LEC and LCS 3/5 weekend betting preview

As the import conversation has gained steam again in the LCS (and outside the LCS), I have been struck by how little actual conversation is happening. There are certainly two sides here and they are talking at one another, but I am not sure anyone is truly listening either way. It’s been a frustrating thing to watch in a growing industry with potential, but seems, at times, to still be run by manchildren. (I say manchildren intentionally because the teams with prominent women in leadership, like Flyquest and Evil Geniuses, have stayed mostly out of the mud. Coincidence? Probably not). Right now, there is the “NA players are terrible and we need to replace them all to compete internationally” side of the argument represented by Reginald, and then the “any change to the import rule would bring about the end of NA talent development and interest in the game” represented by the majority of journalists working in the scene. They are both built on the same two misconceptions: that there are hundreds of Korean, Chinese, and European players who are better than every North American player in the LCS right now and North American fans wouldn’t root for a full team of imports. That is, frankly, bullshit. Vulcan and Blaber could play in any league in the world. Licorice, Aphromoo, Tactical and Huhi would make it in the LEC. Then there are plenty of players who act as “residents” in North America from other countries currently who could play in every league in the World like Ssumday, Impact, Santorin, CoreJJ that North American fans root for because they win. It’s impossible to prove, but I promise you if a team of imports was winning Worlds under the TSM logo their fans would be going nuts in NA. That argument feels totally made up.       

I am pro-loosening of the import rules for totally different reasons than being argued by the most vocal owners right now. I actually believe raising the standard of the league helps NA talent development. We have seen this with soccer in the US. As rules around how much teams can spend and on who have loosened, we have also seen the popularity of the sport in the US increase and the quality of players developed here become better. Part of that was simple internal competition, another part was accepting that the NA ways of doing things needed to at least try to model what was working in the other countries in their academy systems. That took bringing players and coaches from that region to lead about some of the best ways of doing things. We have already seen the tremendous benefit having CoreJJ in North America has brought to the overall health of the scene. His experience and investment in making North America better has shown what amazing things the right player can bring. Will every team sign someone like CoreJJ in a changed system? Nah, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a shot. If a North American player or fan sees teams from their region consistently performing at international competition, even without representatives from their home country, are they not excited about the prospect of the future of NA LoL. The LCS will still always be the league where it is easiest for NA players to rise to the top. Look at the EPL. There’s a reason most English players decide to stay home and get to play on some of the best teams in the World. It’s actually an advantage for them that their home league imports some of the best players in the world. 

So, here’s my solution. It looks a lot like the rules of MLS or EPL and involves a compromise for both sides. These rules would have to be applied to every league in the world because Riot is the central authority for all leagues. Every team gets 3 import slots. All teams have to start 1 homegrown player in every match. Homegrown players are classified as any player who was born in the region they are competing in or an international player who has been in the team’s academy system and in the country for at least a year. Import spots become tradeable or purchasable. I.E. If TSM wants to have 4 imports on their team they will need to buy or trade a prospect for an import slot from Golden Guardians.  This allows teams who feel like they have the money to build superteams to compete internationally to try and do it, but maintains some incentives for the other teams as well. It also heavily incentivizes internal talent development for playing for your first team or to be purchased by other teams. LCS doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, nor should they. 

Alright, into what you came here for, my Western LoL early bets:

LEC

Bet: Mad Lions ML (-170) vs. FC Schalke 04

Mad Lions are too damn good to keep losing to teams that are worse than them. If I were their coach, we would be having a series of meetings about what our goals while clips of all of Carzzy and Humanoid’s ridiculous solo deaths played in the background.The point being obvious. This team is better than that. They have a +3.4% GSPD  and a sort of average Early Game Rating. Last season, they had much better stats in both categories and if they start to clean it up, should improve in both as the season goes on. Schalke’s stats have trended in the opposite direction. After starting the season with a positive GSPD and wins against the best teams in the league, they have plummeted to 5-8 with a -2.2% GSPD. They might be slightly better than that, but I think it’s closer to their actual level. I have Mad Lions closer to a -200 favorite in this matchup and I think the two teams’ talent is probably closer to -250. Take the scary value with Mad Lions.

Bet: Rogue ML (+125) vs. G2

I have a feeling this is not going to be a popular bet, including among my peers in the LoL betting world. But either you believe in the numbers or you don’t and I do. I don’t believe G2 has some sort of cosmic power over every other team. They are better than every other team at a few key things (teamfighting, skirmishing), but they are certainly not flawless. The numbers have these as the same teams: both are 11-2 with +9% GSPDs. Rogue is slightly better in the early game, G2 is slightly better in the late game. They have the number 1 and 2 players at their positions in nearly every role between these two teams. Will G2 beat Rogue in a 5 game series? Absolutely yes. This would be a hammer G2 spot in that scenario, but are they really nearly 60% to win in a one-off regular season game? I just can’t get there. There’s nothing left to break down with these two great teams. I am just taking the one with the plus by their name.

Bet: Misfits ML vs. Astralis parlayed w/ SK ML vs. Vitality (+112)

This is a parlay of two teams who should be making a push to enter the playoffs in the LEC against the worst two teams in the league. Misfits has been a total anomaly to me all season. They have the same GSPD as the Mad Lions and Fnatic, but are 5-8. It’s kind of incredible to watch them throw away game after game. However, last weekend I think they found a way to win in the late game: Kobbe on safe, scaling, back line damage. The Kaisa and Samira didn’t really fit him, but Ezreal, Ashe, and Jinx are perfect. If the rest of the team can keep getting their sizable early leads, and he can carry through their wildness in the late game. This is a good team. Good teams beat Astralis. SK, too, has found themselves in a perfect meta. Tynx, while very capable of playing the farming junglers, is a super-duper star on the ganking Skarner and Hecarim. Couple that with Treatz just getting better every week and this team is legit good. Are they the top 3 team in the league their record says they are? Probably not. But you don’t need to be top 3 to beat Vitality

LCS

100 Thieves ML (-140) vs. Evil Geniuses

I am legitimately concerned about 100 Thieves as a real LCS championship contender. In fact, I am pretty confident they are not, but at some point, they are going to get tired of losing to teams that are worse than them and go back to their strengths. I would expect that to be this week. If they pick Damonte TF, Ryze, or Galio in this game, I am pretty confident that they will win. Evil Geniuses went on a nice run of form in the LCS Lock in that probably had them slightly overrated coming into the season. For whatever reason, since the beginning of Jizuke’s tenure, this team has moments where they look completely disconnected and make elementary mistakes. To me, that’s the kind of teams that 100 Thieves have pulled off their “heists” against by just having better players in the late game. I would expect that to be the case again here. The stats also have these two as the biggest pretenders of the top 5 LCS teams, but 100 Thieves as the better side. 

