Saturday, October 17th Recap
TOP Esports vs Fnatic (Net: +9.11 units)
Typically I’m not opposed to laying big chalk if there is an edge to be had but as I mentioned yesterday, you need to think long and hard about a gigantic favorite like TOP were when it’s in the quarterfinals of the World Championships. These are the best teams in the world folks and if this series didn’t make it abundantly clear, anybody can beat anybody more often than most people tend to think.
This ended up being a real barn burner of a series. Fnatic had an excellent overall game plan, to play high velocity, aggressive League of Legends and do what they do best, attack the bottom lane. TOP didn’t lose a lot this season but one of the only real weaknesses they showed in losses was that they’d often surrender early game and rely on their individual ability to carry mid and late game team fights. I absolutely loved the game plan from Fnatic in this series. I liked all of their drafts quite a bit as well.
Eventually TOP figured the puzzle out and attacked Nemesis’ champion pool and stop trying to play the current overall metagame and dictate how they wanted to play. The second they did that the tide had turned. TOP’s coaching staff made some excellent mid-series adjustments. Instead of trying to match the current jungle meta fire with fire where Selfmade was continuously outperforming Karsa, they decided to attack the Fnatic players, specifically the mid lane with more gank oriented junglers like Jarvan and Lee Sin. The Jarvan obviously didn’t work out, as a matter of fact I questioned the pick at the time, but it was a hint at what was coming next and a shift in the mindset of the coaching staff from that game forward. By focusing more on skirmishing and ganking in the draft with picks like Lee Sin, Sylas, Jayce, and to a lesser extent the Nidalee in a raucous game four, TOP were no longer trying to just scale up and assume they’d win late and took matters into their own hands.
TOP Esports were far from perfect in this series. JackeyLove in particular had a relatively poor performance overall. I’m not quite sure why the broadcast kept calling the good things he did “Invictus JackeyLove” and the bad things “TOP JackeyLove” because it’s honestly the opposite if you’ve watched any extended amount of those teams. Maybe it’s the championship I don’t know… JackeyLove was the weak link on that Invictus team and most of their losses came because he’d make some completely moronic positioning error or an arrogant forward play that would get him killed and subsequently lose them a fight. That tendency has always been there with him but people seem to have forgotten about it amidst the heaps and heaps of praises being piled onto this team. The reason I bring this up, besides being disgruntled at the broadcast for yet again sledgehammering a strictly incorrect narrative, is that we saw that version of JackeyLove in this series. EXTREMELY ARROGANT to a fault.
It’s a bit of a digression but this series and yesterday’s as well are good examples of a concept I’ve mentioned but never really discussed at length here. To some degree TOP and many LPL teams are arrogant to a fault. It’s part of the problem with playing undisciplined and loose as often as many of them do and why I’ll always prefer the more cerebral, intelligent, textbook teams in most situations. There are virtues and vices to everything. That hyper confident, “I can outplay this” attitude is great for figuring out your limits, getting comfortable with having to play on a knife’s edge, and figuring out how to play your way out of bad situations. Trial by fire, hardened by combat so to speak. You work those muscles and they get stronger. Along the same lines, however, if you’re constantly doing that then you’re not focusing or exercising your fundamental muscles those can fall by the wayside and you’re suddenly losing a game off of one boneheaded overextension and wishing you had it back. What happens when you can’t simply rely on mechanically outplaying a skirmish? Better fundamentals provide a higher floor and individual prowess will raise a ceiling but what good is that high ceiling if you have nothing to stand on?
I’m not calling TOP a poor fundamental team. As a matter of fact they’re mostly solid in this aspect but you saw their arrogance and overconfidence creep into this series and cost them a few fights and eventually a few games.
A lot of people wrote this Fnatic team off a few weeks into the Summer season. Next time you question whether a team is “washed” or “done” or “bad”, especially if they’re a blue chip organization with veteran players be sure to check yourself. I’m not saying that regular season doesn’t matter but Fnatic are a good reminder that overreacting to results is ignorant and you shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on results alone.
Overall this was an excellent series to watch and one that Fnatic should be proud of and TOP should consider themselves lucky to have gotten away with. I’m sure Fnatic are going to want that game four back for the rest of their lives but this is what good teams do. They adapt and overcome adversity. That said, TOP have a lot of sharpening up to do if they want to take this entire tournament down. Their first challenge will be next Saturday against fellow LPL squad Suning Gaming.
Live Wagers: -2.9 units
Daily Total: +6.21 units
World Championships 2020
Quarterfinals – Day Four
Gen.G -104 (+1.5 maps @ -270, +2.5 @ -1111, -1.5 @ +183, -2.5 @ +520) vs
G2 Esports -115 (-1.5 maps @ +206, -2.5 @ +589, +1.5 @ -238, +2.5 @ -909)
(see note below, I know these look weird)
Total Maps Played: 3.5 maps (over -333 / under +243), 4.5 maps (over +157 / under -204)
Kill Total: 26.5 (over -122 / under -108)
Kill Spread: -0.5 @ -116 / +0.5 @ -112
Team Kill Totals: 13.5 / 13.5
Time Total: 33:00 (over -132 / under +101)
Before we start, these are some really REALLY weird looking numbers. For the purposes of articles I take all numbers from Nitroge unless noted otherwise or if the market is missing. I do this for the sake of consistency and record keeping. This was Gen.G favored all week until today on that book. They were the -115 and this flipped which has been the case at most shops. The moneyline flipped but the other markets did not. As you can see G2’s spreads don’t align with the moneyline anymore but for the sake of this article I’ll trust you all to do your line shopping. I’ll mention better numbers elsewhere if I see them.
