Group B Betting Breakdown

The curse of TSM puts us a little bit behind in Week 1 of Worlds again. They are one of the most difficult teams to handicap because they are mostly held back by their own mental fortitude. They actually have laned well enough to put them in advantageous positions in two out of the three games so far, but if one of their players dies once early on you can count on them to mental boom. It was BrokenBlade against Fnatic and then it was Doublelift against LGD. 

The good news is I have quite a few futures bets that I feel pretty good about going into the rest of the games. Check me out on twitter as I will probably be trying to hedge a little bit.  

For this article, rather than go through every matchup and tell you that Damwon and JDG are massive favorites to win every game besides against each other, I’m just going to give you my general thinking about Group B and the picks I’m on because of those thoughts.

Group B thoughts

It’s pretty simple: I expect Damwon and JDG to stomp both Rogue and PSG in. The talent chasm that exists between these teams is just too much for either to overcome. Showmaker and Nuguri have won every single lane they’ve been a part of for pretty much all of the Summer Split. They will be toying with Larssen, Tank, Hanabi, and Finn again. JDG, then, is better at the style of game PSG and Rogue got through their region playing: two tank, two carry teamfighting. They may not outclass as heavily as Damwon in the laning phase, but watch what they do when they are setting up around objectives and how controlled each player is in teamights and you’ll see they are a cut above. Even when JDG and Damwon are behind in kills in their games, they’ve typically been ahead on gold from the sheer force of their superior skill.

The conundrum for betting those games is: the moneylines reflect two heavy favorites and the kill spreads are numbers that can be hard to cover. Especially with these two teams who can choke you out with macro play, trying to get them to cover 11 kills is a risky proposition. So, rather than get too deep in the hole with those kinds of bets, I think all the unders are in play here. 

As mentioned before, Talon and Rogue are the “teamfight around objectives/map play” teams in their region. That style of play tends towards lower kills in losses. Rather than the wild skirmishing style of G2 or TES, if Rogue or PSG gets behind they generally try to minimize damage and concede everything they don’t absolutely have to contest. I expect JDG and Damwon to both get sizable leads in the early game and then easily choke the game out with map play. 

Finally, in the Rogue-PSG matchup, it’s the same story in my book. I expect Rogue to get ahead early with their superior mid-jungle duo and then choke the game out with map play like they have all season long. In short: my projections say these totals should be set somewhere around 21.5, but they’re all much larger than that. Take the under across the board.

The Picks: DWG-Talon Under 23.5 (-115) 1u, Rogue-JDG Under 26.5 (-115) 1u, DWG-Rogue Under 24.5 (-115) 1u, JDG-Talon Under 25.5 (-115) 1u, Talon-Rogue Under 24.5 (-115) 1u, Unders parlay (+2184) 0.25u

Damwon Gaming (-195) vs. JDG (+140)

Now this is a matchup worthy of a breakdown! This will almost certainly decide if the two teams play a tiebreaker for first place or if Damwon wins outright after a thorough domination of JDG the first time around. After that game, I wrote this on Twitter: 

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Turns out maybe Damwon Gaming is just the best team of all time like their stats say they are.</p>&mdash; Allen Heffelfinger (@lcspicks) <a href=””>October 3, 2020</a></blockquote>

If you were to argue that they are the best team of all time, I couldn’t argue against it. They have a nearly +19% GSPD in a group that includes a team I picked to win the whole thing. Just think about what that stat means for a minute: they are ON AVERAGE absolutely demolishing their opponents. One could say “small sample size!” and I do think that’s reasonable, but Damwon did this all split long in the LCK. At some point, we just have to trust our eyes with this team and call them the GOATs they may be, but I can’t help but still hold out hope for JDG as the team to contest them.

In some ways, JDG feels like the perfect team to beat DWG. Although Canyon and Beryl have been outstanding this season, Damwon is best when Nuguri and Showmaker are putting relentless pressure on their lanes and carrying the game. Zoom should be the anti-Nuguri. He is an excellent weak-side player who seemingly comes out ahead of even the worst matchups. Then, in the mid lane, Yagao seems perfectly fit for a meta game that de-emphasizes the mid laner. He has played that way for a long time with JDG who are best when Kanavi is their main focus. Yet, in game one, Damwon put the solo laners of JDG in the dumpster after a nightmare level one from JDG. 

I am calling that game an aberration. Damwon with a gifted early lead is invincible, but what happens if JDG  doesn’t get uncharacteristically wild with early game skirmishes in Game 2? It’s a question I hope we get to see the answer to. I want to see the teams in even, mid game teamfights going blow for blow. I lean towards JDG in that scenario, but it’s difficult to know because Damwon so rarely has to play in that stage of the game. With JDG on the blue side and the ability to control who has Nidalee, this feels like a closer game to me. JDG covers and the game goes over.
The Picks: JDG +5.5 (-115) 1u, Over 28.5 Kills (-115) 1u

Worlds Play in Finals

Yesterday’s Recap:

My premise for play-in bets was that one of Mad Lions or Team Liquid was going to go down to SuperMassive. Before I break my hand patting my own back, I definitely thought it would be TL, but still SME is a legit team that was treated like a total longshot to make the group stage. They are the kind of controlled, macro-focused team that thrives against other underdogs and the borderline pychopathic play from Mad Lions in this tournament. They’re not quite to the groups yet, but this team can hold their heads high either way knowing that they showed very well at this tournament. On the Mad Lions side, I hope they step back and learn from what led to their collapse here: undeserved arrogance. Shadow seemingly never learned the ins and outs of the new meta champions, Humanoid did what he did, and Orome still needs to level up. The confidence that brought them early success turned into arrogance that doomed them at Worlds.

There was not a lot to learn in the LGD and Rainbow7 matchup. Neither of these teams really belonged in this game and it showed.

Legacy (+475, +2.5 -155) vs. LGD (-850, -2.5 +110)

These numbers are almost identical to LGD’s matchup with Rainbow7 yesterday. LGD is infinitely ahead of R7 on talent, I’m not sure that’s the case with Legacy. Is LGD the more talented team? Easily. Does Legacy have at least a couple win conditions or a player who could show up better than his opponent on the day? Absolutely.

Legacy’s expectations and statistics are being weighed down by two beatdowns from the best team in Play-ins, Team Liquid. There is no shame in losing to them and TL is the kind of team that when they win, they generally win big. The rest of Legacy’s games were quite impressive. They were able to rely on a different role to carry in every game splitting between mid, top, jungle and bot. They showed a multitude of ways to win, but one theme emerged: their top laner, Topoon, is legit. 

That could spell bad news for LangX and LGD. I am generally pretty low on LangX. He is an acceptable weak side top laner, but has never been particularly impressive to me. Topoon pulled out a Camille in Game 1 against INTZ that didn’t show up in the stats, but essentially won the game for his team with split push pressure. Do you trust LGD to have a sense of control or macro gameplan if he gets ahead on a split pusher? I certainly don’t.

LGD isn’t suddenly fixed because they beat a team made up of players who couldn’t make it in the third tier of Chinese LoL (no shade to R7, but this is true). They still have tons of macro issues and often make calls that make no sense at all. Legacy is good enough to punish those mistakes.

Yet, I still could easily see an LGD sweep. This team has no ceiling when their players are on like they were in the LPL playoffs. If they get 3 early leads again like against R7, they will sweep. So, for me, rather than play too much with the Legacy map handicaps, I’m going to play their kill spreads in the first 3 games and the over 3.5 maps. With the kill spreads, there’s always the chance that they cover in their losses and the odds for the over map total were slightly better than the handicap.

