We’ve arrived at our first round of playoffs!
Before diving into the series’ themselves I wanted to touch on a few big picture topics that are going to be universal in my approach to handicapping the playoffs in all regions this season.
The current state of the game is very binary meaning that it’s significantly more difficult for superior teams to exercise that and “outplay” opposing teams. At this point, most of the teams in the playoffs understand the optimal ways to play the game and given the lack of room for creativity I think many of these series will be much closer than most anticipate. Another symptom of the constrictions on the game in its current state is that in-series adjustments, typically a hallmark of the best teams in the world, will matter significantly less than they have in the past.
So what does this mean for us as handicappers? It means consistency is going to be king. You’ll notice two main themes amongst the teams I’m backing in every region for these playoffs and neither of them involves the cliché “veteran experience” or “clutch” factors. I simply don’t think these matter nearly as much as they have in previous seasons. The game is much less about adjusting over the course of a series or having a creative game plan and much more about consistent execution of the optimal, “solved” game plan. For this reason I’ll be backing teams that have been consistent in their approach, have the correct and optimal evaluation of what is important, and have reliable execution.
LPL Summer 2020
Playoffs – Round One
Victory Five +107 (+1.5 maps @ -208, -1.5 maps @ +226) vs
FunPlus Phoenix (-1.5 maps @ +162, -2.5 maps @ +462)
Total Maps: 4.5 (over +158 / under -204)
Kill Total: 26.5 (over -118 / under -111)
Kill Spread: +1.5 @ -110 / -1.5 @ -119
Team Kill Totals: 12.5 / 13.5
Time Total: OTB
FPX – GimGoon, Tian, Doinb, Lwx, Crisp
V5 – Biubiu, Weiwei, Mole, Samd, ppgod
Trends (minus final match):
FPX are 9-4 straight up, 4-9 against the map spread as favorites
FPX are 13-18 against the kill spread as favorites
V5 are 6-2 straight up, 8-0 against the map spread as underdogs (three 2-0 sweeps)
V5 are 14-7 against the kill spread as underdogs
This line opened at FPX -161 / V5 +121 earlier in the week and has been bet down in the past 12 hours or so. You can still find some higher odds.
We’re met with the classic dilemma of tested veterans vs upstart rookies. As I mentioned above, I think the experience matters but isn’t nearly as big a factor when big picture macro decisions have to be made on a constant basis. One of the big advantages that experienced teams have is that they’re comfortable adapting on the fly. This is a somewhat dead aspect of the game in its current form. Right now we want the team that executes an optimal game plan on a consistent basis and this season that has been Victory Five.
In my objective/economy model, Victory Five were in the top four for the vast majority of the season until this late Summer slump. They graded out as the best or second best early game economy team and consistently score in the top eight in objective control in both trending and season long numbers. Currently they grade as the #8 team although they were as high as #2 and spend the vast majority of the season between #2 and #4. They’ve been one of the most consistent teams over the course of the season and score in the top six in both overall objective rating and early game economy as well as #5 in overall economy. The addition of a scaling look to their repertoire has given them a solid, albeit non-dominant, punch to counter when teams sell-out to take away their early game.
FunPlus Phoenix have been hovering in the #10-14 range the entire season peaking at #9 in mid July. While they’ve looked better than they did to start the season, FunPlus have been a flawed and inconsistent team. Switching back to GimGoon gave the team a much needed boost of confidence although it was primarily against a fairly soft schedule other than a bizarre match against Suning without Lwx playing due to illness and a win over, coincidentally, Victory Five. While FunPlus did start winning and GimGoon has been solid, it has made them a more predictable and less versatile team. Contrary to popular opinion I think switching off of Khan was an overall downgrade despite the results.
To me this just boils down to consistency. FunPlus did win the first meeting between these two and you could make the veteran experience cliché argument in favor of FunPlus but this series, as with most in season ten, are going to come down to execution far more than they are game planning or overall macro strategy. In this aspect, Victory Five have simply been a better and more consistent team. Based on what we saw over this season and even in the second half of this season, Victory Five should be favored here and I think this line should be flipped. FunPlus are getting A LOT of credit because of their name brand value and the public desire to see the former world champs defend their crown. However, Victory Five are not without support as well.
The public darling underdog taking on the defending world champs should prove to be a fascinating narrative but I think it’s pretty clear that Victory Five have been a far superior team this season and despite the recent hiccups and FunPlus successes, have still outperformed from a statistical standpoint. I preached that consistency is the way to play right now and I’m fully behind Victory Five.
Note: I got this at V5 +121 but as I mentioned, they should be favored here. I like V5 at anything to -130 or less.
Underdog Win: 27.69
“G” Projected Total: 26.12 kills
While I’d expect this to be a tighter, close-to-the-vest type series, I do think this number is right on the money. I’d lean under but pass.