CLG ML (+105) vs. Immortals

This one is really just about a feeling. I have a feeling that CLG is going to be much better in the second half of the season. There’s just one too many pretty good veterans on this team for them to stay this bad. If they were in the LEC, I would say they were dead. But in the LCS, we have seen teams of veterans whose best days are behind them consistently finish in the playoffs because the bottom teams in the LCS are just really bad. With that said, Immortals are also a team of mostly veterans. There’s not a lot to examine here. I think this game is a near coinflip and we get a little plus money on CLG.

TSM ML (-115) vs. 100 Thieves

There are two contenders in the LCS– Team Liquid and Cloud9– and then one mini-contender in TSM. This team has really started to find themselves in the last few weeks. Huni has played much more under control. Spica is starting to flash that superstar potential again. Swordart has found his niche. PowerofEvil is same old reliable Powerofevil. Lost is fine. It’s what I have to imagine Reginald had in mind when he put the team together. Despite having a near 1 kill to death ratio, they have a +4.2% GSPD. That’s pretty impressive and suggests the team is getting non-kill related advantages, usually a good tell for a smart team. 100 Thieves just isn’t getting sizable leads on their opponents in the regular season and have won a lot of games with very minimal advantages or slight deficits. In pretty much every sport in the world, a point differential is heavily correlated to the team’s quality. 100 Thieves’ GSPD says they are a lower quality team than TSM. I have TSM as -140 faves here and love them at -115.

Cloud9 ML (-135) vs. Team Liquid

This year I have tried to apply some principles from other sports to LoL and one of those has been the “revenge game”.   Revenge games are generally overblown when it comes to teams that are not close in quality. However, there is something to revenge between two teams that are close. Cloud9 and Team Liquid are quite close statistically speaking and talent-wise, but Liquid won their last matchup and the Lock-In Tournament. At this point, I think Cloud9 will be very prepped going into their match with TL and want to beat them pretty badly. I am also starting to believe that Cloud9 is the better team over the longterm. Blaber and Perkz have been of legitimate international quality so far and have played some of the best games I’ve seen in any league this year. I am not sure TL has that kind of ceiling. They are unbelievably solid at every position, but do they have the “it” factor that C9 does? I would expect Blaber to overwhelm TL in this one with revenge on the mind and C9 to roll.

Shameless Self Plugs:

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Thrive Fantasy LEC/LCS Value Picks

A lot of having a profitable betting/DFS season last year for me was learning when not to play. Early on, there would be slates or games where I had strong feelings, but had not done the requisite level of research for a full 5 game slate in DFS or my model told me to bet the opposite way of my head. Usually, I would just play anyway and go with my gut. That was predictably a disaster. It’s hard to avoid playing when you love it. So this year, I am trying out a new platform Thrive Fantasy .

Thrive Fantasy has a new way to play DFS in which players select from a set of Player Props that have different point values assigned to them. The players who get the most points from their props win a share of the guaranteed prize pools. It’s perfect for when you don’t want to do hours and hours of research and want to form an opinion on a few key props. If that sounds good to you, come join me on Thrive Fantasy, and use code LCSPICKS to get up to a $50 match.

As far as winning in the LEC and LCS, I’ve got you covered:

LEC Lock: G2 Caps Over 2.5 Kills vs. Mad Lions (90 Points)

I would expect this to be by far the most popular play on the slate, but it’s for good reason. Caps didn’t hit 3 kills in only 9 of his 35 matchups in the LEC last split, which included 11 losses. I do not expect G2 to have 11 losses this season and expect them to start off with a bang. They are the perfect kind of team for a huge season: they have a lot of continuity, but are also reinvigorated by a big offseason move. His lane opponent, Humanoid, is also an explosive kind of player who will take a lot of lane 1v1s and never stop fighting even from behind. It’s an ideal matchup for lots of kills for Caps. Just take the free 90 points here and look for other places to get different.

LEC Value: Humanoid Over 5.5 deaths vs. G2 (110 points)

I am going with a little correlation angle here. If Caps is going to pop off, Humanoid is going to die a lot. These two plays have a lot to do with how I feel about this game in general. I think G2 is going to stomp. Mad Lions has 2 new members to fit in and get acclimated and are coming up against G2 who has the same mid-jungle-support core and simply added the best ADC in the history of the LEC. Thrive has a perfect way for us to get some skin in this game without having to simply bet on a huge favorite.

LCS Lock: Blaber Over 1.5 Kills (90 points)

Here’s another easy one that everyone’s going to be clicking right away, but I’m bringing it up here because I think it’s key to strategy on Thrive. Don’t get too cute. There’s only 10 options and the contests are currently pretty small. You will be able to get different enough by choosing one or two value options. I will not be trying to fade the obvious plays. 90 points is like 60ish% implied odds of happening. Blaber gets 2 or more kills in way more than 60% of outcomes for this Dig-C9 game. C9 is a huge favorite. Blaber is central to their kills and map play. Jungle champions favor kills for junglers right now. Take the free points.

LCS Value: Aphromoo Over 4.5 Deaths (110 Points)

Supports are dying right now. Anyone who has played LoL DFS this season knows this. The strong champion pool for supports right now includes Leona, Alistar, Thresh, etc. All champions that put their bodies in between their teammates and the other team and are usually the first to die in a team fight. I actually think Aphromoo dying 5 times is slightly favored in this matchup, but this is priced as if it’s the underdog. Points-to-value wise this is my favorite play on either slate.

I will be trying out a few of the cash head to heads for this slate and will be playing these plays. If you think you can beat me, come join Thrive and use code LCSPICKS for your deposit match.

LPL/LCK Week 1 Betting Breakdown

Lol is back! Perhaps more importantly, LoL betting and DFS is back! The sweating as I lock in yet another IG stack, the waking up at 4 AM wondering how ppgod is doing, the guaranteed income of just parlaying favorites in the LCK has all returned and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. This weekend we will have three leagues running and by next weekend we will have all four major leagues back in full swing. 

So, on that front, a little housekeeping. For LPL/LCK I will be doing a weekly betting breakdown for my favorite bets of the week and a recap of the preceding week like the one you are reading now right here on lcspicks.com. For the LCS/LEC, I will be doing a “First Look” with betting talk on Tuesdays over at linemovement.com. Then, for LEC and LCS DFS I will be doing a DFS youtube show with theesportsdepartment.com with a couple of sharp DFS players which you can get along with a myriad of other betting analysis and DFS Projections for all the big esports by subscribing with the code: IEDGE for 10% off. This blog is entirely for fun and done in my free time and will remain so, but the other two things actually provide me a little income. So, if that is something you want to help me with, please click on those.

With that out of the way, let’s get into some LPL and LCK action. 

I will be writing this article weekly, just looking at a few of my favorite value spots or games, not necessarily breaking down every game. If you wanna follow someone who breaks down every game in depth, check out Gelati with The Esports Department.

