Tuesday, December 31, 2019

January 3rd-4th: KeSPA Cup (Korea)

It's really easy to get caught up in the excitement of an impressive performance. Our brains want it to be a sign of things to come, especially if there's a degree of confirmation bias involved. More often than not it's the opposite; a flash in the pan, a unique event, not the beginning of a trend. The thing is sometimes it really is a sign of things to come.

This morning we got to see arguably the four teams I'd power rank as the top four play, some for the first time in season 10. I've yet to do my pre-season power rankings so you'll have to just bear with me a bit here but I think Gen.G, DragonX, T1, and DAMWON are, in some order, probably your top four with Afreeca and maybe one other on the outside looking in.

What's interesting about Korea this season is that there are a lot of roster question marks. Instead of questioning the metagame like we have the last year or so we're questioning the overall quality of rosters. There's a lot of new blood in the LCK this split including some on these teams. Besides DAMWON, who returned their entire roster, the other three teams are sporting combinations of new players and coaching staff which leaves us with some unknowns. Gen.G look incredibly strong but are they going to mesh right away with all of these players mostly new to each other? Can T1 maintain their reign over the LCK without Kkoma for the first time and with top laners that the public is asking a lot of questions about in Canna and Roach? How about DragonX and their two rookies pushed into a situation with three bonafied studs, two of which I'd argue are the best at their positions in the world in Chovy and Deft? Today we got our first data points for a few of these teams as well as a reminder that we shouldn't overreact to roster moves in the offseason because there are so many unknowns.



Friday January 3rd - 3am Eastern
Sandbox Gaming +145 (+1.5 @ -150)
SK Telecom T1 -165 (-1.5 @ +120)

The main question a lot of people had about T1 was regarding Roach and it turns out we didn't even get to see him. Instead we saw T1 start Canna, a trainee from last year that has quite a bit of excitement and hype built up. I'd say, considering Rascal is probably a middle of the road top laner in the LCK that this was a good test to see what he's got for his first stage game. He didn't exactly blow anybody out of the water but he looked fairly solid in his debut. It's going to be interesting seeing Coach Kim and this top lane situation as this is someone that recently came from Nuguri/Flame and TheShy/Duke, four outstanding players at the position. Did the coach make the players or vice versa? Or is Kim going to show the world that it's not about that at all? As it turns out, having the returning Teddy/Effort bottom lane that was excellent all last year and Faker is still good. Who knew!? Cuzz was arguably the most highly touted prospect in the world when he came into the LCK and while he didn't exactly light the world on fire he has been solid for the most part and ever improving. If he can take the next step and this top lane situation can be even average T1 will be one of the favorites to win the Spring split.

Our first look at the reworked Sandbox roster was one that I'm not entirely sure we can gleen a lot of information from. Griffin looked absolutely terrible. I'm not sure if it's just a rough start or what but they looked completely out of sync and lost. Perhaps this was an aberration but the main point is that it's hard to really take a lot away from this series Sandbox just played. They looked great but it was definitely more Griffin just making mistake after mistake than anything Sandbox did inparticular. I can't really hold it against them that they punished some egregious errors but I'm having a tough time moving the needle much based off of that match. I think Sandbox are going to be a good team, likely one that's challenging for a playoff spot this season. There's a degree of continuity as well as some fresh faces that I'd argue are probably upgrades to last year depending on how they show this year. Summit, OnFleek, and Dove are three of the best at their positions in the LCK, a region with a particularly strong pool at all three positions.

This line is fair to me given our expectations and what we've seen from these two teams. I could see an argument for either side but I'm going to plant my flag on T1 in this spot. It's always tough gauging strengths and weaknesses with small sample size and a lot of unknowns but T1 looked, except for some weird spots in game three, pretty strong against a team that most people had pegged as the top team going into the season. Again, maybe it was just a rough start for Gen.G and in time they will build chemistry and end up the best so you don't want to completely go nuts over one result but I liked what I saw from T1 more than what I did from Sandbox. My only reservation is the Summit vs Canna/Roach matchup but you could say the same about T1's bottom lane against Leo/Gorilla or whichever players Sandbox march out. I like T1 quite a bit here.

Moneyline: T1 @ -160 (3.2 units)
Spread: T1 -1.5 maps @ +120 (1.5 units)


Saturday January 4th - 1am Eastern

Afreeca Freecs +270 (+1.5 @ +105)
DragonX -330 (-1.5 @ -135)

Afreeca are going to be a fascinating team to watch develop this year. Last season, they were one of the best uptempo teams on the planet largely due to the exceptional play of their top half of the map, particularly Kiin and Dread. This offseason they brought in Mystic from Team WE in the LPL, an exceptional late game carry, and a new coach. So which team are they going to be? Historically Mystic's teams have revolved around him strategically but will there be remnants of last years Afreeca? Are they going to be a slow and disciplined scaling team now? Or maybe it's both? So far it's been a bit of everything so I suppose time will tell. This team has a ton of talent but I think the philosophical questions are what keep me from putting them into the top four, although it wouldn't surprise me at all.

