vs Over/Under 33:00, total kills 22.5
G2 eSports (+179, +1.5 @ -123)
I wrote a retrospective regarding my thoughts on what I couldn't have seen and should have seen in more of a picture way about the rise of the Western teams this year but I didn't really talk a lot about China specifically. Maybe it's because it was it was the furthest match away in our memory but Invictus Gaming did end up beating my favorite to win the tournament in KT Rolster. Was this a surprise? Sort of. I had Invictus as the third best team going into this tournament and was, frankly, not surprised that people were sleeping on them. Unless you watch the LPL you would be totally unaware of just how dominant they were over the course of this entire calendar year. Not one split, not one playoff run, but the entire year. As I've said a million times already, if they hadn't lost two best of fives to RNG we probably would have been hyping them as the best team in the tournament going in. With that said I still thought KT would win this match but I'm somewhat less surprised that a great team like Invictus were able to do it so this one wasn't really as big a shocker to me as some of the other matches in these quarterfinals. I aboslutely loved Invictus' drafts in this series. They had almost the exact plan of attack I'd take against KT Rolster which is taking Mata and Score's primary playmaking champions out of the pool and refusing to allow them to camp bot. Nocturne and Thresh were banned all five games as well as Alistar in three of them. IG pushed KT onto good but not great picks like Leona and had the Alistar themselves against picks like Rakan when they got through. While I know they almost lost this series anyway with a 2-0 lead I really loved their plan of attack here and think they'll be similarly prepared for G2.
G2 vs RNG was, much like Cloud 9 vs Afreeca, a surprisingly lopsided affair that I'm not sure anybody in their right mind could have seen coming. I've got to give a lot of props to G2 here. They were utterly destroyed in game one by RNG but had the mental fortitude to bounce back and punch RNG right in the mouth as punishment for their beyond arrogant draft in game two. Akali, Irelia, AND Tahm Kench? Are you kidding me? RNG were clearly disrespecting G2 and they got punished badly for it. After those two games though this becomes a three game series and honestly G2 just outplayed RNG pretty badly in two of the next three games. I didn't like RNG's drafts at all in this entire series. I understand that you have Uzi and you can kinda do whatever you like but the Lucian priority was just weird to me not because he is a weak pick, quite the contrary against the metagame, but because they would pick him to bookend their 2-core compositions. RNG's calling card this tournament was a carry jungler like Taliyah + ADC and 2-3 tanks to front line. A bit of a different take on the classic 2-core which uses the mid laner but by utilizing Aatrox, Galio, and Urgot they were able to use a tanky mid laner and carry jungler to get the job done. G2 saw right through this and had the answers. You put stress on EITHER of those carries and the 2-core falls apart with a weak scaling carry such as Lucian. So they picked a strong early jungler and camped bottom or camped the jungle. It seems so simple right and it kind of is but RNG have managed to deal with this all year long and G2 simply outplayed them anyway.
With all that said I think the truth is, that while G2 deserve a lot of respect for this monumental upset, perhaps the greatest in League history (IMO), I can't help but think I'm not alone when I say that RNG lost this just as much as G2 won it. The disrespectful punted draft in game two, the weird reliance on a strategy that G2 already beat you in two games on and lack of adjustment to it in both the draft AND in game, and uncharacteristically weak jungle play with a clearly telegraphed strategy by G2 showed me that perhaps RNG were not as prepared as they should have been for thie match and they were punished by a G2 team that I honestly thought would struggle to do so even in such favorable positions. Props to G2.
To me Invictus are a different beast than RNG. Sometimes they play similarly and they both have blazing fast closing speed but Invictus draft AND play for early while RNG will sometimes just outplay their way to early wins with mid to late game comps. I think Rookie is superior to Xiaohu, I think both IG tops are superior to LetMe, Ning I like more than MLXG but similarly to Karsa, and while I won't go so far as to say this is a worse matchup for G2, I think the individual player advantage goes to IG by a fair margain. I also think that G2 revealed a lot more of their picks than IG did which means there's a good chance we've seen all that G2 has to offer in terms of champion picks. That said, G2 have shown that ability to flex a ton of champions between top and mid which can be a great way to defend against the fact that another team might know your pool and get a favorable matchup anyway. Information advantage is slightly in IG's favor but not by much.