The picks: Legacy +8.5 kills on Maps 1,2, and 3 (-115) 1u each, Over 3.5 Maps (-135) 1u

SuperMassive (+148, +1.5 -144) vs. UoL (-175, -1.5 +128)

Put some respect on SME’s name! Or don’t and I’ll keep betting on them. To me, this game is a -115 esports coinflip. Both teams come from lesser regions, both teams showed great at times and concerning at other times in the group stage, and both teams are filled with players with Worlds experience. So what’s with the -175 price tag for UoL?

It’s a price tag I can’t pay for this team, even though I have been impressed. They seem  perfectly fit for this meta: they pick winning, pushing lanes backed by a farming jungler who can carry and tower dive. It has pushed them to huge leads in the early game in their wins. The question becomes: “What happens to this team when they can’t get those kinds of leads?” I think the answer to that question can be found in their tie breaker game with  Talon. 

Talon, in that game, were able to neutralize UoL’s Boss with a go-even top laner in Gangplank. This was crucial, because in all of UoL’s wins it was Boss who was getting most of the attention of the jungler, getting a big lead for himself, and then transitioning it to other lanes. 

Supermassive could easily follow that game script. Their top laner, Armut, has been easily the best weakside player at the tournament so far. He reminds me of a Zoom-lite. They can safely put him onto something like a Mordekaiser or Shen, and expect him to take Boss out of the game. 

If they survive lanes, it’s where SME, like Talon, thrive. Supermassive is a controlled, scaling team who is comfortable in the late game teamfights even with small deficits. Their goal in the early game is about getting small lane advantages to then transition over to objectives and teamfights. It’s something they’ve been successful at in the World Championship with a +861 GD@15. If you don’t see Boss pushing Armut over and over again or Nomanz abusing Bolulu, I think the Turkish team will see themselves back in the group stage. 

The Picks: SME +1.5 (-144) 2u, SME ML (+148) 1u

Worlds Play-ins Semi Finals

An overall great week of betting last week! When it comes to LoL betting, the early stages of tournaments or leagues can be very volatile. It is where game knowledge and talent evaluation becomes basically the center of your handicapping. Being a proud member of the Silver league myself, it doesn’t come natural to me, but I worked hard to try to identify what makes teams good in LoL and it’s exciting to see a few results pay off on that hard work.

On the soccer side, I’ve had more demonstrable success in betting there before putting out my bets on Twitter, so I have some confidence that as data gets deeper and I watch more, results will come.

Futures Check-In

The Team Liquid lose play-ins bet is a loss and is already marked as so in my tracker. They have shown up in a way that I probably should have seen coming. When they are on comfort picks, they are a consistent and smart team. It feels like it’s easier to get comfort picks in best of 1s and could mean good things for them in groups. I still worry about them in Best of 5s, but for now, impressive showing by them.

The “MAD Lions to lose play-ins” bet is still very much in play. For them to get out of the play-ins, they will have to win two Best of 5s in a row against solid LoL teams. MAD has never won two Best of 5s in a row in their history.  Still, I will be hedging against that bet in their matchup with SME.

Rainbow7 (+425, +2.5 -170) vs. LGD (-750, -2.5 +125)

Let’s keep this short: If LGD were to lose this, it would be one of the largest upsets in the history of the LoL World Championship. If there was ever a team from China or Korea who could lose in play-ins, it would be this LGD team who win off of individual skill alone and are downright terrible from even the smallest of deficits, but I still can’t see it. 

Rainbow7 has some promising talent, particularly Jungler Josedodo, but their players are several tiers removed from being able to compete with LGD in a series. Can they have their day and get a one-off? Yes, they already did. But can they compete with the sheer force of LGD’s talent over 5 games? It’s an unfortunate no. Often analysts talk about how mechanical, micro play is similar across regions and that the gap has essentially closed there. I’m unconvinced. Players in EU Masters miss more CS and spells than players in the LCS just like players in the LCS miss more than their counterparts in Korea and China. The gap between these two teams in that regard is enormous. There’s not a lot more to say here.

The picks: LGD -1.5 (-271) 2u, LGD -2.5 (+141) 1u

SuperMassive (+140, +1.5 -150) vs. MAD Lions (-195, -1.5 +110)

Mad Lions are favorites here on name alone–on their own names and on the name of the league they come from. It is the only way someone could justify saying they think this team will win nearly 65% of the time against SME. If you tried to make an argument for them based on what we’ve seen from them at Worlds so far, it would be laughable. They have been, frankly, awful. 

Shadow has gone from a carry win condition to a liability. He looks completely uncomfortable and, at times, arrogant on the current set of meta junglers. His Evelynn in the first two games was the stuff of solo queue nightmares. I’m not sure if he’s nervous or thought they would have an easy path in play-ins, but he has not adjusted to the way the game is being played at the World Championship and Mad desperately needs him to shape up.

Somehow Shadow hasn’t been the worst performer on Mad Lions, that dubious honor belongs to Humanoid. He is the kind of player that drives me up the wall. He has all the talent in the world, but consistently uses that talent in ways that lose his team the game. Instead of saving his mechanical outplays for necessary moments in late game teamfights, he will try them at every opportunity he can and often give over unnecessary kills to the other team. It is the kind of selfish play that you hope he outgrows so that he can live up to his potential, but I don’t think that will be happening in this World Championship. 

SME is not the kind of team you want to be against when your mid and jungle duo has a tendency to overstep and throw the game away. Not only are they rock solid at those positions, but they are the kind of smart macro team that can turn one kill into a 3k gold lead through map play. In their first two games, they were completely dominant in getting Kakao and Bolulu small leads and then snowballing those into easy wins. Then, they played a tough matchup with Team Liquid that was a lot closer than the scoreboard showed. Finally, they played a somewhat concerning game against Legacy in which they made some uncharacteristic macro mistakes that looked like maybe they weren’t taking their opponents as seriously as they should.

Both of these teams have flaws, but to me, SuperMassive is the team that has shown a better understanding of how the game should be played right now. They have the better stats and film against the same competition. The only point against them is the strength of the league they come from. Against Mad Lions, I’m not sure how much that matters. Mad Lions doesn’t know any other way to play the game and I don’t think they can reign it back and win on talent alone here. If I were making a bet on this game without any hedges, I would bet 2u on the +1.5 for SME and 1u on the SME ML. I think they should be more like +110, but for me I’ll be doing below:

The Picks: MAD Lions ML hedge (-195) 1.5u, SME +1.5 (-150) 2u

If Mad Lose, Win 5.57u

If Mad Win 3-2, Lose 0.93u with potential to still win Lose Playins Future bet

If Mad wins by another score, Lose 4.925 with potential to still win Lose Futures bet

9/16 EU Masters Quarter Finals

I thought Giants were too smart to get cheesed by GamerLegion, I was wrong about that. It’s kind of enraging to watch teams continue to opt into exactly what GamerLegion wants them to do. But credit to them for knowing what they want to do in every game and executing.  On the positive side, I finally won a bet on a game where Bando was involved. 

