Jensen turns it on. Consider that they did all this without Jensen doing what he normally does and just taking over games.

11) G2 eSports (EU #3) - I think the G2 we saw spanking the Regional Gauntlet is closer to what we'll see at the World Championship. It's closer to what I expected to see all year and they look like a team, much like Cloud 9, that could be peaking at the right time. I can't put C9 and G2 higher than this simply because their lows are very bad and they need to play at their top end to compete internationally.

12) Team Vitality (EU #2) - This ranking might surprise some people as I've been a Vitality hater all year long but historically speaking, at the World Championships, teams that stick to who they are tend to do well. Misfits did it last year, Albus Nox Luna, LMQ, AHQ, the list goes on. This is partially a bet on Team Vitality not to defeat themselves by trying to be something they're not. It's something that happens to a lot of teams at the World Championship. For whatever reason when they start scrimming they get ideas in their head and try to warp and learn to play how other teams are doing things when the majority of the time they'd be better off just being themselves. I don't think it's particularly likely for this team to go far but if they catch teams off guard with their exceptional up-tempo style they could get out of groups.

13) 100 Thieves (NA #2) - This is basically a bet on Aphro calling a great game and 100 Thieves' macro being excellent. To me 100 Thieves are sort of the gatekeepers to the rest of the Worlds' competition. They're disciplined and have excellent macro play and decision making but they're not very strategically diverse and their individual players aren't remotely on the same level as the rest of the competition in this tournament. This is also a nod to NA being a stronger and deeper region in my opinion and 100 Thieves playing simple, fundamental league and still doing well enough domestically to get a spot at worlds. 100 Thieves have perhaps the lowest ceiling of any of the major region teams and I don't expect them to really make too much noise but I do think they're better than the rest of the field and will serve as a good check point for any lower teams to make a run in this tournament.

Tier 4

14) MAD Team (TW #2)

15) G-Rex (TW #3)

As I mentioned above when talking about Flash Wolves I think Taiwan took a step down as a region this year, therefore the #2 and #3 seeds for the LMS are getting a tier list downgrade from me. I don't think these teams are particularly bad but based off of what we've seen of these teams domestically as well as at Rift Rivals I have very low expectations for the region. I might be a tier low on these and I would understand if you wanted to argue for MAD and G-Rex to be in tier 3, after all the EU and NA teams haven't shown much this year against the Eastern teams either but I think NA and EU are slightly stronger regions as a whole than the LMS is and that's just my personal read on the situation. If you're higher on the LMS then these two both belong in tier 3. They have an incredible competitor in Flash Wolves to practice with and play against domestically (as well as the LPL teams they likely scrim against), so unlike the wild card regions I give them a slight nod in regional strength but I don't expect these teams to do too much.

16) SuperMassive (TR) - After basically coasting all Summer Split long after a dominant Spring, SuperMassive seemingly decided to claim their Worlds spot with a strong domestic league victory in the finals. Turkey has represented well at Worlds and although they've never had a Top 8 finish their teams are often at least competitive and capable of stealing a game or two. This is arguably the best team Turkey has ever sent. This team is full of familiar names including three of the top Turkish players to ever play the game in fabFabulous, Stomaged, and Zeitnot but also add GBM and SnowFlower of LCK fame. This is a macro team. While they have some weird picks they don't cheese people. They're an excellent long game team and make intelligent decisions by playing around and for objectives over kills. They had a handful of games this year where they were in complete control at kill deficits. They play like an old school Korean team with a lot of discipline. I think that if we're going to get a team from the play-in stage to truly "upset" it'll be SuperMassive. I'm not going to put them in their own tier because they ultimately have a lot of the same problems as the other squads in this tier and there isn't much of a difference but this is a solid team that people will sleep on. Turkey as a region also improved dramatically in the Summer Split with Royal Bandits and Dark Passage making substantial improvements since Spring to really bring some competition to a region that SuperMassive literally went 26-2 against in Spring. Turkey also took down their Rift Rivals against Southeast Asia and the CIS, something I won't give too much weight to but I think was a relatively accurate representation of the overall strength of these regions.

17) Gambit eSports (CIS) - Another collection of familiar names and Worlds veterans line Gambit's roster heading into this years' World Championship but I think some context is in order here. Gambit floated around #2 or #3 for most of the Summer after winning the Spring Split and while you could argue that they did what SuperMassive did and just coasted to the playoffs (which I think is reasonable), they did defeat a team in Dragon Army in the finals that pulled a tremendous upset to defeat the #1 seeded M19 in the first round of the playoffs. They still dropped a game to the regional #4 seed. I'm just a tad shakier on Gambit this year because of this but ultimately they did take care of business and come to us from a region that historically has brought us some upset kings like Albus Nox Luna. For this reason I think Gambit are the second most likely next to SuperMassive to "upset" one of these "shoe-ins" in the play-in stage.