LPL

Suning (-240) vs. RNG (+196)

Date: 1/14

Suning started out their season with a 2-0 sweep of Top Esports. That was first, closer than that scoreline suggests, and second less impressive now that we saw Top also lose to Rogue Warriors in what appears to be a little championship hangover. Still, Suning’s demise in this meta feels like it may have been overstated. We are still in the powerfarming Graves jungle meta that made it possible for SofM to carry this team to the World semifinal. As long as we’re there this team has a chance against anyone in the world

With that said, this line is insane. RNG started their season with a 2-0 asskicking of TT who some analysts predicted to be significantly improved this season. Even if you think TT is not good (I do), RNG did exactly what a top team should do: take care of business. Cryin and Wei are back to the form that had E-star at the top of the table in 2020, Xiaohu, despite some hiccups, showed enormous potential as a carry top laner, and their bot lane was just plain solid. I would have bet on RNG last year at this number when they were worse and Suning was better. The game should be a coinflip. This is an easy one. Take the RNG value. 

The Picks: RNG +1.5 (-176) 2u, RNG ML (+196) 1u

Rogue Warriors (-235) vs. Estar (+165)

Date: 1/15

I am going with a theme here: anyone who has beat Top Esports is going to be overrated by the books. That team is a mess right now and I’m not sure beating them says much about your long term prospects as a serious LPL contender. This is priced as if Rogue Warriors is a serious LPL contender.

Although, Haro was impressive in his debut, Rogue Warriors were pretty fortunate to beat TES. They were behind in gold in every game and depended on Top making some pretty bad mistakes to win. I am glad they showed they can still take advantage of mistakes and I will be backing them as dogs at times this year for sure, but there’s no way I can back them as this kind of favorite.

Estar,  hung in there with an improved BilliBilli gaming team, and the H4cker/irma duo looks like they could cause some legitimate problems this year. Rat and Shiauc also looked at least league average in the bot lane. This is another mispriced coinflip. Take the dog.

The Picks: Estar +1.5 (-190) 2u, Estar ML (+165) 1u

Rare Atom (+230) vs. Top Esports (-325)

Date: 1/15

Top Esports is going to right the ship at some point. They are just way too talented to continue to lose to what projects to be middle of the table LPL teams. You could make a credible argument that they have the best player in the league at his position in every position. But I don’t think they’re going to get right with a 2-0 of Rare Atom.

In fact, I project Rare Atom to be better than both the teams they’ve lost to so far. Vici’s stats to end the year were that of a legitimate contender in the LPL, not a middling team. From Patch 10.13 on, they were close to Suning and IG’s level on GSPD on oracleselixir.com  and should only improve upon last season with another year of continuity. Until TES has a few days off to work on some new picks and flexibility in the draft. I am going to keep betting on their opponents to win at least a game.

The Picks: Rare Atom +1.5 Games (-140) 1u

LCK

Afreeca ( -135) vs. DRX (+100)

Date:1/14

Last year this would have been one of the locks of the year in favor of DRX. 2021 DRX is not the beast they once were. The only piece of the Chovy-Pyosik-Keria core that remains on the team is arguably the worst piece, Pyosik. He is certainly a top LCK jungler, but that should tell you just how good those pieces were. Their replacements are almost entirely unknown prospects. DRX has had a history of finding some of the best young players in Korea, but still it’s hard to have the same expectations for DRX this year. 

My bet in this game has more to do with my expectations for Afreeca though who went almost exactly the opposite direction as DRX. They took the already solid core that upset T1 last year and added a veteran bot lane to shore up the team. To me, that’s the kind of move for a team that has real aspirations to make a deep playoff run. If that’s the case, they’re going to have to beat teams like DRX this year that project in the LCK middle. This is all gut because we have not seen much of these teams yet, but my gut says Afreeca takes care of business.

The Picks: Afreeca ML (-135) 1u, Afreeca -1.5 Games (+210) 0.5u

T1 (+275) vs. Damwon (-425) 

Date: 1/15

This is the only time this season you will see T1 at this kind of number. Now in all caps, bold, and italics: THIS IS THE ONLY TIME THIS SEASON YOU WILL SEE T1 at this kind of number. T1 just dispatched the Chovy-led HLE that lots of folks had high expectations for with their “subs”(or their main roster, who even knows anymore?). They are back and one of the best teams in the world. Damwon Gaming is the reigning world champions with a new top laner. There’s nothing new to say about these two teams. It’s a clash of two of the best teams in the world and priced as if T1 plays in the LCS. You have to take T1, even though the book is begging you to do it. 

The Picks: T1 +1.5 (-120) 2u, T1 ML (+275) 1u, T1 -1.5 (+700) 0.5u

MLS Cup Quarters Betting Breakdown

Round 1 Recap:

Despite being a completely insane, “only-in-MLS”, kind of Round 1 on the field, the first round of the MLS playoffs were pretty kind to my pocketbook. Some of the questions about “contenders” showed up big time: Can SKC defend at a high enough level to win the whole thing? Probably not. Could TFC flip the switch from their late season form back to their mid season form? Hell no. Would Philadelphia come out flat after the emotional high of winning Supporters Shield? Yup. But one thing you can pretty much always count on in MLS at this point is that the Seattle Sounders are a top team. When Lodeiro, Morris, and Ruidiaz all play, they may be the most efficient attack in the history of MLS. They looked legitimately unbeatable against LAFC. Each piece perfectly compliments the other: Lodeiro provides the picture perfect through ball for the strong, pacy Morris to cut in on and deliver the cut back to a clinical Ruidiaz to tuck away from inside the box. It’s a formula that has made them the best team in MLS all season long and it’s the formula that I believe will bring them another MLS Cup in December. It’s why we made them larger than any other bet in our futures bets and it’s why we’ll be using them to hedge the rest of the futures.

Let’s check in on those:

 

After round 1, the TFC and Colorado bets are dead. TFC is out mainly because their aging core, particularly Michael Bradley, appear to be on the wrong side of their career at this point. Colorado was always a longshot and may have been a “bet with the heart” for me. The Rapids are my team and, although I came up with an analytical reason to bet them, my heart was heavily involved in that one. Still, if Columbus, New England, SKC, or, most importantly,  Seattle win the Cup, we will be profitable on futures bets. Not a bad spot to be. On to the quarterfinals..

Orlando City (-0.25) vs. New England Revolution–Total 2.75

I have lost a decent chunk of money betting on New England Revolution this year. They are the most seductive kind of team to a “sharp” soccer bettor. Their actual goal total of 25 lags significantly behind their expected goal total of 36, meaning they either have extremely wasteful strikers or there is some positive regression coming for the team. Getting ahead of regression, positive or negative, is one of the main objectives for any sports bettor. So naturally, I’ve been riding with the Revolution all season long.

The problem was, a good portion of the reason for the discrepancy between their expected and actual goals was actually due to wasteful strikers. When it’s Buchanan and Bunbury (whose wind up in front of goal is comically slow) trying to finish off the multitude of chances the Revolution create over the course of the game, you end up with a lot less goals. Luckily for me and New England though, in the playoffs, Carles Gil, Adam Buksa, and Gustavo Bou are all in form or back from injury to either create scoring chances or finish them off. Bou and Gil, in particular, are two of the most productive per 90 minute players in the league. The positive regression is coming at just the right time for the Revs after beating the shield-winning Philly team last weekend. 

