Worlds 2019 - Play-In Stage Day 1
It's been awhile since writing to all of you, I've been on a bit of a hiatus as I mostly abstained from betting on EU Masters and have just been taking time off to decompress and rewatch some of these emerging region teams (as well as the NFL >.< ). However... WORLDS IS HERE!
Since it's inception in 2017, the play-in stage has given us exactly two "upsets" every year. I count an upset as an emerging region team against a major region team. Due to the draw of the groups in this years tournament as well as an ever growing gap between major and minor regions, something we talked about extensively on The Gold Card Podcast this week, I actually think we'll get fewer than that this year. In the past there has always been one or two standouts from the emerging regions and they've often taken a group on their own. This year those two teams, to me at least, are Royal Youth and Unicorns of Love and unfortunately they're grouped with DAMWON and Clutch which is going to make it significantly more difficult for the two best wildcard region teams to escape play-in's because of the likely playoff draws they could get.
The reason I'm bringing all of this up is that I think a lot of people are going to be looking for upsets and it's almost like a needle in a haystack as it is. I think it will be even more so this year. IF you're going to play for them, load a couple bullets and fire but don't play the "every dog" +ev strategy because I don't think it's going to work like it does in something like EU Masters. Pick your spots.
Clutch Gaming -275 @ Unicorns of Love +215
Of all the major region teams I think Clutch are the most likely to drop a game and I think Unicorns are probably the second strongest of the smaller region teams in this entire tournament. Both teams have a blend of experience and new comers to the international stage but I do think Clutch are a class better despite North America's relatively underwhelming year competitively outside of Team Liquid.
So here's the catch. I actually think this is a bad spot for the favorite. A lot of the teams traveled weeks ago but the travel was much easier for UOL, both teams have veterans and newcomers, UOL likely have more experience with the "weirdness" of European teams even though they aren't necessarily of that ilk themselves. North American teams traditionally have a lot of trouble adjusting at first unless they're a team that just "is themselves" like Cloud 9 and dictates it. I'm not quite sure how Clutch are going to look here but I think IF you are going to fire one of your upset bullets this is as good a spot as any in this entire play-in tournament. Since their coaching change Clutch aren't their old, wildly inconsistent selves but I wouldn't call them "solid" either.
It's also game one, day one of the entire tournament. Nerves are real. There is much more pressure on Clutch than UOL here and whether or not you believe that or not it can manifest in the early games of a tournament as the teams feel each other out. A lot of things are in the dark for both sides which, to me, makes this best of one closer to 50/50 than these odds imply. Do I think UOL are a better team than Clutch? Absolutely not BUT I do think given the circumstances (the "spot" in gambling terms) I actually like the Unicorns of Love for a half unit. I fully expect Clutch to get out of this group easily but I think this is one of the few bullets I'll be firing.
Moneyline: Unicorns of Love +215 (0.5 units)
DetonatioN FocusME +415 @ Splyce -580
This will probably be the biggest "long shot" I take in the entire play-in tournament and it has similar reasoning to the last with one added wrinkle. Both of these teams have a blend of players with international experience and those that are new to it. Stylistically they're more similar than they look on paper. The Emperors of Japan bring a very cerebral approach the game. They're very disciplined. As a matter of fact I have DFM rated significantly higher than most of my peers do. This team is smart. They have excellent macro, great discipline, and strategically check all the boxes but their weakness is just the quality of individual players and their competition. DFM are capable of playing very clean League of Legends, cleaner than some major region mid table teams honestly, the thing is when you're not pressured or forced to adjust to weird things happening or aggression you don't really get to exercise your muscles nearly as much. We've seen this with teams like Griffin against FunPlus. Sometimes it doesn't matter how technique perfect you are in a street fight and best of ones often resemble that. I do think this metagame could be great for DFM and they could surprise some people as I think they're more disciplined and cleaner than the other emerging region teams, even the LMS #2 and #3 representatives.
I'm firing another bullet here. Stylistically these two teams are very similar. It might not look like it because of DFM's champion pool but they both play very clean, "textbook" League of Legends and as we saw at the World Championships in 2017, when the metagame is handshake to late game the game becomes naturally coin-flippy because both teams can prepare for that. I think the "Splyce don't lose after mid game" narrative has some hilarious conssitency but is only that, hilarious consistency of a narrative. Just because people were unable to punish it doesn't mean they will always get away with it. Don't be so automatic! Handshaking can be a risky proposition! It's also game two and especially if we see an upset in game one maybe that puts some wind in the sails of the dogs here. Early in tournaments and after clinching a playoff berth is often where upsets happen. Gimme the dogs again! Half a unit on DFM.
Moneyline: Detonation FocusME +415 (0.5 units)
MAMMOTH +165 @ Unicorns of Love -205
MAMMOTH come to us after completely destroying their playoff bracket with back to back 3-0 sweeps to dethrone some of the more familiar names in Oceania like Bombers and Chiefs eSports Club. This team looks to be peaking at the right time. Unfortunately, as was the case with Dire Wolves, Oceania struggles to stay that competitive despite having an incredibly entertaining broadcast and domestic league (check it out it's great!). The level of competition is simply not that high mostly based on numbers. I'm not writing them off but I'm almost definitely including the Unicorns in parlays. Laying -205 with emerging region teams isn't exactly a proposition I'm a fan of even if I think there is a pretty drastic difference. They're simply too inconsistent.
No wager (strong lean UOL)
DetonatioN FocusME +105 @ Isurus Gaming -135
Isurus surprised a lot of people last year. Latin America North and South combined into one competitive league and it served them well last year. That said, I do think that was a bit of an isolated incident. This is a region with a combined player base that is still very small and while we see exceptions to the general rule like we did last year I don't think that's the norm. You could say the same about Japan which makes this matchup intriguing. Both teams were relatively dominant, you could argue Isurus were more so but I'm going to side with the team I liked more on film and that was DFM and we're getting plus odds. Another half unit wager from me and a third bullet fired on day one (something I never thought I'd do).
MAMMOTH +500 @ Clutch Gaming -650
I liked the upset potential of UOL against Clutch especially because of the spot but I think once the nerves settle, regardless of the result, Clutch should be able to take care of MAMMOTH. If Clutch lose I might revisit this even though we'd likely lose some value on the odds.
Splyce -565 @ Isurus Gaming +410
As clean as Splyce are I do think there is a certain exposable element to their style. I don't think Isurus are the team to do that but again we'll revisit this if Splyce manage to lose their first match.
"Double Dogs" Parlay (2): UOL ML vs Clutch + DFM ML vs Splyce @ +1422 (0.1 unit)
Parlay (2): UOL ML vs Clutch + DFM ML vs Isurus @ +466 (0.1 unit)
Parlay (2): UOL ML vs Mammoth + DFM ML vs Isurus @ +105 (0.2 unit)