I'm going with Invictus for a couple of reasons here.
- My initial read was that Invictus were one of the best teams in this tournament and it more or less has come true. I'm not ignoring the Fnatic losses. As a matter of fact I think Fnatic look like one of the stronger teams now and the fact that IG played them competitively despite losses gets repsect from me.
- G2 are a good deal weaker than Fnatic to me.
- G2 won because they caught a disrespectful team off guard and took the fight to them and they weren't ready for it. Invictus WILL NOT make the same mistake.
- Invictus will always take the fight to you, it's their modus operandi. (another reason they won't be caught off guard by aggression)
- Invictus have better individual players.
- Rookie is the best player in this series and arguably the world.
- G2's greatest strengths are Perkz and Wunder and IG's solo lanes (all 3 of them) are better which will at worst cancel out G2's strengths and leave it to the bot lane and jungle play.
- Invictus have the top lane curveball of TheShy to throw if they wish to.
- (heavily opinionated): If you believe in regerssion to the mean I think it's reasonable to expect that G2 had the series of their life AND needed RNG to play terribly to beat them. Invictus beat KT Rolster straight up. KT didn't even look that bad. That's higher honors from me.
This is a wild match to pick because these are both teams that beat what many considered to be the top two teams in the entire tournament in five game series. This is unprecidented territory we're in so it's difficult to get a read. Ultimately I think Invictus are NOT going to lose the same way RNG did and that's why I like them in this series because G2 have yet to show me they can beat superior teams another way. Could they? Absolutely. If this Worlds has shown us anything it's that crazier things can happen but I just don't see it here. I'm sticking to a combination of my pre-tournament read as well as what I saw from these two in quarters and groups and taking Invictus. I'm going against momentum and a lot of public money here but I think this will be a 3-1 Invictus win and these games are going to be very fast unless Invictus decides to show a wildcard slow game, which I don't expect knowing this teams attitude.
(UPDATE: More specific to odds talk but this line has moved all over the place. As of this writing it's -238 but I've seen it as low as -200 and as high as -270. Not a lot of value picks here it's more or less who you think will win.)
Handicapped: Invictus -1.5 @ -108 (3 units)
Prop: EXACT Invictus 3-1 @ +243 (0.5 units)
Prop: Map 1 UNDER 33:00 @ -110 (0.5 units)
Prop: Map 2 UNDER 33:00 @ -110 (0.5 units)
Fnatic (-217, -1.5 @ -102)
vs Over/Under 33:00, total kills 23.5
Cloud 9 (+162, +1.5 @ -133)
Cloud 9 (+162, +1.5 @ -133)
Never thought I'd see the day but here we are with an NA vs EU semifinal. Cloud 9 looks unbelievable against Afreeca. We're talking like a completely different team than even earlier in this tournament level of unbelievable. They had their Wheaties that morning! For real though Cloud 9 really took it to Afreeca and even the most optimistic C9 and NA fanboys couldn't have seen a 3-0 coming. So which Cloud 9 are we going to see here? The Cloud 9 that was struggling against wildcard teams, refusing to play anything other than slow, controlled team compositions or are we going to see the team that took it to Afreeca? I'd think the latter. Typically I'm the wet blanket guy that trusts regression or progression to the mean over running hot and that's served me well in predicting over the years but I think Cloud 9 are feeling really confident right now. The question is whether or not that confidence is enough.
