Saturday, October 26, 2019

October 27th: Worlds 2019 - Quarterfinals Day 2 - DWG vs G2 / SKT vs Splyce

Quarterfinals Day 1 - Takeaways

Invictus vs Griffin

1) I think the better team lost this series but there's no excuses.
This might not come a surprise to some while it may be to others but do yourselves a favor and watch the first two games of this series over again. To me there were two fatal errors that cost Griffin these games.

Imagine Griffin simply turn and take the fight at the herald in game one instead of being poked down (or just bail altogether). You had a tremendous early lead, set the pace, a tempo based composition and were all set up to snowball past the Kog'maw counterpicks item spikes and end the game before it mattered but you get aced at a herald fight that you had multiple options out of and instead did none of them. If Kog'maw doesn't get the three kills and two assists he got in that fight to get speedrunned to his two item spike there's a good chance you just roll over this game. Hell you could have even abandoned the fight and just gave up the herald, althoug that wouldn't have been ideal. All Griffin needed to do was turn and take the fight. The target didn't matter, just turn and pick one and go. From here you could have reset, proceeded to choke the opposing jungler out of the game, set picks, and likely end before your lack of siege mattered. Game two imagine they make any clear decision at that baron fight in game two to net them either a won fight, a pick, or a baron. Anything at all, instead you had Lehends zoning and then your group of four on a split call that ended up losing you a fight and a baron.

Griffin should have been up 2-0 in this series and quite simply botched two neutral objectives in such spectacular fashion that they almost singlehandedly lost them both of those games. I can count on one hand the number of leads Griffin have thrown in their entire existence and we got to see two today. Props to Invictus for properly punishing poor decision making but Invictus didn't really win this series as much as Griffin threw it badly in my opinion. At this level the teams are simply too good to make such huge mistakes. For a team that's normally damn near immaculate in this aspect of the game I think it's fair to say that these were two uncharacteristic and ultimately fatal errors.  I've been against the choking narrative just in general in most sports but I'm seeing ghosts with this one.

2) Sword was terrible but ultimately not the reason Griffin lost this series.
I know Sword was bad. We all know Sword was bad. I'm not here to defend him. In the first two games it almost didn't matter how well or poorly he played. Poor decision making around neutrals cost them both games and that's a teamwide problem. You could make the argument that if you had a better top performance you wouldn't have been so reliant on always being correct about objectives and macro play and that's fine but honestly how many top laners are going to have good performances vs TheShy anyway? Not many. Maybe they go get one.

I did want to mention that I think Sword has a rather egregious performance, that the wrong things are being highlighted. During the match I actually liked the game four draft quite a bit with the Karthus but shortly after tweeting about it came to the realization that because of the Karthus pick, Griffin were going to be leaving Sword without jungle presence for counter ganks and without accurate and proactive tracking, something Tarzan is better at than anybody, on Ning. What does this mean? Jayce vs Kayle is more or less a free win 1v1 for Jayce and in most cases can be a severely punishing bully lane. Kayle can have good gank assist with ultimate and turn some 2v2's in a lot of matchups but for the most part Jayce dominates. The problem is, Jayce doesn't deal with ganks well and when his jungler isn't able to support well in a 2v2 or keep the enemy jungle pinned down or tracked at least it makes it so Jayce has to play the lane less aggressively than he's supposed to to respect the gank. We saw this play out. Sword wasn't amassing a CS lead early because he was, intelligently, respecting the gank threat. He gets credit for this. What he gets criticism for is poor wave management to freeze. A freeze could be construed as dangerous because if the jungler lane ganks your frozen wave and it crashes it can be a tremendous gold and experience loss but I believe it was the right play here knowing that you were going to have limited to no jungle help. Instead his poor wave management created the opposite scenario. TheShy was able to get a freeze on his side, Ning ganks, it looked like a possible escape and then... Sword went back in?!

I guess the point I'm making is that this is the kind of thing we should be critical of and not simply the CS and KDA performances. TheShy had massive CS leads but that's not always indicative of the game or a way to judge a player in all situations. Don't simply point to a CS lead and say "man TheShy is bodying him" because a lot of the time there's a lot more that goes into it than simply the 1v1. Today that was the case. The Jayce pick was fine, the setup around it was a risk that Griffin took in the draft and it was punished.