Unfortunately for both teams, Orlando City, may be the second best team left in the Eastern Conference. They have as formidable of a front four of any team in the league with Mueller, Dike, Nani, and Perereya. That quartet has only been shutout 3 times this season. It’s once you get behind the forwards and attacking midfield for Orlando that the problems begin. Their defense has been right around league average this year and that’s probably kind to them. They’ve been kept in games they probably should have lost by stellar play from their GK, Pedro Gallese. They will have to do it without him in this one after he got one of the worst red cards in recent memory in their last match.  It just feels like slightly too tall of a task for the Lions with the Revs clicking the way they have been. They will almost definitely get a goal of their own, but New England should continue to put expected goals in the actual goal and win this one 2-1 or 3-1.

The Picks: New England +0.25 (-108) 2u, Over 2.75 (+102) 1u

Columbus Crew (-0.25) vs. Nashville SC– Total 2.25

There was a stage of the season in which I would have thought this was a no brainer. I would have written about how Columbus would relentlessly press on the Nashville low-block and squeak out a goal in the first half and then sit on the ball to a comfortable 1-0 win. But I really don’t effing know with this Nashville team anymore. With Jhonder Cadiz, they actually have a functioning attack. It’s not as if they’re ever going to be on the front foot in any game, but their 3 to 4 opportunities a game have become infinitely more dangerous now that Hany Mukhtar has an outlet with Cadiz up front.  This game also has all kinds of Covid concerns. So, I am just going to pass and root for the Crew to beat the parked bus of Nashville.
 

The Picks: PASS

 Seattle Sounders (-1) vs. FC Dallas– Total 2.75

If last week’s FC Dallas and Portland match had been a regular season match, I think we would have totally written it off. Dallas sat back for the majority of the game and were heavily outplayed by Portland, but got a little fortunate with a last minute goal when they had to go after the game, and then held on for a shootout win. Credit to them for doing what was necessary to advance, but color me unimpressed.

Seattle does struggle against teams who defend with ten (most notably Portland this season), but I’m not sure that FC Dallas is truly that strong of a defensive team. They are a year removed from being the worst defensive team in the league and have overperformed their expected goals against total this year. Besides that, asking Bryan Reynolds and Johnny Nelson to just stay home and not let Jordan Morris and Christian Roldan get behind them feels like a total handicapping of what makes them effective fullbacks. I see the Sounders catching one of those two too far up field and scoring an early goal and blowing the game open into another free-flowing-high-scoring game like they had last year. As FC Dallas pushes for a goal they may score, they certainly have talented attackers, but committing numbers forward against the Sounders is suicide. Seattle will almost definitely score multiple goals in that situation. 

It’s rare that I’m shocked by a single game’s result in MLS, but I would be shocked if Seattle does not win this one. They are the far better team on average and will have the 3 best players on the pitch. The books feel the same as me and have made them the biggest favorites on the board, but I think the Sounders win this by multiple goals enough to make the goal spread bettable.

The Picks:   Seattle -1 (+100) 1u, Over 2.75 (-115) 3u

Sporting KC (-1) vs. Minnesota United– Total 2.75

Speaking of open, free-flowing, high scoring games, we’re in for one here. Both of these teams love to push their entire team up the field when they have the ball and struggle to get back when they lose it. SKC has scored multiple goals in 6 of their last 9 games and so has Minnesota. Neither of these teams ever tries to sit back and grind out results. I absolutely love the Over 2.75 here and still like the Over 3 that this has moved to at a lot of books. When you have players like Reynoso, Molino, and Lod on one team and Pulido, Russel and Busio on the other, you have to like a lot of goals. Especially when you see them lining up against centerbacks like Reid and Boxall.

SKC allowed 3 goals against another one of the league’s most potent attacks last week and Minnesota certainly gave up an agonizing amount of scoring chances that my Colorado Rapids wasted. That makes SKC being the heavy favorite puzzling to me. These are two very similar teams in my eyes. SKC won both the regular season matchups, but Minnesota played without Lod and Reynoso in those two matches. Their attack is heavily boosted by those two players. SKC is deserving favorites, but are they Sounders over Dallas kind of favorites? Not to me.  I like a 3-2 or 2-2 regulation result in this one.

The Picks Over 2.75 (-124) 4u, Minnesota +1 (-116) 1u

MLS Decision Day Betting Breakdown

MLS will wrap their regular season with 7 simultaneous games in the Eastern Conference at 12:30 PST and then 6 simultaneous games at 3:30 PST in the Western Conference on Sunday with lots still left to play for including two Eastern Conference playoff spots, the right to play at home, and the Supporters’ Shield (for an in-depth look at what’s at stake, look here.) Usually, the last day of a season can be a bettor’s worst nightmare trying to figure out who’s going to put their best foot forward, but with this unique setup, almost every team has something to play for with a few notable exceptions. With that in mind, let’s get into some of the betting opportunities.

Here’s a quick look at my betting record in MLS so far this year:

Columbus Crew (-0.5) vs. Atlanta United– Total 3

  • Playoff implications: Atlanta United is playing for the bottom playoff spot. Columbus needs to win to guarantee a home playoff game.

Last week, I bet on Columbus Crew against Orlando City believing that with Nagbe and Zelarayan back in the lineup they could find their early season form where they were one of the best teams in the league. That did not work out well. The Crew are really struggling to find any sort of rhythm in the attacking third even with their key pieces back. Orlando took the game to them and never really looked threatened until a weird red card from Nani let the Crew open up some. I have no doubts about the Crew’s defense, but they will need to get Zardes and Zelarayan clicking to at least take advantage of their few counter-attacks per game.  

With those concerns aside, there’s no way I’m betting on Atlanta United who have less expected goals than the Colorado Rapids despite playing 5 more games than them. Atlanta, after losing Josef Martinez for the season, have completely collapsed and just can’t score goals anymore. So, with both sides ruled out, I absolutely love the under 3 here. I think the stakes of the game, the character of the teams, and the level of attacking talent screams a 1-0 win for either side, so I will be all over the under here.

The Picks: Under 3 Goals (-140) 3u

Chicago Fire (PK) vs. NYCFC– Total 3

  • Playoff implications: Chicago Fire is playing to hold their playoff spot. NYCFC is playing to jump into the home playoff game positions.

The numbers say you should bet Chicago Fire here. In fact, Fivethirtyeight has them at 46% to win the game. Compare that to the implied odds of their +160 Moneyline at 39% and you have yourself a hammer spot right? The problem is: Chicago manages to grasp a draw or defeat from the jaws of victory more than any other team I have ever watched. It’s because they have two centerbacks who can be the best and worst centerback in the league over the course of the same game. Francisco Calvo, in particular, is prone to mistakes you would see in a Sunday league at your local middle school. NYCFC will eat that kind of mistake alive with their attacking talent. Still, the passing and movement of Chicago’s attack is a tantalizing small bet at home with a playoff spot on the line. 

