Blast is done for the time being (finals are in early December), but don’t fret, we have IEM Beijing-Haidian to fill the void that’s left behind. For the foreseeable future we have 3 game slates, 2 games from EU and 1 from NA. To kick us off on Friday we have (9:00 am EST lock time):
Vitality (71%) vs Spirit
OG (70%) vs Faze
Liquid (90%) vs Rugratz
Before we jump into this slate, a quick note on Vitality’s 6 man roster and this tournament’s rules. Jordan in the TESD discord did some great digging thru the event rulebook, and found a rule that states that the lineup for the upcoming MAP has to be in “at least 8 hours before scheduled the start of the match, or immediately after the end of the previous map, whichever is later“. To me that language pretty clearly indicates that subbing mid-series IS allowed. However, it could be complicated on the 1st map of the series. The letter of the law says they have to have their lineup for the 1st map in well in advance of picks/bans. That doesn’t really work for Vitality, since their lineup is map dependent. My guess, and this is purely my gut feeling, is that these organizers will be fairly flexible, and that Vitality will be able to give a map dependent lineup ahead of time, aka if Map 1 is Dust 2 or Inferno then the lineup has Nivera, if it’s any other map it doesn’t have him. I don’t think they’ll get forced into sitting Nivera for the 1st map if it ends up as Dust 2 because they reported 8 hours in advance that Misutaaa is in the lineup for the opening map, even though that’s technically what the letter of the law says. Again, this is just my guess I don’t have any concrete information one way or the other here. One quick note is it’s always possible that Nivera will get incorporated into more maps. So far, he’s looked great for Vitality, having a positive K-D on every single map that he’s played so far. I would even be so bold as to say he’s their 2nd best player and should be added to the other maps sooner rather than later. There has been nothing said publicly to indicate that Vitality themselves feel that way, or that they’ll add him to more maps, but it’s something to keep in mind as this tournament and future tournaments approach. The interview with Apex was very much a “this is what we are trying right now to start with” not a “this is our permanent plan”, so I wouldn’t cling too heavily to his words as we move further and further out from that interview.
Now, on to the actual slate…
When Draftkings first released this slate it was a nightmare. They had OG priced as the underdogs and Faze the favorites. To their credit, they quickly realized their mistake and reposted the slate with fixed pricing. Now, we have with a very interesting slate. With 3 fairly heavy favorites I think ownership will mostly be concentrated on those favorites. Pricing isn’t super tight as a whole, but value plays will definitely be necessary to play a lineup of only favorites, especially if you want to fit Zywoo and/or Elige. Enter the bottom half of OG’s roster. 3 of the 4 cheapest playable (meaning I’m not counting Nivera) favorites come from OG in NBK, AleksiB, and Issa. All of them project decently well. I expect all 3 of them to be incredibly popular on this slate. None of them are “bad” plays, but my main focus in tournaments will be how I can differentiate off of them. Let’s look at some of the ways we can do that.
The first game of the day is the Vitality vs Spirit matchup. This if fortunate for us in that all of the questions about who is playing for Vitality should be resolved before lock, although it might be in the 5 minutes before lock. Before we dive into the map scenarios and what to do I wanted to quickly mention that I’m not interested in Misutaaa no matter what. He’s way overpriced on this slate and even if Dust 2 isn’t in the map pool I won’t be playing him. My plan is to build several different lineup sets to account for the different scenarios, and then upload the correct one once I see the map picks. The scenarios are:
Scenario 1: No inferno – leave Shox in my player pool as normal, no Nivera in my pool
Scenario 2: Inferno Map 3 – cap Shox at 10-15% exposure, no Nivera
Scenario 3: Dust 2 and Inferno maps 1 and 2 – Run Nivera (in stacks, would likely avoid as a one-off), no Shox
Scenario 4: Dust 2 or Inferno maps 1 and 2 – No Nivera, no Shox if Inferno
This may appear a tad confusing, as both Scenarios 2 and 3 are banking on a Vitality sweep, yet in one I’m limiting my Shox exposure and in the other I’m not limiting my Nivera exposure. The reason for this is their pricing. Shox has other plays around him in price who are just as good if not better, even if he were guaranteed to play a full series. Nivera on the other hand, would be by far my favorite value play if he was guaranteed to play a full series. I also expect him to have very low ownership even if the maps picks line up in his favor. All of this being said, there’s a pretty low chance either team makes Inferno their pick, as it’s one of the lower win rate maps for both teams (it’s still 50% for both teams, these teams both have really strong win rates). I think the likeliest scenario is that it gets banned in the 2nd faze, meaning Shox will be fully playable.
Now that we know Vitality’s full rotation (for the time being), we know that Zywoo, Apex, and RPK are safe. RPK is the 2nd cheapest player on a favorite, and is a decent alternative to the bottom fraggers from OG. He doesn’t project quite as well, but if OG lose or struggle, RPK could easily outscore NBK, AleksiB, and maybe even ISSA. Zywoo is, as always, the top player on the slate. On this slate though, he’s actually not in my opinion the safest stud, as Elige has a much weaker opponent, more on that in a minute though. In GPP’s this might keep Zywoo’s ownership in a somewhat reasonable 40-50% range, vs the 80+ percent range it’s been in recently, granted on 2 game slates.
