Saturday, October 24th Recap
DAMWON Gaming vs G2 Esports (Net: +4.23 units)
I have surprisingly few thoughts on this series specifically but more regarding the big picture surrounding this series and its implications. I’ll touch on those in a bit but let’s first take a look at the series.
DAMWON utterly dominated for the most part. G2 managed to get ahead and drive it home in game two but the other three games weren’t particularly close. G2 made a lot of unforced errors in this series, particularly Mikyx and Jankos. It wasn’t quite to the same degree of the collapse we saw from Gen.G last week but I think it’s fair to say that there were more than a few situations that G2 looked anxious and arrogant enough to think that they could get away with more than they could in a given situation. Can you really blame them? They usually do get away with murder in these really close skirmishes they just finally met somebody that can hang with them in that department and it was a bit of a reality check.
For as good a macro team as G2 are, and make no mistake they’re brilliant at making a lot happen without ever losing sight of what’s important, part of the risk in playing that way is that it assumes the things that you’re forcing or making happen go in your favor and there are very few teams in the world that can hang on that level. Now that wasn’t the entire reason they lost this series but you could see it manifesting in a few spots.
Game four was a record time in the knockout stage of Worlds and a fitting punctuation mark to just how good this DAMWON team is. I mentioned it a few times on Twitter and the Discord over the past few months and heading into this tournament but if you just isolate DAMWON’s statistics against the good teams they still had the best numbers of any team in a major region. Think about that. If you exclude all of their steamroll wins against bad teams they still had some of the best differential statistics not just this season, but of all time. Currently they’re averaging over a +1800 gold differential at 15 minute against the combination of DragonX, Gen.G, JDG, and these Worlds knockout stage series. That’s not a soft schedule and includes a few losses.
I could go on and on about DAMWON but it’s worth mentioning, on a more somber note, that this is potentially the last we’ll see of this iteration of G2. Rumors have Perkz and Caps both wanting to play mid lane and there’s a chance that, despite being under contract, we see some sort of move or time share in their future. I really hope that isn’t the case. This team is still incredible but the offseason will tell.
Grabbz Tweeted out something that really struck a chord with me. Even with all the banter G2 have shown respect to certain opponents before but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it go as far as this.
“I only feel regret that we played worse than we could have, it would probably not have been enough anyways but at least we could have given you a banger series instead of this.” -Grabbz
The part that sticks out to me most is “it would probably not have been enough anyways.” This is G2’s coach admitting that even at a much better level than we saw that it may not have been enough. That’s a tremendous amount of respect from a coach that I hold in the highest regard and I think it’s worth taking note of.
DAMWON are likely to be favorites in the finals despite pre-tournament “TOP vs the field” style bets and TOP being the overall favorite at most books. It’s really hard to argue the case where they don’t win this tournament at this point although I think there’s a chance we see TOP or Suning provide more of a challenge than G2 did today.
Outright: DAMWON +400 (3 units)
To Reach Finals: Suning +2100 (1 unit)
Region of Winner: LPL -125 (12.5 units)
My DAMWON outright is looking mighty fine at the moment but it also represents a net losing position for my futures for the tournament as this was one of my moderate “worst” case scenarios. A lot will depend on the number we get for finals.
Suning create and easy dutch opportunity with TOP here which I took when this bottomed out earlier this week to lock in a profit. If I had a stronger lean on a position in this series I’d weight this toward that side but given that I think this series could go either way I’ll just take the maximum profit I can from this.
HEDGE: TOP -169 (13.82 units) to lock in a +7.18 unit net profit
From this point forward in the article the positions and opinions listed will not be taking into account these futures. I like to give the readers my thoughts and positions agnostic to any futures positions while also informing you of my approach and strategies in those markets. I keep these separate because not everybody has the same outright portfolio that I do so it’s not helpful if I’m just listing hedges. If I had no futures positions below is how I’d handicap and bet the match.
World Championships 2020
Semifinals – Day Two
TOP Esports -233 (-1.5 maps @ -104, -2.5 @ +311, +1.5 @ -556) vs
Suning Gaming +186 (+1.5 maps @ -122, +2.5 @ -455, -1.5 @ +374, -2.5 @ +973)
Total Maps Played: 3.5 maps (over -294 / under +217), 4.5 maps (over +178 / under -233)
Kill Total: 26.5 (over -114 / under -114)
Kill Spread: -6.5 @ -109 / +6.5 @ -120
Team Kill Totals: 15.5 / 12.5
Time Total: 33:00 (over -118 / under -111)
This line has moved around a lot since opening. Bet365 opened at -300 / +225, which was admittedly way high before shifting to -188 / +137. Others were as low as -169 / +142 earlier in the week but are back up to the current number above.
I’ve been struggling with the order in which to approach this writeup but I’ll start with discussing the biases I’ve seen regarding these two teams because I think it’s skewing the evaluation process for a lot of people.