It's rare that I react so strongly to a single match. It's even rarer that I react so strongly to a single match in a preseason tournament but DragonX look outstanding. It's almost like they answered every single question I had about them in a single series and passed that test with flying colors. The rookies Pyosik and Keria were the big question marks. Keria was in the DragonX program but Pyosik is... just some guy from solo queue? It's no wonder people weren't sure how this would work. DragonX also brought in coach cvMax. Is he the real deal or was it just the talent on Griffin? Having continuity from players that are not only exceptional talents but also are familiar with a coach's system, especially one as strict as cvMax's, is something that I think I may have underrated with this team and I'm immediately correcting course on. 

Pyosik had these games "downloaded" today. He looked startlingly like Tarzan! He took a lot of risks that might be punished in future games once people get some film on him but clearly the stage was not too big for him. He was creative in his pathing and ahead of every play, something it usually takes solo queue junglers quite some time to aclimate to on the professional level. So was it beginners luck? Time will tell but I'm extremely optimistic that a kid playing his first games against a world class team that brought the same exact roster back in DAMWON and making their world class jungler Canyon look stupid raised both eyebrows from me. 

Start with some degree of roster/coach continuity between cvMax, Chovy, and Doran. Add the best ADC of all time in Deft who seems to somehow, someway keep getting better and better (maybe it's ADCs... think of Doublelift and Uzi too... I digress). Add one of the best mid laners on the planet in Chovy. Add Doran who will be another year better and is already one of the stronger and more versatile top laners in the LCK. Add a kid you pulled from solo queue to play the position that is the most different to transition to from the solo queue version to the pro version in jungler Pyosik who just embarassed a world's representative in DAMWON and their stud jungler Canyon. Add a support that is clearly on the same page and building immediate chemistry with one of the best ADC's of all time. Add elite coaching that the players are all buying into (if you don't believe me listen to those post game interviews today). This is what great teams are made of!!

I watch a lot of League of Legends and have been for a long time. I like to think I'm pretty good at this. I've said it before but sometimes when you're really well-versed and experienced in something and your instinct or "gut" tells you something you have to trust it. My instincts are telling me this could be the best team in the LCK and maybe more. It sounds absolutely absurd to state that based on one series (I'm not counting the first two) in an OFFSEASON tournament but sometimes you can't explain it, you just see something that has that "it" factor. I see that here. Sure, you could say it's one series or that DAMWON are hungover or that it's beginners luck for Pyosik (maybe a little as I mentioned), but when you see these players completely ball out like they just did and then listen to them gush about the coach and culture unanimously and with conviction like that it means something. This team is buying in. Talent, creativity, philosophical alignment, insane potential, and perhaps the most important at this stage of the season is pure confidence. That's the kind of teams I want to get behind.

I'm so confident in this that I'm just going to go ahead and fire off a future now. I'll be doing another post on the ones I have in a few weeks before most of the leagues start but I want to get this one in now before DragonX win KeSPA Cup like it looks like they might. 

I realized after typing all of that that I forgot to handicap this actual match. Afreeca looked pretty decent in their 2-1 win against a Hanwha Life squad that I think is going to be a tad underrated but ultimately not that great.Spirit and Dread seem to be battling for the starting job, which I think can be a good thing but can also be disruptive. BEN also got a game. Afreeca are going to be good, potentially great but not everything is clicking yet and they're still trying to figure out exactly who they are while DragonX look like they're in midseason form in their first matches. Typically I love teams that are not only trying hard to win these offseason tournaments but are on the same page and doing so with new players. There's not a lot of film to pull from so while a lot of these new players like Pyosik might eventually develop tendencies and be figured out, it's tough to do that on such short notice without really knowing what to expect. Combine the roster "testing" angle from Afreeca with the above stated points about DragonX and I feel pretty strongly that DragonX are going to take this series down decisively even against a good Afreeca team. DragonX just look way ahead of schedule.