18) Phong Vu Buffalo (VN) - Phong Vu are a team that I haven't watched any games of besides their Summer finals match and Spring 3rd place match when they were Young Generation and lost. After a rebranding to Phong Vu and a roster shakeup they had a very strong showing in the Summer in the VCS going 12-2 in series score and 26-8 in game score. Vietnam has had some success on the international stage and specifically at the World Championship with the famous Gigabyte Marines but I tend to think that that team was an exception. This is a region that typically likes to play hyper aggressive and can catch teams completely off guard with their style but I think the secret is out and ever since that Gigabyte Marines run the VCS hasn't had a lot of success with representatives internationally. In terms of style they're quite a bit different from the Vietnemese teams most international viewers have come to know. They have solid macro and great team fighting which should be good in this metagame. Phong Vu are already qualified into the main event top 16 but I personally think there are teams from the play-in that aren't from major regions that are better than they are. 

Tier 5

19) Dire Wolves (OCE) - Dire Wolves looked excellent in their Rift Rivals appearances handedly dispatching Southeast Asia (including Ascension) and Japan with a perfect 4-0 record in the group stage but they did lose the first game in the extended 3v3 series format against Mineski and it took their teammates defeating their competition in the next three games to win it but they did. Dire Wolves were absolutely dominant domestically in the Oceanic League with a perfect 10-0 Summer Regular season and a decisive 3-1 Grand Finals victory over their main competition Chiefs. If you consider that the rest of Oceania overtook Southeast Asia rather easily in the small sample size we have (it's important to remember this is a small sample size of best of ones) then I think it's reasonable to rank Dire Wolves at the top of this tier of teams unlikely to make a run for a spot in the Main Event. This is a fairly strong International Wild Card team relative to history but with SuperMassive and Gambit ahead of them and the major region #3 seeds ahead of them I'd be hard pressed to sincerely give Dire Wolves a shot to get into the Main Event although a run in the play-in stage isn't out of the question, they can definitely steal games.

(UPDATE: With Shernfire banned and him being a crucial part of Dire Wolves success, I think they probably move to the very bottom. here)

20) Kabum! (BR) - A lot of people remember the historic upset handed to Alliance compliments of Kabum and while Brazil has always been one of the best of the wild card regions I just can't see it happening this year. At Rift Rivals they went more or less even with Latin America North and after Latin America South pulled a tremendous upset over LAN, Brazil top seeded Vivo Keyd proceeded to drop a game to Kaos Latin Gamers. I think these regions have learned a lot from each other and are closer than they have been in years past. Brazil has been more competitive domestically so they have that working for them but I just don't see Kabum doing much here.

21) Infinity eSports (LAN) - Infinity showed well at Rift Rivals but not enough to carry Rainbow 7 against Kaos Latin Gamers. I think LAN, LAS, and Brazil are all fairly even with a slight nod to Brazil simply for population and server size but these regions just don't have it this year.

22) Kaos Latin Gamers (LAS) - KLG were able to take down Brazil's top seed in a best of one in the 2v2 best of five at Rift Rivals but were otherwise fairly disappointing. LAS is just a really small server with not a lot of competition domestically. Their best bet is the Brazilian server but even then it's significantly smaller than the major regions. KLG are a surprisingly good team considering their circumstances and have always surprised at international events but I can't in good conscious rank them higher than anybody besides the regions I've got even less data and sample size from.

23) Ascension Gaming (SEA) - Ascension dominated this circuit and fairly easily got in as the representative but it's important to understand that the Southeast Asian scene is run much differently. They don't really have regular seasons just very short tournaments. Ascension have literally only played 22 individual games in their region this YEAR. There simply isn't a lot of data here while most of the other wild card regions at least have domestic leagues and longer seasons to give us a sample size. They've also only done decently in the small sample size Rift Rivals taking a game of Japans #2 Pentagram and losing to Dire Wolves. We simply don't have a lot on this team and while I think teams that don't have a lot of tape for other teams to watch can come in with a huge advantage I don't think major region teams are underestimating

24) DetonatioN FocusMe (JP) - I'm pulling for you Japan but the newest server hasn't done well internationally and unlike the SEA representative Ascension, I don't think DetonatioN have the aggression to even catch people off guard. Unlike Ascension we actually have a reasonable amount of film on DFM compared to Ascension. Really it doesn't matter at this point as I don't think any of these teams are going to do much but I think DetonatioN and Ascension are the weakest teams in the entire tournament.