TOP Esports had sky high expectations from the masses going into this tournament almost to the point where it’d be near impossible for them not to disappoint without an outright win. With a great MSC showing, two domestic finals appearances, a strong annual record, and plenty of star power it’s pretty understandable that they were as favored as they were. It seems as if a lot of people are holding against them the fact that they nearly dropped a series to Fnatic as -900 favorites. In my writeup on that series I discussed a lot of the reasons why Fnatic were severely mispriced and that we shouldn’t hold a bad line by the book against TOP as a team. It took them longer than I thought it would to solve the puzzle in that series (concentrate on pressuring Nemesis’ champion pool) but they eventually did, turned the corner, and got it done with a reverse sweep even after a hairy start to game four. Fnatic are a good team and this is Worlds quarterfinals. I’m not holding anything against TOP for dropping two games other than perhaps that their slow adaptation to metagames, something that has come up a few times over the course of the year, reared its head again here.
Suning have had a bit of what I’ve come to call “Rogue syndrome” this season. Over and over and over people just refused to respect this team as good. I think there are number of reasons for this.
First, they don’t have memorably dominant wins or ridiculous statistics. They aren’t a DAMWON or Gen.G looking team in wins. They aren’t “sexy.” There aren’t a lot of highlight reel moments for Suning like there are for a team like TOP Esports. It’s not entirely by design like, for example, DragonX but the style in which Suning plays the game isn’t going to lend to as many of those sorts of victories so it’s understandable that they don’t have the gaudy numbers.
Second, a few of these players such as Angel, SofM, and SwordArt have had “good but not great” careers in the opinions of a lot of people and that’s clouding the judgment of their current form to the eyes of people that haven’t been following this team in as much detail this year. I’m not sure what else they need to do to change the minds of the masses but they probably won’t even with a win here. It almost reminds me of Smeb who was arguably the worst player in the LCK in his early time there and seemingly flipped a switch to become one of the best top laners in history in the middle of his career. Angel is playing the best he has all season long. Bin has arguably been the worst he’s been all Summer (think on that) and the remaining three members SofM, Huanfeng, and SwordArt are not only well-positioned in this current metagame with their champion pools but have been playing lights out all Summer long. Try to ignore “name brand value” when evaluating because Suning are being underrated because of it.
Third, they just took out JDG in a series that most are calling a big underperformance from JDG without giving the proper credit to Suning. I think JDG didn’t play up to their expected level but that was by no means a collapse or full on no-show like the one we saw from Gen.G. It was a competitive series that Suning came out on top of. Worth noting, Suning rely a lot on Bin and SofM in their games and Bin was completely destroyed in three out of four of those games in matchups he should win and Suning still found a way to get it done. A lot of people, myself included, had JDG and TOP similarly rated going into this tournament.
So we have a no-name team in Suning that are still being underrated and a big name, star studded, fan favorite lineup in TOP who are likely going to be perpetually overrated regardless of what happens. This isn’t the handicap on this match but it’s just a point I wanted to emphasize going into it.
My objective/economy model has this at roughly a 59-41 series and a fair, no-vig price of +/- 146 based on the Summer LPL season. If you just consider that angle this is already a value on Suning at the current price. Add to that the fact that they’ve looked much better in this tournament than they did during the Summer split while TOP have more or less maintained their status quo (or arguably underperformed depending on who you ask) and this is already looking like a very good value play on Suning.
Just like yesterday let’s go through this and ask what are my adjustments?
- Is there a strong case for a draft advantage in either direction? Given the current state of the game I’d actually argue that Suning have a slight edge here for a few reasons. First, TOP much prefer to use Karsa as a tool to get the lanes ahead rather than around him as a power farming or tempo-based jungler. As they’ve shown, they’re more than capable of playing this current metagame to a high level but this is Suning’s bread-and-butter, their wheelhouse. Second, the best champions in every role right now besides maybe mid lane are in perfect synchronization with Suning’s players’ best champions. Third, TOP and JDG have shown an abnormally high focus on Galio particularly without a wombo-combo to pair with him. I give a slight edge to Suning.
- How about individual player comparison? This is where TOP will draw the eyes of many people. The individual player comparison is the armchair analysts favorite way to measure two teams up. Obviously the biggest gap here is in the mid lane with Knight, one of the best players at any position in the world, against Angel who has had an excellent tournament but has been mostly an average mid laner by LPL standards this season. We’ve seen that in most of the games mid lane individual matchups haven’t mattered quite as much as usual but it’s largely dependent on whether or not the teams make that a point of focus or not. Across the rest of the map I’d actually argue that Suning’s bottom lane has been better this tournament and, unpopular opinion, SHOULD be better even without considering that. Top lane is very volatile with both players extremely well-rounded and capable of capitalizing on counterpicks. IF Bin has another poor showing that could be a problem but I’d expect him to return to form. The jungle goes to SofM. He’s tailored to this type of playstyle and he’s unbelievably good at it which puts the pressure on TOP to engineer a way to make that not matter in this series or they’ll be on the back foot with Karsa emulating instead of trailblazing. Edges in different areas but tough to discern a true advantage without seeing how game plans are put into action.