AGO Rogue (-257) vs. Misfits Premier (+196)

  • Top- AGO Syzgenda vs. MSF Agressivoo                                             The Edge: AGO
  • Jungle- AGO Zanzarah vs. MSF Kirei                                                    The Edge: MSF
  • Mid- AGO Czekolad vs. MSF Ronaldo                                                 The Edge: Even
  • Bot lane duo- AGO Woolite and Trymbi vs. MSF Jezu and Targamas   The Edge: AGO

If this match had been played after week 1 of groups, I firmly believe Misfits Premier would have been the favorites. Now, after a 1-2 week they are nearly a +200 dog? I smell an overcorrection. To me, there’s no way that if these teams play 100 games AGO wins 67+ of them. They are marginally the better and more consistent team, but these odds are way out of whack.

Misfits are a mid-jungle focused team who play like all the best teams in the world right now by getting mid priority and stacking early drakes. AGO Rogue typically puts Zanzarah onto a supportive tank jungler and tries to get ahead in their side lanes to scale up for late game teamfights. To me, Misfits’ style is a better way to win the game right now, but if executed correctly AGO’s style could directly counter Misfits. In their loss to 7more7, they essentially lost the game through the top side as Sinmivake played Camille and demolished Agressivoo. Camille is exactly the kind of champion Syzgenda thrives on. He is, at heart, an old-school carry top who loves to outplay and get solo kills.

Misfits will feel they have an advantage in the jungle matchup here. Kirei has shown the range to play and win on a range of carry junglers like Nidalee, Hecarim, Graves, and Kindred. If he can get seriously ahead of Zanzarah, games could snowball in their favor. Zanzarah has not shown any ability to contest any of those carry junglers making it near impossible for AGO to ban him out. 

In the bottom lane, Woolite has been a reliable carry for AGO. In games where they have gotten to late game teamfights, they are almost always coming out on top thanks to his positioning and damage output. Jezu and Targamas are no pushovers, but are not asked to carry their teams the way that Woolite is. If this series becomes late game and bot lane focused, I think AGO have the edge. However, if the series is mid-jungle focused on dragons, I would give it to Misfits Premier.

Either way, I don’t think the teams are as far apart as these odds so I will be on the dog. AGO is meaningfully ahead in stats I value like GSPD, but in a tournament where the quality of the teams varies  between the groups, stats can be misleading. Woof woof.

The Picks: MSF +1.5 Games (-170) 2u, MSF ML (+195) 1u

Mousesports (-305) vs. K1ck (+215)

  • Top- MSE Tolkin  vs. K1ck IBo                                                                The Edge: K1ck
  • Jungle- MSE Obsess vs. K1ck Shlatan                                                  The Edge: Even
  • Mid- MSE Lider vs. K1ck Matislaw                                                         The Edge: Even
  • Bot lane duo- Jeskla and Promisq vs. Puki Style and Mystiques          The Edge: Even

Here are some matchups that you could have gotten +215 or better on the dog in the summer playoffs: Suning vs. Top, EG vs. Cloud 9, LGD vs. IG, Dignitas vs. TSM, etc. Not only are there teams that pulled off the upset in there, but those are playoff favorites playing against teams that most people expected to lose in the first round. That’s not even close to the case here. I think if you asked anyone who has been consistently watching EU Masters Summer who are some of the teams with a chance to win it all: Mouse and K1ck would be two of the most mentioned teams. So why is this priced like K1ck is a team from Luxembourg’s 3rd division?

The counterargument here is that Mouse was unbelievably dominant in their group. They went 5-1 and had a GSPD of 11.2%. When they won, they absolutely destroyed. They are inarguably a favorite in this tournament, but I do have my doubts about the quality of competition in their group. The only other team with a positive GSPD in their group was the Vodafone Giants who they split 1 to 1 with. Fnatic Rising and Intrepid fox were never real challengers here.

Their opponents, K1ck, were in arguably the toughest group in the tournament with Spring champions LDLC, an LEC academy team, and a surprisingly feisty Italian team. Despite this, they had a GSPD of 7.2% and went 4-2 with a couple of very close losses. K1ck was my pick to win the whole thing before the start and they haven’t given me any clear reasons to doubt that yet.

Although mouse’s talent could easily be better on the day, I don’t think anyone can credibly argue they have a serious talent advantage over the long run. All of the players on both teams have looked near the top of their positions in the tournament so far, trying to split hairs and identify a win condition there is a reach in my opinion. 

I could go on, but I think you get the idea: this one is too close to call, but priced like it’s David and Goliath. I want to be clear about something though because in esports you end up backing big dogs a lot– I am not guaranteeing a K1ck win. In fact, I think they are slightly more likely to lose this matchup than win, but sports betting is about finding edges over implied odds. I think this is a bad line, but if K1ck get 2-0’d or win 2-0 themselves, that will prove nothing besides one data point over a long period of time.
The Picks: K1ck +1.5 (-150) 3u, K1ck ML (+215) 2u, K1ck 2-0 (+550) 1u

EU Masters Quarter-finals betting breakdown

Only 11 more sleeps until Worlds! If you’re interested in my thoughts about the Winner odds amongst some guys who are much sharper than I, I was on the Gold Card Podcast last week and we discussed who we liked there. After the group draw, I will be writing a mega preview and probably betting quite a few futures positions on group winners, teams to make the final, teams to win the final because futures have easily been my most profitable venture in LoL betting. Before Worlds mania begins though, let’s get into my second favorite tournament–the European Masters.

Vodafone Giants (-181) vs. Team GamerLegion (+165)

  • Top- GIA Th3Antonio vs. GL Phones                                                          The Edge: GIA
  • Jungle- GIA Lamabear vs. GL Rabble                                                        The Edge: GIA
  • Mid- GIA Pretty vs. GL Nite                                                                         The Edge: GIA
  • Bot lane duo- GIA Atilla and Erdote vs. GL Hjarnan and Visdom               The Edge: GIA    

Considering I gave the Giants the  talent edge in every single lane, you can probably see where I’m leaning here, but talent isn’t why GamerLegion has been winning. They qualified for the quarterfinals ahead of a team that is inarguably more talented than them in Movistar Riders and they did it for one reason–this team is pure, stinky, limburger cheese. In their 8 games at Eu Masters, this team has played Neeko bot, Swain bot, Galio Bot, and Rengar Jungle. Their ability to create compositions that their opponents are unpracticed against is unmatched in the tournament, but what happens in must-win situations where teams are more likely to pull out stock-standard, two frontliners and two backliners, easy to execute compositions? We got a little glimpse of that in their game against AGO Rogue.

In that game Rogue picked two back line carries–Ezreal and Orianna– to pair with two front line tanks –Volibear and Skarner– and had a clear plan to execute against GamerLegion’s ultimate dependent composition centered around a Vel’Koz. Instead of opting into bad dragon fights at level 6 where Hjarnan could spread his poke and ultimate, they waited for their two carries to scale up and out-ranged and out-damaged their opponents en route to an easy win. It takes discipline and practice to beat teams like GamerLegion, but there is a reason that teams don’t typically play the champions that they are playing. They have clear, counterable flaws. 

Giants are good enough to expose those flaws. Through 6 games they have a GSPD of 12.5%–the best mark in the tournament– despite only the third best kill to death ratio. To me, that’s telling of a smart team who knows how to play the map without needing kills to drive their advantages. That’s exactly the kind of team GamerLegion is going to struggle with because the compositions they are playing require their opponents to take suboptimal fights.