I'll be doing another post about gorup stage predictions as well as a short recap of last years group stage predictions but I wanted to put my power rankings out there so people had some context on the angle from which I'll be viewing these teams. I think it gives you all a good idea of how I feel about these teams and regions relative to one another.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Betting: September 16th (Regional Finals in LCK, LPL, EU and NA LCS, Summer Finals TCL)

EDward Gaming vs. Rogue Warriors

EDG look surprisingly good against JD yesterday but I think JD punted a couple of the drafts pretty badly and while EDG deserves credit for these wins I don't want to jump to any kind of strong conclusions about how good or bad they are based on the series. In a similar sense I don't want to overrate Rogue Warriors performance in the third-place match against JD because, and I profusely apologized for this, there was nothing to play for for either team and that game. I think for looking at these two teams in a vacuum Rogue Warriors is the better squad and has been more or less all year. EDG had a good on paper roster and haven't quite been able to put together yet and while I wouldn't rule out that they do so here I'm going to stick with Rogue Warriors for a couple units. This is a team that I've more or less assumed would go to worlds all year even through a competitive Chinese region and while this wreaks a little bit of "ride or die" I will need a couple units for that. Records of been more versatile and shown the ability to come back and games while EDG is more or less only one from head and even then have and always one. There series against JD was very very snowbally and none of the games are particularly close so it's tough to get a read on how consistent they are and I think Rogue Warriors present a number of draft challenges because of DoinB. Rogue Warriors and JD are similar teams but not in the drafts and I think that can be enough of an advantage for Rogue Warriors on top of being the overall better team and having more film from watching EDG play through this gauntlet.

(pending my books posting it but RW ML 2 units if its under -200)

UPDATE: Rogue Warriors +119 (3 units)


Gen.G vs Kingzone

I know everybody wants to get hype on gauntlet Gen.G being a different beast but an elite world-class team Kingzone with a lot of veteran experience, time off, and 10 games of gauntlet footage on Gen.G I can't help but think they'll have a great game plan for the series. Kingzone have all of The Art of War style advantages here like scouting an element of surprise potential. Kingzone could play this any number of ways I trust that the have the correct game plan for. I'm going to do is I've been doing for most of these gauntlet runs in every region and fade the Cinderella team. Scouting and seeing what the team wants to do against you is extremely powerful especially when both teams are evenly matched and on the elite world-class level. These are two of the best teams in the world and unless there is a drastic mismatch either stylistically or individually at some point on the rift which I think there isn't in this case you have to give the advantage to the team with more information on the element of surprise. I also happen to think the Kingzone is little bit better not by much but a little bit better. I'm not too worried about how Gen.G won the regular season series four games to one. I'll be going four units on Kingzone -161.

Moneyline: Kingzone -161 (4 units)


G2 vs Schalke 0

I was a little soft on Splyce going in this regional gauntlet I think I'm willing to admit I was wrong on that. They were the one team I didn't give enough credit for having preparation time being able to change their game plan. I'll give them props now. This this Schalke G2 series is a lot tougher to get a read on because both teams have a history of not showing up for certain games whether that's through punted drafts or just looking out of it. I think G2 got a huge advantage by breaking out the Heimerdinger and now that that trick has been shown and you look back on these drafts they really only one the game that they got Akali in. I don't underrate Splyce winning the other games but G2 won game to with Akali and game five because they didn't and Heimerdinger against the team that's played it better than anybody on the planet. I think this is a huge oversight by Splyce and they, in some ways, handed G2 the series after being competitive and it. I'll be honest, betting Schalke 04 scares me but they looked great in the playoffs and now that they've seen this G2 Heimerdinger I don't think they'll be surprised by it and can prepare drafts accordingly. This is yet another fade of the previous match winner. I think people tend overrate what they just seen and get excited while also being afraid of the unknown, that being the team that they haven't seen in the gauntlet. Think this combination of factors is a really really powerful spot for us as bettors because the public is almost always going to overrate the team that just played going into the series. I like Schalke 04 for 2 to 3 units.

Moneyline: Schalke 04 -164 (3 units)


TSM vs Cloud 9

TSM utterly smashed Echo Fox something I deftly didn't see coming even if I thought they probably win that series. I do want to take just a second and point out just how hard Dardoch carries that Echo Fox team. It seems like games where he can't get his lanes ahead they'd simply lose. Huni made a boatload of mistakes in this series and while I don't want to put all the blame on him it shows just how much Dardoch actually helps him and the rest of the team. Everything runs through him.

TSM were particularly proactive in this series they, just let Echo Fox beat themselves but they did such a good job team fighting and absorbing out lashes by Echo Fox that they looked almost like an SK Telecom team from a couple years ago. They were extremely disciplined, clean, and in control of themselves. While I think C9 is a bit more disciplined and well-rounded than Echo Fox is I do think they share some similarities and that they get wild sometimes especially with Goldenglue and Svenskeren in the game. This is the TSM I expected to see all season long and there peeking at just the right time. This is one of the exceptions I'm actually going to make my trend of fading known quantity because I think TSM showed me enough of what I expected them to be going into this entire calendar year and I think it's a good matchup for them against a C9 roster that's trying to get ahead of itself sometimes. I think C9 are significant we better than Echo Fox so I don't think this will be a 3-0 blowout but I do think TSM take the series. Unlike most of the other teams heading into the finals of the Regional against the top seed, I don't think they showed anything in particular in the draft that would make teams behave differently. They more or less marched up the same thing they did during playoffs and just played much better. Because of this I don't think there's any real advantage to be gained in the draft other than C9 potentially using the element of surprise. I do think that is a powerful thing but I think people are just a little bit too high on C9 because of their Summer split success. This looks like a 3 to 2 TSM when to me but I wouldn't fault anybody for going in either direction. I'll be taking the TSM money line for 3 to 4 units.