I’ve put a lot of thought into this series. A lot…. These are two teams that currently have a vast range of outcomes which it difficult.
I’ll start with Gen.G who are playing, in my opinion, the absolute worst League of Legends that they have all calendar year. They still managed to go 5-1 in groups but it was nowhere near the level of performance I expected from them. To put it simply, they’ve looked really out of character. Sloppy, lazy, a tad arrogant. I’m not sure if they just didn’t put a lot of stock into group stage or these were more isolated incidents or if they just had a bad week or two of practice while adjusting to the new surroundings but if we see the Gen.G we saw in groups my #2 in the tournament power ranking is going to end up looking rather stupid.
Gen.G have another potential “problem” and coincidentally it’s similar to Suning, which is that they’ve only won a single playoff series this year. They had a bye to the finals in Spring where they were swept by T1 (also a very weird poor performance), stomped a significantly worse Afreeca 3-0 en route to the weird 3-2 marathon series against DragonX in Summer (you know the one that people blame the pause on… don’t get me started). I don’t put a lot of weight onto this kind of thing in general but unlike some teams, Gen.G are an all veteran squad and most of them have been to or outright won Worlds before. This isn’t a new thing, they aren’t “chokers” or anything like that. I think this narrative is usually overrated to begin with but especially with a veteran team I think it’s just bologna.
G2 look to have picked up the current metagame and look pretty sharp in the process. It’s a little weird seeing G2 just drafting and playing “what you’re supposed to be playing” but here we are. Best-of-fives are a lot different. There’s a lot more room to experiment and try different looks and make adjustments and their seemingly endless bag of tricks as well as Grabbz in-series adjustments are what make them such a daunting opponent in longer series. Individually G2 look solid. Wunder is playing out of his mind right now and while Perkz hasn’t exactly wow’d me he looks much better than he did for most of Summer and seems comfortable enough on the metagame picks that he shouldn’t be a liability.
My reservations with G2 are more speculative than based on evidence and that’s what makes this a difficult handicap. To me, G2 were just short of finishing the job last year in a meta that they dictated and was optimal for the way they like to play League of Legends. The fact that they’ve finally adjusted to this seasons look is impressive in its own right but ultimately I don’t think this is a particularly strong metagame for G2 overall. Playing through the outer lanes and jungle is far from something they’re incapable of but it’s not their bread-and-butter and definitely not what they’re best suited to. We’ve seen over the course of this tournament that the individual mid lane matchups have had a reduced impact compared to previous years. A lot of neutral and non-interactive matchups have blunted the sharp edges of the truly elite mid laners and that’s a buff to some teams, like Suning and Fnatic, and a slight nerf to others like TOP Esports and DragonX who rely heavily on their mid laners to make a massive difference. It’s not to say that mid doesn’t matter it’s simply a bit less than usual. This hurts G2 more than it hurts Gen.G to me.
A lot of people might say that G2 have a draft edge in this because they’re willing to think outside the box while Gen.G are more stock-standard but similar to Rogue, I think Gen.G are frequently mischaracterized as a linear team. They are far, FAR from it. Gen.G do everything at an elite level. EVERYTHING. Every strategy, every champion, through every position, in every metagame. They might not play the more fringe strategies like some teams do and that pushes a lot of people toward assuming they aren’t versatile or linear. Don’t listen to that BS. This team has all the tools at their disposal. Before this tournament started I did a lot of mock draft preparation and I’ve continued to do so over the course of the tournament. DAMWON have proven the most difficult to prepare for, Gen.G were the other most challenging because they both simply do everything extremely well. You can’t take a player out or a strategy out. They’re just too deep at every position that you’re forced to pick your battles. Very few teams in the world have that luxury. Even some of the best teams on the planet have some weakness you can attack or expose or that they need to come up with a creative solution to. The true greats can figure out how to hide that or simply don’t have that to begin with.
I’m going with Gen.G here for a handful of reasons.
First, they’re better equipped for the current environment of the game. Gen.G are capable of playing through every position, with any overall strategy, and have extensive experience doing so at a high level. Nothing is really foreign to them. They also have the players to do all of the above which ties into my next point.
Second, Gen.G have better players overall. It’s a slight advantage in some positions and massive in others but I don’t see an individual edge anywhere on the map for G2 besides maybe top lane which you could make an argument for. I don’t usually put much weight on individual “X vs Y” matchups because overall execution and team play matters more, especially now, but Gen.G can do it all and I just trust their individual execution slightly more than G2.
