Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Betting: January 31st (LPL, LCK)

LCK Spring 2019 - January 31st:

So I missed almost all of this weekends live games as I was on the road competing. I'm still catching up on the NA and EU VODs but I've watched China and Korea. Some great series this weekend, SKT and DAMWON inparticular was a great one that highlighted the capabilities of both squads as well as some of their shortcomings. I just wanted to give people a heads up because I'll be on the road once again this coming weekend. I'll try to have my picks up before I go on either Thursday night or Friday afternoon. After this weekend my schedule clears up quite a bit and I should be back to writing and probably playing/streaming more for you all.

SKT vs DAMWON was a clinic in snowballing for the first two games. A slower, controlled one by SKT in game one followed by an absolute blowout off of one mistake bottom lane in game two to give DAMWON the win. Game three was much more slow-paced and cautious by both teams. SKT have shown an improvement in their ability to ARAM... god that sentence hurts to say but it's true. Khan's Jayce did an unbelievable amount of work in this series to create siege situations where DAMWON simply couldn't engage because they were poked out. It's a bit of an unsung hero situation but he almost single handedly won SKT this game. Good to see him back on one of his classic picks. 

Griffin has had five days off and saw an SKT series in that time after they handled DAMWON. Everything points to a Griffin win here. Time off, film on SKT's most recent performance against the same team they just faced, Griffin being as good as they are, etc. So why am I going with SKT here? A couple of reasons. First, I think they have the individual players to actually hang with Griffin, something very few teams can actually say. Second, and this isn't something I usually believe in, but Griffin are bound to either get overconfident or simply lose a game soon and I think SKT have shown steady improvement even with sloppy losses from time to time. Third, SKT get side selection for this series and might, possibly have something really special prepared for Griffin.

These odds are mostly accurate to me but this is just one of those gut feeling kind of situations. My gut served me right for most of last year and I haven't been going with it nearly enough this year. I've been logic'ing away and everything about this season has sort of defied logic even as we think teams are settling into who we think they are in every region. This feels like SKT have had this game gold star'd on their calendars for the entire offseason and I expect them to have a good performance. TAIL AT YOUR OWN RISK HERE

Handicapped: SK Telecom +1.5 maps @ -101 (1.5 units)

Moneyline: SK Telecom +236 (0.5 units)

I feel pretty confident in saying that Jin Air and Gen.G look like the bottom two teams right now with Afreeca slowly improving but not far ahead of them. Gen.G and Jin Air played a snail-paced series as we'd expect from these two teams. In hindsight the UNDER kill totals and over in match time were lock of the century and I regret not making those wagers but I digress. Gen.G can't seem to win games unless teams let them scale and that's a problem with the new look Korea.

KT Rolster struggled early in the season and they've looked far from what I expected them to be but they are slowly improving. They also have the right idea, to be proactive and aggressive as well as a willingness to actually act on it, which teams like Gen.G and Jin Air simply don't have.

This pick boils down to whether or not you feel Gen.G change or not. This team is stubborn and they have been for the past two years. I'm not relying on them to adjust and change so the only doubt in mind for this is whether or not KT botch a lead like they did against Jin Air in game one. It's possible but not likely if you ask me. I love KT here. They're trending up and Gen.G are just stagnating. They struggled mightily against Jin Air and even then showed us nothing new or different, simply winning because Jin Air is not an LCK caliber team right now. KT should be able to run over Gen.G.

Moneyline: KT Rolster -164 (2 units)

Handicapped: KT Rolster -1.5 maps @ +174 (0.5 units)

PROP (O/U): Map 1 UNDER 34:00 @ -114 (0.5 units)
PROP (O/U): Map 2 UNDER 34:00 @ -114 (0.5 units)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Betting: January 25th-27th (LCK, LPL, LEC, NA LCS, TCL)

LCK Spring 2019 January 25th-27th:

For as bad as KT Rolster look I think Jin Air are just the worst team in the LCK so this is just a matter of whether or not you think they're going to take some games here. To me KT Rolster look lost right now and this would be a spot to take the Jin Air +1.5 or ML. There is no way KT is -417 better than literally anybody in this league in their current state. That said I do think we're cooking in a bit of our expectations in that disappointment. We had medium hopes for this team and they've been pretty rough but hear me out. 

They've played HLE, DAMWON, and Kingzone, all respectable teams and in the case of HLE and DAMWON teams off to hot starts. KT completely destroyed Hanwha Life in game one of that series and haven't won a game since. So what's happening with this team? They're getting behind early in games most of the time. The one time they got ahead by a reasonable amount they shut the door fast and it was clinical. Jin Air have had the unfortunate pleasure of facing SKT and Griffin for their first two series so I don't want to completely rule them out yet but they look like they're playing the same League that Jin Air always does, slow, controlled, and scaling.

I'm going against the logic on this one. Anybody betting this series would tell you there is WAY WAY too much value in Jin Air at +291 and I'd agree with you but I can't in good spirit say that this Jin Air roster is going to take games off even a struggling KT. Perhaps I'm hooked on the "these veteran star teams will figure it out" narrative but I really do think KT are just going to run over Jin Air in a bit of a get right situation here. Their players are better at every single position (including both ADCs), and Jin Air have done basically one proactive move in two series so far and that was a sweet first blood by Malrang in their first game of the season. If they're going to remain passive OR just get out manuevered early in games by being slow to the play then I actually trust KT to cleanly end this.

Handicapped: KT -1.5 @ -112 (1 unit)

This is a revenge game for DAMWON. They're going to be so amped up for this after getting smashed by Griffin in challenger scene to finally meet them again atop the LCK is going to be a huge energy situation for them. Both of these teams have looked exceptional. They understand the new way to play League and are playing with tremendous confidence. They are also familiar with each other. I know I stated that I think DAMWON are due for some regression but I think this series is an exception. They've been looking forward to this all offseason I guarantee it. I'm not denying that Griffin are the best team in the league, I think that's pretty obvious, but I don't think they'll go undefeated and I definitely don't think they'll go undefeated in game score. Two red hot teams battling for first and the odds are this far apart? I'll take my value.