Moneyline: Team Solo Mid -116 (3 units)-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SuperMassive vs Royal Bandits

Disclaimer: I haven't watched a lot of TCL, really only SuperMassive and Royal Bandits games.

They haven't looked quite the same as they did last split where they dropped like two games all season and Royal Bandits look quite improved but I'm not going to look this ridiculous line in the mouth and not play it. SuperMassive utterly destroyed this region and they were messing around in a lot of the games last split and while they've struggled a tiny bit more this season you can legitimately attribute a lot of it to messing around/boredom. With their World spot on the line I think SuperMassive win this game and it's quite frankly a bit shocking to me that they're such big underdogs. 

Moneyline: SuperMassive +155 (2 units)


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Betting: September 14th (LPL Summer Finals, LCK Regional Gauntlet Round 2, EU and NA LCS Gauntlet Round 1)

Invictus Gaming vs Royal Never Give Up

My heart desperately wants to play Invictus here. They're the KT Rolster of China; always the bridesmade, never the bride. This team has been absolutely unbelievable both this year and last year and have just not been able to get it done. This will be their first finals. Royal Never Give Up, however, are on a complete warpath. With the exception of a game where they subbed in Able, they've completely annihilated everybody including a 15 minute win... in the playoffs (albeit against the weakest playoff team).

Minimum action on this game because my hearts little bit too involved and I've been absolutely terrible in the LPL the split but I'm gonna put two units on the Invictus Gaming money line. This match is everything to Invictus Gaming. I'm ignoring the narrative that RNG "don't need to win this match"because I think this team is competitive and a number one seed matters a whole lot in the World Championship so were not going to pay attention to the narrative. I've been preaching all year that I think Invictus is the best team in China. Unfortunately for me RNG have looked particularly menacing in the past couple of weeks and have legitimately shifted that a little bit. I do however think that Invictus are on the same level and they can keep the series competitive. Call this an emotional bet if you want and I'd caution against tailing me but I think Invictus can win the series and I'm gonna put two units on the money line for them to do so. Logically this looks like a 3-2 or 3-1 win for RNG but I just have a feeling about Invictus here.

As a side note I think China is on a similar tear to Korea this year going the World Championship. This is something I'm going discuss more as we get around to that time. But I think in years past China has one, maybe two elite teams that can compete with the top Korean teams I think this year they have for unfortunately one of those teams will be going to Worlds. I think Korea also has four teams five if you want to debate the merits of Afreeca. This World Championship is shaping up to be an absolute doozy that I think any number of teams could win. I think both Invictus and R and G have reasonable chances to win the World Championship this year

Moneyline: Invictus Gaming +110 (2 units)


Gen.G eSports vs Griffin

SKT vs Gen.G was an outstanding series. Both teams played very high level League of Legends, a refreshing change of pace from SKT who struggled a lot this season. Ultimately Gen.G won out but I don't want to underrate just how good SKT looked throughout this series. They ended up losing because Blank made a few fatal errors in game five but this was a close series that could have gone either way.

Perhaps the most important takeaway for us looking forward with SKT done for the year is that Gen.G actually utilized a lot of uptempo strategies, something they've been particularly stubborn on doing in years past. They were aggressive, proactive on the map, and played the drafts that were given to them. This is important to understand because it could allow them to jump out to potential early leads on Griffin. Ambition and Haru both looked EXCELLENT this series, something that'll be very important for him to do against Tarzan.

While these two teams split the regular season meeting one match each, Gen.G 2-0'd the second time around and took a game the first time for a 3-2 game score and I think this Gen.G looks much better than the one that won those games. I'm not saying I definitely think Gen.G are going to win this series but I think it's a reasonable possibility. I think the psychological aspect actually plays a role here. It'll be interesting to see how Griffin respond to a devastating loss in an instant classic of a Grand Final against KT Rolster. They looked defeated but they've had some time to recover and prepare this week and they've been resilient through losses all season long. I do, however, think that if Gen.G jump out to a lead it's entirely possible Griffin lose some confidence. I don't think it's likely but it's possible.

I'm going to put a three units on the Griffin moneyline. I know that's not a lot of action on this game but I actually think Gen.G could keep this close. I think the most likely outcome is somewhere in the 3-1.5 situation. What I mean by that is that I think Gen.G will take a game or two in a Griffin win. I think the second most likely outcome is a Griffin 3-0, and the third most likely a Gen.G upset in 3-1 or 3-2 fashion. Griffin are the better team and took KT Rolster to a thrilling five game series in their first time on stage so perhaps I'm underrating that and playing this too safe but Gen.G looked good AND SKT looked good so I don't want to underrate them going into this either.