Fnatic did a good job bouncing back from a weird game one draft against EDG and proceeded to dominate games two and four and win a 47 minute slugfest in a hilarious game three. Fnatic also handled Invictus Gaming in their groups before this quarterfinal. Quite frankly, Fnatic have impressed me and greatly surpassed my reasonable expectations of them (#8 in my pre-tournament rankings). They're so clean in every aspect of the game and other than that weird game one draft against EDG have shown a clear and decsive game plan in every single one of their games this tournament. They've stood toe to toe with what many would call superior individual players with no problems as well. Honestly, Fnatic are just plain good and should be considered one of the favorites of the four remaining teams to take this tournament down.
So how do we size this up? I'm leaning toward an absolute domination by Fnatic here and I'll explain why.
- Cloud 9 really took the aggression to Afreeca in their quarterfinal and I don't think Afreeca expected that based on a lot of the reasons I discussed in my retrospective post about Korea.
- (heavily opinionated) Cloud 9 looked significantly better in their quarterfinal but still, in my opinion, completely lucked out of their group with both RNG and Gen.G underperforming and Vitality punting a game they should have won against them. TL:DR - They wouldn't have even been in the quarterfinals if other teams didn't severely underperform.
- I don't trust teams coming off of back to back bouts of opponents underperforming. Props to them for taking care of business but their wins carry less weight to me.
- Fnatic saw an entirely different angle from Cloud 9 while Fnatic didn't show anything stylistically new in their EDG series. They won't be caught off guard by anything.
- Cloud 9's only individual advantage is in top lane with Licorice who has been incredible this tournament. You could argue Svenskeren here and I'd concede on that if you feel that way but I think Caps, Rekkles, and Hylissang are all superior players, especially if we're looking at this tournament specifically.
- If Fnatic was able to handle Invictus' aggressive, fast-paced style in groups even an aggressive Cloud 9 isn't going to execute on the same level as IG who I consider to be the uptempo team in the world.
- I said it in the last series and they proved me wrong but to me Cloud 9's bot lane is still a huge liability. They're going to have to make so many draft decisions to get them priority lanes or they're just going to get run over and I just can't see that being a strategically advantageous with a player like Caps in the game pulling bans.
- Caps is the best individual player in this game.
I keep trying to come up with a logical or strategic reason for Cloud 9 to do well in this series and I just can't do it. I don't think there is anything other than meme's and magic that they do better than Fnatic and unlike in the Afreeca series where I severely overrated Afreeca's ability to adapt to aggression and underrated Cloud 9's ability to play aggressive, I don't think that will be the case here. Cloud 9 looked great against Afreeca and they deserve mad props for absolutely mollywhopping a Korean squad but the truth is that Afreeca had never seen anything like what Cloud 9 threw at them and because of that they just ran them over. Fnatic played domestically against a variety of styles including a domestic team in Vitality that was exceptionally aggressive, handled arguably the most aggressive team in the world in Invictus in groups, and can also play better late game macro than any other Western team. Fnatic have little to no weaknesses. I could see them maybe punting a draft like they did in game one against EDG while feeling out what their opponents plan is but if I didn't have that slight hesitation I'd absolutely slam the straight up 3-0. I know that sounds bold but Fnatic look like a legitimate candidate to win worlds this year and Cloud 9, sorry to say, had a much easier road to get here than we would have initially thought if you told me they'd get out of that group and play Afreeca in quarters. I tend to bias toward pre-tournament reads but this has been a weird tournament and while it feels strange I think we need to look at Group B (the initial "Group of Death") and Afreeca (ill-prepared for aggression) as "weaker opponents" than we initially thought. Never in a million years did I think I'd say that but at this tournament they just were. So really Cloud 9, while impressive, haven't had the hardest road to get here and haven't faced a team as good as Fnatic has looked this tournament outside of maybe RNG. . I give props to Cloud 9 for cleaning up the trash but I think their road ends here. As I said I just can't think of anything Fnatic doesn't do better.
Handicapped: Fnatic -1.5 @ -102 (6 units)
Prop: EXACT Fnatic 3-0 @ +268 (0.5 units)