Now that I’ve spent a couple of paragraphs discussing Vitality, I should probably mention that Spirit are by far my favorite pivot on this slate. They are by far the best team of the underdogs, and actually beat Vitality in their last matchup back in early September. They are also fairly underpriced, as Mir is a legitimate stud, yet he comes in at only $7k. The rest of the team is all under $6k. iDISBALANCE is my 2nd choice here, but realistically all 5 players are in play, and I’ll be running 2 and even 3 stacks. I’ll likely have Spirit stacks in about half my lineups, which should come in well over the field.
The next game is OG vs Faze. Faze are an in shambles right now, although they did put up somewhat respectable scores map scores in their 1st 2 series without Niko. Now that OG are priced correctly, I expect Mantuu and to a lesser extent Valde to go somewhat overlooked as people flock to the value plays. I like Mantuu a lot as a GPP play now that he’s priced just below the top tier of players. While I mentioned earlier that I wanted to get away from the OG value, they’re still solid plays, and I’ll have a decent amount of exposure to them in the lineups that I’m not running Spirit. On the Faze side, Coldzera has been the one to step up in Niko absence, top fragging in both of their matches sine Niko’s departure. It’s possible that he can get back to being a little bit closer to his old self, he was the number 1 ranked player in the world back in 2016 and 2017 for those who aren’t familiar, although at this point in his career I wouldn’t expect anything close to his old heights. I still also have some interest in Broky, as he should still have some big games even with Niko gone. I have no interest in Rain, Olof, or Kjaerbye in this spot, as I do expect Faze to get handled fairly easily. I’ll run a few one-offs each of Cold and Broky, and maybe a few 2 stacks, but that’s it for my Faze exposure.
I actually think the Liquid vs Rugratz game is a tiny bit more interesting than I first gave it credit for. I initially wrote it off as a Liquid stomp, and while that’s a strong possibility, I do think this Rugratz roster has a some decent talent. We saw Liquid struggle a bit with a couple of the T3/4 teams, like New England Whalers, in IEM New York, and this Rugratz roster (technically Cxzi wasn’t playing) just beat NEW 16-3. Unfortunately, the two I’d like to target on Rugratz, kobruh and Infinite, and both priced over $6k, and therefore not that great of value plays. I do like FaNg and Cxzi as one off plays to really save you some salary and allow for a unique build elsewhere. I’ll even have maybe one or two Rugratz stacks.
That said, I’ve buried the lede a bit as in total that will only be 10-15% of my lineups with Rugratz players. The vast majority I am going to jam as much Elige as humanly possible into. He’s my favorite high end play on the day, I like him even more than Zywoo. Elige dominated the lesser teams during IEM New York, and in my opinion the most likely outcome Friday is more of the same. With Elige, I like Naf if I can fit him (although I prioritize Zywoo over Naf), and also like Twistzz quite a bit. I’ll have a bit of Stewie and Grim. Grim’s projections are finally basically in line with where they should be, although he may still be ever so slightly overprojected. Liquid are my favorite target to 3 stack on this slate, and I’ll likely have a bunch of 3 Liquid + 2 Spirit combinations (while the field will likely pair them with OG).
I just mentioned how Elige is my favorite high end play, so naturally he’s also my favorite high end captain. Zywoo being on the slate should help keep his ownership down, and I’ll be loading up as much as I can fit him. On Liquid I’ll also have a bit of Twistzz to save some salary, and I’ll also have Naf in my pool in case I want to pivot off of Elige. In the small percentage of lineups I run someone from Rugratz, I’ll do it to fit Zywoo captain. He’s still a very strong play, but he will have pretty high ownership.
On the other side of that game, I like Mir at captain quite a bit. I imagine a good amount of people will go to OG value at captain to try to fit Zywoo and Elige, So i really like Mir as a pivot off of that, as he has higher upside than any of the OG players, and should come at lower ownership. I may even go to iDISBALANCE in order to really be able to jam in the Liquid studs, as he’s too cheap as well.
I’m likely to almost entirely fade OG at the captain spot. No one on their team has as much upside as Zywoo and Elige, and I’m interested in playing a likely high owned ISSAA as a value captain, he could very well have a mediocre game even in a win. If I do go with an OG captain, it’s likely to be Mantuu or Valde, simply as pivot plays off of Zywoo/Elige (Mantuu) or Twistzz/Grim (Valde).
On the Faze side, if I do run any 2 stacks of them, I’m basically banking on them winning or almost winning, so I might as well run a player at captain. I’d prioritize Broky, but either or Cold could put up a really strong value score if they are able to win or take it to 3 close maps. I won’t be running either as a one off captain though.
That’s it for me, good luck on Friday!