Moneyline: Griffin -208 (3 units)


Splyce vs Misfits

Man EU gauntlet looks incredible! All these teams have had highs and lows throughout the season and all of them are competitive. I think this is perhaps the easiest master call of the potential match ups going to be going  2 units on Misfits. I don't want to disrespect the fact that Splyce showed a new element against Schalke 04 while also keeping that series competitive but Schalke looked kind of bad relative to the way they played the rest of playoffs. Misfits on the other hand completely smashed G2 and I see a similar thing happening here. I think Misfits are not only a clutch team but they're more well-rounded than Splyce is and I could see this game going one of two ways most likely. One, Misfits utterly smash every early gaming smashed these games or two, Splyce drafts and plan to play early and simply can't execute as well as Misfits can early in the game anyway.

I expect this to be a 3 to 0 or 3 to 1 victory for Misfits but as we discussed a number of times these gauntlet games can be closer than they originally appear so I'll be sticking to just the money line on this match.

Moneyline: Misfits -185   (2-3 units)


Clutch Gaming vs Echo Fox

We discussed this a number of times but it's so so dangerous to assume that these teams will be the same as they were all season long in these gauntlet matches. Sometimes that is the case most of the time it isn't. Clutch gaming heaven played a match since August 19, which, coincidentally enough was a loss to Echo Fox. Similar to the SK Telecom situation going into their match against Gen.G the other day this teams had a lot of down time to prepare for this match and they have film on Echo Fox from playoff matches Echo Fox played. Clutch finish the summer split on a bit of a down note but this team is competitive well coached and it shown a propensity to have excellent preparation.

Echo Fox -400 is an absolutely absurd Moneyline for this game! Do I think Echo Fox is the better team? Absolutely. Are they consistent? Not particularly. With this much preparation time is well seen playoff game film from Echo Fox I think Clutch Gaming could not only keep the series close potentially win it. I think this line is completely out of whack and should be closer to the -190 to like -220 range for Echo Fox or perhaps even lower than that. I'll be putting at least a couple units on Clutch Gaming at +287. I also absolutely love the Clutch +1.5+153 and will likely be putting a substantial wager on that tomorrow at some point depending on line movement. Clutch are not as well-rounded as Echo Fox but with preparation time teams that are not as well-rounded can prepare strategies to stay competitive. We saw this with both Gen.G and SK Telecom yesterday. Teams with a lot of preparation time that historically were not up-tempo style teams based on the seasons data that both showed a variety of strategies including ones that we didn't pin them to be good at. I think that we're  in a similar situation here with Clutch Gaming I think this is a good opportunity.

Moneyline: Clutch Gaming  +287 (2-3 units)

Handicapped: Clutch Gaming +1.5 @ +153 (TBD, likely 2-4 units)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Betting: September 12th (LPL Third Place, LCK Regional Gauntlet Round 1)

Rogue Warriors versus JD Gaming
(image from

(UPDATE: I misread the tiebreaker rules. This was incorrect information. My apologies.)

Let's take a look at the Championship Point situation before we dive into this.

Rogue Warriors hold a minimum finish of 90 Championship Points which means a couple things. First, if Invictus were to lose the finals against Royal Never Give Up they would sit at 120 Championship Points meaning that Rogue Warriors as well as Invictus Gaming would sit at 120 Championship Points while Royal Never Give Up would receive an automatic bid to the World Championship with the #1 seed for China. This would force a tiebreaker which Invictus would win because of the 2-1 win in the only match these two teams played in the regular season. Second, EDward Gaming are locked at 90 Championship Points and they hold the regular season tiebreaker over Rogue Warriors meaning they'd move up to the top seed in the regional gauntlet if Rogue Warriors were to lose. JD Gaming sit at 40 points minimum and can only get up to 70 which locks them into the 5th and final seed for the regional gauntlet no matter what happens.

So what does this all mean? It means the JD Gaming are the last seed in the gauntlet no matter what so unless they want to pick between two teams they've lost to (EDG and RW) they have absolutely no reason to show anything in this series unless they want to use it as practice or try to throw them for a loop with a weird pick. Rogue Warriors must win this series in order to hold the #1 seed for the regional gauntlet, a huge advantage.

The trick with 3rd place matches, as discussed briefly the other day, is that we don't know exactly how these teams want to approach this. While it's rational to think that they'd want to play for the top seed or to "not show anything" they don't always think that way and there's something to be said for momentum and the psyche of your players. Personally all of these teams are excellent and the only five teams the LPL can send to worlds are all elite with maybe EDG being the weakest of the five if you were to evaluate based on recent performance.

JD just took Invictus, in my opinion China's best team or a Top 2 if you like RNG, to a thrilling five game series on Monday morning. Wednesday, only two days removed you'd think maybe they just want to ride the momentum right? I'm actually going against the grain here and I'm going to select Rogue Warriors. JD can't influence their position at all but they could potentially "test" Rogue Warriors with some weird picks to try to pull information out of the drafts. Usually this results in losses but can provide important and useful information. I expect JD to do this. This is a "free" series for JD Gaming to try to get information out of Rogue Warriors and while you could certainly argue that Rogue Warriors might not want to show much either, I'd take a generalized, vanilla approach to a weird approach any day if both teams are just going through the motions.