Could Sword have played it better? Absolutely but it wasn't 100% his fault like the narrative will be for awhile. Griffin could have won this series 3-0 with three poor performances from Sword. Again this isn't a defense of him just what I'm seeing. At the end of the day you need to perform in the the big spot and Griffin, a team that I thought was far better and equipped to dominate this series, made critical mistakes and their liability (Sword) didn't do anything to elevate and help change that. Nut up or shut up. Griffin simply couldn't do it today. I think if you play this series ten times over Griffin win six or seven times, maybe more but this time, when it mattered, they screwed up.

3) My concerns about Fnatic's overrated week two, amongst other things, ended up being true.
I talked a lot about this in the post about this series yesterday but I had a lot of concerns about the weight everyone was putting on Fnatic's week two run to make it out of groups. The group stage is a small sample size and while we shouldn't draw too many conclusions from it, there are certain things we can identify as potential problems or fundamental mistakes that aren't easily remedied in a weeks time. Teams also perform better and worse some days or in some matchups and best of ones amplify that. However I think this was a classic case of selective memory because of bias and excitement. Fnatic struggled and could have lost to Clutch. They then faced an SKT team that had such dreadfully poor execution that all Fnatic had to do was be there to capitalize (this isn't easy, credit for being where they were supposed to be). I wrote a lot about that game last week. Then they faced RNG who had what I'd call the second worst draft in the entire group stage in their final game which, you could argue, was so poor that Fnatic essentially won on champion select. I'm not taking this run away from Fnatic but I think the masses got caught up in the excitement of a run and were ignoring the warning signs that were staring them right in the face as well as the "Fnatic always clutch it out" narrative. Where's that clutch play now?

They had quite a run but what we saw from Fnatic in this tournament was not remotely close to the same level we saw in LEC playoffs against G2 and that alarmed me. They didn't look themselves. The creativity, the versatility, the pace was all missing. When selecting FunPlus yesterday part of my reasoning was that Fnatic seemed to be lacking in confidence this tournament and that's the type of blood in the water FunPlus, a ridiculously confident and decisive team destroys you with. It just didn't look to me like they trusted themselves to execute and that makes you either play afraid, feel the need to cheese, or simply get sloppy. I thought FunPlus would just outmuscle them in dirty bar brawl type of series. That's more or less what happened although it ended up cleaner than I'd pictured. FunPlus simply outclassed Fnatic through and through in this series and it showed. There's not a whole lot more to it than that. I wish we could have seen a closer to ceiling performance from Fnatic but it's something we likely should have seen the warning signs for in advance.

4) Narratives are intriguing but dangerous.
You could make an argument that today was a tale of two narratives (maybe three if you count "Invictus is back!"). "Griffin always choke in best of fives" and "Fnatic are always clutch at worlds!" The reason I want to talk about this is that we saw wildly different results. I don't think FunPlus performed above and beyond or anything, they were just themselves. It's not like Fnatic showed up against a team with the eye of the tiger that day, like SKT vs Griffin in Summer Finals, they just got straight up outclassed badly by a typical FPX performance because they underperformed. On the opposite side of the coin we have Griffin, a team that I think was significantly better make two completely uncharacteristic mistakes from magnificent opening leads and ultimately lose a series because of them.

Narratives are a dangerous thing not only to out bankrolls as handicappers but to our general perception as well. When you go into a series or game or anything with a narrative driven analysis you better be damn certain there's something to it and that's a borderline impossible thing to do in most cases. This is why I rely so heavily on film. It's tangible. There's evidence I can point to, patterns and trends to recognize, and conclusions I can draw from this information. It's accurate way WAY more often than any given narrative. Sure, sometimes you get "film juked" (hey there Gen.G!) but for the most part this is why I cap this way. I can know I was on the right side or, if I'm inaccurate, I can identify where I was incorrect in my analysis.

I love the stories as much as the next person. It's compelling! The human element to all of this is it's own separate game though. Get caught up in the hype or disappointment all you want just make sure that when discussing results that you're looking at and breaking down the film as objectively as you can. Check your confirmation bias at the door if you're stepping into an analytical discussion or, at the very least acknowledge that you're being biased before starting a conversation so that people know where you stand and what to expect from a conversation. We all love chopping it up and meme'ing each other, it's all in good fun and ultimately what's fun about sharing this together, just be clear and bring some tape to the conversation!

5) That's why we play the games.
Tangentally related to the last point but we can prognosticate and theorize all we want but there's a reason we play the games and that's what makes this challenging. Part of the difficulty of working with so much gray and not that much black and white is parsing out what is relevant and important vs what isn't and turning that into actionable information based on results that may not necessarily be accurate. It's really difficult. Cut some of the fat away from the results and get to the real meat of a turnout and figure out if your reasoning was conceptually sound, information was accurate, and what you were right and wrong about. This is a marathon not a sprint and if you can identify what I like to call "The Real" you'll have a lot more success long term.