Future: DragonX to win LCK Spring '20 @ +710 (2 units)

Spread: DragonX -1.5 maps @ -130 (3.9 units)



Parlay (2): DragonX ML + T1 ML @ +112 (0.75 units)

Parlay (2): DragonX -1.5 maps + T1 ML @ +188 (0.5 units)

Parlay (2): DragonX -1.5 maps + T1 -1.5 maps @ +289 (0.25 units)

Friday, December 27, 2019

December 27th and 28th: KeSPA and Demacia Cups

- odds to win listed unit amount and + odds unit placed amount 

Demacia Cup

Friday 10pm Eastern EDward Gaming vs Vici Gaming

This should be an interesting matchup as both teams went to the full five games in their previous series. Personally I thought Vici had a more impressive performance taking down one of my personal favorites for the tournament in TOP and I felt looked pretty damn good in doing so. Aix struggled in a couple games against Karsa but looked solid in the others and Cube and iBoy were absolute monsters throughout the series. EDG pulled the reverse sweep on WE who become fixated on mid Nocturne, a pick that I think is fine but requires certain circumstances. They were unable to snowball in games three and four and then had a pair of the dumbest punts I've seen so far this entire preseason and would have been in the running for worst throws for all of last year in game five. I hate to say the fix was in but it sure looked fishy to me... Anyway... Kkoma has arrived and in an interview iBoy was discussing the aura of confidence, competitiveness, and seriousness which sounds an awful lot to me like a winning culture, something Vici hasn't had in years, maybe ever. This team performed well without him there and will look even better with him there to help make adjustments during the series, something Kkoma might be better at than any coach in the history of competitive League of Legends.

I'm going with Vici here. Not only do I like the coaching edge, and have much more repsect for their win over TOP than I do EDG's over WE but Vici are also playing extremely well individually and the addition of iBoy seems to have been a slam dunk. Cube is also going to demand a Mordekaiser game plan or ban in this game which should give Vici a ton of leverage in the draft. I also think we're in a situation with a false favorite. I'd cap this at Vici -120 / EDG +100 or even money. It's not as extreme as some of the examples we've been seeing in this tournament but there is still some price memory from last season happening here. Vici are "a bad organization" in most people's eyes and EDG are one of the most storied franchises in Chinese League history. It's the eSports equivalent of the Cowboys vs the Bills or big market vs small market etc. Vici are the better team here and we're getting them as dogs.

That said we're not breaking the bank entirely because these teams are fairly close. This is also one of the rare spots where I actually like the +1.5 maps in a five game series, a play I usually avoid but this feels like it could go the distance to five games.

Moneyline: Vici Gaming +135 (2 units)(Nitrogen)

Spread: Vici +1.5 maps @ -150 (2.5 units)(5Dimes)

Spread: Vici -1.5 maps @ +271 (0.5 units)(Nitrogen)


Royal Never Give Up vs JD Gaming

I'm a bit annoyed Rogue Warriors couldn't even take a game from RNG to cover our RW exposure yesterday but onward we ride. I still don't know what to make of this RNG squad. They looked excellent in the match we just saw but RW also looked terrible and appeared to be floundering from the get go. Holder got absolutely destroyed by Langx and Crazy didn't fair much better. Ruby had his first poor set of games this tournament. RNG just looked really good and took care of business. XLB looked particularly impressive for a newcomer. I'm just skeptical about how much weight to put on this win. RNG had looked a bit suspect in the group stage and while there is a chance that it just took some time for the players to get used to playing together and have "arrived" now, I'm willing to bet against that.

JDG were my pick to win the tournament and after seeing their first games and just how much of an upgrade Loken has been combined with the continuity of roster from the year prior I just think they're playing with an advantage over just about everyone in this tournament. The only question mark I had for them was how fast they could incorporate Loken and they've passed that with flying colors. I still think JDG take this tournament down.

Interestingly we already got to see this matchup in group stage. JDG won a fairly close, slug fest of a game. If you look at the tale of the tape these teams are fairly similar but I think JDG just have slightly stronger horses in the race. I think JDG win this series but this line is way too heavy handed. I was really hoping we'd get the take advantage of the perception and some of last years results baked in like we've been getting all tournament but we don't here. Perhaps this will close under -200 closer to game time but at -234 that's a bit too much for me to pay. I'll be waiting on this one to see how the line moves closer to game time. Nothing for now but leaning RNG for the value, JDG if it gets to somewhere around -180 or so. If the line shrinks I don't hate the OVER 3.5 maps either but for the time being I'm abstaining from this one.

No wager: Leaning RNG ML, waiting until closer to game



Brion Blade vs Afreeca Freecs

Short preseason tournaments are always strange beasts because we've seen underdogs take them down before. Brion Blade and APK Prince got to play a slugfest, back and forth series akin to the ones they'd played in Challenger Korea over the last year which was fun to watch. Wizer, Hena, and Minit turned in stellar performances. I like the confidence and some of the niche picks like Aatrox that Brion Blade have available to them.

Afreeca got to play against Rockhead, a collection of misfit toys from the LCK and CK scene over the past years with some respectible names like Ian and Pilot. Normally you could be critical that it took a top four LCK team this long to take care of a roster like that but I'm going to look at this through a different lens. Afreeca changed coaches to ArtScene from NoFe and added both Fly and Mystic. We talked a lot about this on the podcast but we all liked the concept of Mystic in the LCK, a slower paced region where he could be more likely to get to late game where he has delivered as one of the best scaling carry players in the last few years. The challenging part to identify was that Afreeca were perhaps the most uptempo team in Korea last year and whether or not the new staff would retain that or not. Then they added Fly, a roaming and pace oriented mid laner. Now that we've seen some of what Afreeca look like and the chapmions they prioritized I think we can expect a slower pace of play to compliment their tremendous late game carry in Mystic as well as potential 1-3-1 strategies with Fly and Kiin.