I'm not taking Rogue Warriors solely because they "must win" but because I think there IS enough incentive in having the top seed in the regional qualifier that they'd badly want to win this especially with JD having such an excellent performance against Invictus they want to stay out of the way of that and see as many matches from them as possible first. I also think these two teams are relatively evenly matched and similarly built so I would think this is even anyway.

Moneyline: Rogue Warriors -115  (5 units)

PROP: Exact RW 3-0 @ +471 (0.5 unit)

PROP: Exact RW 3-1 @ +336 (0.5 unit)


SK Telecom T1 vs Gen.G eSports

The following are the brackets from Korea's Regional Qualifiers for Worlds.





The reason I'm showing this is that historically the Regional Gauntlet RARELY goes as expected. Sure the expected winner sometimes happens, like in 2015 with KT Rolster but some weird stuff happens in the gauntlet. With so much down time a lot of the teams are able to make these matches significantly closer than expected. Even as recently as last year nobody would have expected Samsung to go to the World Championship. As a matter of fact they were a team that had fallen off and showed they were a bit too one dimensional to defeat one of the truly elite Korean teams like KT Rolster. They eventually won the World Championship. Now to do that they completely reinvented themselves, something they didn't do in the gauntlet but I digress.

Gen.G were completely embarassed by the well-coached, and well-prepared Afreeca Freecs after limping into the playoffs with one of the easiest schedules in the final two weeks playing ALL FOUR bottom four teams. Their one dimensional playstyle was exposed and taken advantage of by Afreeca who decisively 2-0'd them in the #4 vs #5 match in the playoffs. Do I expect that team to show up? Not really but the metagame does lean towards their historical tendency and other than a miraculous run at Worlds last year this team has been one to stick to their guns of late game scaling 2-core compositions for their entire time together.

SK Telecom looked like they were finally getting things together with a decent run in the mid to late regular season in the LCK but unfortunately had dug themselves too deep a hole before going into the murderers row of their final four games against Gen.G, Afreeca, Griffin, and Kingzone and didn't make playoffs because they were too far behind Hanwha to have a shot at even a top six finish. The team was having a lot of success playing Pirean over Faker and Pirean was quite with a few exceptions. 

Both teams have glaring weaknesses. But both teams have also had a lot of time to prepare for this match. SK Telecom hasn't played a professional game since August 9th and Gen.G were eliminated on August 12th giving both teams about a month. While it'd be easy to look at this matchup and say "Gen.G are the better team by a wide margain" the truth is that with so much prep time, the historically excellent coaching staff on SK Telecom to make adjustments to the patch they've been watching for more than a month now, Gen.G's frequent stubbornness to try different things even in high pressure situations, and what I'm assuming will be the Return of the King, Faker to the mid lane, I actually like this series to be close and would never EVER rule out SK Telecom with prep time. 

The odds have the lowest line on the Gen.G exact 3-1 meaning that's the final game score they expect. I'll be taking the SK Telecom +1.5 @ -128 for five units and the moneyline itself for three. I'll also be taking the EXACT SKT 3-2 @ +517 for half a unit mostly for fun. I don't think SKT are the better team but I do think with this much preparation time this match will be significantly closer than the lines indiciate.

Moneyline: SK Telecom +166 (3 units)

Handicapped: SK Telecom +1.5 maps @ -128 (5 units)

PROP: Exact SKT 3-2 @ +517  (0.5 units)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Betting: September 10th (LPL Semifinals)

Again I ask you to bear with me here as I'm injured, so I'll be saving some typing and shortcutting when I can you can look up the schedules and lines on your own but here are my thoughts and picks for tomorrow's matches.


JD Gaming vs Invictus Gaming:

Unfortunately I don't have too many thoughts on tomorrow's match between Invictus and JD. The regular-season series belongs to Invictus four games to one the most recent of which was a 2 to 0 defeat that included a top lane substitution from Invictus. I don't necessarily like the Invictus -2.5 here because I think JD Gaming can take a game and have looked good enough recently that I won't rely on a 3 to 0 defeat. However there's reason to believe either side. You could argue that JD Gaming's game losses to FunPlus and Edward Gaming or a sign that they're not quite as good but you could also argue that the fact that they've taken a game off of Invictus is reason enough to believe that this won't be a 3 to 0 defeat.

I for one am mostly staying away from this match because I don't feel strongly enough about any of the directions it could go. On paper this looks like an obvious 3-0 or 3-1 for Invictus but JD have looked strong in the playoffs and we haven't seen Invictus for awhile. Those of you to follow me know that I believe Invictus to be the strongest team in the LPL despite the fact that they haven't won at an international tournament yet but I think JD Gaming have joined the elite in China which makes me feel that anything could happen in the series.