FPX game times: 31.77 / 32.24 / 31.18 (average / in wins / in losses)
V5 game times: 29.96 / 30.89 / 28.34 (average / in wins / in losses)
Projected Time (avg of avg game times): 30.86 minutes
Odds Weighted: 30.63 minutes
I’ve checked three books and all of them have the time total off to board. At 33:00 I love an under play, at 32:00 I like it as well. I’d expect most of these games will be short, decisive snowball victories one way or the other. We might get one long one. Take unders.
First Blood: FPX 57.89% / V5 43.9%
First Tower: FPX 36.84% / V5 56.1%
First Dragon: FPX 63.16% / V5 46.34%
First Herald: FPX 42.11% / V5 43.9%
Most of the value has been pulled out of these as the moneyline has shrinked. I like any plus money odds you can get on V5 first tower and/or first herald but I’ll be passing.
Moneyline: Victory Five +121 (2 units)
Spread: Victory Five -1.5 maps @ +250 (0.5 units)
Spread: Victory Five -2.5 maps @ +655 (0.25 units)
(IF POSTED) Time Totals UNDER 33:00 or 32:00
LCK Summer 2020
Week 9- Day 1
Apologies in advance for a few of these. A few errors occurred with my line history database for the LCK. I should have it worked out tomorrow, have to go back and manually re-enter so no “trends” subsection today. If you have questions about anything specific message me on Discord and I should be able to find the data you need. Back to normal tomorrow. All other data is up-to-date.
Gen.G -1429 (-1.5 maps @ -263) vs
SANDBOX Gaming +640 (+1.5 maps @ +200, -1.5 @ +1002)
Kill Total: 22.5 (over -116 / under -112)
Kill Spread: -9.5 @ -114 / +9.5 @ -115
Team Kill Totals: 15.5 / 6.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over +109 / under -143)
This boils down to whether or not you think Sandbox can take a game or not. I personally don’t think they will and will be paying the juice for a Gen.G sweep here. The LCK schedule and playoff format makes every game matter for seeding purposes and Gen.G while it’s unlikely that DragonX (Hanwha, T1, SeolHaeOne ) or DAMWON (KT, T1, Dynamics) lose more than one series the rest of their schedule it’s certainly possible. Gen.G also need to fight off a surging T1 if they want to retain the #3 seed for both a first round bye and side selection for the playoff gauntlet.
Sandbox have shown glimpses but I think Gen.G are just too good. There are very few teams that I’ll back at this kind of price but Gen.G and DAMWON are two of the only teams that I will. Even in a metagame that seemingly stifles overall outmaneuvering and outplaying on the team level, these two seem to find ways to exert their dominance game in and game out.
Underdog Win: 27.69
“G” Projected Total: 26.12 kills
Projection favors and over. I also like overs in Gen.G series. They’ve been hitting overs at just short of a 70% clip this season as favorites.
GenG game times: 31.69 / 30.6 / 33.11 (average / in wins / in losses)
SB game times: 31.9 / 32.68 / 31.42 (average / in wins / in losses)
Projected Time (avg of avg game times): 31.63 minutes
Odds Weighted: 31.235 minutes
Given the juice on the under this price is about right. Pass.
First Blood: Gen.G 63.89% / SB 38.235%
First Tower: Gen.G 72.22% / SB 50%
First Dragon: Gen.G 66.67% / SB 50%
First Herald: Gen.G 70.83% / SB 50%
There is some value in the Sandbox lines here but it largely depends on if you want to bet against the most dominant “first” team in the world and maybe that I’ve ever seen. In a professional metagame that is all about trading it’s actually incredible that Gen.G have managed to sustain 60%+ numbers in most of these categories. They utterly dominate the early game.
Spread: Gen.G -1.5 maps @ -263 (2.63 units)
Kill Total: Map 1 OVER 22.5 @ -114 (1.14 units)
Kill Total: Map 2 OVER 22.5 @ -114 (1.14 units)
T1 -455 (-1.5 maps @ -122) vs
Afreeca Freeca +312 (+1.5 maps @ -105, -1.5 maps @ +722)
Kill Total: 22.5 (over -118 / under -111)
Kill Spread: -8.5 @ -101 / +8.5 @ -128
Team Kill Totals: 14.5 / 7.5
Time Total: 33:00 (over +114 / under -149)
I believe we’re all familiar with the Afreeca as a bully that can’t pick on someone their own size analogy at this point. Well, they dropped another game to the small guys (only their second this season) in week eight against Dynamics. Afreeca remain the classic gatekeeper team except that unlike most gatekeepers we’ve seen they seem incapable of “punching up” to the next weight class. They have taken just a single game against a top four team, a game win vs T1 the first time around.
T1 have been in solid form again after a bit of a rough patch in the middle of the season. Rookie mid laner Clozer has put on a masterful showing against the bottom half of the table during this easier part of the schedule. I can’t really ask much more from the kid but it has been against slightly softer overall competition. There is a chance we see Faker back for this series or that it might be one of Clozer’s final showings before I’d presume T1 get Faker back into stage shape for playoffs.