This is a tough spot. The value is most certainly with Brion Blade who you can get at +543 (Nitrogen) and +155 on the +1.5 map spread. I tend to like underdogs in these preseason tournaments as we've discussed. The thing is I can't see Brion Blade actually taking this down. They're simply outclassed. If you consider their strongest player Wizer like I do and you have to match him up again one of the best in the world at the position in Kiin I simply don't like their odds. Hena has shown the ability to carry but this iteration of Brion Blade feels a lot like Wizer commanding attention is their primary win condition. Is it their only? Absolutely not but I have a hard time taking even crazy odds like +543 when their best player is going to have his hands full and everyone else is outclassed. I'll probably include the -1.5 for Afreeca in parlays if I do any but I'm going to just stay away from this one straight up. If you can stomach taking the dog that's understandable but I won't be.

No wager: Slight lean to Brion Blade +1.5 maps @ +155


Hanwha Life vs KT Rolster

It's tough to get a read on this series. Both teams just finished utterly smashing their "free square" representatives from essentially the league equivalent to the Single A baseball. I think both of these rosters are full of criminally underrated players like Aiming, Tusin, Kuro, SoHwan, Lava, and Tempt. These are two teams I want to like and do like. It was kind of cool seeing Lava playing ADC which appears to be the move and one that might be great for the time being with the bottom lane champion pool in the position it is. Lava is an excellent player that I have always felt has been underrated and it's good to see him even in his new role carrying games. Having Lehends at support certainly helps for sure.

The thing with this series is that I could break down all the reasons I like both teams and dislike both teams but at the end of the day I think they're both probably going to be somewhere in the middle of the pack or maybe toward the bottom of the LCK because they lack the firepower some of these other teams have.

The books apparently have about as much uncertainty as everyone else.

Bet365 has this at Hanwha -175, -1.5 @ +162, KT +125 +1.5 @ -225
5Dimes has this at Hanwha -155, -1.5 @ +170, KT +135, KT +1.5 @ -215
Nitrogen has it at Hanwha -234, -1.5 @ +147, KT +160, KT +1.5 @ -207

This is all over the place....

I think these teams are effectively 50/50. We have very little to go on other than my evalution of the players because I don't want to give any weight to what we've seen so far because the opponents were not professional grade. In a vaccuum I think both of these teams have roughly equal players but if you asked most people they'd probably lean toward Hanwha having better players. I have a lot of respect for Kuro. I also have some questions about Lava playing against a legitimately strong and experienced bottom lane in Aiming and Tusin. This line should be way WAY closer to even money. The books' uncertainty on this is somewhat understandable but they should have just made this closer to 50/50. Give me the underdogs here.

Moneyline: KT Rolster +160 (2 units)(Nitrogen)

Spread: KT Rolster -1.5 maps @ +345 (0.25 units)



I'll take a small shot at a double dog here.

Parlay (2): Vici ML + KT Rolster ML @ +480 (0.25 units)

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

December 25: Demacia Cup / KeSPA Cup

Demacia Cup: Wednesday 10pm EST start

Vici Gaming vs TOP eSports

I have absolutely no idea why TOP are so heavily favored in this spot. This is another example of people looking at last seasons results or a generalized elo rating system and applying it blindly. This isn't the same TOP team OR the same Vici team. As a matter of fact both teams went 3-1 in their group stage this weekend. Is TOP going to be the better team this season? Almost definitely. Karsa is one of the best to ever play the position but is only a small upgrade to Xx who was excellent last season. They also lost stud ADC Loken to JDG. Vici are running a strictly upgraded roster with additions Forge from Invictus' system and iBoy. Kkoma isn't there in a coaching capacity yet but Vici looked a lot better and I simply can't see why, at this specific tournament this line is this far out of whack. I'd have TOP slightly favored, maybe in the ballpark of -150 at the most. Not -654 or whatever juiced nonsense Nitrogren has up. This is MUCH MUCH closer to 50/50 than the line indicates.

Vici Gaming ML @ +345 (0.5u)

Vici +1.5 maps @ +160 (1u)

Vici +2.5 maps @ -207 (3u)

(all of these are at Nitrogen, haven't seen it open at any other available books to me yet)


Team WE vs EDward Gaming

Similar to my play on Vici that's happening in about an hour and a half (scroll up a bit). This is simply too much of a line disparity for this point in the season. Both teams had the same exact record of 3-1 during the group stage and both teams faced similar schedules in terms of difficulty. In fact I'd say WE had a slightly tougher set of opponents but that's my opinion. They also performed better from a metrics perspective in economy, efficiency, althought EDG had the edge in vision statistics.