In talent, there’s a matchup nightmare for GamerLegion as well. Giants have been winning off the strength of their mid-jungle duo of Lamabear and Pretty who have gotten the better of their opponents in every game. GamerLegion’s clear weakness is their mid laner Nite who likes to be ahead for outplays and struggles to maintain control when he’s behind. There have been multiple situations in the tournament where Nite tries to outplay from a losing position and puts his team further behind. Pretty has not been significantly behind anyone in the tournament, I don’t expect him to be behind Nite here. 

The odds have Giants winning the series 62% of the time, I think over the course of 3 games where cheese is less effective, their odds are closer to 80%. Most of the time in this tournament, I take value on the dog, but Gamerlegion is a pretty ugly dog in my opinion. I will be laying the juice here.

The Picks: GIA ML (-181) 3u, GIA -1.5 Maps (+157) 1u

Gamersorigin (-235) vs. LDLC (+155)

  • Top- GO Shemek vs. LDLC Bando                                                          The Edge: GO
  • Jungle- GO bluerzor vs. LDLC Tynx                                                        The Edge: LDLC
  • Mid- GO toucouile vs. LDLC Vetheo                                                        The Edge: Even
  • Bot lane duo- SMILEY and HustlinBeast vs. Yellowstar and Exakick      The Edge: GO

There’s not a lot separating these two teams: they are from the same region, they have similar stats in the tournament, they both went 4-2 in groups with some concerning performances, and both believe they can win it all. Gamersorigin has had the better of their recent head-to-heads which has given them heavy favorite status here, but I think it’s a lot closer than these odds imply. 

LDLC’s top laner, Bando, is my least favorite player in recent memory. I’m beginning to think that this guy checks who I have bet on in his games and decides how he’s going to play based on trying to spite me. He can play Gangplank and go 0-7 with a 100 CS deficit one game and then play Camille and absolutely stomp the game in the next. There may be a little “Theshy-itis” developing with him: when his coach asks him to play safe, weak side laners he will check out of the game, but when he’s put on a big carry champion he’s engaged and winning. I’m hoping that version of him shows up against Shemek, who is a solid, reliable weakside player. When LDLC has been at their best, Bando has been at his best, he will most likely be the key to this series. 

I called the mid lane even here because of Vetheo’s ability against matchups of similar quality in this tournament, but it is worth noting that toucouile has come out on top most of the time in the teams’ head to heads. Vetheo prefers to play safe farming, AD mid laners like Corki, Lucian, and Ezreal right now, which can neutralize talent discrepancies, but if the two end up contesting power picks like Akali and the control mages, Toucouille could be an issue for LDLC.

LDLC’s strength is jungler–Tynx– who was easily the MVP of the last EU Masters and has a good argument for it again. He can fill every role on the team and is seemingly always ahead. It will take a very good day from him for that to be the case against Bluerzor who is also a top-5-jungler-in-the-tournament, but Tynx plays Graves and Hecarim to a level that makes them near must-bans. He is the rare kind of player who teams have to make their entire gameplans around and makes the draft a nightmare for his opponents.

As you can see, I think you can make legitimate arguments for either team winning this which makes LDLC’s +155 price tag pretty appealing to me. I’ll be on the former champs here.

The picks: LDLC ML (+155) 2u, LDLC -1.5 Maps (+425) 1u

9/5 LoL betting breakdown

Last Sunday was one of those days you have as a high volume bettor that makes you question everything that you do. I’m always trying to work on my process and make winning picks, but nothing’s ever guaranteed even if you work hard. There’s a couple of things I wish I could have back, particularly in the Mad Lions series, but the rest I think I would bet them again at the same numbers this week. Anyway, lots of season left so let’s make some money this weekend!

Damwon Gaming (-360) Vs. DRX (+250)

Damwon Gaming is in the middle of the greatest statistical split in LoL history. There have been teams with better records in their regions and more hype surrounding them, but no team has done what DWG has done in the stats department this split. Their Gold Spent Differential of nearly 15% completely stands alone in recent memory, even amongst undefeated teams. It points to the nature of Damwon’s wins which are absolutely dominant. They don’t just beat teams, they stomp them into the ground. This has long been a statistical indicator of great teams in traditional sports, and I’ve found that to hold true in LoL too.

You can probably see where I’m leaning here, but Damwon does have a worthy opponent in DRX. In the crucial mid lane position, we are getting a real treat in this matchup. DRX’s Chovy and DWG’s Showmaker are arguably the two best players in the world.  Chovy was able to consistently get the better of BDD (another highly regarded player) in the later stages of their semi-final series with Gen.G. However, in the head-to-head matchups of these two teams it has been Showmaker who has consistently lived up to his name. I don’t expect either player to get serious individual advantages this time around, so it will come down to who plays better in teamfights. In that department, I give ShowMaker a tiny edge.   

The position that spells trouble for DRX is top lane. In nearly every game the teams have played, including two Damwon losses, Nuguri has gotten the better of Doran. The meta game of LoL has shifted back to allowing some carry tops to shine on champions like Camille, Lucian, and Jayce. This is Nuguri’s bread and butter. As good as Showmaker has been, Nuguri is almost equally key to DWG’s success. Doran is an above-average LCK top laner, but he does not have the talent or champion pool to seriously compete with Nuguri.

Finally, I’m not sure DRX belongs in this series. Their series with Gen. G was seemingly headed towards a Gen.G 3-1 win when a pause caused by an in-game bug completely swung the momentum. The pause resulted in a mid-game shift to a new patch of the game that completely changed the teams’ preparation for the playoffs. Following the pause, DRX clearly had the edge in the new circumstances of the patch. This time, both teams will be going into their series knowing they will be playing on the new patch and have time to adapt. Damwon know they are 

on the precipice of history here, I like them to cement their place in a dominant win.

When teams beat DRX, they almost always cover the spread of -6.5 kills. In 12 of their 15 map losses this split they have lost by 7 or more kills. It fits with the eye test for this team too. They are willing to go down swinging with a lot of deaths over just slowly conceding the game. -6.5 kills is a little small for a kill spread in my book. 

The picks: DWG -1.5 Maps (-150) 1u, DWG -6.5 Kills on Maps 1,2, and 3 (-105) 1u each

G2 (-375) vs. Rogue (+255)

If you were completely new to the LEC or LoL in general, you would think there is tremendous value on Rogue. They have the better record, the better season-long stats, and both teams ended up in the loser’s bracket by losing to Fnatic. You might ask “How does G2 end up this kind of favorite? Rogue hammer time!”

You may be right in that analysis, save for one issue: the history of G2 Esports.If Rogue were to win here, they would be doing something that no other team in the LEC has done: beat G2 in a semi-final. It has never mattered before what kind of form G2 comes into the playoffs in, when they get there they turn it on. They’re doing it again in these playoffs. 

Their first round playoff series against MAD Lions looked a lot like this one on paper. MAD had the better record, stats, and form coming in, but G2 dispatched them with relative ease showing new strategies they had not played all season long. The reason they are able to flip the switch is because of sheer talent. They have a legitimate argument for the best player in the league at 5 out of 5 positions. They are a bit like the Lebron Cavaliers. You can’t trust anything you’re seeing until Lebron decides to turn it on. Their version of Lebron is jungler, Jankos.When he’s on, the only LEC team that has a chance is Fnatic.

Both of these teams have had clashes with Fnatic in these playoffs. Rogue never looked competitive in a quick 3-0 against Fnatic. G2 had an epic, blow-for-blow slugfest in a 3-2 loss to Fnatic that they easily could have won. That’s a bit concerning for Rogue because G2 and Fnatic can play similar styles. Both teams are very flexible in who carries, what champions they play, and what lanes those champions go in. Rogue struggled with that massively against Fnatic as they are a relatively linear team who is very good at one style of team composition. If G2 is going to form their strategy around beating that composition like Fnatic did, I think Rogue is in big trouble. 

