In all seriousness if you didn't see this kind of result coming I think you were just a tad delusional. I know there were some cappers and fans out there that had legitimate reasons to think these matches could be closer but if you really thought G2 and Cloud 9 had good odds to win these matches I think you're sippin' the Western hype train Kool-Aid a little too much. We ended up 9-1 in our picks and it all happened more or less exactly how I predicted (ok I thought G2 would take a game but whatever). The deficiencies of both Cloud 9 and G2 were on full display and, dare I say it, their luck ran out.
That said this was a tremendous showing for both teams and they far exceeded even my wildest expectations for them. Cloud 9 managed to take down a difficult, albeit not as difficult as we initially thought, group to get into quarters and then soundly defeated a team that was grossly underprepared for them in Afreeca with two rookies and a roster that looked like a trainwreck only months ago. It's quite impressive. G2 also had it's fair share of questions going into this year with their roster changes and a rough start but they figured it out and performed excellently here as well. Is the gap closing? I discussed this in my retrospective piece but honestly we won't know until we have more data so time will tell. There is one thing for sure though, the Western teams no longer fear the Koreans and Chinese teams so that advantage is now gone for them and should prove interesting moving forward.
Now onto the finals....
Invictus Gaming (-149, -1.5 @ +120)
vs Over/Under 32:00, total kills 23.5
Fnatic (+114, +1.5 @ -164)
(Invictus 3-1 is the book favored prop with the lowest odds)
We've seen this matchup in three individual games in this tournament already from group stage and man oh man were they great games! I'm going to take a bit of a different angle in discussing this grand final because the truth is I don't feel strongly either way so I'm going to instead offer some insight on how I see each side winning or losing this series and the strengths and weaknesses each team has based on their performance this tournament and against each other. My hope is that it will give you some idea on how you may want to bet either side if you choose to do that.
(FNC vs IG Group Stage Game 1)
(FNC vs EDG Quarterfinals Game 1)
In both losses Fnatic made the correct adjustment to acquire lane matchups that didn't just automatically punt the early game. Against EDG they didn't go with the Alistar + Ezreal again and opted instead to shift to Sivir + Braum twice and Xayah + Thresh in game four. Against Invictus they did an Urgot + Aatrox double blind which is arguably the strongest possible in the game right now which really put Invictus in a bind (but this was also from red side). The case and point being Fnatic have made errors in the draft but seem to have learned their lesson. Their main goal in the draft is to select lanes that don't lose badly.
Typically early game teams need big advantages in the draft to secure two winning lanes or one dominant lane and two neutral lanes and because of this Invictus are one of the few teams in this tournament that heavily favor red side. They've played nine games there with a record of 6-3 and a 5-1 blue side record. Their solo lanes were consistently able to get advantages (with TheShy playing) in both blind and counterpick scenarios even against teams with potent solo lane threats like KT Rolster and G2 eSports. This is where Invictus gain their edge against other teams. Even in Invictus' losses their solo lanes have outperformed their counterparts in lane.
The reliance on lane domination and ability to do it is both a blessing and a curse to this team. It makes their drafts fairly predictable and really corners them into certain picks when they could otherwise remain open and flexible but nobody fights themselves out of a corner better than Invictus does. Much like a football team with an exceptional quarterback, sometimes you can see it coming and still have difficulty stopping it. Invictus are exceptional in the early game and in terms of individual talent and they showed just how dominant they can be in their first two victories over KT Rolster who are also an excellent early game team.
The three games these teams played in group stage were some of the most entertaining and competitive games in this entire tournament and showed us a lot about the good and bad both Invictus and Fnatic have to offer. This is looking like it's going to be one hell of a final. I have these teams damn close to even. They've both performed incredibly well this tournament. I won't be making any heavy selections on the side in this matchup but I am leaning toward Invictus and here's why:
- Invictus have had a more difficult road getting here as they had to go through KT Rolster while Fnatic only had to go through EDG. To me there is a big enough difference in the quality of those teams that I'm putting some weight on it.
- Fnatic gave up fairly large leads in EDG in three of their quarterfinals games but EDG were unable to leverage them into further advantages.
- Invictus have a clear gameplan and have won with it despite teams planning against it.
- Invictus have the best individual player in the matchup in Rookie
- In the first three games between these two teams we saw two games with Duke (a win and a loss) and a loss from TheShy in a match that he was dominating in on Fiora and his team just botched the split push.
- Invictus had leads against Fnatic and botched them, something I don't expect them to do again this time around.
- TheShy and Ning are both playing at an extremely high level right now compared they showed earlier in the tournament something that wasn't the case in group stages when they faced the first time.
The pro-Fnatic side is that they're more versatile and were able to bend but not break on defense both against EDG and IG. There is something to be said for that but the current state of the game heavily favors early leads and I don't like betting against a team that has to play from behind (unless its old SK Telecom). Invictus have also shown a tendency to make macro mistakes which is a reason to bet against them. Fnatic are also capable of taking the fight to Invictus which is worth noting as well. To me it's a lot easier for Invictus to make Fnatic play their game than the other way around and because of that I think the overall feel will be Invictus dictating the pace of this series. I have a hard time going against that in a five game series.
I like Invictus to win this series 3-2 but could honestly see this going either way so select a side at your own discretion. If you like value betting then Fnatic is almost definitely the play as they're underdogs in most places ranging from +100 to +120. While I may not like either side in this series as a bettor, there are a few other picks I like.
I'm taking the UNDER 32:00 on the first two games of this series. With prep time I expect these will go one way or the other in a hurry. I don't normally like taking the under in a best of five in a big spot like a Worlds grand finals as there can be some nerves that make players hesitate but I think these teams are both so incredibly confident in how they play the game that I don't see as much hesitation especially in the first game or two. I'd expect more of that later in the series. This won't be a slow starting series like a lot of best of fives are.
Numbers supporting the UNDER 32:00 in maps 1 and 2:
- Invictus vs KT Rolster: Game 1 29:59, Game 2 25:53
- Invictus vs G2: Game 1 29:07, Game 2 26:55
- Fnatic vs EDG: Game 1 27:20, Game 2 26:17
- Fnatic vs Cloud 9: Game 1 25:11, Game 2 32:51
In all of those games only one was longer than 32:00. In the group stage, both of IG and Fnatic's first two games were under 27:17 and 28:43. I suspect this series will start fast and end slow.
While I don't think it's particularly likely, there have been two 3-0 finals in Worlds history. SK Telecom in Season 3 were a team that were simply playing on a different level than the rest of the world. As somebody that was there in person I was in no way surprised AT ALL by that result. SKT were far and away better than every other team that year. The second was Samsung against SK Telecom last year which was a bit of a shocker. I was initially going to just slam 10 units on the -303 OVER 3.5 maps played because it feels like free money but the truth is weird things can happen on the big stage here. If one of these teams jumps out to a lead I could see it self destructing. I won't be placing that wager like I initially thought I would, I talked myself out of it and this tournament has been so weird and I'm down quite a bit that I'd prefer not to punt it away in a flukey 3-0 situation if that were to happen.
Prop: Map 1 UNDER 32:00 @ -105 (2 units)
Prop: Map 2 UNDER 32:00 @ -105 (2 units)
Prop: EXACT Invictus 3-2 @ +410 (1 unit)
Above all else I encourage everybody to just enjoy this final. These are two incredibly entertaining teams to watch and hopefully we get to see a competitive finals!