The Picks: Chicago Fire ML (+160) 0.5u

DC United (-0.25) vs. Montreal Impact– Total 3

  • Playoff implications: Both teams are playing for the bottom playoff spot, but need other results to go their way to get in.

I firmly believe that a bet on this game is pure degeneracy. Neither of these teams are any good with a discernible identity, but both somehow have a shot to make the playoffs. I have no idea how this game is going to go and neither does anyone else.

The Picks: Pass

Inter Miami (-1.25) vs. FC Cincinnati– Total 3

  •  Playoff implications: Inter Miami is playing for the bottom playoff spot. FC Cincinnati is eliminated

There’s a chance that I’m totally alone here, but I love Cincinnati in this spot. With this line, you win if Cincinnati loses by 1 goal, ties, or wins, that’s ridiculous against Inter Miami regardless of opponent. The books have had them overrated all season because of the star power of the names on the team (Higuian, Pizzarro, Matuidi). They are just not very good as a team. They give up at least a goal per game, they can’t finish, and they don’t play particularly attractive soccer. I don’t see what people like here. If they were to win this game by 2 goals, it would be the first time they have done so in their history. 

The line looks like this because of FC Cincinnati. They have been awful this year and have nothing to play for. As bad as they have been, there are some indicators that they’ve been a little unlucky too.  Their actual goal differential is -24, but their expected goal differential is -10.29. The -10 is still not great, but not historically bad like their actual differential. I think that regresses a little closer to the mean against a team like Inter Miami who miss sitters and leak goals and FC Cincinnati is lifted by the freedom of nothing to play for. 

The Picks: FC Cin +1.25 (-110) 3u, FC Cin Double Chance (+190) 1u

Philadelphia Union (-0.25) vs. New England Revolution– Total 3

  • Playoff implications: Philly is playing for the Supporter’s Shield. New England is playing to guarantee their spot in the top 6 and not have to play a play-in game. 

I will have a lot more to say about these two teams when the playoffs are actually here because I think both teams could win the Cup if things go their way, but this game is too close to call for me. I think the Union are clear favorites with GK Andre Blake, but without him it’s much closer. I will be watching to see how both teams attack this game for a later playoff matchup, but won’t be betting this time around.

The Picks: Pass

NYRB (-0.25) vs. Toronto FC– Total 3

  • Playoff implications: NYRB is playing to jump into the top 6 with a NER loss. TFC is playing for the Supporter’s Shield  with a Philadelphia loss.

If TFC is playing a full strength roster for this match, they present a lot of value at +.25, but I am not 100 percent certain that will be the case. They have won the shield before and may decide to rest players for a cup run. If they decide to play for the shield, they are the best team in the league and should be a favorite against anyone. They have a stalwart back 4, an intimidating midfield, and multiple gamebreakers. Puzuelo is the rare kind of player who can win all by himself. NYRB have overachieved their talent this year and deserve credit for making the playoffs, but they are nowhere near TFC’s level at full strength. If TFC is playing everyone, I will be betting them on the goal and moneyline, if they are not, I will be passing.

The Picks: TBD when lineups come out

Orlando City (-0.5) vs. Nashville SC– Total 2.5

  • Playoff implications: Both teams are virtually locked into their spot.

Nashville SC parks a triple-wide bus in every game that they play. It’s what helped them allow the lowest amount of goals in the league at 20 and it’s what has them in the playoffs with so-so talent. The way to beat that is to have a gambreaking player in the middle of the field who can break teams down off the dribble and deliver the ball on goal in between tight spaces. Orlando has that player right now in Mauricio Pereyra. He completely broke down another of the best defensive-minded teams in the league, Columbus Crew, on Wednesday with a mix of dazzling dribbles and stunning through-balls. If he can do that early against Nashville, I really like this game to go over. 

If Nashville have to go chase the game, they will open up at the back a little bit and have a sneaky-good attack of their own with Jhonder Cadiz and Hanhy Mokhtar on the field. I think this one could easily finish 2-1 and will be betting the over provided that both teams play a full-strength roster.

The Picks: Over 2.5 Goals (-125) 1u

Houston Dynamo (-0.25) vs. Colorado Rapids– Total 3

  • Playoff implications: Colorado is playing for the possibility of jumping into a home playoff spot. Houston is eliminated. 

Let’s keep it simple: Colorado is the better team, Colorado has something to play for, and we’re getting them at plus a quarter ball. Take that. Second, I like the over in this match. These are two of the shakier defenses in the league, playing against some special attackers in Namli, Benezet, and Quintero. This looks like a banger 3-2 Colorado win to me. 

The picks: Colorado +0.25 (-115) 1u, Over 3 (-125) 1u

LAFC (-0.75) vs. Portland– Total 3.5

  • Playoff implications: LAFC is playing for a home playoff spot. Portland is essentially locked into their spot.

I would expect both teams to be resting players for this game and am not educated enough about the ends of their benches to make a pick here. I will have a lot more to say about LAFC and Portland when the playoffs begin. 

The Picks: Pass

Seattle Sounders (-0.75) vs. SJE– Total 3

  • Playoff implications: Both teams are essentially locked into their spots. 

This is another match where I expect both teams to be resting players and will not be making a pick.

The Picks: Pass

LA Galaxy (-0.25) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps– Total 3

  • Playoff implications: Both teams are eliminated.

Another game where if you’re making a bet, it would be pure degeneracy. We have no idea what either of these teams are good at and they will be playing a meaningless game. The passiest of passes!

The Picks: Pass

Minnesota (-0.25) vs. FC Dallas– Total 3

  • Playoff implications: The winner of this match will be the 4th seed in the Western Conference and host a playoff game.

This is one of those toss ups where you just take the home team. These teams are dead even in stats, talent, and style of play. Each has some players who can be reliably counted on to produce and score goals, and some questions about if their defense is good enough to win a championship. That kind of team generally wins games at home where they are comfortable and lose games on the road where they have to do better defending. Minnesota is the home team here, we’re riding with them.

The Picks: Minnesota -0.25 (-115) 1u

Worlds Final Betting Breakdown

With Suning coming through for a +12 units last weekend, the LoL World Championship is all but guaranteed to be  my most profitable LoL gambling venture this year. When I set out posting plays on Twitter in January, I did it mostly to find a community to talk about this stuff with. I wasn’t using a model, I wasn’t seriously studying the game, I mostly was betting off “feel” and trends. Doing that for a couple months got me about where you would expect: in the hole with motivation to improve at what I was doing.

There are no guarantees of success when you work hard at something and in the short term, randomness takes control. But over the long term, I feel my process has undoubtedly improved (mostly by actually having a process). At this point, it is pretty rare that I bet against the numbers. If I do,  there has to be a very good reason like Fnatic and G2’s historical form in the LEC playoffs. So, to have the hours of compiling and staring at data in sheets, SQL, and Tableau pay off feels pretty great.   