Handicapped: DAMWON +1.5 @ +118 (1 unit)

Moneyline: DAMWON +405 (0.5 units)

This morning's series between Gen.G and Afreeca was certainly a weird one and while Afreeca showed us a few neat tricks they weren't exactly clinical. I had Gen.G as one of the bottom two teams going into this morning and while I'm not as down on their "dire" situation as I was then they still haven't shown me enough to convince them that they're going to be more of a middle of the table team yet. 

Kingzone looked MOSTLY improved against KT besides that one weird Yasuo ult that nearly lost them the game (and it should have). As I've mentioend before Kingzone have had the right idea, unlike a lot of the veteran teams, they just need to execute better and it appears that they're starting to. 

I have no idea why Afreeca is favored here. As a matter of fact I think it should be the other way around or close to even. I'm taking Kingzone not just because I think they've been a bit faster to the punch figuring themselves out but because I don't think this line should be this far apart. Afreeca also showed you this weird strategy they're willing to employ so it's not like Kingzone are going to be caught off guard by it. Pawn also looked surprisingly good in the last series against BDD when he actually solo took mid turret for the most part as Leblanc against Lissandra, an unfavorable shoving matchup. I've been impressed with the old dog! Anyway I like Kingzone for a unit here for the value and because I actually like them to win this series.

 Moneyline: Kingzone +138 (1 unit)

This is appropriately even given that I think both teams have looked great so far this season and I expect both teams to cool off slightly sooner rather than later. This is a tough one to cap. I'd lean Hanwha Life who actually looked impressive against Griffin in game one but you could say the same for Sandbox who looked impressive against SKT albeit with favorable drafts helping them A LOT in games two and three. Which do you think is more impressive? I think a good game against Griffin but not enough to fire on it.

No wager (lean Hanwha)


LPL Spring 2019 January 25th-28th:

We've only seen one series from Victory Five and it was a 2 to 1 loss against TopSports in week one. For those of you that didn't watch this series game one was... something. TopSports actually looked pretty awful in game one besides a clean 5v2 dive for first tower. They lost a herald fight with the lead and eventually lost off of a few really bizarre TPs that looked like a miscommunication. Victory Five still almost lost this game. Pepper was caught invading by the mid laner, not the jungler. Granted Knight is really good but still he was just like "what are you doing here..." and killed him. Victory Five also nearly walked into a few gigantic engages almost as if they had no clue it was even possible. 

Victory Five aren't good. They proceeded to get demolished in the next two games including multiple botched dives and showed a fundamental lack of understanding for how to get back into a game or honestly how to cleanly close a game. They were doing all the wrong things and happened to get away with it in game one. They have some good, respectable players but not enough that are exceptional enough to overcome these disadvantages. BiliBili have looked very much like a Korean team. Strong understanding of macro, disciplined, controlled and well-coordinated but their weakness is their typically slower pace of play. That said I think they know what to expect when facing Victory Five and they're exactly the kind of team that punishes poor understanding of closing and coming back.

I'm not sure how it's going to happen but I'm really confident BiliBili are going to win this series. Even if they get behind early which is something they often do I don't trust Victory Five to know what to do to close this out. They've already shown that they struggle with that when TopSports, a better team than BiliBili, had an abysmal game with tons of miscommunications and mistakes. They still almost lost. I think V5 are likely to be at the bottom of the LPL unless they get their act together. This feels too easy to me.

Moneyline: BiliBili -167 (2 units)

In my game notes I talk about Vici being an improved lineup from last year. "They're aggressive, decisive, and know how to snowball a lead from a macro standpoint. They also know the necessary steps to come back into a game but sometimes struggle to execute on it." Their first series against Suning actually taught us a lot and if we think Suning is a good team then maybe there's hope for Vici right? Sorta...

Suning had an awful draft in game one of this series that included an Smlz Viktor into Xayah/Rakan that obviously got rocked in lane. Props to Vici for making the appropriate moves to put this one away but Suning promptly smashed them in the next two games. I think Vici will be better than last year but are, at best, a middle of the table team and with the average of their range of outcomes I'd say they'll float around 9-12th range. EDG look clean, collected, and the continuity they have from keeping the same roster is showing. 

I like EDG to 2-0 here.I know they lost to Snake who we think might be a mid tier team but if you watched that series there were a few on the edge team fights that could have gone either way that Snake just did Snake things in. I'm aware that this is a brazen and aggressive bet but I'm fairly confident it's the right side. EDG are a Top 4 or 5 team to me and they're already firing on almost all cylinders. I think individually they outclass Vici at every position as well.

Handicapped: EDG -1.5 maps @ -130 (2 units)

I'm not firing on this game. Both of these teams are struggling mightily at the moment and are looking to be bottom dwellers in the LPL this season. Maybe the over 2.5 maps if you're feeling spicy but I don't really even have a lean here.

No wager

So TopSports were really hyped going into the season and rightfully so, this lineup has a lot of potential but they've looked really shakey so far. I'm confident that they'll figure out what's going on and be a playoff contender but for the time being they're still in that process. OMG, on the other hand, have come out the gates firing with their new look squad. They looked surprisingly good against Invictus and execllent against BiliBili. Strong individual players (especially Icon) and confident, aggressive decision making are what's driving OMG right now. They completely ran over a solid BiliBili team because BiliBili was just a bit slow on jungle rotations.

This is a prime spot for an upset and while I think TopSports will eventually be the better team and may even be right now, they're most certainly not -400 better. I love the OMG ML and handicap in this spot. I think they have about a 50/50 chance of winning this series outright.

