Saturday, October 19, 2019

October 20th: Worlds 2019 - Main Event Group Stage Day 8

Day 7 Takeaways:

1)  Clutch have really impressed me.
I'm not saying they're a top eight contender or anything like that but they did significantly better than I thought they would especially after week one. Clutch are philosophically a really intelligent team. They understand win conditions, what they have to do to set them up, and know how to perform assignments but in week one a lot of individual errors, likely due to nerves, helped blow games open for their enemies. They got rid of most of those in week two and really performed well regardless of the results. They're still ultimately limited by their players who aren't quite up to the level of the elite international competition but they look like an excellent team and I hope they stay together for NA next year because I feel pretty strongly that they could improve and challenge for a title.

2) RNG's lack of versatility was exposed but not in the way we thought.
I said going into the tournament that I'm including RNG in my top teams because they have solid fundamentals, great discipline, and some particularly outstanding players but that I was concerned for not only their lack of flexibility in the current meta and how it could limit their ceiling. The draft againt Fnatic in the last game of today wasn't as much a lack of versaility as it was just a straight up poor draft to me. RNG's inability to play any kind of uptempo strategies as well as unwillingness to play any of the mage supports really hindered their possibilities in drafts. I'm not saying that would have fixed their problems entirely but it would have relieved a lot of pressure. Any team that opted for stronger scaling had a good shot against RNG. Fnatic straight up outplayed RNG but their draft did them absolutely no favors. It's a bummer to see great players go out like that and I think we as viewers were denied a great clash between two great teams because of a terrible draft.

3) It wasn't how I thought it would happen at all, but Fnatic got it done.
I was actively Tweeting quite a bit about the FNC/SKT game. The long story short is that I thought SKT really botched a lot of their early plays and it wasn't particularly through Fnatic outplaying as much as it was SKT failing to execute. That said, Fnatic were exactly where they needed to be to make the counter plays and punish and that on it's own deserves praise. It's really quite incredible that after a borderline awful, clown fiesta of a performance that looked an awful lot like the week one tilt between Clutch and Fnatic again, that Fnatic were immediately able to turn it around into this performance against SKT and then play, in my opinion, their strongest game of the tournament against RNG (although RNG had that bad draft). It's impressive. These European teams are always so resilient.

Am I willing to say this is the Fnatic I thought we'd see? I'm still skeptical. I still don't think this team has performed to their highest capacity at all this tournament and there is a lot to work on but they got over this hurdle and it wouldn't surprise me to see a better Fnatic in best of fives.


Worlds 2019 - Main Event Group Stage Day 8

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

AHQ eSports +550 vs Invictus Gaming -800

This is a much tougher slate than the previous days at first glance partially because of the parity in this group but also because Invictus have announced that they will be subbing in Ning for Leyan which will assemble the world championship lineup again for the first time since their LPL playoff upset loss to LNG (Snake) on August 23rd. There's been a ton of speculation about this whole scenario. A lot of how you treat Invictus tomorow depends on how you think they'll look with Ning back in the lineup. Part of what I didn't like about IG with any subs was that they didn't look like IG anymore. With the subs in they struggled and eventually just stopped playing the blistering uptempo, skirmish style that won IG a world championship and a Spring split in the LPL this year. For lack of better terms, Invictus had to start playing vanilla. As we saw in week one, they're clearly still a great team, this collection of talent is going to succeed to a certain degree with pretty much any jungler but they lacked that intangible IG factor.

So where does that leave us? If you think Invictus with Ning can get back on the proverbial bicycle again just like old times and nothing has changed and we see the IG we saw six months ago at MSI then I love their chances. If you think this is just going to be Invictus with Ning but playing the style they've been playing recently then I actually think they're exactly what they are now maybe a tad more consistent because of Leyan's shortcomings. But there's another possibility and it's the one I think is most likely....

We've talked a lot about how the world championship winning "Invictus Style" is predicated on razor thin margins. Timing based routes that lead to skirmishes, priority plays with small windows to get in and get out, and a general switch up of drafts approach. The subs couldn't do this because it requires extremely precise micromanagement and team chemistry and communication. I'm sure Invictus have been practicing with Ning but to expect him to come back onto the main stage after eight weeks on the bench and for this team to suddenly morph back into that lineup we saw is a tad unreasonable. These are exceptional players, and maybe confidence has a lot to do with it. Maybe the rest of Invictus will suddenly "turn on" and we see the Invictus of old. I'm not buying it as automatically as everyone else. It's extremely difficult to switch up like that without a lot of practice and experience.

