Wednesday, October 16, 2019

October 17th: Worlds 2019 - Main Event Group Stage Day 5

Day 4 Takeaways:

Another day, another set of data points. Some things I think were relevant takeaways.

1) Cloud 9's draft against Griffin was absolutely brilliant
Cloud 9 found a niche bottom lane bringing back the Sona + Tahm Kench as a hyper scaling match to the Garen + Yuumi. We talked about it on the podcast and the casters mentioned it as well but we should start referring to these as hyper scalers. Garen is a hyper tank, Sona is a hyper utility, Vayne is a hyper carry, etc. Anyway they not only found a unique bottom lane to match this but also straight up called out Sword's champion pool with the blind pick Fiora. Swords effective champion pool does not have a single answer to a Fiora in this situation. He was forced onto Gangplank who has a rough Fiora matchup as well but it was their best option. Griffin also play slowly, they're incredibly disciplined but they play slowly so Cloud 9. This draft basically dared Griffin to try to scale against a superior scaling comp with a split pusher that couldn't be answered and a sustainable four that they simply could not kill fast enough. Cloud 9 would be able to kite them around and make fights take a long enough time or not win by enough of a margin to take anything because of the Sona + Tahm which would allow time for Fiora to split. It was a brilliant strategy and in my opinion the best draft at this tournament so far. I'm not sure how much better you can get but it's potentially a blueprint for other teams. That said, Griffin now have this on their radar as a strategy people could use against them. Will they fall for it again or do they have an adjustment?

They eventually lost off of a crucial error to teleport their Fiora into a team fight. It took another 15 minutes or so for Griffin to eventually close it out but a punish is a punish. I mentioned it on Twitter but people need to understand that some of these teams can be effectively similar even if it looks different. G2 punish mistakes very swiftly. Griffin punish mistakes methodically. They both are teams you simply can't make mistakes against regardless of how it looks. Of course there are niche situations where the slower more methodical version can backfire, if the other team has superior scaling for instance, but they effectively accomplish the same end result.

I know I'm writing on Griffin a lot, and that's not even mentioning the whole controversy going on with the management right now, but want to credit Griffin and really all great teams with their ability to adapt and adjust to extenuating circumstances. This draft was an absolute nightmare to navigate and while it took a Cloud 9 mistake for them to eventually take this game Griffin were doing all the foundational work to set up a situation where they could punish the one error. Careful side wave management, defensive warding, positioning, communication on exactly how a team fight had to go (watch these fights the detail is incredible). All of this stuff goes underappreciated and whenever any good team makes a comeback there's almost always more than just "the enemy threw" to give credit to and I just wanted to reiterate that because Griffin have now done it twice. The HKA game arguably the worst possible thing happened and they adjusted and took care of business. You could critique them for making the mistakes in the first place and that's fair but good teams adapt. I know it isn't pretty but don't sleep on this team.

2) Something is wrong with Fnatic. 
I know the level of competition is absurdly high in this group but Fnatic just don't look like themselves. People want to point to them not putting Rekkles on traditional marksmen but I think that matters a lot less than people think. This team isn't about Rekkles anymore and hasn't been all year. Really it's not about either of the carries it's about top, jungle, and support and their ability to set the pace in the game. Fnatic are in the conversation for the best pace and tempo team in the world. The strength this team had was it's versatility and the fact that they were one of the few teams that could play uptempo at an elite level and they're simply not doing that and not even trying to. I'm not sure if they're just getting smashed in scrims or if there is just a general lack of confidence but Fnatic are in some sort of weird funk. They have a couple days to figure things out and I think they're more than capable of doing that but it's cause for concern. Hopefully their excellent coaching staff recognizes this. They're being too cute. Just get out there and do your thing and play well. You don't need to cut corners or cheese. You're a great team!

3) You're starting to see the cream rise to the top.
Even in a small sample size you're starting to really see the difference in ability between the top nine or ten teams and the rest of the field and even on a more minute level the difference between the elite teams and the middle of the table teams. Nobody has been perfect this tournament including G2, FPX, and SKT but you're seeing just how many things have to go right for these other teams to take even a single game. Cloud 9 had one of the best individual drafts I've seen this entire calendar year for the specific matchup they had and still made a mistake in closing. HKA only actually had a gold lead for a few minutes in that "close" game against G2. Consider how many things need to go right for upsets to happen. It's best of ones, sure it can happen and will more frequently than in a series but I think people WANT upsets more than they actually think they'll happen and I'm looking to fade that unless there's value to be had.


Worlds 2019 - Main Event Group Stage Day 5

(listed odds are from Nitrogen, obviously shop around as availability varies)

GAM eSports +598 vs FunPlus Phoenix -1010

There's good reason to play GAM here. FunPlus have a very difficult time ever turning down fights and why would they? FunPlus are basically the biggest, baddest dude at the bar and someone is trying to pick a fight with them. I often times side with the underdog in situations like this because, historically, lots of fighting tends to lead to higher variance because it's more random and less repetitive but something I'm starting to reverse course on is that I think when a team is just outclassed on more or less every level it seldom matters. "Heart" or "guts and determination" only get you so far when the person you're fighting is just bigger, stronger, faster, and more practiced than you. If I tried to fight Kimbo Slice in a street fight, no amount of will is preventing him from knocking me out. I think that's what we'll see here.