Handicapped: OMG +1.5 @ -108 (2 units)

Moneyline: OMG +268 (1 unit)

Surprise surprise I'm taking the Invictus 2-0. JDG honestly look pretty bad and potentially a bottom six team. They couldn't cleanly beat Rogue Warriors and when faced with a good team in FunPlus got completely decimated. Invictus are on another level from FunPlus and I expect them to obliterate JDG this series.

Handicapped: Invictus -1.5 maps @ -182 (2 units)


LEC (Europe) Spring 2019 January 25th-26th:

(no action for now)


LMS Spring 2019 January 25th-27th:

(pending but likely no action)


North American LCS Spring 2019 January 26th-27th:

Most of my NA LCS takes are going to be in line with my NA LCS Spring 2019 Pre-Season Power Rankings so this section might be unexciting but I do have a few selections and a few leans.

LEAN: Liquid, price is a bit too rich for me as I think Cloud 9 could definitely win this game.

LEAN: 100 Thieves, I'm higher on TSM than some and think there's a chance they win this. 

No wager on OpTic CLG: Possibly the Toilet Bowl of NA LCS. I did well betting the bad teams last year but I'm avoiding this one because who knows on day one.

I absolutely LOVE Golden Guardians this split and while I'm higher than some are on FlyQuest I'm thinking Golden Guardians end up a Top 4 team. I also thinkg GG are going to be a hot start type of team which makes me love this spot even more for them.

Moneyline: Golden Guardians -161 (2 units)

I'm going to get a lot of shit for this but my rankings kinda bear this out. I like Echo Fox here. I'm higher on BOTH of these teams than the majority of the cappers I've spoken to by having them in the middle of the table and not the bottom but I do think Echo Fox are going to be faster out the gate and could even be a hot start if they don't open with losses and become frustrated. I just like the individual matchups a lot here for Echo Fox and I think that will matter more in week one than it will later on.

Moneyline: Echo Fox +117

(Day Two lines aren't posted but I might get a chance while traveling to tweet my picks @GelatiLOL  )


Turkish Champions League Spring 2019 January 26th-27th:

No selections for now

North American LCS Spring 2019 Pre-Season Power Rankings

North American LCS Spring 2019 Pre-Season Power Rankings

Just as a note, I didn't list any subs for the NA LCS teams but they can freely call up/move academy players within the organization without penalty so take note of the academy players that are likely to be called up. 

Unlike last year I actually think Europe might have the overall stronger region this year top to bottom as I'm really, really unexcited about a lot of the bottom teams in NA this year. Most people have a consensus bottom three teams of Clutch, Echo Fox, and OpTic and I'm already way WAY different there. They also have a consensus top two of Liquid and 100 Thieves which I also disagree with (sorta). To me NA is like 3.5 tiers. Bottom (C tier), middle with low ceiling (B tier), middle with high ceiling (A tier), and top (S tier).


C Tier:

10) Counter Logic Gaming

Projected Starters: Darshan, Wiggily, PowerOfEvil, Stixxay, Biofrost
Subs: none listed
Coaches: Weldon (head coach), Irean (strategic coach), PsycSummer (player development), Prymari (research analyst), Jeff Shaw (data analyst)

I didn't like CLG last year and outside of PowerofEvil and to a lesser extent Biofrost I don't like them this year. Those that read me know that I wasn't a huge fan of Huhi but the one thing CLG had working for them was their identity and their "weirdness" factor that would allow them to mise wins through Huhi creating advantages in the draft. PowerOfEvil is sort of the better version of Huhi to me. He's weird and creates draft pressure, but he's just better overall. Wiggily will probably be good but I'm not sure he's ready for prime time yet, perhaps he can prove me wrong. I've always thought Stixxay is tremendously overrated but this bot lane could be decent. Darshan might be good for this metagame but otherwise I'm not a fan. I'm open to CLG proving me wrong here but this team doesn't look up to snuff to me. They might not be awful but I just don't see them winning a lot of games and I can't in good heart put them higher than any other team in NA. This roster has a lot of philosophical dissonance to me but maybe they'll reinvent a few of these players and come up with a unified identity but until they show me I'm going to remain skeptical.

9) OpTic Gaming

Projected Starters: Dhokla, Meteos, Crown, Arrow, Big
Subs: none listed
Coaches: Zaboutine (head coach), Croissant (strategic coach), Ryuke (player support)

OpTic added Crown, a universally respected mid laner that many consider one of the best on earth but I think if Worlds last year showed you anything, there's just something weird going on with this guy. Gen.G played Fly (formerly of FlyQuest) for most of the season and did much better with him before weirdly starting Crown for the regional gauntlet where they went on a run and got to Worlds. In other words Fly outperformed Crown (or he had behind the scenes issues we don't know about). Maybe the change of scenery will be good for him and if we're just looking at this with the eye test it's like "... well Crown is a monster this can only be an upgrade" but I just can't help but feel uneasy.

Anyway enough about Crown, I kinda like the rest of this lineup but I'm not particularly excited about it. Dhokla impressed me last season and I think this metagame could be good for him. Meteos also proved me wrong last season but was traded/replaced during Summer which you can read any number of ways. Arrow still has it, he was still excellent and I expect him to be good yet against especially with Draven in the metagame. Big is maybe below average but not by much. This team is just unexciting. They'll be ok but unless both Crown returns to form AND Meteos performs well I just don't see them being better than anybody besides maybe CLG.