I do find that side of things fun and I want to be as sharp as possible. I like winning. I like money. But moreso than either of those, I like being able to share my passions with other people. In that regard, this year has been an unbelievable success for me and I am extremely grateful to anyone who reads this, shares this, or just interacts on Twitter. I love those game days where everyone is getting their takes off on Twitter, raging about some DFS outcome, or talking about some jaw dropping play that Caps just made. I’m going to miss that for the next couple months. But it will be back before we know it and when it is, I hope you’ll check out The Esports Department and join the community over there where I’ll be a part of a LCS/LEC-centric DFS show, The Infinity Edge (if you end up joining use the code: IEDGE, for a 10% discount and to help me). Another way you can help me out, is read my work on Line Movement as well. 

My other sports love is soccer. After tonight, I’m going to transition into “MLCS Picks” mode, and start writing about betting on my other favorite league: MLS. I have a couple of TBD things in the works on that front as well that I hope you’ll check out if it interests you. Most of my previous success in sports betting has come from soccer and it’s something I feel comfortable saying I have a longterm small edge at.

All of this is a long way of saying: Thank you so much for reading and sharing this with me.

Enough of the sap, let’s get into the degenerate action:

Suning (+175) vs. Damwon (-250) 

Every single LoL sharp I know has money in one way or another on Damwon and the line has only marginally moved. I have no idea what that means, but I am not going to be the one to tell you to go another way. In fact, I would be slightly surprised if Suning won a game. It’s no disrespect to Suning and what they’ve done, Damwon is just a cut above every other team in the world right now.

Coming into the tournament, the two areas where they were quite obviously the best team in the world was in the Early Game and their objective control. They had the highest Early Game Rating in the world partially because they are always faster at setting up early drakes and tower takes than their opponents and partially because their solo laners just always win their lanes in CS, gold, and experience. It means they are almost always ahead when they enter into the first teamfight of the game.

The questions I had for them were: what happens when you don’t get that early game lead and what happens when you fight against great micro teamfighting teams? Well, the answer turned out to be they are uniquely great in those situations as well. They beat G2 by just being better than them. It wasn’t some great gameplan, it wasn’t a better read on the meta, it was just a pound-for-pound, skill-for-skill beatdown. They beat them with better map control, better laning, and better control of the movements their champions made. It was a scary sight for a team that already had great gameplans and great meta reads. To me, there’s no style that they’re not the best in the world at, making them unbeatable.

Especially against Suning though– who won against Top Esports by playing mid and late game teamfights better than their opponents–I think Damwon is favored. First, Suning is going to need to survive the early game lanes against superior players in Mid and Top, and then they are going to have to outplay them in teamfights which is something no one has done at the tournament. It’s just not going to happen. Some championships are won with great coaches and team systems (FPX), some championships are won by great players being great (Invictus), and some championships are won by having it all (SKT). I think this is one where the team has it all. Damwon feels like the 2018 Golden State Warriors. They have 3 superstars who can win by themselves, their coaching staff is elite, and oh, by the way, they execute team concepts better than everyone else too.

I could waste a paragraph here telling you about Suning’s strengths, but here’s what I’ll tell you: Damwon’s better than them at all of them. So, let’s get into the gambling picks. I have a futures bet that will net 8 units if Damwon wins and I am just going to let that ride,  but like I said before, I am feeling a Damwon sweep coming so I’m going to bet the -1.5 and -2.5 too. You can also gather that I don’t think these games will be particularly close either. Games that are not close favor the under, because only one team is getting kills. Combine that with the fact that Damwon and Suning play lower kill total games generally, I will be going under on every map. Then, I am taking the First Tower and First Baron for Damwon on every map because it is essentially a bet on them to win each map and has been a consistent part of their game plan this split.

The Picks: Damwon -1.5 (-110) 2u, Damwon -2.5 (+275) 1u, Under 27.5 kills on each map (-115) 1u each,  Damwon First Tower and First Baron on each map (-165) 1u each

Suning Top Esports Betting Breakdown

“I am at a place where I would take them against any team in the world at -250 or better, so that has to include G2. “ was the concluding sentence to my breakdown yesterday. I’m ready to bump that to -300. Damwon just does not have any weaknesses. Initially, there were questions about what happens when they play great teamfighters, beat them. There were questions about what happens when they play teams that can contest them in the early game, beat them. Questions about will they crush under the pressure again? That was an emphatic “hell no” today. If I get Damwon under -200 against whoever wins tonight, I will be making a sizable wager. 

Let’s try and figure out who’s going to be meeting (and losing to) Damwon:

Top Esports (-235) vs. Suning (+170)

  • Top- TES 369 vs. SNG Bin                                                                     The Edge: Even
  • Jungle- TES Karsa vs. SNG SofM                                                          The Edge: SNG
  • Mid- TES Knight vs. SNG Angel                                                              The Edge: TES
  • Bot- TES JackeyLove and yuyuanjia vs. SNG Swordart and Huanfeng  The Edge: SNG

If you listened to the Gold Card Podcast this week, the guys over there framed this matchup perfectly: either you believe in the current form of the teams and you should favor Suning or you believe Top Esports have innate talent edges over Suning evidenced by their 5-0 record over them in the Summer Split. I’m going with Suning. 

So rather than re-hash what they already said and do a written form of what we talked about on The Infinity Edge (TL;DR Suning has gotten better, their stats are better, I like their bot lane more), let’s go through a few things I think Suning can do to win this time around.

Punish JackeyLove

JackeyLove is indisputably a great player, but I think his split has been massively overrated by TES’ team success. He is rarely THE reason they win, but is often THE reason they lose. In a meta with mostly immmobile carries, his tendency to overstay for the last minion, try to outplay 2v1s, and just plain get caught out has made him a liability at times. In their two wins, Fnatic was able to punish him and yuyanjia over and over. Suning’s bot lane resembles Fnatic’s in a lot of ways: there is the safe and solid ADC mixed with the aggressive, roaming support. To me, that’s the best two ways to play those roles right now.

Give SofM Farming Junglers

In the Summer Playoffs, SofM only played one of the Kindred, Nidalee, Graves power trio once. Part of that was because of bans, but even still I would rather see him move into the Hecarim or Olaf tier of that style of champions over moving on to the Lee Sin or Volibear. He is uniquely great when he can get around clearing the camps ahead of the other jungler. That can’t happen when he’s playing Volibear. It also directly counters Karsa’s preferred playstlye of supporting his laners over getting farm. He has been able to play the farmers at this tournament better than in Summer, but you can still see it’s not natural for him. 

Bin plays better

This one’s simple: Bin can’t play like he did in the playoffs or they will lose. Bin was generally very good and dominated lanes many times this year, but against 369 he got his ass kicked even in supposedly “winning” matchups. If that happens again, they lose. I think Bin will be able to hang on this time around even from behind like he did against Zoom.