I'll be doing light half unit wagers on the JD +2.5 @-147 as part of some multisport parlays but other than that I'll be avoiding the series. If you're looking at this from a value perspective there are two opinions you could have if you believe the Invictus 3-0, the -2.5 is actually excellent value +112 but if you think this is going to be a close series anyway that you're JD gaming is going to look a lot better. I actually think JD gaming could win the series enough so that I might convince myself by game time to put 1/2 unit or unit on the money line which is currently +363. I do think these are two elite teams that aren't as mismatched as the line suggests so that's a spot to bet for value but I don't feel strongly enough the JD would win to absolutely slam this just based on money line value so I'll be keeping it light or avoiding it altogether.

No action. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Betting: September 9th (NA and EU LCS Finals, LPL Quarterfinals)

Again I ask you to bear with me here as I'm injured, so I'll be saving some typing and shortcutting when I can you can look up the schedules and lines on your own but here are my thoughts and picks for tomorrow's matches.

I'll be live betting/tweeting any action on the 3rd place matches but historically third place matches are always really weird whether or not the teams have anything to play for so I'm going to avoid pregame bets and just play them live/enjoy them.


RNG vs Rogue Warriors: I actually love Rogue Warriors spot here and think these two teams are close to even. RNG look intimidating because they just smashed TopSports in 15 minutes in game 4 but they also punted a game to TopSports. RNG are an excellent team, one of the best in the world but I do think they're just a tad overrated because they won MSI, Asia Games, and Rift Rivals. They have sloppy performances and haven't always faired well against the other elite Chinese teams. They played two relatively close games against TopSports which I think are a full tier below them so while the 15 minute smashing will stick in peoples minds I think RNG weren't completely invincible. I think this matchup is close to 50/50 especially with Rogue Warriors holding side selection. This line should be close to 50/50 but it's currently at -244/+186. I'll be putting AT LEAST a few units on Rogue Warriors ML here. They're relatively evenly matched as it is AND have side choice AND have some film on RNG from playoffs while RNG has nothing on them. I'll probably put something on the +1.5 at -116 odds as well.
MONEYLINE: Rogue Warriors +186 (3 units, I'll probably add more) HANDICAPPED: Rogue Warriors +1.5 @ -116 (3 units)


FC Schalke 04 vs Fnatic:

The consensus appears to be that Fnatic 3-0 or 3-1. We'll call that like 3-0.5 games, i know its kinda weird but just hear me out, i think its closer to a Fnatic 3-2 or 3-1, we'll call it 3-1.5. Because of that, the -1.5 isn't something I'm particularly interested in wagering on especially because the odds aren't even plus odds they're -1.5 @ -135 for me. The Fnatic Moneyline is -303 which is too rich for my blood to risk making anything on.
Basically for this series I'm going to live bet it and maybe put some really small wagers on the Exact 3-2 and 3-1 but i think it's going to be closer than the public and analysis Twitter thinks. TL:DR I'm staying away and just live betting it but I think Fnatic 3-2 or 3-1 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cloud 9 vs Team Liquid:

I think much like Griffin this morning, people tend to fall in love with Cinderella stories a bit too much. Cloud 9 are good but I think Liquid take this series 3-1.5 (3-2 or 3-1 is what I mean by that). To me they're just a cut above the rest of NA. People are saying Cloud 9 bottom lane can match Doublelift and Olleh but again I think people like Sneaky's name and results more than when you actually watch his gameplay. Double and Olleh completely dominate lane even when they aren't supposed to, they're better at playing aggressive and better at playing defensively. They also have more champions that need to demand bans as an overall bot lane. I like Liquid for a couple units. I'm not going more on this though because whether Liquid win or not actually doesnt matter besides pride and prize money. The NA #1 seed still goes to Pool 2 for Worlds group stage drawing just like the #2 seed does (what TL would have if they lose this because they have the most circuit points). TL dont "need" this win but I think they'll win anyway but that's the reason I'm tempering my wager here. MONEYLINE: Team Liquid -133 (3 units)

Friday, September 7, 2018

Betting: September 8th (LCK Summer Finals, other picks via Twitter)

LCK Summer 2018 Finals:

Griffin (+119, +1.5 @ -161)
@ Over/Under 36:00, Total Kills 18.5

KT Roslter (-152, -1.5 @ +125)

Before diving into this finals match I'd like to take a moment to mention the end of an era and pay homage to OGN. Other writers have done a far better job than I have at highlighting just how critical OGN's commitment to bringing a professional broadcast in both Korean and English of the top League of Legends domestic league in the world was to the developments League of Legends esports. Here is a link to Emily Rand's incredibly well written thank you to OGN for the memories.

OGN was not only my introduction to Korean League of Legends but what inspired me to view the game with a more critical eye. It inspired me to drastically improve my own play, organize and play as a team not just as an individual player, coach individually and full teams, begin tracking my results, blogging, and, perhaps most importantly, discussing and analyzing the game on a higher level. I I will be forever grateful for the literal hundreds of hours of work that it made easier to get through but what started off as something to pass the time quickly turned into passion. I likely would not be here today attempting to more critically analyze the game without OGN's outstanding production and casters like Montecristo and DoA, who, for my money, are one of the two best casting duos in esports history. The full OGN package quite literally ignited my fire for professional League of Legends and while I'm sad to see they will no longer be carrying the broadcasts I'm incredibly thankful for all the memories. Countless days started in the wee hours of morning with Korean League of Legends and OGN is responsible for that. It's been a great run but I'm looking forward to whichever direction the LCK broadcast goes.