8) FlyQuest

Projected Starters: V1per, Santorin, Pobelter, WildTurtle, JayJ
Subs: none listed
Coaches: Invert (head coach), Cop (assistant), Andrew Epstein (Head of Scouting and Analytics)

So on paper I think this is the worst roster in the NA LCS but I'm actually really optimistic about V1per and WildTurtle in the current metagame. Hear me out. I think professional League looks more like solo queue than it ever has at more or less any point since before Season 3. Things are wide open right now and individuals can express themselves a lot more now than they ever have. We've seen in other regions that solo queue superstars have been performing extremely well. WildTurtle has always been that. He's a great individual player that has been punished by the pace and style of the professional game. V1per has basically been the best solo queue player in NA for the past few years as well. These players combined with the veteran presence of Pobelter and Santorin as well as the upside of JayJ who, in my opinion didn't get a fair shake stepping in during Summer Split for a FlyQuest team going through some changes. I'm perhaps a bit too optimistic about this squad but there's just something I can't explain here. I still think these bottom three teams are a cut below the rest but I actually think FlyQuest could potentially move into B Tier if these guys meet their potential.


B Tier:

7) Clutch Gaming

Projected Starters: Huni, Lira, Damonte, Piglet, Vulcan
Subs:  none listed
Coaches: McScrag (head coach), BabyZeus (Assistant coach), Empyre (head analyst and player scout), TheAzotal (analyst)

A lot of people have Clutch as one of the bottom teams this split but I'm a bit more confident than most are about this team as well. Huni and Lira could completely dominate the top side of the map and the current metagame is just so so good for these two. Damonte is another solo queue superstar that's received a bit of hate because he stepped into an already good Echo Fox team when they started floundering. The real question on this team is whether Piglet still has it and if he can work with the up and coming Vulcan. Piglet has had a tumultuous journey in NA over the past few years but I think his willingness to embrace his role as a mentor type player in the Academy League really gave him some perspective. As I've mentioned in a few other leagues this year, I'm way less pessimistic about "washed up" veterans this year. I think the combination of new and old could be really good for this team just like it could be for FlyQuest but I think Huni and Lira are such a high potential top side of the map that they're a cut above the bottom teams.


A Tier:

6) Echo Fox

Projected Starters: Solo, Rush, Fenix, Apollo, Hakuho
Subs: Lourlo (top)
Coaches: Ssong (co-head coach), Thinkcard (co-head coach), Tyler (assistant), Vynarian (analyst)

As I've already mentioned I'm higher on solo queue super stars and individually strong players than I normally am with the game in the place it is right now. To me this team is a rock solid bottom lane that's been together (and underrated) for a long time and three solo queue super stars. Solo was outstanding for most of the year last year until Clutch started losing toward the end of Summer and I'm not going to fault him for that, we see good players pseudo-mail it in all the time and it gets overstated. Solo was arguably the second best top laner in Spring let's not forget that. Also overstated is the whole "Fenix is dramatic" narrative. I think for a player like him the meta is in such a good spot and he has such strong individual players on his team that he won't be frustrated by the pro-style as he has in the past. We've seen how good he can be and I'm guessing he's grown up a little. This top trio has the potential to take over games to me but unlike Clutch, I'm a lot more confident in the bottom side of the map for Echo Fox so I'm putting them a tier up. 

5) Team Solo Mid

Projected Starters: Broken Blade, Akaadian, Bjergsen, Zven, Smoothie
Subs: LustBoy
Coaches: Zikz (head coach), LustBoy (assistant), Goldman (assistant), Sevag (analyst), APC (data analyst), Heaventime (translator)

I love most of the moves TSM made this offseason. That might not be a popular opinion but something needed to change with this team. I'm not a huge fan of Zikz but I'll admit that he had a CLG team performing well over expectations for MOST of his tenure there and theird style could be the right thing to break Bjergsen out of this weird funk he's been in. In other words I think Zikz could unleash Bjergsen which has huge implications. Smoothie was still excellent last year and along with Aphromoo and to a lesser extent Olleh made up a trio of supremely good supports in NA. I think Zven and Mithy breaking up could end up being good for both of them and TSM picked up an excellent player in Smoothie. 

A lot of the questions for TSM come from the top side of the map in Akaadian and Broken Blade. As I've mentioned a few times now I'm higher on solo queue superstars this year with the game where it's at. BrokenBlade and V1per are the two feature in the NA LCS this split and I'm high on both of them going into the season. This top side has a high ceiling and I think could perhaps encourage Bjergsen to break out as well. I also think this team is constructed a lot like the old CLG teams and if split pushing becomes a viable strategy again that TSM are going to be extremely well positioned. They're basically the good version of the good CLG teams from a few years ago.

I'm more optimistic about TSM than I think a lot of people are and I'll admit that I was last year too but this shakeup in coaching staff and players looks fresh to me. I'm willing to give Bjergsen and the boys one last chance. I've got the faith in this squad to make playoffs and potentially be as good as third.

4) Golden Guardians

Projected Starters: Hauntzer, Contractz, Froggen, Deftly, Olleh
Subs: none listed
Coaches: Inero (head coach), Jimmy Harrison (two-way player coach), Ji Eun (translator)

"Go home Gelati, you're drunk!" I really, really like this lineup and I want to put them higher than this. Hauntzer is one of, if not the best top laner in NA, Froggen is a monster player and I think the season off is only going to help him. The dude can still play DO NOT SELL HIM SHORT. We've already discussed the dismissing "washed up veterans" angle enough. Contractz had a ton of potential going into last season and while he may have been "a let down" to some people I tend to think he'll only be a year better. I think this top side of the map is potentially dominant but I'm worried their bot side might be a bit too passive and able to be exposed. If they can focus on drafting priority bottom lanes I think the top half are going to be a huge boon. Deftly is going to be a year better too. Don't forget that this kid was a super prospect going into last year in much the same was Upset was in EU.

A lot of this prediction is going to be how this team envisions themselves succeeding. If they focus on top side and play to their strengths I think they'll look at lot like Inero's last team Echo Fox with a top side focus. If he can learn from his shortcomings there (and there weren't many) then I think this team has top 3 potential. If they have the same weaknesses I think they're going to be punished by the really good bottom lanes present in the region this split.