Finally, the odds are just too big here. I genuinely have Suning slightly favored in my own handicapping, but even if I didn’t, they only have to win 37% of the time to beat the the +170. I don’t know how anyone could have watched the two teams at this tournament and think that Suning only wins 37% of the time. Suning has had the tougher road and won more convincingly, I’m going big on the dogs. 

The other spot that has some value is the total of 27.5. It’s set there because the two teams are from the LPL and that is a historically high kill total region. It has nothing to do with how the game is being played right now or how the teams have played at the tournament. These teams despite their reputations have both been middle of the pack with kills per game and I have them projected for about 25 kills per game. I will be going under the total on maps 1,2, and 3   

The Picks: SNG +1.5 (-130) 3u, SNG ML (+170) 2u, SNG 3-1 (+700) 0.5u, SNG 3-0 (+800) 0.5u, Under 27.5 on Maps 1,2, and 3 (-115) 1u each

Damwon G2 Betting Breakdown

Here we are, two more weeks of LoL. It’s bittersweet. In some ways, I’m ready to think about something else for a stretch, in other ways it’s hard to say goodbye when I finally feel like I’ve got a good grasp on things. There will always be next season to improve on.

Before we get there though, let’s look at our first Semi-final of the weekend:

Damwon (-245) vs. G2 (+175)

  • Top- DWG Nuguri vs. G2 Wunder                                                          The Edge:DWG
  • Jungle- DWG Canyon vs. G2 Jankos                                                     The Edge:DWG
  • Mid- DWG Showmaker vs. G2 Caps                                                      The Edge: Even
  • Bot- DWG Ghost and Beryl vs. G2 Perkz and Mikyx                              The Edge: DWG

I have a feeling that there are going to be a lot of people who believe this matchup is pretty close and are therefore taking the plus odds on G2. The line movement so far favors that theory, G2 opened at +190 and Damwon at -265.  In some ways, it makes sense. G2 has demonstrated their ability to consistently beat and confound top LCK teams capped off by their recent dismantling of Gen. G. Caps, in particular, looked incredible in the series and it has sparked a debate around whether he should be considered in the “best players in the world” conversation (the answer to that is an emphatic “yes” by the way) and G2 seems destined for another shot at finally overcoming the LPL at a Worlds Final. Narratively, it makes perfect sense. In the real world, I think they’re about to get swept. Each part of that narrative: the talent discrepancy, the LCK dominance, and recent results falls apart under deeper scrutiny of G2 and their opponents, Damwon Gaming.

Let’s start with the talent. Caps is, indisputably in my opinion, a top 8 player in the world. Despite not being the kind of dominant laner we are used to on that list, he is the engine of everything good that G2 does. When you watch their wins, Caps is always involved in the skirmishes that pulls G2 into the lead. He is never late, never indecisive, and seemingly never misses a skillshot. He essentially won game 2 of their Gen. G series by himself on the Sylas. Caps could easily be the best player in this series and I would not be shocked.

The problem for G2 is Damwon has 4 players that I would not be shocked to see as the best player in the series. Canyon, Nuguri, Showmaker, and Beryl all have credible arguments as the best player at their position in the world and  Nuguri and Showmaker have arguments as the best players in the world full stop. They have handily won pretty much every lane they were a part of this season including against players like Zoom, Chovy, and BDD. It’s a scary proposition for G2, who depend on Caps to be able to leave lane to win. If Showmaker puts the kind of pressure on Caps and his tower that we are used to seeing him do, we could see a similar series to their first series against Fnatic in the LEC playoffs in which, G2 seemingly did not have a plan B when Nemesis’ Lucian was keeping Caps cemented in lane. G2 is at their best when they can skill check you in small skirmishes or objective trades, I don’t think they want to do that against Damwon. 

Second, the narrative that G2 owns the LCK is true.  They have consistently beat the region at international events over the last 2 years. But Damwon Gaming also owns the LCK this split. The went 34-5 in games in the regular season with a 15% GSPD in the LCK. The other teams that G2 has beaten from the LCK the past two years have been champions, but not the undisputed, never-really-challenged mega-champions that Damwon are. DWG also plays nothing like the slow, macro-focused SKT teams that G2 is famous for confounding. They can play a myriad of styles, but have been at their best when they are the aggressors.  They were, in fact, the best Early Game Rating team on oracleselixir.com in the world during the Summer Split. 

Finally, G2’s series against Gen.G was not nearly as dominant as the 3-0 game score suggests. In the first game, Gen. G was at even gold and had three drakes near the 20 minute mark, a commanding position for most competent teams. From there, you really have to just stall until the fourth drake spawns and set up vision properly around it without getting caught out and the advantage you have from the drake stats should help carry you through the teamfight. Instead, Gen. G got desperate and took terrible, unnecessary fights on the top side that led to a G2 baron. It was dumbfounding and enraging as a Gen. G believer. It’s also the kind of mistake that Damwon has not made this split. From there, Gen. G seemingly never mentally recovered and made all kinds of uncharacteristic, dumb mistakes to wind up getting swept. There was one clear theme though: G2 is willing to trade away early objectives to make top side dives or counter jungle. I think if they do that against Damwon they are doomed. 

All narratives aside, I believe Damwon Gaming to be the most complete and best team in the world. Their stats are perfect, their win conditions varied, and their talent unimpeachable. I am at a place where I would take them against any team in the world at -250 or better, so that has to include G2. 

The Picks: DWG ML (-245) 3u, DWG -1.5 Games (-110) 2u, DWG 3-0 (+300) 1u

Top Esports-Fnatic Betting Breakdown

What a win by Suning this morning! I decided to hedge all my futures positions on JDG with a Suning ML bet last night and, boy, am I glad about that! Everything I thought would push JDG over the edge in this series– teamfighting, macro gameplay, and experience– looked like it belonged to Suning. The fears I had about Suning– a support who sometimes ints his face off and a mid laner who regularly mechanically misplays– looked to belong to JDG on the day. I’m really starting to wish I had pulled the trigger on Suning to win Worlds at 16-1 yesterday. Can’t win’ em all, but we’re going to try tonight:

Top Esports  vs. Fnatic

  • Top- TES 369 vs. FNC Bwipo                                                                    The Edge: TES
  • Jungle- TES Karsa vs. FNC Selfmade                                                       The Edge: FNC
  • Mid- TES Knight vs. FNC Nemesis                                                            The Edge: TES
  • Bot- TES Jackeylove and Yuyanjia vs. FNC Rekkles and Hyllisang          The Edge: TES

It’s pretty clear to me at this point that I underrated Fnatic coming into this tournament. I thought that Nemesis was guaranteed to be a liability and their inconsistent gameplay would bite them against high quality competition. Nemesis has played totally under control and a meta shift towards a sort of “weak” mid lane suits him perfectly. He can play Zilean, Lulu or his signature Lucian every game and Fnatic is seemingly better for it. Then, on the gameplay side, where they might have taken a 3v3 coinflip in the enemy jungle because Hyllisang wanted to in the LEC, they are playing measured, macro LoL on the international stage. In fact, in the matchup they won against Gen.G, it was Gen.G who played the frantic, all-in support who threw the game away. 