Third is a bit speculative, but I have a hard time seeing Gen.G perform as poorly as they have in this tournament so far and expect some positive regression to closer to their normal level. This is a pretty big part of the handicap overall. The reason I say that is because how a team looks in a tournament is a bit of an art form. You don’t want to overreact too much but not reacting at all can be a fatal mistake as well. Gen.G are just so fundamentally sound and have been for an entire calendar year that I just can’t see their sloppy group stage play continuing. Part of this handicap depends largely on how much regression you expect from Gen.G. If you think they get back to 80% or more of their overall 2020 form I think they’re a slam dunk play here and I think they’re legitimately the second best team in the world. If you think they get halfway back to that it becomes more interesting and that’s sort of where this match is priced at. If you expect to see more of what we saw in group stage and G2 continue to show that they have a firm grasp on this metagame then G2 are probably worth a small to moderate play.
Additionally, Gen.G will have side selection for game one which could allow them to set the pace for how they want this series to be played.
I’m expecting quite a bit of positive regression for Gen.G and with that being the case I think they’re definitely the side here but if you feel differently or don’t expect much change from the year low level we saw in group stage then you’re better off with G2. That’s your own decision to make. As we mentioned on The Gold Card Podcast this week, this series has the widest range of outcomes of each of the quarterfinals. This could very well be a 3-0 in either direction or a five game slugfest. Nothing would surprise me. G2 sometimes look brilliant and other times look idiodic and Gen.G have a lot of questions to answer right now. Where you side in this series depends on where you stand on those topics. Hopefully we get ourselves a good series.
Ten out of the fourteen knockout stage games have gone under their kill total but as we all know G2 are a bit of a different beast. G2 are the Quentin Tarantino of the major leagues when it comes to blood and extravagant violence levels. In order, their group stage game kill totals were 40, 39, 35, 22, 26, 21, and 42. While Gen.G were one of the bloodier LCK teams, particularly as winners, they’re in stark contrast to the ridiculous numbers G2 tend to have. G2 aren’t really different in playoffs vs regular season either so they don’t exactly dial it back in big spots. I’ll be taking the over here.
Gen.G would have put up the one of the best historical seasons in “firsts” and neutral control in the majors worldwide BY A MILE … if DAMWON didn’t exist. They had a 60%+ first rate in every category during the Summer regular season. 60% first blood, 72% first tower, 65% first dragon, 81% first herald. Considering how often we see these objectives traded that’s absolutely ridiculous. Now, it did wane a bit as the season went on which is to be expected but it speaks to just how powerful their control over the early game can be. For this reason we almost never get firsts markets that are remotely close even money so I’m intrigued by many of them, especially because G2 struggled with them, even after you isolate their second half resurgence as their true “Summer.” I’ll be taking the cheaper options.
I’ll once again be on the over towers taken prop although we didn’t get an 11.5 today which is the key number most of the time. We now need to assume the loser gets one tower in a “tutorial” win and two or more to be sure in most wins. I still like it at plus money since I think these should be competitive games.
I like A LOT of the firsts props in this series but I’ll be halving wagers to most due to more exposure to insulate against a blowout win by either side.
Spread: Gen.G +1.5 maps @ -250 (2.5 units)(Bet365)
Moneyline: Gen.G -104 (2.08 units)(Nitrogen)
Spread: Gen.G -1.5 maps @ +183 (1 unit)(Nitrogen)
Spread: Gen.G -2.5 maps @ +520 (0.5 units)(Nitrogen)
Kill Total: Map 1 OVER 26.5 @ -122 (1.22 units)(Nitrogen)
Kill Total: Map 2 OVER 26.5 @ -122 (1.22 units)(Nitrogen)
Kill Total: Map 3 OVER 26.5 @ -122 (1.22 units)(Nitrogen)
Prop: Map 1 OVER 12.5 towers destroyed @ +125 (1 unit)(Bet365)
Prop: Map 2 OVER 12.5 towers destroyed @ +125 (1 unit)(Bet365)
Prop: Map 3 OVER 12.5 towers destroyed @ +125 (1 unit)(Bet365)
Prop: Map 1 Gen.G first blood @ -115 (0.575 units)(Nitrogen)
Prop: Map 2 Gen.G first blood @ -115 (0.575 units)(Nitrogen)
Prop: Map 3 Gen.G first blood @ -115 (0.575 units)(Nitrogen)
Prop: Map 1 Gen.G first tower @ -115 (0.575 units)(Nitrogen)
Prop: Map 2 Gen.G first tower @ -115 (0.575 units)(Nitrogen)
Prop: Map 3 Gen.G first tower @ -115 (0.575 units)(Nitrogen)
Prop: Map 1 Gen.G first herald @ -115 (1.15 units)(Nitrogen)
Prop: Map 2 Gen.G first herald @ -115 (1.15 units)(Nitrogen)
Prop: Map 3 Gen.G first herald @ -115 (1.15 units)(Nitrogen)
(all lines from Nitrogen unless noted otherwise)