3) Cloud 9

Projected Starters: Licorice, Svenskeren, Nisqy, Sneaky, Zeyzal
Subs: Blaber (jungle), Goldenglue (mid), RapidStar (mid/coach)
Coaches: Reapered (head coach), RapidStar (assistant/sub)

I think this is the pick I'm most likely to regret/be wrong about in NA. To me, Zeyzal was excellent outside of lane last year for a rookie but in lane Sneaky and Zeyzal were abysmal. They were dominated in the Play-In tournament for Worlds mutliple times by wildcard bottom lanes without any really exceptional players and with how good the bottom lanes are going to potentially be in NA this year it might be stupid of me to have this team as high as this. Cloud 9 are willing to make adjustments and I actually think they'll be quick to thrive in the metagame the way it is. They're well-coached and I think the top side of the map is potentially so dominant with Blaber OR Svenskeren that I'm willing to combine that with my confidence in the coaching staff to sort of turn a blind eye to the potentially weak bottom lane. This is more of a gut feeling because my logical side tells me this team should be closer to the middle but I also think Sneaky and Zeyzal can't really be as bad as they were during Worlds. People are going to sleep on Nisqy, the dude's a beast, don't let the other narratives and the overhype of Jensen distract you. He might also be better for team chemistry and attitude than Jensen was. We simply won't know until we see it. Combine all of these factors and I actually think Cloud 9 will have a strong finish to the season. 


S Tier:

2) 100 Thieves

Projected Starters: Ssumday, AnDa, Huhi, Bang, Aphromoo
Subs: Ryu (mid)
Coaches: Prolly (head coach), Reinfcmnt (performance coach), Ryu (assistant), JungleJuice (strategic coordinator and analyst)

Bang was in desperate need of a change of scenery. The guy can definitely still play. Combining him with superstar support Aphromoo makes this the best or second best bottom lane in NA this split. The only way this backfires is if the culture change from the disciplined, military-esque SKT for years into the swag culture of 100 Thieves takes his edge off to a point where he falls off but I'm willing to bet that won't be the case. Changing things up should bring us a refreshed Bang that has the potential to run train on this region if he can still perform at the world-class level. 

I'm really not a huge Huhi fan and you all know that by now but I think he could succeed in the current metagame. Ssumday was a monster the entire calendar year last year I don't expect that to change even in a competitive top lane region. The question mark for most people is AnDa. I said it during the trade last year that there is a reason this team did this and believe it or not I don't think it was Meteos' personality or play. They saw something in him. I think the metagame is in a state for individual players to express their skills more than it ever has been especially junglers. AnDa has alwys been a great performer in solo queue and his potential displayed in Academy appealed to a lot of teams. I'm higher on him than most. 

This team has the perfect blend of veterans, uniqueness, great coaching, potential, and individual talent. Unless things go wrong even a little bit of the fulfilled potential is going to make this team a juggernaut. I know this is a complete curveball from last year where I was down on 100 Thieves going into the Spring split but call me reformed. They've converted me. This team is going to be great.

1) Team Liquid

Projected Starters: Impact, Xmithie, Jensen, Doublelift, CoreJJ
Subs: TF Blade (top)
Coaches: Cain (head coach), Dodo (assistant, translator), Kayys (scouting and analytics), TeeKhay (remote analyst)

So I don't think Team Liquid being the best team in NA is as automatic as a lot of people think. There's a chance we see some of these players like Impact and Xmithie fall off as they've typically been more brains over brawn type players but the combination of continuity and an upgrade at the support position leaves only two barriers to this team repeating to me. Whether or not those previously mentioned players fall off and if CoreJJ can't be efficiently aclimated are those two barriers. CoreJJ has been here before and I trust that he'll have no problems doing so again and if you balance out the upgrade from Olleh to CoreJJ and the potential downtrend for Xmithie and maybe Impact that leaves this team still at the top of the table to me. 

Team Liquid were the best team in NA last year and I'm going to take this time to once again mention that just because they didn't escape groups doesn't mean that wasn't the case. They were dominant last year. They worked harder than everyone and it showed. Team Liquid are a really honest team. They were real with themselves when changes needed to happen or adjustments needed to be made. Hell they even tried stuff knowing it would lower their chances of winning just to prepare for the bigger picture of a World Championship. I don't think any of that will change. This staff is excellent, their resources are excellent, and the players are excellent. This team is going to remain a powerhouse and I expect them to win this split.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Betting: January 24th (LCK, LMS)

LCK Spring 2019 - January 24th


SKT are going to blast Sandbox back down to earth like Mr Smith did to Neo in the 3rd Matrix movie 

Look, I'm excited that we have sweet new teams in the LCK doing well but let's examine this before we get caught up in overhype for another upset here. Sandbox showed up with their balls to the wall almost old school LPL style of relentless aggression and unwavering commitment to every fight which caught a couple of old, tired dogs (Gen.G and Kingzone), for the most part, completely off guard. I'm not necessarily saying that this style can be used against them because, frankly, the meta really encourages it, but what I do think is that nobody is going to be surprised anymore and SK Telecom have already done some running over of slow teams themselves albeit much cleaner. 

SK Telecom have better players at every position, a mid/jungle duo that are playing with better chemistry than Heisenberg (or Heisendong, take your pick), and are going to see this aggression coming a mile away. This line is indicative of a heavy favorite, obviously, but I'm not sure there's a lot of faith in SKT to remind everyone exactly why the look like one of the top 2-3 teams in Korea this split. Add to this a history of SK Telecom have of giving the "friendly neighborhood welcome" to new LCK teams and I absolutely LOVE this spot for a handicap. 