Rogue plays a weak-side top laner in every game because their top laner, Finn, is not to the standard of the rest of the team. He is a comfortable tank and team fighter, but has been known to get killed in lane. Wunder can fit every role for his team including carry. I expect G2 to try to win through him to great success a couple of times in this series.

The lines for this series though are a little out of wack in G2’s favor though so I’ll be staying away from a side here. The kill total is set at 28.5 for these games, however. Only 5 of Rogue’s last 15 games have reached 29 kills and they are a fairly low kill total team. G2 is a high kill total team in losses, but actually have not been covering this number in a lot of their wins in recent games. I’ll be going under the total on the first 3 maps here.

The Picks: Under 28.5 Kills on Maps 1,2 and 3 (-115) 1u each

Team Liquid (-165) vs. TSM (+125)

Team Liquid is still the best team in North America in my book. In their series against Flyquest last week, they tried out a few new team compositions for the first time all season. Despite clear discomfort, they still almost won the series off the strength of their talent alone. In fairness to Flyquest, they did beat them in a game 5 that I thought both teams were trying to use their best stuff, but Liquid was also able to win two games without their signature style. I was, in short, left encouraged about Team Liquid in a loss. 

TSM, for their part, played admirably against Cloud 9. They were clearly the better prepared team on the day. They came out with a specific gameplan around Cloud9’s weaknesses and executed it. It turned out that Cloud9, not the other teams in North America, was the one-dimensional team who were figured out. There’s not such an obvious weakness to attack when it comes to TL or at least not a weakness I think TSM is capable of exploiting.

At their core, these are two very similar teams. They play slow, measured, mid-focused LoL. When two teams of this style match up in LoL, I am of the opinion that the variance is reduced– put simply– more often in 5 game series between standard teams, the better team wins. Team Liquid is the better team. They have consistently better players in the top lane, jungle, and bot lane. Their results against teams from every tier of the league are easily better. They deserve their favorite status here and should get the job done. Rather than lay a lot of juice with the money line, I will be playing the -1.5 maps for Team Liquid. It is significantly more common in LoL for teams to win 3-1 or 3-0 than 3-2, even against similar quality competition. 

The other value in this series is in the kill total number of 24.5. This is way too heavily tilted towards the recent results in my opinion. In their series with Flyquest, Team Liquid’s games went over this number, but throughout the season both of these teams averaged significantly lower kill totals than this. Throughout the season, it was much more common to see these teams’ total numbers set at 20.5 or 21.5. This is a big overreaction to me. I will be going under in every game available.

The Picks: Team Liquid -1.5 Maps (+130) 1u, Under 24.5 Kills (-115) every map available 1u Each
*  I will also be adding a 2u bet on the TSM ML to hedge my 2u bet on TL to make finals at +500 from here.

8/30 LoL playoffs betting breakdown

What an awesome day of LoL! The two most recent world champions slugging it out for the chance to go to Worlds this time, Fnatic finally getting over the hump, and C9’s shocking elimination. I thought the TSM ML was too big, but I really only thought they had something like a 38% chance of winning (how’s that for a humble brag?). They did it because C9 lost their playstyle and couldn’t adapt. Blaber is currently a very linear kind of player. He will get better, but for now, C9 is very beatable when he doesn’t get massive early leads. That combined with Nisqy regressing into an average mid laner when he could not get his patented roams off spelled doom for C9 this time around. It feels a little harsh for how dominant their spring was, but that’s sports! On to tomorrow..

Invictus Gaming (-213) vs. LGD Gaming (+165)

  • Top- IG TheShy vs. LGD LangX                                                               The Edge: IG
  • Mid- IG Rookie vs. LGD Xiye                                                                    The Edge: IG
  • Jungle- IG Ning vs. LGD Peanut                                                       The Edge: LGD
  • Bot lane duo- IG Puff and Baolan vs. LGD Kramer and Mark                  The Edge: Even

I still can’t believe that LGD won 3-0 against IG in the playoffs. At times, it legitimately looked like IG was trying to lose. They did some similar things in this morning’s series against FPX and I thought I was finally done betting on them. Then, they pulled me back in with game 5. In Game 5, they put  TheShy on Ornn, Rookie on Zoe, and kicked FPX’s ass playing standard League of Legends. It’s enraging to know they have that in their playbook and are only willing to pull it out when they absolutely have to. 

They absolutely have to again here in this series. They have the better players, they have the better stats, and should be the better team. The question is all about their minds. Is TheShy mentally capable of not going 0-11 if Peanut decides to camp him? Will  Rookie save himself instead of following up on whatever dumb shit his teammates are doing? Will Puff get hit by every Ashe arrow available? It’s the kind of questions you should never have to ask about a team as good as IG, but still you do.

LGD will win if Invictus hard loses in the early game like they did in their first series, but don’t have a lot of other win conditions. To me, this all comes down to how IG decide to play. If they try to match early aggression and fail, they will tilt out of the World Championship.  I’m more inclined to believe they’ll show us a little more of what we saw in game 5 this morning. They’re too good to miss Worlds, I’m closing my eyes and betting IG one more time.

The Picks: IG ML (-213) 2u, IG -1.5 Maps (+124) 1u, IG -2.5 Maps (+339) 0.5u

DRX (-105) vs. Gen. G (-130)

  • Top- DRX Doran vs. Gen.G Rascal                                                    The Edge: Gen. G
  • Mid- DRX Chovy vs. Gen. G BDD                                                 The Edge: Even
  • Jungle- DRX Pyosik vs. Gen.G Clid   The Edge: Even
  • Bot lane duo- DRX Deft and Keria vs. Gen.G Ruler and Life   The  Edge: Even 

Both of these teams deserve to be at Worlds. I hope that whoever loses this match can make the run through the gauntlet because it would be a shame to have a World championship that didn’t include Chovy and Deft or BDD and Clid. Korean LoL, for all its flaws, still produces the best players in the world.

For betting purposes, I’m counting the individual matchups as a wash here. Unless there is a glaring spot like in today’s C9-TSM matchup, I try not to put too much stock into laning matchups anyway. Every single player in this series is good enough to win games for their teams and no one has extremely exploitable weaknesses on an individual level.

On the team level, DRX has a glaring weakness: their draft. There have been multiple times this season that they have  drafted themselves such  a bad composition that the game is nearly unwinnable. I would like to say that’s just regular season stuff, but we saw with Cloud 9 and Invictus that these things can rear their ugly heads in the post-season too. This matchup is just way too close for DRX to do anything like that.

Their team stats have suffered because of drafting too. They are a distant fourth in the league in GSPD (my singular favorite stat for measuring a team’s actual strength), despite having the second best record. Gen. G now sits comfortably in second in that stat behind Damwon. They’re just the more consistent, mistake-free team. That means everything in a best of 5.