- What do these teams want to do and do Suning do anything better than TOP? I think Suning have the strategic high ground in this series. What I mean by that is that they’re so well-positioned and built for the current metagame that they’re better equipped for the current game. The onus is on TOP to find a way to flip the script. They’re capable of doing this but starting from a point of having to solve that puzzle is like starting the race a few paces behind.
- Other outliers/narratives? The “feel good” story of Huanfeng (go watch the documentary it’s great). Karsa and SwordArt representing the former LMS. “Inting JackeyLove.”
So let’s summarize all of that into a shorter form. Suning are better equipped in the current state of the game, TOP might not have the level of individual advantage that public perception may lead you to believe, Suning have looked better at this tournament. Even if you want to give a slight edge to TOP’s overall quality of players and you’re rather bullish on them I think you had to get this at a better number earlier this week. I’m not making any adjustments in favor of TOP, if anything I’d make them in favor of a slight upgrade to Suning compared to my model assuming we get a more average performance from Bin than we saw against JDG. If you assume TOP elevate for this and Suning perhaps regress slightly then I don’t think there are any real adjustments to be made to the model’s fair number here.
On The Gold Card Podcast this week this number was -169 / +142 and I liked Suning quite a bit citing that I think this is a coin flip series with Suning holding the better current form but TOP the stronger overall body of work (5-0 vs Suning this year and back-to-back domestic finals appearances). That hasn’t really changed for me but the number has inflated making Suning even more appetizing.
Ultimately your handicap of this series will come down to whether or not you side more with current form or experience/star power and track record and to what degree you do so. I don’t think you can back TOP Esports at this number. I mentioned the fair price of +/- 146 from my model earlier and it’s up to your adjustments. You’d need to be significantly more bullish (we’re talking like 6-10% more at least) on TOP AND find a number closer to that -170 ballpark to justify a play unless you’re an outlier and exceptionally high on them. I think this is a coin flip and in their current form I’d actually lean slightly more toward Suning just based on “gut” or eye test evaluation anyway.
We’re getting a battle that I’m anticipating will be a complete slugfest between LPL teams. My totals model would have projected a 27.815 kill total for this series during the regular season. Worlds has been much lower and if you exclude Suning’s outlier games against G2 it’s been much much lower. That said, I still think we see an over here.
When it comes to totals these are two high volatility teams. Less than 14% of TOP’s games this Summer (including this tournament) have fallen within the 25-27 kill range. Similarly, less than 14.5% of Suning’s games have fallen within the same range. I’ll be doing a lot more work with this type of thing in 2021 but the general consensus is that when you get two highly volatile teams that very infrequently fall within that typical range of kill totals it’s typically a place to stay away or bet alt totals for plus money on both sides to create an artificial “not 25-27 kills.” The way the markets are priced that’s not a great option in this spot despite the groundwork being there. I think the over is worth a play though since this should be a competitive series. Half stake on the over.
TOP have been the stronger objective team this season in every category except specifically baron%. However, given that I think TOP are being overpriced and the moneyline impacting the prop market odds I think you need to look at this on a case-by-case basis. TOP first herald is the best value on the board in most places. I’ll take a half stake on that and that will be it in the firsts department.
I’ll again be on the over 12.5 towers taken. Both of these teams are quite a bit sloppier than someone like DAMWON and I’d expect a lot more aggressive trading back-and-forth especially if we see any kind of split push strategies which both of these top laners are well-versed and comfortable in.
MY POSITIONS LISTED HERE ARE WITHOUT FACTORING FUTURES POSITIONS (read intro). Many readers don’t have futures positions or have different ones than I do. These will be tracked on the spreadsheet still. If you have futures positions please consider the implications of them but I like to list the positions I’d have regardless of other action so you all know where I’d be at without other influences.
Spread: Suning +1.5 maps @ -122 (4.88 units)
Moneyline: Suning +186 (2 units)
Spread: Suning -1.5 maps @ +369 (1 unit)
Spread: Suning -2.5 maps @ +973 (0.5 units)
Kill Total: Map 1 OVER 26.5 @ -114 (0.57 units)
Kill Total: Map 2 OVER 26.5 @ -114 (0.57 units)
Kill Total: Map 3 OVER 26.5 @ -114 (0.57 units)
Prop: Map 1 TOP first herald @ -127 (0.635 units)
Prop: Map 2 TOP first herald @ -127 (0.635 units)
Prop: Map 3 TOP first herald @ -127 (0.635 units)
Prop: Map 1 OVER 12.5 towers destroyed @ +135 (1 unit)
Prop: Map 2 OVER 12.5 towers destroyed @ +135 (1 unit)
Prop: Map 3 OVER 12.5 towers destroyed @ +135 (1 unit)
(all lines from Nitrogen unless noted otherwise)