  • Sandbox are due for a regression mostly due to the fact that they've run over teams that are currently flailing or were caught off guard by them
  • New SKT play for early game and their mid/jungle duo is vastly superior and firing on all cylinders right now.
  • Sandbox overhyped by the public.
  • Sandbox are honestly really sloppy if you watch their games they're simply brute forcing everything and that's not going to work against a team as good as SKT.
  • Do we really think this Sandbox team is this good? Really? I don't.
  • Sandbox haven't shown us the ability to do anything else.
  • SKT have already punished clumsy play AND shown the ablity to jump out to leads.
  • SKT have only earned first blood in 25% of their games and they're still undefeated. Sandbox has first blood in three of their first four for 75%.
  • PROP: Sandbox only know one way to play and that's to fight. They average 16 kills per game over their first four games while SKT is averaging 11. SKT, however, were playing against two relatively passive and/or lost squads in Jin Air and Afreeca. I like the OVER 19.5 in a match that's sure to be full of forced conflict even if I expect SKT to handle it.

Think of Sandbox like a wild bull and SKT are the matador except this matador is a smarter bull that's just going to have some fun with somebody his own size before finishing the job. This is my second five unit play of the year. I missed on the first one, which you must be informed was Gen.G against, you guessed it, Sandbox but I'm surpremely confident in the SKT 2-0. 

Handicapped: SK Telecom -1.5 maps @ -143 (5 units)

Prop (O/U): Map 1 OVER 19.5 total kills @ -125 (0.5 units)

Prop (O/U): Map 2 OVER 19.5 total kills @ -125 (0.5 units)

This is actually a really fascinating matchup that's going to tell us a lot about both of these teams. Both have shown tiny glimpses of life and both have tremendous rosters capable of much more than they've shown us so far. The question is who adapts first. My money is literally on Afreeca to do so.

Last year was not just the emergence of Kiin but an absolute coaching clinic by the whole staff at Afreeca. They were consistently well-prepared and were able to compete at a higher level than their roster potential indicated. So far this year I'm not sure Afreeca's coaches have the right idea but I trust them to adjust quickly and confidently just like they did last year. They remind me a lot of the 2014 and 2015 iterations of SK Telecom. Relatively slow starts with a handful of weird losses and the odd roster shuffle with Tom/Bengi and Faker/Easyhoon and Wolf/Piccaboo. Kkoma also had a really weird read on the metagame with priority on mid Zilean and Chogath for Faker at different points when the rest of the team was struggling and he probably just should have been on a carry. Even the great coaches have a wrong read once in awhile. It's sort of like us as cappers, we need to make a predetermined read and sometimes that read is just off like Vitality/100 Thieves for me last year. I think Afreeca's coaches had the wrong read and will be making every effort to quickly pivot and adjust. Gen.G, however, are historically stubborn to metagames and unlike years past I don't think they can get away with "sticking to their guns" as that 2-core scaling strategy is simply not in the cards in high level professional play anymore.

It's not a big wager because both of these teams are sort of in a weird limbo but I like Afreeca to turn it around and I think IF Gen.G make adjustments that they'll be LATER rather than sooner. I think this line is accurate because both teams look shakey and are full of unknowns but between my trust in their coaching staff and their superior individual players I think Afreeca win this series, potentially in a blowout if they've been able to pick up a lot really fast.

I'm also taking the UNDER 19.5 total kills in both of these games with my thinking being that IF both of these teams are still stuck and/or are slow to adjust then they'll want to play good "old fashioned" Korean League of Legends; slow, controlled, methodical and LOW KILL count. PapaSmithy made a good point on the broadcast last night that a lot of these "old school" (not his words) teams are going to play those kinds of games and from what stats I looked into it was mostly accurate. Until this line of thinking is accounted for and the books or teams adjust I'll be looking at exploring this potential edge. Here we have two potentially old school for an almost guaranteed under OR a team that's quick to adjust and cleanly wins. There's an outside chance this just turns into a sloppy bloodbath with both squads flailing like a kid new to swimming and these games will be a mess but I think the first two scenarios make up a much larger portion of the likelihood pie.

Moneyline: Afreeca -123 (1.5 units)

Prop (O/U): Map 1 UNDER 19.5 total kills @ -114 (1 unit)

Prop (O/U): Map 2 UNDER 19.5 total kills @ -114 (1 unit) 


LMS Spring 2019 - January 24th

(pending but probably no action)

The forest, not the trees: Thoughts on the LCK after Week 1+ (LCK)

I want to talk about how I'm viewing this region moving forward for the next couple of weeks. As a capper it's important to see as many angles and as much information as possible before making a wager. This includes things like metrics, situation, momentum, strategic matchups, and many others but I think something that is often forgotten and was showcased in the NFL and NBA this season is to consider the really REALLY big picture; the forest not the trees, so to speak. 

So the questions become will a change happen? When is this change going to happen (if it does)? and Is it going to be more like a gentle ebb and flow like a seesaw or is it going to a violent snap back like a rubber band? I can't honestly tell you, nobody can, but we can most certainly make a prediction. We kinda do that a lot here in case you didn't notice.

Last year we saw Korea develop this sort of inbred metagame. This isn't new and it happens in most regions the only difference this time was that Korea's metagame wasn't optimal. We saw them punished for this at the World Championships this year. It was hard for us as viewers to see it coming because, domestically, nobody was punishing them so to our eyes, relatively speaking, they looked like clean, dominant teams as usual.

Fast forward to now. We have the "new school" vs the "old school" and the new school is winning. Did some of these teams assume Worlds was a fluke? Was there more inbred metagaming? Did these teams just not scrim each other to see this coming? I think the answer to some of these is yes but mostly no. I think we can make some statements about certain teams even with the small sample size just based on what we've seen from a philosophical standpoint because I don't think all the "old school" teams are necessarily being old school just because they lost to the young guns.

