Friday, October 18, 2019

October 19th: Worlds 2019 - Main Event Group Stage Day 7

Day 6 Takeaways:

1)  It's such a joy to see the various identities and personalities of these teams manifesting
This is highlighted by G2 vs Griffin but I'll dive into that in a bit. I just love seeing all the different styles match up against one another. It's why we watch Worlds and why it's such an exciting tournament every year. I just wish we had a bigger sample size because I could watch some of these matchups over and over and over.

2) I could watch Griffin vs G2 a million times and never tire of it.
Those of you that frequent this blog know that I've been touting Griffin as the best "by the book" League of Legends team I've ever seen and that the only thing they've done wrong is play in a time where weird, creative, improvisational type play can be king. I think the games today show you a few things. First, this is why I value fundamentals and consistency so highly. If you play "technique perfect" to use a fighting game term, then you more or less force your opponents to not only play at a similar level but also to have to go outside the realm of traditional structure to find creative solutions. G2 are good enough to play even the best teams straight up but their strength lies in their creativity and improvisation. As a matter of fact I'd argue that they're maybe the best team we've ever seen play with this philosophy. I'd compare them to music. G2 are like jazz, there is structure and loose guidelines to follow but they allow the expression, virtuosity, and improvisation of the individuals and ensemble to be put on full display. Griffin are like Bach, strictly structured, methodical, thorough and full of repeatable but effective patterns. Fire and Ice, Ali and Mayweather, James Hunt and Niki Lauda, Peyton Manning vs Brett Favre, intuition vs calculation.

It's not entirely that black and white but the point I'm making is that you got to see today why I've been so much higher on Griffin than a lot of people. They're the closest thing to DotA2's OpenAI level of strategic and technical perfection that I've ever seen. Are they unbeatable? No, but you simply can't play them straight up. What's terrifying? They're collecting more and more data and finding answers to people's answers. When you have such incredible fundamentals and are so good at removing variance from the game the other team basically needs to get lucky or think outside the box AND play at a ridiculous level to beat you and that's a tough ask on a consistent basis. I've always compared Griffin to a boa constrictor. They put you in a submission and when you realize you're not going to be able to get out and attempt one last ditch effort to escape Tarzan is there to thwart your escape and they just choke you out from there. This team's players are so ridiculously good at laning and Tarzan is so adept at tracking and anticipating attempted escapes many minutes in advance that you are more or less relying on variance to beat them.

It's not everyone's favorite thing to watch but the way this team constantly ekes out percentage points towards their victories is remarkable. They almost never lose with a lead (I can count the number of times on one hand off the top of my head). They always put all the foundational and fundamental work in toward making comebacks or playing goalkeeper against incoming aggression. They're like the horror movie villain that just keeps coming. It's damn near perfection and the ruthless efficiency is, in a weird way, quite beautiful.


Worlds 2019 - Main Event Group Stage Day 7

(listed odds are from Nitrogen/5Dimes, obviously shop around as availability varies)

Royal Never Give Up +137 vs SK Telecom -174

The first meeting between these two was a slugfest filled with a few small and one critical mistake by SK Telecom and they still managed to win. One of the things I reference about the Korean teams, and SK Telecom specifically, over the years is that they use information better than any team I've ever seen. The longer a tournament goes, the more reps they get, the more drafts and openings they see from you the better. In other words, if you don't beat SKT early, usually by surprising them, then you're going to have a tough time the next time around.

I don't like transitive comparison because each situation is different on a case by case basis but if you look at what Griffin did to G2 Friday AND consider that SKT weren't exactly on point in the first match against RNG AND remember that RNG aren't as versatile as SKT strategically and I can't help but think that unless we see a colossal breakdown that SKT should win this. The question is whether or not the odds are accurate. RNG have impressed me with their intelligent decision making and solid macro. They are probably the most intelligent of the LPL representatives here and they don't play like an archtypical LPL team. You could look at this one of two ways. First, the fact that they're a solid macro team means that they won't lose in that fashion to SKT automatically. Second, the fact that they're not a more chaotic or higher variance team can only work against them with how ridiculously good the LCK teams are in that style.

The decision is yours. If you thought the fact that the first game was close is an accurate measure of the comparison of these two teams then the +137 for RNG is your pick for this. You could make a reasonable argument that RNG should have won the first game. If you think SKT didn't look as good as you'd expect in that game then you could argue that you're getting at least some value even at -174 with SKT. In a best of one this line is about right to me. If SK Telecom had blue side in this game and the option to first pick Xayah away from Uzi or ban it and first pick Kaisa I'd like them more. I think RNG are potentially exploitable and it just hasn't happened yet. I want to see what else Uzi has. If he's not going to have the mages then there is a rather large drop off from Kaisa and Xayah to the other traditional marksmen. I'm sure he has other options but it's just something I think teams should try to attack. I think RNG and, to a lesser extent, this current iteration of Invictus are the most linear teams left in the tournament. Their players are exceptional so maybe that ends up not mattering as much as I'm saying but unless they're going to play Griffin level of perfect macro then I have to side against them.