Once again, just like the Vici/TOP series happening at 10pm EST I just think this line should be closer to 50/50 but it's using price memory from last season. Even though there are some of the same players, for the most part these teams have had enough changes that they're both effectively new teams and both have looked great in the four games we've seen from them so far. Is EDG the better team? Probably but not by much, at least at this point in the season. No reason for WE to be this big of a dog.

Team WE Moneyline @ +385 (1 unit) (5Dimes)

Team WE +1.5 maps @ +100 (1 unit) (Nitrogen)


JD Gaming vs BiliBili Gaming

This one isn't the same as these previous two. JDG went 4-0 in the group stage and in convincing fashion against what I'd call the hardest group in this tournament (even the development league representative Young Miracles is quite good for their level). This team, while infuriating last year, fixed their main problem which was their liability at the ADC position in Imp. Not only did they replace the problem, but upgraded to one of the best ADC's in the world in Loken. JDG are going to be really good this year. BiliBili were the "better than the rest" but not quite as good as the elite teams in the LPL team last year. The Gatekeepers if you will. Their coaching and disciplined playstyle along with stellar solo lane performances from Kuro and ADD helped secure them back to back solid season. They bring in star LMS mid laner FoFo who, while formidable, might not be the automatic upgrade from Kuro that it seems public perception has declared. FoFo is excellent but Kuro has been criminally underrated in his career.

To me this is simpler than that. JDG look like they're already in midseason form. They're utterly smashing people and their new addition Loken has been a huge reason why. When the new piece is performing at the level you expect immediately it's fairly safe to say that chemistry is good so far and that the awkward getting to know each other phase might be shorter than in most situations. JDG are going to be a title contender this year especially in Spring while a lot of these other rosters figure themselves out. BiliBili are one of those rosters that are figuring themselves out. They've already played 8 different players in this tournament and while they've looked decent, mostly appear to be in evaluation mode to figure out what the best iteration of their roster might be to start the season.

I think JDG smash this series and this is another case of getting price memory from last year cooked into the line in our favor. JDG were a bad and extremely lucky team last year that had a lot of people sipping the proverbial Kool Aid from their miracle run in the Spring playoffs but they already appear to have fixed a large amount of their problems and have made a drastic upgrade at their weakest position. This is a slam dunk to me.

Moneyline: JDG -120 (5 units)

Spread: JDG -1.5 maps @ +172 (1 unit)

Spread: JDG -2.5 maps @ +444 (0.5 units)


Rogue Warriors vs Royal Never Give Up

RNG have actually stuck to the same five every game, something I didn't expect, while Rogue Warriors have tried two different lineups. After losing to BiliBili with Wuming being outclassed by FoFo (and Qiyana to some extent) Rogue Warriors switched to Korean mid laner Ruby (formerly of VSG in the Challengers Korea) and have since enjoyed three dominant performances and a 40 KDA. Small sample size but still rather impressive for the new comer to the region. Since that switch up, the lineup with Haro and Ruby appears to be extremely effective for Rogue Warriors. RNG took care of business against LNG and Young Miracles but lost to both JDG and OMG who, as we knew going into this tournament, are two of the stronger teams.

To me this is yet another case of two teams being severely exaggerated based on previous performance not current ones. RNG represented China at the World Championships just a couple months ago and have a strong name brand value to a lot of people. Rogue Warriors were one of the worst teams in the league last year. I think we're getting a ton of price memory in our favor yet again here. These two teams are pretty even to me, maybe a slight edge to RNG just because of experience from players like Xiaohu, Ming, and Langx playing together for so long. I'd personally cap this somewhere between -125 and -150 (~55%-60% implied odds). Again, these preseason tournaments are not always indicative of things to come but they're also not indicative of the past either. I had RNG pegged as a team that would struggle to redefine themselves going into the season without their two best players in Karsa and Uzi, two Hall of Famers. They'll be fine but I digress. This line is juiced way way too much in RNG's favor so we're going with the underdog yet again. This weighting will allow us to profit on a 3-2 loss, which I think is the most likely outcome in this scenario while also covering about half of our RW liability if we get more than 3 games (which I find much more likely than the 66% implied odds).

Moneyline: Rogue Warriors +190 (1 unit)

Spread: Rogue Warriors +1.5 maps @ -120 (2 units)

Prop: Series OVER 3.5 maps @ -195 (3 units)



Jin Air vs Spear Gaming

Jin Air were absolutely horrific last year turning in one of the worst single season performances in any region that I've ever seen so perhaps this line is a bit reduced because of that but the truth is Spear Gaming was the #6 minor league team last year and this is a new lineup besides jungler Winter. There's a chance they're pretty good but I actually think this new look Jin Air should be much improved from last year. I get it, it's pretty easy to look at them and say "hey they don't really have to do much to be better than last year" but this roster actually looks respectable to me. They add Light who was one of the best players in Challenger Korea last year on the 11-3 Summer Team Dynamics, UmTi who has had a respectable career albeit on somewhat poor teams, and Senan who, while one dimensional, was excellent in his role as an engaging support during his time on Afreeca last year.