I've been keeping short notes on every single game in the LCK and LPL (soon the West too) and basically writing a summary about the team after each new game is added to create a sort of  thesis statement for each team.

  • Gen.G: "Gen.G just don't look like they know how to play the game right now. Yet another veteran team trying to play slow and controlled but not doing the things you need to do to do that. Basically they're trying to play an inferior strategy AND not even doing the things you need to do. Peanut looked like a good acquisition but if the team isn't playing with him it's not going to work. Right now Gen.G look to be one of the bottom couple teams to me along with Jin Air and unlike the other teams that lost to the new blood this week, I actually don't trust them to make the necessary adjustments as much as the others."
  • Afreeca: "AF look a little lost right now. Last year this was the well-coached team (along with HLE) but both junglers don't seem to have the right idea of how to play the game right now. Not enough focus on priority in mid and jungle. Their laners get left out to dry way too often. Maybe they can win against other passive teams but against aggressive, decisive teams they're going to struggle a lot."
  • DAMWON: "DAM remind me a lot of Griffin last year but they're not quite as savvy to me as Griffin are. They're just kind of facerolling and deathballing other teams and they aren't prepared for that yet. It is, however, the best way to play this meta right now and if they're good at it that means something. I just don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves here. DAM have things that can be exploited and just haven't yet. I should have given them more respect as a team that played against Griffin for an entire split and Griffin is good. I still think they're due to come back down to earth just a bit."
  • Griffin: "Griffin are already toying with their food in some games. I think they're the best team in the world this year by the end of spring split AND right now and they are showing it. Even when you think they're faltering they always have a gold lead. They're playing a different game right now and to me they're even a cut above SKT as the best team in Korea. They're just on another level. This is a team that looks mad they didn't get to go to worlds and they're going to take it out on Korea.  They were one of the best teams last year after playing COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than they did in challenger. They're the real deal and remind me A LOT of SK Telecom when they were first dominating. It was like they were playing a different game."
  • Jin Air: "I don't want to immediately say Jin Air are the worst team in the LCK because they had the unfortunate scheduling nightmare of starting their season against SKT and Griffin who look to be the two best teams in the league. That said, They haven't really shown a lot and It wouldn't surprise me to see them finish last."
  • Hanwha Life eSports: "HLE are a decisive, solid team fighting team that sometimes struggle in the transition into mid game but for as long as the transition period is shortened like it is in the current meta they'll probably remain a strong, middle of the table team. Bono is going to need to improve his early pathing because against better teams they're going to be punished."
  • Kingzone DragonX: "I think Kingzone will eventually figure things out. They aren't afraid to fight and take it to teams but I still think they're adjusting to both their new roster and the new meta game. How long that will take who knows but I think they'll be ok eventually"
  • KT Rolster: "KT are figuring their roster out and haven't looked quite as bad as teams like Gen.G and Afreeca. They've shown a willingness to skirmish and fight early they just need to clean things up a bit and adapt to the new teams. I expect once they solidify a roster they'll be in the middle of the pack somewhere but they are DOWNRIGHT SLOPPY right now."
  • SK Telecom: "SKT appear to understand how the game is played now and their individual players are so strong that they'll almost certainly be a top 3 team. I do think they could afford to get better at being proactive but they at least understand that you need to counter gank or punch somewhere else instead of just playing and hoping the enemy team wont do something. In other words they "get it" and will only get better. Clid and Faker have a lot of chemistry already and that will only improve with time which is scary since SKT now have a bonafied superstar in Teddy in the bot lane." 
  • Sandbox: "Sandbox are just all in. They're so much like an old school LPL team. Commit to everything entirely and without question. I appreciate their confidence but OnFleek is hard carrying this team and I think once teams get some film on this team they're going to struggle a lot because their lanes haven't been particularly good."

I mentioned it in my update yesterday but there is a bit of a paradigm shift going on in Korea right now. You have a lot of these teams returning a lot of veteran players that are still trying to play the game like its last year or the year before even (hey Gen.G!). They're being run over by these newer, more aggressive and less calculated teams like Sandbox and DAMWON. It'd be easy to say "Welp, I guess that's our new reality!" and call it a season while we're ahead but this is a competitive game with professional players that want nothing more than to win. They aren't going to roll over and die. 

I'm going to move foward as though this "adjustment" will happen sooner rather than later. Last year and parts of this year already have taught us that we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the "old and washed up." To me embracing this entirely isn't something that happens over night especially for people that have had the opposite drilled into their head for years on end, but I do think simply awareness and some adjustment will be enough to start to swing the momentum back in the other direction. I'm not saying it'll be much but I do think it will happen. 

There are a few candidates that I think have been misunderstood so far, a few that are due for regression, a few that will remain on top, and, sadly, a couple that appear doomed to the pits of the bottom of the table.

Growers (On the right track, will improve soon): Kingzone (4) and KT Rolster (6)
Kingzone and KT Rolster appear to have the right idea and are simply not executing or are ALSO figuring out rosters while doing so. I think both of these teams will be fine potentially as early as this week or next week and will end up in the middle of the table somewhere.

Show-ers (Due for regression): Sandbox (8), Hanwha (7)
There is the obvious candidate in Sandbox. They look confident and decisive and the meta fits them well but this team lacks tact and I'm not sure their individual players outside of OnFleek give them anywhere remotely close to the ceiling of some of these other teams. Hanwha I think will be a competitive team (we lovingly call them the "ultra tryhards" here) but ultimately don't have the upside to compete and after a really promising start were soundly quieted by Griffin this morning. I think against the good teams they're going to struggle but they won't be bad.

 The Real Deals (legit good and likely to stay): Griffin (1), SK Telecom (2)
To me these are the only two definite mainstays at the top of the leaderboard for now. They have shown aptitude for the current metagame, individual prowess, and overall team prowess along with a number of different tools at their disposal and they've made it look easy. Likely your championship contenders.