I'm going to be on SK Telecom here but you should know that this is more of a gut selection. I think the line is accurate and I don't think there is any real value in it I just think SKT are better than what we saw in the first game and that RNG are about exactly what we saw in the first game. Tail at your own caution but I like SKT here. I also think this kill total is a bit skewed. It's very rare for teams as good as these two to have slugfest, close games like we saw in that first one (where the differential was 5). It's often one or the other decisively winning more so than with middle tier teams. I like the favorites -4.5 as well.

Kill Spread: SK Telecom -4.5 kills @ -102 (1 unit)

Moneyline: SK Telecom -174 (1.8 units)


Clutch Gaming +256 vs Fnatic -313

Clutch looked like the stage was a bit too big for them. I've been impressed with their overall team decision making but there have been some individual blunders and ticks that make me think there has to be some nerves involved. With plenty ot time off maybe we see a more settled down and confident Clutch but they're simply outclassed by a lot in this group. If you think Clutch are going to take a game I actually think this is the one. Fnatic looked out of character in week one. I'm confident that they'll be much better in week two but if you're looking for a bigger dog then I think the possibility that Fnatic just don't "have it" this tournament mixed with the first time someone sees Clutch since last weekend plus best of one plus Clutch blue side could be a potent enough cocktail to create and upset here.

I, for one, don't think that's likely. Fnatic were bad last week. Not only did they play rather poorly but they looked like they didn't have any confidence. Their drafts were bizarre (see previous posts, it has nothing to do with Rekkles not playing marksmen and more to do with overall look). Fnatic were one of the best tempo teams on the planet. They were so good at creating opportunities to outplay early and snowball leads and they just looked like they didn't think they could do that last week. I'm not sure if it was bad scrim results or just generally poor preparation but this coaching staff has been so good all year at making all sorts of adjustments and having great gameplans that I can't help but believe they'll turn it around in week two. I thought Fnatic looked pretty terrible in the first meeting between these two and they still won 23-12. I'm not sure what to expect from Clutch but I can't imagine they fare much better than they did last week. Gimme the favorites to cover.

Kill Spread: Fnatic -5.5 @ -151 (1.5 units)


SK Telecom -350 vs Fnatic +255

We'll know if Fnatic look themselves after the first game but we might also miss out on this kind of value. We talked a lot about it on the podcast and I already dove into it a bit in the last match but I think Fnatic have a good chance to carry the momentum from a decisive win into this game against SKT. Before the tournament started it wouldn't have surprised me to see Fnatic split 1-1 with SKT even though I thought SKT were a stronger team. Fnatic looked like a top eight team with upside to me and unfortunately just got into a really tough group here.

If you think Fnatic look themselves and turn it around I actually love the value we're getting here. Fnatic are a good team that can hang with the best of them when they're playing at their normal level. In that scenario this is too rich for a best of one and you should take the value with Fnatic. I want to lean toward the FNC +7.5 kills here but the margin of error against both SKT and Griffin is just so thin. You make one critical mistake on the map early in the game and they're both just so lights out it's tough to cover a number like that because they'll limit you to a handful of kills.

For now I'm going to pass but I'm leaning toward buying a kill or two on the SKT spread and toward the under 26.5 kills. I'm going to wait until later and will update this post.



Clutch Gaming +372 vs Royal Never Give Up -535

In years past I would have said to slame the over kill total in this one as the teams get more comfortable but with the stakes as high as they are in this group I can't help but think RNG show up and just take care of business. RNG are more disciplined than the other LPL teams here and actually know how to say no to a fight if it's not great for them. That said they might just have such a severe individual player advantage in this game that they might get a little overconfident. RNG's wins have been by 8 kills and 7 kills and while I'm partial to thinking we might see more this round robin I think the 8.5 is right on the money. I'm going to pass for now and look at this later tonight.

No wager


SK Telecom -1136 vs Clutch Gaming +614

I've been awfully chalky the past few days but I really do think, as we've seen, that as a tournament goes on the cream does rise to the top. There's a chance Clutch pick something wild and make a game out of this but SKT are simply too good. Give me the SKT spread. I'd lean to the under as well.

Kill Spread: SKT -9.5 @ -122 (1 unit)


Fnatic +172 vs Royal Never Give Up -230

Another one that comes down to perception AND previous results. The issue is that you'll lose any value on either side once the results from previous games are in so you need to tell yourself a story here. IF you think Fnatic turn it around I absolutely love the value we're getting. Karsa is one of the best junglers in the world but Broxah has been so good this year at getting Fnatic off the ground. I think that's the key matchup on the map. If you think the combination of blue side plus regression to Fnatic's mean is a thing and you think these teams each open the day 1-1 then I love Fnatic in this spot. If you think Karsa is going to be able to outplay Broxah enough to stop Fnatic from snowballing the game or that Fnatic will still have their struggles or won't fix enough from week one then I love the RNG -5.5 kills and for RNG to roll.

I'm partial to the Fnatic turn around but I'm going to wait until later in the night to see if we can get to a better number. If not then I'll pass. Check back later!

Pending (leaning Fnatic ML but waiting)



none for now, possibly later

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