The Picks: Gen.G ML (-130) 2u, Gen.G -1.5 Maps (+155) 1u

Mad Lions (-165) vs. Rogue (+129)

  • Top- MAD Orome vs. Rogue Finn                                                            The Edge: MAD
  • Mid- MAD Humanoid vs. Rogue Larssen                                                 The Edge: Even
  • Jungle- MAD Shadow vs. Rogue Inspired         The Edge: MAD
  • Bot lane- MAD Kaiser and Carzzy vs. Rogue Hans Sama and Vander    The Edge: MAD

Mad Lions put up a legitimate fight against G2 by trying to meet them in draft flexibility and aggression.  Rogue rolled over and died against Fnatic when Fnatic dared them to play any other way than the one slow, scaling style they are good at. One could argue that’s an oversimplification, but I think the truth is in there. Mad Lions are confident and talented enough to change and adapt mid series, I don’t think Rogue has anything else.

The problem for Rogue is the only position they have a legitimate argument for the better player is in the mid lane. Larssen on a back-line hyper carry is the only way they’ve won this split. I don’t think they trust anyone else with this kind of responsibility. When Fnatic played multiple assassins and safe, pushing mids, Rogue’s whole plan completely collapsed. Even if Rogue tried to make someone else carry, could they? I certainly don’t trust Finn to carry, it’s never really been in Inspired’s range, and Hans Sama is a fine, safe player.

I mentioned in my breakdown of G2-FNC that I think  Fnatic and Mad Lions are similar teams  because of their rock solid top laners, explosive mid laners, and flexible bot lanes. This is pretty much a nightmare matchup for Rogue. Give me the kids.
The Picks: Mad Lions ML (-165) 3u, Mad Lions -1.5 (+136) 2u, Mad Lions -2.5 Maps (+406) 1u

Flyquest (+175) vs. Team Liquid (-245)

  • Top- Fly Solo vs. TL Impact                                                                     The Edge: TL
  • Mid- Fly Powerofevil vs. TL Jensen                                                         The Edge: TL
  • Jungle- FLY Santorin vs. TL Broxah                                                        The Edge: Even
  • Bot lane- FLY Wildturtle and Ignar vs. TL Tactical and CoreJJ                The Edge: TL

I’m going to keep this short and sweet: these teams are very similar except for the fact that TL is just better at everything. They both draft standard teamfight scaling compositions every game. They both focus on trying to get mid lane ahead early and transitioning that into an early drake. Then, they grow that lead by minimizing mistakes across lanes and setting up vision control for objective takes. Is it the most exciting style to watch? Depends on your definition of exciting. Is TL much better at it than Flyquest? Undoubtedly yes. 

I want to see what happens when someone pushes TL out of their comfort zone, but I don’t expect to see that here. Flyquest has not shown that kind of range in all of 2020, so it would be very surprising to see in a semi-final. It’s much more likely to me that TL pushes Flyquest out of their comfort zone. Santorin has had an MVP-type season essentially playing 2 or 3 champions. What kind of player is he when he’s pushed off of Trundle and Graves? Or what kind of player is he if the team builds their strategy around knowing he’s going to play one of those two champions?

I do have a pending futures bet on TL to make the final at +500 for 2 units so that  will effect how I’m going to bet this. I hedged with a 2 unit bet on the Flyquest money line at +225 to guarantee some profit either way in this matchup. If I didn’t have that bet, I would do what I did with the other bets in this article: 3u on the TL moneyline, 2u on the TL -1.5, and 1u on the TL -2.5. I’m still confident enough in a TL sweep that I’m going to play the last two.

The other clear edge in this one is the kill total is set at 21.5. Team Liquid games almost never go over 20 kills for multiple games in a row. They’re just too good at choking out their opponents in other ways and almost never die themselves. I will be going under the kill total in every game it’s available.

The Picks: TL -1.5 Maps (-110) 2u, TL 3-0 (+250) 1u, Under 21.5 kills on every map (-115) 1u each

8/29 LoL playoffs betting breakdown

Nice start to the weekend with Mad Lions finally bringing Schalke back to Earth. It was an incredible run from them and although I think they always had exploitable flaws, they played better than I ever could have imagined. A quick note before I get into the rest of my picks: my actual betting strategy for these games will probably change quite a bit because I have a few large futures bets from here and here that I will probably be hedging on. I only like to give out picks that I’m going to bet myself (only fair in my opinion) so I will breakdown the matchups say who I think will win, but the picks portion will probably be a bit different for the playoffs in LEC and LCS. 

Invictus(-166) vs. Fun Plus Phoenix (+138)

  • Top- IG TheShy vs. FPX Gimgoon or Khan                                              The Edge: IG
  • Mid- IG Rookie vs. FPX DoinB                                                                 The Edge: IG
  • Jungle- IG Ning vs. FPX Tian                                                                   The Edge: Even
  • Bot Lane Duo- IG Baolan and Puff vs. FPX Crisp and LWX                    The Edge: IG

There’s not a worse feeling in esports betting than putting in a bet on IG. They are the most two-faced team I think I’ve ever bet on. Every single time I think they’ve turned a corner and are ready to take the game seriously, they do something like get 3-0’d by LGD playing insanely disrespectfully. It’s absolutely maddening. 

I hate it, but I’m going to be on IG again. FPX is not an elite team anymore. They can’t survive the individual talent deficits with this roster. Tian has fallen all the way to the point where I can’t decide if I would rather have him or Ning, their bot lane is easily the worst bot lane to make LPL playoffs, Doinb is much closer to average LPL mid laner than anyone cares to admit, and their top lane is splitting time because both players have consistently underperformed. FPX doesn’t have the individual talent to compete with IG.

FPX has never been about overwhelming individual talent though, rather their superior objective control and team play. That, too, has disappeared. Their Baron percentage of 43% coming into the playoffs was one of the worst numbers of any teams anywhere. Then, in their playoff series they were able to get more Barons, but let V5 get the first 3 turrets in 100% of the games. That is inconceivable for how dominant FPX was in that department in 2019. It’s just not going to happen for FPX this year.

The loser of this series is not going to Worlds. If there was ever a time for IG to reign it in a bit, this is it. They are the more talented team. They are in better form. They should, quite honestly, 3-0 this.

The Picks: IG ML (-166) 2u, IG -1.5 Maps (+122) 1u, IG -2.5 Maps (+381) 0.5u

G2 Esports(-403) vs. Fnatic (+287)

  • Top- G2 Wunder vs. FNC Bwipo                                                               The Edge: Even
  • Mid- G2 Caps vs. FNC Nemesis                                                               The Edge: G2
  • Jungle- G2 Jankos vs. FNC Selfmade                                                      The Edge: Even
  • Bot Lane Duo- G2 Perkz and Mikyx vs. FNC Rekkles and Hiiysang        The Edge: Even

When it comes to G2 and Fnatic, I could spend a thousand words breaking down the individual matchups,the statistics, the possible draft angles, etc., but frankly all that matters is the history. The history is: G2 dominates Fnatic.  When it comes to a big match that matters, G2 is always better prepared, plays better, and seemingly holds Fnatic under some sort of spell. Technically, this one does not fully matter. Whoever loses will likely get another shot at the winner in a week or so after dispatching Mad Lions. Both teams are already qualified for Worlds and just playing for bragging rights and the LEC title. If there was ever a team who would treat a chance at a title as a chance to limit test, it’s G2, but I expect both teams to be approaching this seriously.  

In that scenario, I give the edge to G2. I think all the lanes are too close to call except for the one that really matters: Mid. Caps is one of the best players in the world. Nemesis is an above average EU mid laner. There’s a significant gap between the players to me. Caps can seemingly play whatever, however, whenever. Nemesis needs a very specific kind of champion and matchup to be effective. I think he will probably have a game or two in that kind of matchup in this series, but not enough to win the whole thing. 

