Before diving into this series let’s take a look at where our outrights stand.
Outright: DAMWON +400 (3 units)
Region of Winner: LPL -125 (12.5 units)
Finals MVP Props
- Canyon +2200 (0.3 units)
- BeryL +9000 (0.2 units)
- Bin +45,000 (0.2 units)
- SofM +4000 (0.2 units)
- Huanfeng +20,000 (0.2 units)
- SwordArt +10,000 (0.2 units)
Unfortunately this was one of our “wash” scenarios and we’ll end up in the red on outrights given our total stakes, hedges, etc. I have quite a few finals MVP props that are live to cash here and as you can see a few of the Suning ones are LARGE. I won’t be hedging anything in this regard although it is making me slightly more willing to go heavier on the favorites considering the potential or a huge cashout on a Bin, SwordArt, or Huanfeng win.
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
DAMWON Gaming -263 (-1.5 maps @ -135, -2.5 @ +269, +1.5 @ -625) vs
Suning Gaming +210 (+1.5 maps @ -101, +2.5 @ -417, -1.5 @ +381, -2.5 @ +1062)
Total Maps Played: 3.5 maps (over -278 / under +201), 4.5 maps (over +195 / under -270)
Kill Total: 26.5 (over -125 / under -108)
Kill Spread: -4.5 @ -120 / +4.5 @ -111
Team Kill Totals: 16.5 / 12.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over -135 / under -101)
It’s been quite the journey for Suning to beat both of their domestic powerhouses en route to a finals appearance in their first time at the World Championships. For DAMWON, this was expected from the start, at least from the sharp community. Let’s dive right into it!
I’ve mentioned before that mashing the models for different regions together doesn’t always provide accurate portrayals due to the different strengths of the different regions. As a bit of a thought experiment just to see how these teams measured up, I inserted DAMWON into the LPL model and Suning into the LCK model. Below were the results:
As you can see, a 3.426 zscore is pretty outrageous (for those curious it’s the 99.97th percentile). Suning didn’t fare much better in the LCK either actually dropping overall. Now, zscore is relative so obviously this is going to look a bit weird overall but there are a few factors at play here.
First, DAMWON are utterly ridiculous from a statistics perspective. I actually went to did similar exercises isolating just DAMWON’s match against T1, DragonX, and Gen.G and they still would have graded out as the best LPL team by a mile even with their matches against the low level teams out. Obviously their numbers are inflated by their wins (and win percentage) but it goes without saying that this team is nuts in this regard.
Second is more philosophical and has to do with how much weight you put on the theory that the LPL is truly deeper and stronger than the LCK. There is an argument that the LPL sent Suning and LGD, two teams that didn’t even grade statistically in the top seven of their teams to Worlds and that is a testament to how deep the LPL is. If this is something one believes in then one could make the argument that DAMWON were simply smashing inferior teams but part of the beauty of this type of relative modeling is that it’s all based on league averages and standard deviations so it measures everyone. If you think the overall level of competition is making it so that everyones numbers look worse as a result of it than that shouldn’t matter in terms of a relative measure. Let’s take a look at the end of season ratings for each league in isolation without these teams inserted.
My economy/objective model has roughly a 65.2 – 34.8 flat price on these teams if you look at them in their independent leagues. Extrapolating that over a five game series gives a price just short of 77% for DAMWON which would imply around a -330 to -340 price range. By the model this is a value on DAMWON.
With this in mind what are the adjustments I’d make for these teams?
- Is there a strong case for a draft advantage in either direction here? I mentioned it in my G2 vs DAMWON article and again before the tournament began but in my pre-tournament mock preparation I found DAMWON the most difficult team to prepare drafts against because they simply do everything to a ridiculously high level and everybody plays everything. Suning have been surprisingly well-rounded but I do think they’re predictable in the sense that you know they’re going to counterpick top or support. Personally I think that’s the best way to play right now because there aren’t many options to punish it but DAMWON have been finding ways better than any other team to do just that over the course of the Summer and this tournament. Slight edge to DAMWON.
- How about an individual player comparison? Using this tournament and Summer in its entirety, Suning don’t have an edge in any position except efficiency metrics for Huanfeng which is mostly because the LPL ends up in higher damage games overall meaning his world-best damage per gold sticks out from Ghost’s. SofM and Canyon are closer than you’d think in terms of differentials, particularly in wins but across the rest of the map it’s pretty massive including top lane between Nuguri and Bin who I’d maybe rate as closer than the numbers show. Edge to DAMWON.