I think a lot of people are going to be quick to judge FPX because they haven't exactly looked dominant so far but I also think we've seen some really weird outcomes but still a lot of the hallmarks of their style. This team not only is the biggest, baddest, most violent guy in the room but they're so gritty to the point that it's honestly intimidating. Watch the Splyce game. I know it's a bit existential but just watch the in game body language. FPX exude confidence AT ALL TIMES and they almost just bulldoze into a Splyce that was, for lack of better terms, scared shitless.

This match wasn't even remotely close last time and while I think there's a chance it's closer this time around I'm still willing to lay the kill spread here. I also loved FPX's recognition that GAM are heavily reliany on both Nocturne and Akali with the style they're playing. Things might be different with FPX banning from red side where Pantheon as a must ban cuts them down to just two but I think they have the tools, especially with counterpick. GAM are just outmatched here. I was optimistic about them but it turns out they just don't have the chops to even stylistically provide problems against the actual elite teams. They could prove to give issue to some of the other teams in this group still but give me FPX to smash again.

Kill Spread: FunPlus -9.5 kills @ -124 (2 units)


JTeam -108 vs Splyce -115

We talked a lot on the podcast about these two teams and while I want to be optimistic about Splyce I just continue to see problems not being fixed. Is JTeam the one to punish those problems? Not necessarily. These two teams want to play the same way, share a lot of champions, and now have a bit of experience seeing each other. If I could get plus money on either of them I'd roll with the dog but as it stands it's not worth laying the juice unless you feel strongly one way or the other. I'll pass on picking a side here.

I do find this kill total interesting at 25.5. Unless one of these teams wants to drastically change how they're playing to counter the other I can't see this going over. This is a borderline must win game for these two. Really every game is in this group. Teams that play the way these two do aren't suddenly going to completely 180 and turn bloodthirsty. Some nerves might bring some errors sure but I think both of these teams are going to be treading on ice and not wanting to make any mistakes. The situation isn't right for it psychologically unless one of these teams proves me wrong. I LOVE the under here.

Over/Under: UNDER 25.5 total kills @ -120 (2 units)


GAM eSports +135 vs JTeam -155

On the podcast this was my pick of the week. That's right I went GAM back to back weeks... what kind of universe is this I hate this team. I still think GAM are the worst team in this group but I still think their style is just so bizarre and difficult for a squad like JTeam to deal with unless they're very limited on mistakes. The good thing about what GAM does is that they just constantly check you. It's almost equivalent to playing man defense in American football. They make you beat them. Good teams that can scrap or great defensive teams can but can JTeam? They struggled the first time.

I could totally understand being on the other side of this but JTeam also have to play a back to back here which is another reason for this wager. Not only do they have to play back to back games but they have to do so against arguably the two most different teams in the tournament. Splyce and GAM are on completely different sides of the spectrum. Think baseball where you have a starter that's exhausted after pitching seven grueling innings and they bring in the relief pitcher that's got a 100 mph fastball. It's a shock to your system. Maybe their experience against GAM in their first match alleviates some of that but I can't help but love the spot for GAM here.

Moneyline: GAM +135 (2 units)

Over/Under: 27.5 total kills @ -120 (0.5 units)


FunPlus Phoenix -535 vs Splyce +317

Splyce had a nice draft against FPX but you saw some of the mistakes that have been haunting them around baron buff appear again. This is one of those games where I'm fading perception of the first game. I think people want to believe based on how the first game went that it's closer than it is but I also think that FunPlus are much better than they've performed so far at this tournament. I also think now that they know how Splyce plans to attack them that they'll be more prepared this time around. Overall player quality is going to come to light in this one. I think FunPlus roll. Doinb vs Humanoid is also just a tremendous mismatch that's going to be difficult to account for. Another example of the cream rising to the top. FYI this kill spread only missed by the hook (the .5) last time and FPX didn't look particularly great in that game. The final score was 18-11.

Kill Spread: FunPlus Phoenix -7.5 kills @ -120 (2 units)


GAM eSports +151 vs Splyce -193

I want to believe in Splyce and I mentioned this on the podcast but in this group I just like the dogs in most of these situations. Do I think GAM is actually getting out of this group? Probably not but I only need one of their games to hit to make a profit and I'm confident they'll take at least one. We saw GAM make some egregious drafting errors by not taking any engage in their first meeting with Splyce so Splyce just did the right thing and refused to fight them. Maybe FPX laid out a good blueprint for beating this team but GAM are going to give Splyce a better fight this time around. Splyce will be tested non-stop and we've seen them make plenty of mistakes this tournament when they're actually pressured and checked. I do think Splyce end up fairing better than JTeam who have to play the back to back against completely different teams because FPX and GAM are more similar than JTeam and GAM however there's also the added bonus of, if Splyce lose both of their games to open the day and GAM are in must win mode that we see a defeated Splyce here. Odds are we're going to be playing for tiebreakers though so chances of that might be slim.

Moneyline: GAM eSports +151 (2 units)


FunPlus Phoenix -694 vs JTeam +343

The more I watch the the first meeting between these two the more I think it was just a flukey team fight win. JTeam did what they were supposed to do, it was an excellent fight but it was also their best moment in this entire tournament to me. They haven't shown me anything close to it. FunPlus were in control of that game and I expect them to be in control of this one. Call me a teacher at the chalk board but this just feels too easy to me.

Kill Spread: FunPlus -7.5 @ -121 (2 units)



none for now, possibly later

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