The Real Bads (... just not gonna happen this split): Gen.G (9), Jin Air (10)
I think Gen.G have the upside of individual talent to perhaps pull them up a little if they can show that they're adjusting but unlike the last two season with Ruler and the coaching staff's unwavering commitment to scaling 2-core comps because "it works for us" I'm not quite sure they can play their way out of a paper bag against this field like they could the previous ones. Jin Air just.... well it's more like the struggle bus than the Green Wings. 

The Wildcards (widest range of outcomes): DAMWON (3), Afreeca (5)
While both of these teams are currently at opposite ends of the spectrum with one having figured things out and the other still doing so, I think these two represent the highest upside without being awful currently AND the lowest downside without dipping as low as The Real Bads. In other words I think Afreeca could end up 3-5th strongest team in the LCK and DAMWON could end up 6-8th strongest. I think DAMWON are a good team for the current meta but unlike Sandbox I think have stronger individual players overall and have shown a bit more tact and diversity so I don't think their floor is as low as Sandbox. Afreeca look lost at the moment but I honestly think they'll get it together with time and by season's end, whether it's too late or not, will be a solid team and potentially more.

So what does all of this mean as a capper? It means I'm basically trying to get ahead of the market for value moving forward with these assumptions, corrected and adjusted for more information (VODs) as it becomes available. I think right now the entire universe is really high on a few teams inparticular such as Sandbox, Hanwha, and to a lesser extent DAMWON. I also think a few teams are being underrated for bad starts like Kingzone and to a lesser extent Afreeca and KT Rolster. 

Plant your flags, have sound logic, and stick to a plan because otherwise you'll get lost in momentum swings for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Betting: January 23rd (LCK, LPL)

LCK Spring 2019 - January 23rd:

Both of these teams are in a very similar spot. Veteran teams with great players figuring themselves out in this new look Korea. They're both figuring out which rosters work, how they fit into the meta, and unlike a team like Gen.G have shown a willingness to skirmish and know how to punch back. Simply put these two teams have the right idea but they're figuring things out and I think they'll both be fine eventually. So how does that play out for us as bettors?

I kinda like the Kingzone moneyline here. To me these teams are essentially the same right now so that's a lot of moneyline value if you cap them the same way I do. KT have the stronger individual players which is perhaps a reason to like them but that's too rich a price to pay for two teams that are still sort of unknowns. For the time being it will just be a strong lean toward Kingzone ML.

No wager (lean Kingzone ML)

(UPDATE: PapaSmithy made a good point on the cast that I looked into and he was right. When two veteran teams are playing each other there is TYPICALLY the old school LCK style of low kills, high control games. TAKE UNDERS in these games. It also made me look into the next game, which does not apply....READ AHEAD)

(UPDATE: I'll be adding 1.5 units EACH to the OVER 19.5 total kills. For some reason the line has moved to that. Griffin alone averages 16.8 kills per game themselves.)

Griffin should demolish Hanwha Life here. I'm aware that HLE have surprised a lot of people and look pretty solid but they've also played KT and Afreeca, two teams that are struggling to find themselves at the moment. Griffin are just on another level at the moment and I'd be surprised if HLE were the ones to knock them down a peg. It should be noted that this opened at -2000 but is down to -1429 (and -303 on the handicap). Both of these numbers are too rich for me but I may include the -1.5 maps in a parlay. I'm half tempted to take the under 31:00 as all but one of Griffin's games so far have come in WAY under (the exception was a 31:01 victory....) but I think HLE are going to be game for this series and look to have a good understanding of how to play the game right now.

PROP (O/U): Map 1 OVER 19.5 total kills @ -119 (1.5 units)

PROP (O/U): Map 2 OVER 19.5 total kills @ -125 (1.5 units)


LPL Spring 2019 - January 23rd

I wrote in my team notes for Team WE that they need to "Get with the times." This team honestly looked awful against SinoDragon who, while they beat Snake in a 2-0 that was much closer than the score shows, still appear to be one of those middling teams AT BEST. If these types of bulldozer, deathball, zero discipline teams can run over Team WE who is still playing like its 2017 then I honestly don't expect them to finish anywhere outside of the bottom four this split. Even the bad LPL teams can just group and team fight well. Suning are slowly gelling and even though they punted the first game of the season to Vici I think this team is only going to get better and better.

The bottom four positions are so heavily in favor or Suning as well as the jungle and stylistic matchup that this should be an easy 2-0.  These are as good of odds as we're going to get for what I assume to be a bottom of the table team in WE against a soon to be top of the table team in Suning. I know it looks a tad aggressive with how wild the LPL has been this split but Suning should be able to take care of business pretty easily here. We're simply not going to get odds like this on Suning against bad teams moving forward.

Handicapped: Suning Gaming -1.5 maps @ -145 (2.5 units)

Much like Suning I've got high hopes for FunPlus eventually. They're a little rough around the edges right now but this is a strong squad with a lot of upside and I'm assuming they'll already be improved with a week of tape. JDG look like another one of these bulldozer type teams. Their macro is honestly pretty terrible based on the limited sample size we see. They don't set up their plays they just kinda press the go button. I expect they'll be somewhere in the large middle of the table of LPL teams by seasons end. 

I'm not very confident in it which is why the wager will be light but I like FunPlus here in a similar situation to Suning. JDG are much better than Team WE but I think these odds are just about right considering the volatility in the LPL and that FunPlus are still figuring things out. Also factor in that JDG actually dropped a game to a Rogue Warriors team that I'm assuming will finish towards the bottom of the table as well. Not a lot of value necessarily but we'll go half a unit on the sweep.

Handicapped: FunPlus -1.5 maps @ +161(0.5 units)


Parlay (2): Suning ML + FunPlus ML @ -122 (1 unit)