- Is there a stylistic consideration that could affect strategy or approach for these teams one way or the other? Suning have been a bit bizarre in that they’re willing to just play what they’re comfortable with such as the tank Lee Sin, tank Jarvan, top Jax and Fiora, and even threw a curveball with the jungle (river) Shen. The thing is I’m not sure how much else they have. We haven’t seen Angel’s Kassadin yet at Worlds but I don’t think you can afford to play that against a team with the potent early game DAMWON does. Suning’s commitment to 1-3-1 or 4-1 style split push compositions built around Bin is a little unorthodox but the LCK has a number of teams that play this way like Afreeca, SANDBOX, and T1 who frequently attempted to utilize their strong top laners to try these types of strategies so this isn’t a new thing for DAMWON to see and with a full week to scout they’ll have plenty of time to look into Suning specifically in more detail. Could maybe see an edge for Suning based on “weirdness” factor but DAMWON just smashed G2 who are one of the weirder teams on earth. There’s another angle to this I’ll discuss in a bit.
- Do Suning do anything better than DAMWON does? I love this Suning team and I’ve been going to bat for them all Summer but the answer here is no unless you think they play better around an isolated top lane matchup than DAMWON do. That’s Suning’s path to victory in this series to me because it’s their biggest strength. You might like their edge in the bottom lane but Beryl and Ghost have been so good at cancelling out opposing bot carries like Ruler, Deft, and Teddy this season.
- Other outliers? DAMWON are such a fundamentally sound team, probably the best in the world this year, that you more or less need to first create an advantage against them and then play perfectly to take wins. DAMWON are beatable but the more games you add to a series the more difficult it becomes to sustain the level of necessary individual AND team play needed to defeat them. I tend to favor strong fundamental teams in general and even more so in longer series because you have a lot less room for error overall than you do against a higher variance team. Part of the reason I liked FlyQuest so much in North America this year was because they had such strong fundamentals that other teams had to engineer opportunities against them. I know it’s blasphemy to put DAMWON and FlyQuest in the same sentence but the point I’m trying to make it that you can’t just wait for teams like this to make mistakes but you also can’t make the mistakes yourself or they’ll punish you. This is the SK Telecom approach that won them three World Championships. Fundamentally sound, minimize errors, always take the +ev play, and don’t take unnecessary risks. In other words make the other team beat you, don’t lose to yourself. I don’t always agree with him but YamatoCannon has been doing VOD reviews of the semifinal games and it’s worth checking out how he and others break down DWG vs G2 (as well as TOP/Suning). DAMWON just make so few mistakes and in a longer series I tend to upgrade teams like that.
- Narratives? The feel good story of Huanfeng, first crowd game (6000+ in attendance) for a lot of these players in awhile could potentially create nerves. I don’t really put too much weight into either of these. You could argue the momentum team here is Suning and with the home crowd behind them it could benefit them if they start hot. LCK vs LPL regional strength arguments. People have claimed that DAMWON were just smashing bad teams in the LCK but it’s certainly possible that the LPL simply wasn’t as good as people thought (I do think this to some extent mostly based on expectations). If Suning were able to beat an unimpressive JDG and TOP then maybe the LPL just isn’t as strong as public perception. To what degree depends on who you ask. Of course you could say the same thing about the LCK. Consider where you stand on this topic and be aware of your bias.
All told I’d actually adjust DAMWON up a few percentage points (2.5%) due to their strong fundamentals being such a potent tool in a best-of-five series. Suning have been excellent this tournament and I’d even adjust them up slightly but not as much as DAMWON in this case. They’ve benefitted quite a bit from drastic unforced errors from their opponents, specifically in their last series against TOP (game four was… yikes for TOP). DAMWON did in the G2 series as well but not as much so as Suning did against TOP. That said Suning are doing a great job creating their own opportunities and have plenty of plays created from pressure as well. The thing is, I’m not sure we can rely on DAMWON making the critical errors that a lot of other teams have. In fact, their lack of big mistakes in combination with their incredible punish game forms the core of their philosophy which is strong fundamentals and clean League of Legends.