Season-long stats have been proven to be essentially garbage for these two. Neither team was playing at their best or making a consistent effort to find their best playstyle until playoffs came along. You can pretty much throw Summer Split away. With that in mind, I think it would be better to look at their form in the playoffs to see who has an edge in the team play.

Fnatic was easily the more dominant of the two in their first round series. They jumped all over Rogue with draft diversity, aggressive play, and Selfmade as one of their main carries. Over the 3 games they averaged a GSPD of 10% against a very good team. That is no small feat. However, G2’s opponent, Mad Lions, is seemingly the better team. Rogue gets lost when they can not play the one style that they are good at, Mad Lions is a flexible, adaptable team that plays a bit like Fnatic. G2 passed that test already. I can’t help, but think they’ll do it again against FNC.

For my own gambling purposes, I’m staying away from the sides though. I have an aforementioned futures bet on Fnatic to make and win the final that I would rather hedge on live or in their next matchup. More than that though, I don’t have a strong enough feeling either way at these numbers and would rather just watch. I don’t hate playing the G2 -1.5 Maps or -2.5 Maps though if you’re looking to get involved.     

The one place I do seem some value to play with is the kill totals. When these two play in the playoffs, it’s almost always a bloodbath. Last split the totals were set in the mid 30s. This split we get a very bettable 29.5. These are two of the higher total teams in the league and are not afraid to put on a show in playoffs.

The Picks: Over 29.5 Kills Map 1, 2,3 (-115) 1u each

Cloud9 (-368) vs. TSM (+266)

  • Top- C9 Licorice vs. TSM BrokenBlade                                                    The Edge: C9
  • Mid- C9 Nisqy vs. TSM Bjergsen                                                              The Edge: TSM
  • Jungle- C9 Blaber vs. TSM Spica                                                             The Edge: C9
  • Bot Lane Duo- C9 Zven and Vulcan vs. TSM Doublelift and Biofrost       The Edge: Even

The two titans of the LCS facing off for NA’s last spot at Worlds. Does it get better than this? As far as LoL gameplay, the answer is undoubtedly yes, but for a North American with full investment and knowledge of the history between these teams it’s tough to beat. For a bettor, I don’t see a lot to like in the sides here. 

Cloud9 is clearly the more talented team here. Licorice is easily the best top laner in the LCS and gets the better of BrokenBlade in every match the teams play. Blaber, despite struggles this split, should be very comfortable against Spica whose job is to not lose his team the game. The bot lane matchup pits Doublelift and Zven against each other after both players single-handedly put their teams in the loser bracket. Vulcan should have the edge over the TSM support, but has been playing a lot of non-playmakers in this playoffs. If he’s playing Karma or Yuumi, he can’t make a serious difference. TSM has the edge in the most important spot, the mid lane. Nisqy has been a below average LCS mid laner for the better part of two months. Powerofevil quietly abused him in their series with Flyquest. Bjergsen has put up another league MVP type season. I have no doubt that he will be getting sizable advantages on Nisqy in this series. If the rest of TSM can execute around him, he could easily carry a game or two. 

Cloud9’s stats in the back half of the season are bad, like middle of the table bad. Before I explained their stats away, believing that the immensity of their talent would carry them through in the playoffs, but that Flyquest series has me on red alert for this team. There seems to be a pretty clear script that works against this team: neutralize Licorice and Blaber with a weakside top and a farming Jungler, go even in the bot lane, and abuse Nisqy. Doesn’t that script look very possible for TSM? It couldn’t certainly fall apart with mistakes by BB or Doublelift, but I think there’s a world where the better mid wins here. The better mid is on TSM. 
The Picks: Over 3.5 Maps (-240) 1u, TSM +1.5 Maps (+109) 1u, TSM ML (+266) 0.5u, TSM 3-1 (+750) 0.25u, TSM 3-0 (+800) 0.25u  

8/28 LoL Playoffs Betting Breakdown

LGD(+142) vs. Suning (-182)

  • Top SNG Bin vs. LGD Langx                                                                 The Edge: Suning
  • Mid-SNG Angel vs. LGD Xiye                                                                   The Edge: LGD
  • Jungle-SNG SofM vs. LGD Peanut                                                           The Edge: LGD
  • Bot lane duo-SNG Swordart and Huanfeng vs. LGD Kramer and Mark   The Edge: Even

Suning and LGD played a clown fiesta earlier this week that Suning 3-0’d. Neither team was playing anywhere near their peak and it’s difficult to know what to take away from it. The books adjusted by nearly 70 points in Suning’s favor. That feels pretty heavy handed to me.

The talent in this one is pretty close, but I want to key in on one matchup that I think puts this in LGD’s favor: the jungle. SofM has been hyped up as one of the premier junglers of the LPL. I don’t rate him quite that high because of questions I have about his champion pool. He has played a lot of Jarvan and Olaf this split, two champions I would not put in the S tier of Junglers right now. He also doesn’t have a single game on Peanut’s signature champ, Nidalee. If SofM can’t seriously contest Peanut’s carry junglers like Graves, Nidalee, and Kindred, he will dominate this series.

When Peanut played Kindred against JDG, he was so good at it that JDG picked it up for Kanavi in the next game. I don’t think Suning has that luxury (or at least they haven’t shown it).They also can’t count on their lanes to consistently win like JDG can. Angel is probably the worst player left in the LPL playoffs. Peanut can feast on players like that.

For as much as LoL is a team game and we spend time talking about all the lanes, the team with the best mid-jungle duo wins a heavy percentage of the time. I like LGD’s mid-jungle duo here.

The Picks: LGD ML (+142) 1u, LGD 3-1 (+450) 0.5u, LGD 3-0 (+650) 0.5u

Gen. G (-1233) vs. Afreeca (+629)

  • Top- Gen. G Rascal vs. Afreeca Kiin                                                The Edge: Gen.G
  • Mid- Gen. G BDD vs. Afreeca Fly             The Edge: Gen. G
  • Jungle- Gen. G Clid vs. Afreeca Spirit or Dread The Edge: Gen. G
  • Bot lane duo- Gen.G Ruler and Life vs. Afreeca  Mystic and Ben     The Edge: Gen.G

Here it is: Afreeca beating T1 was a total fluke. There was a confluence of factors: T1 not playing like themselves and overplaying situations, a nice series from Afreeca’s Kiin who is a legitimately elite player, a bad series from T1’s top side, the series only being 3 games, and T1 perhaps looking past Afreeca a little bit. I think there’s a lot more to take from every other Afreeca series against the top 3 in the LCK where they have lost every game.

This is a talent canyon. GenG has better players at every position and the only one that is particularly close is the top lane (arguably the least important position). Gen. G has had a totally new energy about them after the Mid Season Cup. They’re no longer the slow, boring team they once were. They are overwhelming their opponents with aggressive, decisive play. In the teams’ two matchups this split, Gen.G has beat Afreeca by an average of 15 kills across 4 games. That is utter dominance, not the kind of thing you can turn around in a matter of weeks. 

Afreeca still has not settled on one jungler because none of their junglers have been able to consistently perform at an acceptable level. Clid will smash whoever his opponent ends up being here. He is still one of the best junglers in the world. I don’t think Afreeca gets a game here, so I’m playing the under 3.5 maps. At some books, the Under 3.5 number is better than the -2.5, so look for that. 