And now on to the finals…

I wouldn't have OGN's final broadcast and any other way. New kids on the block Griffin looking to spike in LCK final on their first try with five rookies, a seemingly impossible feat in the most competitive domestic league in the world and KT Rolster a superteam that is been damned to always being the bridesmaid but never the bride. This one ought to be a slobber knocker folks!

Let's first take a look at Griffin. After starting off their debut season with six consecutive match wins KT Rolster where there to stop their momentum with 2-0 win to knock the rookies back down to earth. Like truly elite teams do to newcomers they gave them a reality check. Was this just a hot start or are Griffin the real deal? They then went on to defeat Afreeca and Gen.G moving to an 8 and 1 match record. To this point Griffin had looked great but people were still little bit skeptical space myself included. They did go on to lose four more matches including another to KT Rolster, this time in much closer fashion, but if it weren't for a tiebreaker they would've ended the season number one in their debut season which would have been a momentous achievement. For those of you that are into traditional sports, Griffin remind me a lot of the New England Patriots. They have no ego, complete confidence, and attack opposing teams weaknesses. They don't stick to one style or one player but rather do what they feel is the correct game plan against the specific opponents they are facing. As a matter fact, perhaps the most impressive part about the run besides defeating a number of the best teams on the planet, is that they did so in a style completely different from what they did in Challenger. They're extremely well coached, adapt well, and most of all are not stubborn.

KT Rolster looks like the same players but a completely new team to me. The reason I say this is because they're doing new strategies for change their identity but because they were no longer the "KT Rollercoaster." Historically, KT Rolster, with this particular roster, had a tendency to play up to their competition and down to their competition. They would utterly smash the best teams in the world and would routinely lose to the bottom of the table teams sometimes in back to back matches. This team was different. To me you could only point to a couple of individual game losses there were sloppy or lazy and almost all of the good teams had a few of those. KT Rolster didn't drop matches to MVP or BBQ like they would had in previous seasons. They look like a team on a mission a mission to break the curse and prove to everybody that the superteam is exactly that. Unlike previous iterations of KT Rolster, this version wasn't particularly stubborn in the way they approach the game. If they could run you over early they would. If they saw an opportunity to scale to the late game they would as well. Often times their star power was enough to just completely dominate lane phase even against similarly talented teams. Toward the end of the LCK regular-season I actually predicted that KT Rolster would end up in first place through tiebreaker system because this team felt different to me.

So where does that leave us in this matchup? Both teams have superstars, both are versatile, both are extremely confident, and both are very well coached. So why am I leaning toward KT Rolster? This is going to sound like a simple answer, but I think KT Rolster are a little bit more versatile and have better individual players overall. As good as Tarzan, Chovy, and Viper are I feel they are matched by Score, UCal, and Deft. Chovy, in particular, has benefited a lot being able to play Zoe quite often, something that I think KT Rolster will either have a plan for or will take off the board altogether. I'll admit that Sword and Lehends over performed even my optimistic expectations but Smeb and Mata get my edge. They are two of the best players of all time and while it's dangerous to assume that they are better just because of that, Smeb and Mata continue to perform at the highest level.

Call it destiny, call it fandom, call it whatever you like but I think people like a Cinderella story just a little bit too much. To me, KT Rolster are the better team, not by much but by enough for me to put six units on the money line and one unit on the handicap. I think the most likely outcome for this series is a 3 to 2 KT Rolster victory, the second most likely outcome is a KT 3 to 1 victory, and the third most likely is a Griffin 3 to 2 victory. This also be a great series and I'm looking forward to it but I said it more than a month ago that I would be riding KT Rolster rather heavily. This is a different version of this team, they aren't going to choke in a big spot, and while it's exciting to see the Cinderella story the Griffin that brought us I think it comes to an end here. After all, wouldn't it be the most KT Rolster thing ever to smash a good foe in spectacular fashion? I'm not sure that'll happen but it honestly wouldn't surprise me. KT have had Griffin's number this season. I hope Griffin get through the gauntlet and we can see them at Worlds because they completely deserve to be there based on this Summer split performance

Moneyline: KT Rolster -152 (6 units)

Handicapped: KT Rolster -1.5 @ +125 (1 unit)


I'll be putting the rest of my picks on Twitter. For those of you that don't know I'm going through some health problems so sitting for extended periods is really painful but I needed to put something down to LCK Finals. Waiting on surgery. It's nothing to severe but that, as well as limited action are why I've been a bit quiet recently. I'll likely do a really long stats breakdown post before Worlds starts as well and update all of those.