Just on paper this looks like a heavy advantage for Jin Air to me and while some people might want to ride the "Jin Air sucks" narrative I'm going to take advantage of the value we're getting "against the brand."

Spread: Jin Air -1.5 maps @ +125 (1 unit)

Moneyline: Jin Air -255 (2.55 units)



I'm actually going to round robin (every iteration of the four moneylines by groups of two, three, and then the full four) all four of the moneyline selections here for 0.1 units each. 11 bets which makes for a setup that will pay out a bit over 13 to 1 if all four hit for a 1.1 unit investment. Bit of a long shot but I like the dogs quite a bit tonight.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

December 20th: Demacia Cup (China)

Having to fire this off from my phone but had to get this one out there. We will be back for the 2020 season with pre-season power rankings coming out in January for the major regions but I just had to post something for this one. ESports: League of Legends Demacia Cup (China) Friday December 20th, 10pm Eastern First match OMG Moneyline @ +255 (4u, book max) I don't normally play a lot of the offseason tournaments but this stuck out to me as a severely incorrect line. RNG is without their two best players Uzi, to health problems/rest, and Karsa who moved to TOP eSports. They'll be trying out one of either developmental league junglers in their first game with the team as well as Betty (formerly of Flash Wolves in the LMS) who they just signed 4 days ago. They also have a brand new head coach (Mata, who we haven't seen as a head coach before, just as one of the greatest players of all time). Not only is this a team in flux for this tournament but one that I think will struggle mightily to find their ground without a miraculous coaching job in the first half of the year. OMG on the other hand is looking like a dark horse (if you can call them that) to be a title contending team. Stud solo laners Curse and Icon were unable to carry an abysmal jungle and bottom lane situation all last season but with Smlz coming over and elite jungler H4cker joining the fray this team is going to be one to be reckoned with. This is a severe wrong pricing. OMG was a bad team last year and RNG was in the World Championship and are a perennial contender. There is a certain amount of price memory here but this is just flat out wrong. This is a best of one game match so bet accordingly but I have OMG finishing as a top 5 or 6 team and RNG just lost their jungler who was arguably the best in the world (one of them at least) and arguably the best ADC of all time to injury with a new, albeit accomplished, person they added four days ago. This should be even money give or take not +255...

Friday, November 8, 2019

November 10th: Worlds 2019 Grand Finals

Semifinals Takeaways

FunPlus vs Invictus

If you enjoyed watching this series you need to get some more of the LPL in your life. This was quintessential LPL League of Legends. Every single player trusting their ability to outplay any situation, gigantic team fights, non-stop action. It's not always perfect but the LPL has it's own flavor and I really do think more people need to watch it. 

That said, we definitely saw the better team win this series. As last week went on I grew more and more into FunPlus as a selection. Invictus were simply making a lot more mistakes and unlike Griffin in the first two games of their quarterfinal series, FunPlus at their current level weren't simply going to spoon feed them their first two games. At this level you can't rely entirely on your star players alone to deliver wins, you need to have a gameplan and proactively put it into motion and Invictus weren't doing that. Invictus were only winning games that their opponents messed up badly in or games in which their individual players, specifically the solo lanes, just completely took over the game.

I thought Ning had a pretty bad series in this one and Tian and Crisp illustrated to the world why jungle and support can actually hard carry games. If I had to give an MVP for this series it would go to Crisp for sure. The dude was everywhere. I also though GimGoon managed TheShy excellently but this shouldn't be a surprise to anybody, GimGoon is an exceptional weakside player. 

The major lesson people should take from this series is to know red flags when you see them. You can't entirely hold it aginst Invictus that Griffin threw those two games but when you saw Griffin completely running over Invictus in the first three games of that series it should have alarmed a lot more people than it did. I know I went on about it for awhile, being on Griffin myself in that series, but Griffin 100% punted those first two games badly and it wasn't by Invictus' engineering either. We saw a similar thing with the Fnatic run in week two of the group stage. It's weird to nearly lose to Clutch then back to back beat SKT and RNG but if you watch those games, RNG had an absymal draft and SKT simply executed terribly. A 3-0 day can look just as bad as an 0-3 day if you're watching carefully. Don't be results oriented!