All of this is to say that I'm holding my horses on Invictus. I just don't know what we're going to be looking at here but we'll know right away in this game tomorrow. If we see Invictus attempting to operate at the breakneck pace we know them for and failing you'll know to fade or look for the switch back to Leyan. If we see them just playing the same style but with Ning in then we'll know how to proceed there too. Gun to my head I'd say the most likely outcome we see tomorrow is Ning to come in and for Invictus to play exactly like we've been seeing the last two months. Does that mean Invictus is going to lose? Not at all. Invictus playing "vanilla" is still more than capable of beating some of the best teams in the world with their talent alone I just think it removes the thing that made Invictus themselves. Vanilla Invictus is a top eight team in the world. "Old" Invictus is a top two or three team in the world. That's the difference I'm discussing here.

I'm passing this game but I'd remind you all that even when Invictus were "Old" Invictus they were one of the highest variance good teams and would frequently punt games to bad teams by flipping tails on too many coins or just being overzealous and arrogant. I don't think that happens here unless they give AHQ Qiyana but I'll discuss that more in the next matches.

No wager


Team Liquid +135 vs DAMWON Gaming -150

Liquid looked pretty good the first time around in this matchup and whether or not you think DAMWON was a bit arrogant in the draft you can't doubt Liquid's execution. To be perfectly honest with you I'm not sure how this goes tomorrow. I almost fundamentally want to bet Liquid as underdogs because I think they get out of this group but I'm not entirely sure who and when they beat or if they even beat anyone besides AHQ because this group is extremely difficult to call. Just so I'm clear, I think we'll be seeing DAMWON And Liquid get out of this group but I'm just not sure how and when I'm simply breaking ties in favor of Liquid over Invictus currently. Liquid to me actually looked worse than I anticipated besides the match against DAMWON and similarly to Fnatic, I think could look much better in week two after a slightly underwhelming performance. I know it sounds kind of crazy to say they had an underwhelming performance in week one when they decisively beat DAMWON but I thought they looked "off" in the other two games. Best of ones drive me nuts but that's a different topic....

I'm firing half a unit on Liquid at +135 (Nitrogen). I legitimately have a lot of these games as 50/50's tomorrow so I'll be betting the dogs. Quite frankly I have no idea exactly how this group will play out but I think there's going to be value on the underdogs in a situation where it's more or less three different close to 50/50 matchups.

Moneyline: Liquid +135 (0.5 units) (Nit)


Team Liquid -450 vs AHQ eSports +360

This was a wild match the first time around and I'm not only a fan of fading the first result but also sincerely think that Qiyana is "The Upset Queen." She's been a huge part of weaker teams "staying competitive" or starting strong or even stealing wins against better teams all tournament long. AHQ got blue side first pick twice in the first round robin, including against Liquid where they first picked Qiyana but they'll only have it once this time around. I know red side has had the superior win rate this tournament including a crazy nine games in a row run from yesterday into today but I think from blue side we won't be seeing Qiyana and it will instead fall on lower tier "counter" picks which have faired far less successful in creating chaos in this tournament. In so many words I'm saying AHQ only looked decent last week because they racked up some kills off of a broken Qiyana in one game. They had a combined ten kills in their other two games. Liquid are smart and aren't going to give away Qiyana, hell they might first pick it themselves BUT they'll also be able to adjust to what AHQ throw at them. Liquid's strength is their versatility.

Give me the under here for sure. This number is cooked up from the first meeting. We'll see a more controlled, slower paced game here as Liquid chokes out AHQ.

Over/Under: Total kills UNDER 26.5 @ -130 (2 units)


DAMWON Gaming +110 vs Invictus Gaming -130

I talked about Invictus ad nauseum and already indicated my intended strategy and picks to get out of this group. I'll be on the underdog here for half a unit on principle.

Moneyline: DAMWON +110 (0.5 units)


DAMWON Gaming -740 vs AHQ eSports +520

As I previously mentioned about the under in AHQ games. This will be another.

Over/Under: Total kills UNDER 24.5 @ -125 (1 unit)


Invictus Gaming -170 vs Team Liquid +150

Another underdog. Highly competitive group with three evenly matched teams I'm just taking the dogs on principle. I will ask, however, what on earth does Liquid need to do to become closer to even money against this team? They're only 3-4 in their last seven games against IG including a 3-1 series win at MSI. Guess people think the Liquid loss against Leyan was rough. Fair enough, principle still stands for me.

Moneyline: Liquid +150 (0.5 units)



none for now, possibly later

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