The Picks: Under 3.5 Maps (+122) 1u

Mad Lions (-138) vs. Schalke 04 (+145)

  • Top- Mad Orome vs. S04 Odoamne                                                       The Edge: Even
  • Mid- Mad Humanoid vs. S04 Abbedage                                                 The Edge: Even
  • Jungle- Mad Shadow vs. S04 Gillius                                                     The Edge: Mad
  • Bot lane duo- Mad Kaiser and Carzzy vs. S04 Neon and Dreams         The Edge: Mad

I have faded the S04 miracle run every step of the way and paid for it. With this in mind today, I searched for reasons not to hammer Mad Lions. I ran stats with a heavier weight on recent performance. I watched their end of season game. I speed-ran through the teams’ playoffs series. It all brought me back to this: I should hammer Mad Lions.

The top lane matchup is a wash here with two of the better top laners in the league. Both players are comfortable fitting into whatever role the team asks him to do and will not lose the game on his own. I expect both of them to be put pretty heavily on tank/Gangplank duty in this one.

Mid is another toss up in my opinion, but could easily decide the series. Mad lions are at their best when Humanoid is the main carry. In the early season, he was the best player in the LEC. If Mad Lions can unlock that version of him again, they will win this series. The problem is: Abbedage has played out of his mind on this run. He has been Schalke’s main carry when they are at their best. I have a feeling whoever wins the mid lane, wins the series handily.

I like Mad Lions to win the Mid lane matchup through their jungle difference. You can trust that this is just how good Gillius is now, I do not. He has played better and fell off worse before. I think Mad Lions are smart enough to target him in this series. SK tried, but didn’t have the talent or preparation (why were they so surprised by Hecarim?), to beat S04 this way. There are some serious holes in Gillius’ champion pool, particularly the adc junglers, that have yet to be exposed. Mad Lions will expose them.

Finally, I looked at the stats and put heavier weights on later season form, Mad Lions are still the better statistical team. They have better gold differences, objective rates, early game, and on and on. I will take my “L” if Schalke come out and dominate this, but I’m still just not buying it.

The Picks: Mad Lions ML (-138) 2u, Mad Lions -1.5 Maps (+170) 1u, Mad Lions -2.5 Maps (+497) 0.5u , Mad Over 13.5 Kills on every map (-135) 1u each

8/27 LPL Finals and EU Masters

I like to gamble. I like to analyze data and games to try and get an edge in gambling markets. But more than that, I love LoL. I love the feeling of watching a hyped up match with our niche community and sharing this secret, amazing sport. This LPL finals is going to be one of those moments. These are the best two teams in the world (I see you, Damwon) in my estimation. They both have great players in every single spot. It’s like watching UEFA Champions League where neither team has a weak spot on the field. Enjoy this, it’s rare!


JDG(+145) vs. Top Esports (-190)

  • Top- JDG Zoom vs. TES 369                                                            The Edge: JDG
  • Jungle- JDG Kanavi vs. TES Karsa                                                  The Edge: Even
  • Mid- JDG Knight vs. TES Yagao                                                       The Edge: TOP
  • Bot-JDG Loken and LvMao vs. TES JackeyLove and Yuyanjia        The Edge: JDG

I want to be clear about something: I do not know who is going to win this matchup. I could come up with a million win conditions and scenarios for either team. Anyone who has a strong feeling either way is probably biased. That’s what makes this line so puzzling. 

This should be close to a coinflip.  There’s no problem with Top being favored as they won 2-0 in the regular season and arguably had the more impressive playoff victory, but these teams are a lot closer than -190. Top doesn’t win this anywhere near 66% of the time. 

Going lane by lane, JDG has the better of the talent. Zoom is capable of playing every role for his team and seemingly never dies. 369 played out of his mind against Suning, but Bin isn’t Zoom. Zoom almost never loses the game for his team. I can’t say the same for 369.

The jungle matchup is most likely where this game is won or lost. Kanavi and Karsa are the engines of their respective teams. If one of them gets an edge in the champion pool, lane pressure, or gets an early invade, they can easily carry their team to victory with their map control. The problem is: I can see that happening with either team, so that’s not an edge.

In the mid lane, Knight could make the difference for Top like he has done so often this split. He is undeniably the better player in this matchup. However, when these teams played in the spring split Finals, it was Yagao who was better on the day. Yagao looks a bit like a “big game player” to me. Despite never being thought of as the star, he shows up and does his job well in almost every game that matters to JDG. Still, Knight is a supernova. He can outplay situations in ways that break the game. There’s been multiple times this season where I thought TOP were in a losing position and Knight outplayed his opponents so thoroughly that they end up going even or winning. He is the best player in this series. If that’s your measuring stick, you have to like Top.

On the bottom side of the map, Top fans should be a little nervous. When they’ve lost this season, it’s been because JackeyLove and yuyanjia did not play up to snuff. Their opponents, LvMao and Loken, are the best bot lane in the world. LvMao, in particular, has such good pocket picks like Bard, that Top may have to try and ban him out. The bot lane duo has increased in importance slowly over the course of the season to the point where it is often the target of bans and first picks. If Loken gets Caitlyn, without clear counters from TES, I think the game is pretty much over. 

The stats are as close as it gets. When you get to this level of play (unless you’re Damwon), the stats are usually too close to mean anything. That’s where you have to just go with the talent. I think JDG has the clearer talent edges in Top and Bot, but TES has the best player in the series in Knight. All of this is a long way of saying, this series is a 50-50, so take the dog JDG. 

The Picks: JDG +1.5 Maps (-157) 2u, JDG ML (+145) 1u, JDG 3-1 (+500) 0.5u, JDG 3-0 (+700) 0.5u

EU Masters

Samsung Morning Stars (+406) vs. S04 Evolution (-622)

Samsung Morning Stars’ win against LDLC was not completely flukey. They totally outplayed them in the early game to the point where it was nearly impossible for LDLC to come back. Their closing out of the game left something to be desired, but there’s no way they should be +406 here. We’ve seen lots of teams in EU masters go all in on aggression and upset huge lines like this. Schalke is the kind of team who can be totally run over. They prefer to play standard compositions and a slow, scaling style. K1ck got serious advantages over them at 15 minutes. If Samsung can follow that script, I like a little upset here.

The Pick: SMS ML (+406) 1u

K1ck Esports (+224) vs. LDLC  (-336)

This is a rematch of last year’s final which LDLC won 3-0. 3-0s can be misleading sometimes because they can suggest one team is much better than the other team when sometimes they are just better on the day. Does anyone really believe LGD is meaningfully better than IG because they 3-0’d them one day this year? I certainly don’t. LDLC is the deserved favorite here. They have two players, Tynx and Vetheo, who look like they belong in a higher tier of pro play. Their macro game play in the mid to late game looks a cut above. But they are not -336 favorites. K1ck is the best early game/dragon stacking team in the tournament. Their mid/jungle duo also look good enough for another level. This is a matchup of two teams that have serious title aspirations, not the top vs. bottom matchup the line suggests it is.

The Pick: K1ck ML (+224) 1u

We Love Gaming (+287) vs. Vodafone (-403)

I’m gonna be a broken record here: these lines are too favorite heavy. We Love Gaming has beaten the third seed from the Polish Region and then hung in after a very bad start against the top seed French team. So now the second seed from Spain is -403 against them. That’s a lot of respect for the region that also only has two teams in the group stages. 

The Pick: We Love Gaming ML (+287) 0.5u

Parlay: Movistar ML and AGO ML (-110) 1u