SK Telecom vs G2 eSports

This was the highest level series this year. It wasn't just an entertaining match between two incredible teams it was exquisite. So many of the fights, skirmishes, map moves, and macro decision points were on a razor's edge. The margin for error in each of these games against these two teams specifically is so small and yet we STILL saw a back and forth. SK Telecom learned from their first meeting that you had to match G2's breakneck pace and they did. To me this was one of the better series SKT played this season and even though they lost we shouldn't be taking anything at all away from them. They managed to play G2's game at G2's level and there is next to nobody that can do that maybe in the history of the game. 

I could go on forever about this one but this was an absolute classic. The discipline, the improvisation, the nearly instant decision making on huge overall decisions, the draft dance, individual performances, this series had it all besides the epic five game finish and the fact that it wasn't the grand final itself. I'll be rewatching this one for years to come. The main takeaway should be that this was probably the two best teams in the tournament and that whoever won this series was likely taking down the title. We had the pleasure of witnessing two of the best teams I've ever watched in my nearly a decade of watching professional League of Legends duke it out and it delivered.


Worlds 2019 - Grand Finals

G2 eSports -130 (-1.5 @ +140, -2.5 @ +370)
FunPlus Phoenix +110 (+1.5 @ -170, +2.5 @ -510)

Kill Spread: +/- 4.5 @ -120
Kill Total: Over/Under 28.5 @ -120
Total Time per map: Over/Under 30 minutes

There's a certain catharsis in seeing both of these teams finally make it to this point. Two of the more unique teams to ever play the game doing so at an extremely high level is just a blast to watch no matter how you look at it.  FunPlus Phoenix and their fearless leader Doinb with their trademark weakside top, roam centric attack have been completely running teams over with early play making from the Crisp, Tian, and Doinb trio all over the map. Their ability to play around lane priority and take the fight to you has been unbelievably good this tournament and, frankly, all year. G2 and their brilliant macro play and drafting seemingly never come out behind on the map no matter what ridiculous circumstance they get into and no matter who the opponent. Their creativity and in-game problem solving is better than any team I've ever seen.

This is, in many ways, a battle between the greatest bull of all time and the greatest matador of all time. 

The Bull

FunPlus aren't exactly reinventing the wheel they're just finding new ways to use it. The concept of an aggressively roaming team isn't foreign to the scene. It was a large part of the success of one of the greatest teams of all time, Samsung White. FunPlus are utilizing the elite trio of Crisp, Tian, and Doinb to create advantages in lanes and to take whichever opponent they deem vulnerable out of the game. It's predictable but brutally effective if you're not doing all of the preventative maintenance necessary to minimize losses from the sacrifices FPX are making to do so. FunPlus are the bull, or as I've affectionately called them "The Juggernaut." To say they lack tact would be a bit disrespectful but they more or less show you what they plan to do every game it's just a matter of whether you can stop it. The catch is that they're extremely good at it, hence the bull comparison.

The Matador

Doesn't it feel like no matter what edge a team is getting that G2 aren't ever actually behind in any game? That's because, most of the time, it's literally true. Great teams have a way of doing this. SKT did it for years where opposing teams would have a kill lead, sometimes a substantial one, but the economy never stopped or neutral objectives were taken and suddenly the enemy team blew a handful of summoner spells and long cooldowns to more or less break even. G2 do this better than any team I've ever seen. Their management of the map and overall income is astonishing. Whether it's avoiding a dive, starting a chaos-ridden romp through the enemy jungle, or baiting out a long cooldown like a teleport, G2 are always finding an edge. It's like they're toying with their competition both on the Rift and in the draft. Like a great finesse boxer (or a matador) they never take a clean blow from their opponent.

I'm supremely confident that G2 will be our first Western League of Legends World Champion since season one for a number of reasons but the main one is that I think, in this specific case, that the matador that I've referenced is just as strong and just as big as the bull. I think G2 could win this game without any of their intangibles just playing FunPlus straight up. They have an advantage at every position except maybe a push at jungle and if you want to give Lwx the edge because of Perkz' ocassional inconsistencies feel free. To me G2 have advantages at three positions, and a slight advantage at the other two. Just looking at the tale of the tape here I think that if you exclude all of the wild and crazy "just G2 things" that they do they could still win this series straight up.

Then we factor in the intangibles. I don't want to completely write off FunPlus Phoenix because they are, arguably, the strangest team the G2 has seen. In some ways they'll see a lot of themselves in FunPlus even if it's not with the same champions. Jungle and Support creating opportunities and strange champion pools are just a few things in common and perhaps that could throw G2 off. But this is a five game series. FunPlus Phoenix do the same trick but with a different magic wand while G2 actually know all the tricks regardless of the wand they're using.