Without Nemesis being a clear liability, it was easy to see a path to contention for Fnatic.  Hylli, Rekkles, and Bwipo have all proven themselves on the international stage before and Selfmade cemented himself as the star of the team in Summer. I had doubts about him transitioning his dominant jungling style to the international stage, but so far he has been the breakout player of the tournament and has gotten the better of international stars like Clid and Peanut. Whether or not that lasts into the knockout rounds remains to be seen, but Fnatic has been undoubtedly better than I expected.

Still, they have not played a team like Top Esports yet. That is partially because there is no other team like TES at this tournament. They were far and away the odds on favorite to win it all before the tournament and remain co-favorites with Damwon at the current iteration of the odds. Outside of the support position, you can make  credible arguments that they have the best player at each position in the tournament. Top reminds me a bit of Manchester City Football Club. They have bought  such a talented collection of players that often it does not matter how they play the game. If every player on the map or field can outplay their opponent and produce individual moments of magic, the fact that they don’t execute team concepts perfectly doesn’t matter. They never go into a game wondering if they have the talent to compete.

It is that confidence that makes TES occasionally beatable. In their game against Flyquest, we got a pretty good script on how to upset them. First, you have to contest them in the early game, if you let TES dictate the pace of the game in the early game you don’t have a shot in the mid or late game teamfights. Flyquest elected to go with a level 1 cheese, but Fnatic is good enough that playing the way they normally do with Selfmade heavily contesting enemy jungle camps could be enough. From that point is where TES’ overconfidence can kick in. They will opt into fight after fight, even at a deficit, believing that they can outplay enough to overcome. They did that against Flyquest and were punished, Fnatic is certainly good enough to punish as well. 

This matchup also has some underlying numbers that suggests it’s closer than we might think. Through the group stage of the tournament, the teams sported nearly identical GSPDs with +5.3% for TES and +5.5% for FNC. Neither group was necessarily harder than the other, so for Fnatic to have beat their opponents by a larger gold margin than Top is a surprise, especially with Top having a nearly 1.89 Kill to death ratio.  It is the statistical confirmation of some of the issues we discussed earlier. Top will fight and usually win, but their execution of larger macro concepts and objective control is not always perfect. 

Those issues make the +2.5 games number of -155 ridiculous here. That means they only expect Fnatic to win one of the first three games 60% of the time. I have them winning one of the first three games nearly 75% of the time, so this number presents a lot of value. Top should come out on, well, top, but Fnatic will have something to say before the contest is over.

The other value I see in this contest is the total of 26.5. Fnatic and Top have both been two of the lower total teams on average in this tournament. Fnatic has gone under 27 total kills in 5 of their 6 matchups and Top Esports has gone under 27 kills in 4 of their 6 matchups. This meta with such an emphasis on efficient jungle clearing and farming also feels like it will tend towards lower kill totals. I have the total available on the first three maps and will be going under on every one.

The Picks: Fnatic +2.5 games (-155) 2u, Fnatic +1.5 games (+250) 1u, Under 26.5 kills on Maps 1,2 and 3 (-115) 1u each

Damwon-DRX Betting Breakdown

Above is my finals futures positions for the tournament including my adds from today on JDG and G2. I’m not sure what made the books go sour on JDG in the group stage, but I still think they deserve to be much closer to a co-favorite with Top and Damwon. So, I spent this morning trying to figure out how I’m going to approach the remainder of the way.

Profitable scenarios

The Nuts, Gen. G wins

Gen.G wins against TES/FNC/Suning

46.5u win – 10u loss= 36.5 u win

Gen.G wins against JDG

53.7u win – 7u loss= 46.7u win

G2 wins

G2 wins against Suning, TES, or Fnatic

19.5u win – 11u loss = 8.5u win

G2 wins against JDG

22.7- 9u loss= 13.7u win

JDG Wins

JDG wins against DWG or DRX

28.2u win – 7u loss= 21.2u win

JDG wins against G2

35.7 win- 6u loss= 29.7u win

JDG wins against Gen. G

34.7win-6u loss= 28.7u win

DWG Wins

DWG wins against JDG

15.2u win- 5u loss= 10.2u win

All other winners without hedging

Losses ranging from 1u to 13u

If there is any type of reasonable situation on Damwon against G2 or Gen.G, I will certainly be hedging there. I will also probably hedge a little bit with Top against JDG provided that is the matchup. Either way, it’s going to be a fun end to the tournament with some real sweaty sweats as all my futures besides the baby staked TSM one are still live.

With that out of the way, let’s get into the first quarterfinal:

Damwon vs. DRX

Top- DWG Nuguri vs. DRX Doran The Edge:DWG
Jungle- DWG Canyon vs. DRX Pyosik The Edge:DWG
Mid- DWG Showmaker vs. DRX Chovy The Edge: Even
Bot- DWG Ghost and Beryl vs. DRX Deft and Keria The Edge: DWG

Here’s a link to highlights of the last time these two teams played. That turned out to be a 3-0 sweep in favor of Damwon Gaming in which DRX only put up a real fight in one game. Here’s what’s particularly concerning to me about this video: DRX just looks outclassed all the way around. Even when they are able to contest Damwon off of their patented early leads, Damwon comes back by clawing back experience and gold in the lanes and outplaying objective fights. You can see the hopelessness settle in with DRX in Game 3.

A lot of the time, I find betting on sweeps to be overrated. It is very hard to beat a team 3 times in a row (or in this case 6 times in a row). With that said, I’m doing it here for a few reasons: First, Damwon is ridiculous. I have said it a thousand times, but they have the statistical indicators of every World Champion plus some. For a team to outspend their opponent’s gold by 15% on average in a league as strong as the LCK is just unprecedented. Second, you can see when certain teams have mental barriers to beating the best. We’ve seen it when push comes to shove with Fnatic and G2, we’ve seen it with Flyquest against everyone, and I have a feeling we’ll see it here too. Every strength of DRX you can argue that Damwon is better at. Previously, one could have argued what happens if they make it into the late game at an even state where DRX has excelled and we just haven’t really seen what Damwon can do, but that happened in Game 2 of their series and Damwon still won.

We saw DRX do similar things in their games against Top Esports as well. Both games, but particularly game 2, DRX was able to hold up in the early game and match Top Esports in lanes, but when it came to clutch moments they were just the worse team and could not win. A lot of people will chalk that up to variance, I don’t. They are measurably worse at teamfight execution than the best teams in the world.

If this was a matchup of teams from two different regions with limited familiarity with one another, I’d be on the dog no matter what, but here I just don’t see it with DRX. Damwon has their number and will sweep again. I’ll fire on the -2.5 and then will be betting the -6.5 kills for DWG on every map it’s available to me.

The Picks: DWG -2.5 Maps (+137) 1u, DWG -6.5 kills (-115) 1u each