While this metagame is a good fit for Afreeca, we’ve seen time and time again that they’re just not on the same level as the top four teams. T1 is the team I’d suggest they’re most likely to take a game off of but in their current form it’s tough to want to back Afreeca at all here. If you were to I think the +8.5 kill spread, which is rather large, is definitely in play given Afreeca’s high KPL. I made the T1 -1.5 maps my pick of the week on The Gold Card Podcast this week.
Underdog Win: 25.12
“G” Projected Total: 25.99 kills
Afreeca have been surprisingly bloody losers this split with a 10.348 kill per loss. T1 tend to win “clean” but I do think this series could get chippy and that the over is not only suggested by the projection but philosophically in line with how I think this series could play out. I’d anticipate Afreeca want to try to get the ball rolling early and will likely scrap to get that to happen. Take the overs.
T1 game times: 32.3 / 31.05 / 35.0 (average / in wins / in losses)
AF game times: 31.93 / 32.34 / 31.44 (average / in wins / in losses)
Projected Time (avg of avg game times): 32.11 minutes
Odds Weighted: 31.80 minutes
First Blood: T1 57.14% / AF 58.06%
First Tower: T1 54.285% / AF 41.935%
First Dragon: T1 62.86% / AF 32.26%
First Herald: T1 43.48% / AF 49.18%
Most of these are double juiced and devoid of any value but I do like Afreeca first herald at plus money.
Spread: T1 -1.5 maps @ -122 (1.83 units)
Kill Total: Map 1 OVER 22.5 @ -114 (1.14 units)
Kill Total: Map 2 OVER 22.5 @ -114 (1.14 units)
Prop: Map 1 Afreeca first herald @ +102 (0.5 units)
Prop: Map 2 Afreeca first herald @ +125 (0.5 units)
Parlay (2): Gen.G -1.5 maps + T1 -1.5 maps @ +151 (1 unit)
LCS Summer 2020
Playoffs – Winners’ Bracket Round One
Team Solo Mid -370 (-1.5 maps @ -143, -2.5 @ +234) vs
Golden Guardians +268 (+1.5 maps @ +112, +2.5 @ -312)
Total Maps: 3.5 (over -238 / under +183)
Kill Total: 21.5 (over -110 / under -119)
Kill Spread: -6.5 @ -103 / +6.5 @ -127
Team Kill Totals: 13.5 / 8.5
Time Total: 33:00 (over -156 / under +119)
We talked a lot about this one on the podcast this week so I’d encourage you to check that out.
For me this series might just be the best exercise of the “season ten effect” I mentioned in the opening to this post. Do I think Golden Guardians are a better team than TSM? No. Do I think they have better individual players? No, except in the jungle. Both teams have looked better and better as the split has progressed and both show a strong understanding of the two primary ways to play the game right now (four drake snowball, and contest/scale). TSM prefer the latter of those two while GG prefer the former but both are capable of each.
I actually think Golden Guardians are a more well-rounded team than TSM who are somewhat pigeon-holed into playing their preferred way due to personal reasons but they also don’t execute quite as well as TSM do. They’re a much better up-tempo team and while they’ve run out of steam in a few games, they’ve also completely run teams over in others. They’re also more than capable of playing a more simplified scaling approach akin to what TSM do. TSM are deserving favorites due to their consistency but they haven’t exactly been a pristine model for that either.
I’m supremely confident that Golden Guardians get a game at the very least and think that this line is quite a bit rich for TSM. TSM have the advantage of draft equity with Bjergsen’s Zilean being a likely “must ban” in this series but I can’t help but think Closer will take over one or two of these games by himself and that if Golden Guardians can manage to coin flip their way scaling vs scaling in another one of these maps that they have a reasonable chance to win this outright. Golden Guardians are live to pull an upset here if they execute well. Jungle difference could be a very real thing here.
I’m also going to play a half stake on the kill total over per map here.
Alternatively, you could play underdog kill spreads and the total maps but I’ll be sticking to the Guardians for the sides.
Most of the prop markets are priced appropriately. If you see any low hanging fruit for a TSM first tower I don’t hate that at odds within your threshold relative to their 75% rate.
Spread: Golden Guardians +2.5 maps @ -312 (6.24 units)
Spread: Golden Guardians +1.5 maps @ +112 (1 unit)
Moneyline: Golden Guardians +268 (1 unit)
Spread: Golden Guardians -1.5 maps @ +531 (0.5 units)
Kill Total: Map 1 OVER 21.5 @ -110 (0.55 units)
Kill Total: Map 2 OVER 21.5 @ -110 (0.55 units)
Kill Total: Map 3 OVER 21.5 @ -110 (0.55 units)