G2 have a massive edge in the draft and that's not up for debate to me. FunPlus have shown a lot of things over this calendar year and over the careers of these players, I doubt we'll see anything G2 will be surprised by and, perhaps more importantly, that G2 can't adapt to over a five game series. FunPlus aren't severely limited but they are predictable in the sense that, regardless of the champions involved, you know exactly what they're going to do and G2 will have ample time to come up with a gameplan to attack that. I doubt side selection will play a roll in this series unless a pick, maybe Ryze, becomes so contested that it eats up an extra red side ban. (Side note: side selection is determined by coin toss not seeding, it was the case for semifinals as well, I was incorrect in assuming higher seed had choice but it didn't really end up mattering, just a note for next time)

G2 have a massive edge in ability to adapt based on what both teams have shown me over the course of this year. FunPlus are exceedingly good at what they do but they don't really do a lot else, or at least they haven't been forced to. The LPL, for the most part, is a strategically linear league. Most of the teams excel at one thing and do that regardless of the circumstances and because of this, many of the LPL teams, specifically the very good ones, have little need to mix up what they're doing to adapting opponents. I'm not saying the LEC is a stronger league but it is a more diverse league from a strategic standpoint. A team like Fnatic can do pretty much anything, Origen and Splyce play very by-the-book, and Vitality are surprisingly similar to FunPlus. G2's ability to play anything, anywhere, against anything is possibly the best of all time. It creates headaches in the draft and on the Rift and over the course of a five game series, as we've witnessed, it's incredibly difficult to come out on top even if you get a game or two.

Between FunPlus' linear, predictable approach, G2's seemingly endless toolbox of plays, G2's borderling impossible to defeat drafting, G2's pound for pound ability to outclass FunPlus, and the fact that this is a best of five I'm siding heavily with G2 to win the World Championship. Simply put, this is one of, if not THE best team I've ever seen play this game. Their ability to adapt to their opponent, quickly and efficiently solve problems, and improvise is better than anything I've ever seen and that's not even factoring in that they just have five of the best players in the world at their positions AND tremendous confidence AND a level of chemistry and team synergy that's second to no one. I thought hard about this series and how FunPlus win it and to me it comes down to whether Doinb can actually get going on one of his weird picks or Perkz gets overzealous and, honestly, those are the only two things I could come up with and I don't think they've very likely at all. 

This is very heavy handed on my part, primarily because it's the last match for a little while. I'd cut this wager in half. For those tailing I'd count this as a 6 unit lock but I'll be going 10 units strong on the moneyline partially because I'm insulated by FunPlus futures but also because I just couldn't come up with a scenario where G2 lose this. I honestly think this line should be closer to -175. FunPlus are an elite team but they're exactly the kind of team G2 beats up on and FunPlus haven't faced anybody remotely close to how unique and weird G2 is, much less how good G2 is. G2 nearly defeated SK Telecom without taking a baron buff.... that's INSANE! This line is only close to even because the LPL won the tournament last year against Europe and because FunPlus just dominated a massively public, and in my opinion overrated team in Invictus. I have a ton of respect for FunPlus but we're witnessing all-time levels here with this G2 lineup and exceptions have to be made. 

G2 is the best team in the world, maybe the best team of all time. I'll bust it out one last time for the competitive season but this is a windmill slam. G2 eSports 3-1.

Moneyline: G2 eSports -135  (8.44 units)(MAX)

Moneyline: G2 eSports -125 (1.25 units)(MAX)

Moneyline: G2 eSports -120 (1.75 units)(MAX)

Spread: G2 eSports -1.5 maps @ +135 (1.25 units)

Spread: G2 eSports -2.5 maps @ +370 (0.25 units)

Map 1, 2, and 3: OVER 30 minutes @ -115 (TBD units)
(this is a lean for now but I'll probably be half a unit on each map, will update this post if I fire)

(Note: This looks odd but again I use flat unit size and these are max limit wagers at various books. As mentioned above, for those tailing I'd treat this like a 5 or 6 unit wager which denotes my maximum confidence, I'm personally just going a bit heavier since it's our last match of the competitive year but as always you see it all here.)


Additional Props:

Map 1: FunPlus 1st Dragon @ -115 (0.5 units) 

Map 2: FunPlus 1st Dragon @ -115 (0.5 units) 

Map 3: FunPlus 1st Dragon @ -115 (0.5 units) 

Dragon hasn't been a priority for G2 while it's been emphasized by FunPlus. At the World Championships G2 has only taken 51.5% of dragons and only 0.8 dragons @ 15 minutes while FunPlus has taken 77.1% of dragons and 1.2 dragons @ 15 minutes. If you look at their more recent games G2 only got the first dragon in three of their last seven while FPX have taken it in five of their last seven. I'm limited on these but if I can find somewhere to take more I absolutely love this.

Prop: Highest kill spree OVER 5.5 kills @ +105

I'm going to list this because I like it and it was John's Pick of the Week on The Gold Card Podcast but it's not offered to me so it won't count toward my tally.


Enjoy this match! It's been a tremendous tournament and a wild and crazy year and I'm looking forward to my full annual breakdown but let's end this one with a win!