Below are my post adjustment projected series outcomes:
With a series price of -263 / +211 the implied odds here (with vig) are 72.45% – 32.15% giving us a pretty sizeable edge even based strictly on the model number. For the sake of argument, if you’re more bullish on Suning and adjust them up by the same amount I adjusted DAMWON (+2.5%) then you’d get a 72.784%-27.216% model pricing which is more in line with what you’re seeing from the book and would imply a play on Suning at this price.
If it wasn’t obvious by now, I’ll be siding heavily with DAMWON here. I’ve thought long and hard about it and the only way I see Suning winning this series would be a dramatic underperformance or that Suning would have to drag DAMWON into a bar fight with them and even then DAMWON are more than capable of winning in those situations too as we’ve seen this season. G2 are maybe the best team ever at getting other teams to play their game or taking other teams off their plan and DAMWON were almost completely stalwart in their dispatching of G2. If G2 can’t knock this team off their game I’m really not sure who is going to. Suning have some tools to win this but with a team as fundamentally sound as DAMWON is that is also capable of dominating in the more rough-and-tumble games as well it’s really difficult for me to see an avenue to victory for the underdogs.
A strong foundation of great fundamentals tends to create a very high floor situation. Even if DAMWON underperform they can only really be so bad in a given game for this reason. Their floor is so high that the other team still needs to play incredibly well to take three games. Suning would need to play a damn near close to perfect series to beat DAMWON and they have zero room for error in this match.
We discussed it on The Gold Card Podcast this week but this Suning run reminds me a lot of the Tennessee Titans last year. They had “surprise” upset wins against two of the favorites traveling to New England and winning and to #1 ranked and Super Bowl favorite Baltimore and winning as well only to run into the buzzsaw Kansas City Chiefs, the eventual Super Bowl winners. While I don’t want to sell short what Suning have done one can’t help but look at underperformances, to some extent, for both TOP and JDG or expected lackluster showings depending on who you ask. DAMWON are a different level and they’ve shown us that over the course of this tournament. Coming into it I was optimstic that the top four (DAMWON, Gen.G, JDG, and TOP) were all similar but that hasn’t been the case. Can lightning strike three times in a row? I don’t want to attribute this to luck entirely because Suning were severely underrated in both of those situations and absolutely deserve to be here on the merits of their play but I think they have their work cut out for them here.
DAMWON first tower is still the best prop this Summer and remains the case in this series with a more than double digit edge on the book price.
I like the under in kill total here quite a bit. Grand Finals have typically been under affairs even when you have two extremely bloody teams involved. 2018 had Invictus and Fnatic go under in two out of three depsite being two of the bloodiest teams on the planet and 2019 went under again with two of the bloodier teams on the planet in G2 and FunPlus. The pressure of the situation and the quality of the teams involved tends to lend itself to unders and when you’ve got one team with such incredible macro like DAMWON it’d lean toward the under anyway. They’ve been an under team all tournament anyway. Worth noting here is that I think if Suning are to win this series there’s a good chance it’s through a split push with Bin in at least one or two games and that tends to lend itself to unders as well. Double stake on the unders.
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.
(I put these positions in earlier this week but you can still find plenty of variety in prices depending on which side you favor here. As mentioned above, I still find a good edge even at the higher -263 price for DAMWON so I’d still fire away. You can find -263 at Nitrogen, -245 at Pinnacle, and -250 at Bet365 and all of these are in play to me.)
Moneyline: DAMWON Gaming -239 (9.56 units)(BetMGM)
Spread: DAMWON -1.5 maps @ -110 (3.3 units)(Bet365)
Spread: DAMWON -2.5 maps @ +275 (1 unit)(Bet365, you can get +292 on Pinnacle)
Kill Total: Map 1 UNDER 27.5 kills @ -125 (2.5 units)(Bet365)
Kill Total: Map 2 UNDER 27.5 kills @ -125 (2.5 units)(Bet365)
Kill Total: Map 3 UNDER 27.5 kills @ -125 (2.5 units)(Bet365)
Prop: Map 1 DAMWON first tower @ -150 (1.5 units)(Bet365)
Prop: Map 2 DAMWON first tower @ -150 (1.5 units)(Bet365)
Prop: Map 3 DAMWON first tower @ -150 (1.5 units)(Bet365)
(all lines from Nitrogen unless noted otherwise)