Worlds 2019 - Quarterfinals Day 2

SK Telecom T1 -5000 (-2.5 maps @ -250)
Splyce +2000 (+2.5 maps @ +190)

There's really not a whole lot to say about this matchup. I'm interested to see what Splyce have cooked up to try out, they haven't historically been a team that does that sort of thing but it almost feels like they'll be forced to here. The only way to play this match is through props and over/unders but it's just so challenging to get a read on what Splyce are going to try to do and how well SKT will be able to shut it down. 9.5 is a lot of kills to lay and I could definitely see some of these games either going weird with a strange pick or just 8-2, 14-5 type SKT clean wins. I'm going to look around but even the -2.5 feels too rich to pay. SKT tend to be a take care of business type of team but I wouldn't be surprised to see them have a bit of fun or attempt to show a weird pick themselves to try to earn some draft equity for later in the tournament.

TL:DR - I'm not giving Splyce a shot here. If you think they can take a map be my guest but I'll pass. There's a chance I'll add some kill spreads of over/unders later but I'm going to watch the line movement until then because I don't like anything now.

No wager (for now, check back later)


DAMWON Gaming +110 (+1.5 @ -165, +2.5 @ -505)
G2 eSports -130 (-1.5 @ +135, -2.5 @ +365)

This is going to be a fascinating one. A lot of people are going to be down on G2's performance at the end of group stages against Griffin, especially now that Griffin lost in such disappointing fashion to a team that is eerily similar to DAMWON in Invictus. It's not like Griffin "laid the blueprint" for how to beat G2 because, simply put, not everyone is as disciplined and clean (usually.... grrr) as Griffin are. They make extremely difficult to tame situations look easy with how they play. DAMWON are much less subtle and nuanced in how they do things. I actually think this series is going to play out more like I imagined FunPlus/Fnatic was going to and even though that didn't end up like I thought, I'm seeing this in much the same vein but with perhaps a bit more trickery involved.

We could break this series down by individual matchups but I think it's mostly give a little, take a little. People will point to the bottom lane as in G2's favor but it's likely a closer matchup than perception would indicate. Nuclear had his pop off game but even outside of that has had an excellent tournament showing that he's the disciplined "adult in the room" on this team of uppity youngsters. Canyon has been one of the best individual performers in the entire tournament. Nuguri is.... well he's Nuguri, a lot like Huni in his prime, prone to error but capable of taking over a game. All told I think the overall map matchups end up a wash, maybe we break tie in favor of the G2 bot lane a little. Not enough to warrant any real weight from me. This is somewhat against the grain as most people think G2 have massive advantage across the board besides jungle and mid where they think it's even.

To me this match is going to come down to problem solving both in game and in the draft. Both of these teams make mistakes but both have their own ways of working through them. I give G2 an edge in this aspect because I think they might be the most creative problem solving team I've ever seen. If you need to pull a rabbit out of a hat G2 are going to find a way to do that with a paper clip and a rubber band with alarming consistency somehow. DAMWON tend to solve their problems more like the LPL teams do, with brute force and decisiveness.

I compared FunPlus to the bull and Fnatic to the matador yesterday and said that sometimes the bull wins but I think in this case we have a slightly more dexterous but not as strong of a bull (DWG) and a matador that's one of the all time greats and has the ego to go with it (G2). I think the matador is going to win this one. This guy has all the tricks and he's going to frustrate the living hell out of this bull before putting an end to him.

I'm giving the edge to G2 here and betting a moderate amount on them for a few reasons. I think their depth of strategies is superior to DAMWON's both in quality and actual variety. G2 have played a lot of different things, a lot of different ways, in a lot of different situations and that's invaluable in a situation like this. I also think G2 punish mistakes better than DAMWON do. DAMWON have improved significantly in some aspects of their macro game but will get into bouts of games where they legitimately look like they don't know what they're doing. This is one of those "film juke" teams that I discussed earlier. It's hard to tell what's real and what's ugly but covered up by their raw ability. Although they've improved, DAMWON's less than stellar macro game and penchant for sloppy mistakes won't go unpunished by G2, one of the strongest punishers of mistakes I've ever seen. G2 also throw a really nasty curveball and DAMWON aren't exactly the best at figuring that type of thing out on the fly unless they're ahead.

Moneyline: G2 eSports -130 (3 units)(5 Dimes)

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