The IEM Global Challenge continues Friday, with another 2 game slate. Lock is at 10 am EST and the games are:

Vitality (54% implied win probability) vs Astralis

Furia (57%) vs Liquid

Sub Risk Analysis

We’re back to 2 teams with sub risk on the slate, but fortunately they play each other in the first game of the slate. Astralis sub Xyp9x out on Nuke for Bubzkji, and so far that’s the only map they sub on. Vitality sub Nivera in for Misutaaa on Dust 2 and now also Nuke. They sub Nivera in for Shox on Inferno. It is worth pointing out that since we saw Nivera start to be played on Nuke, we haven’t seen Vitality play Overpass or Mirage (they permaban train). My guess is that they’re slowly adding him one map at a time, but it’s not impossible that he plays on at least one of those maps. We won’t have to worry about Mirage against Astralis, as it’s their permaban.

I’m not going to speculate too much on map picks, but I will say I expect the pick/ban phase to go differently than it did last week. Both teams lost their own map pick, and Astralis got crushed on Inferno, which was the decider. I will say I think there is a good chance for any of Inferno, Dust 2, and Nuke to be picked, and wouldn’t be surprised if 2 or more ended up in play. I’ll expand a bit more about my strategy here in the slate analysis phase momentarily.

Actual Slate Analysis

Draftkings really loosened pricing up on Friday. No one is priced over $8.8k (Zywoo) and there are a ton of solid players in the 6-7k range. You can fit basically any 3-3 stack you want, except for the top 3 from Astralis and Furia. Ownership on both Zywoo and Device is likely to be through the roof, Zywoo of course being the highest owned player on the slate. I imagine plenty of people will play both of them in the same lineup. This will likely mean dipping below the top 3 fraggers from either side of Liquid or Furia (more likely to be Furia).

Recently in this article I’ve mostly accepting Vegas as correct, and talking about how to play the ownership. I’m going to diverge a little bit from that today. Playing the ownership would likely lead to a lot of Liquid, as they’re likely to be the lowest owned team on the slate, and therefore provide the best leverage, IF Vegas is right. However, this is one of those rare spots where I feel the line is off. Since there’s only a few “good” teams that were in North America this year, Furia and Liquid played each other all the time. 11 times to be exact. Furia won 10 of those matchups. The total map score is 20-8 in Furia’s favor. Nothing has fundamentally changed about these teams. Sure, some of the matchups were with Nitro instead of Grim, but Furia is 3-0 with a map score of 6-2 since Grim joined Liquid. All of this is to say, I think the odds should be more like 70/30 (at least) in Furia’s favor. I’m going to be on Furia heavily, and hope to gain leverage by being quick enough to get the right lineups in after seeing the Vitality vs Astralis map picks.

What I mean by that, is that there are several plays that could be very good and could be terrible, and we really won’t know until the maps are picked. I’m going to run through the scenarios for each of the players with sub risk.

Nivera:

If the 3 maps end up as Inferno, Dust 2, and Nuke (any order) I love Nivera on this slate. He’s in my opinion Vitality’s 2nd player. Knowing he’ll play the whole series would make him a lock and load play for me, as I do think Vitality are currently the slightly better play. If those are the maps all of my Vitality stacks will feature Nivera.

If the first two maps are any 2 of Inferno, Dust 2, and Nuke, but the 3rd is not one of those maps, I’ll still play Nivera, but only as a part of Vitality 3 stacks. Playing a Vitality 3 stack, as opposed to say 2 Vitality and Device, is already basically banking on a Vitality sweep, so playing Nivera just doubles down on that.

If one or more of the first two maps is NOT Inferno, Dust 2, and Nuke, I won’t be playing Nivera. You need such a narrow outcome for Nivera to be one of the 3 best scores from this game if he sits one of the first two maps.

Shox:

If Inferno is not in the pool, Shox is way too cheap, I’d fire him up in all my Vitality stacks if this were to be the case, as it obviously means Nivera wouldn’t be playing all 3 maps (there is a scenario where Dust 2 and Nuke are the first two maps where my Vitality 3 stacks would likely have both Shox and Nivera).

If Inferno is map 3, I’d play Shox in Vitality 3 stacks, for the same logic as with Nivera.

If Inferno is map 1 or 2. I won’t be playing Shox, again with the same logic as with Nivera. The outcomes you need for him to be a top 6 score on the slate are simply too narrow for my liking.

Misutaaa:

I’d only consider him if Dust 2 and Nuke aren’t in the pool. He’s not as good of a player as Nivera or Shox (despite his recent performances), that to me the risk isn’t worth the reward especially if he might not play the whole series.

Xyp9x:

He’s looked more like his old self lately, so if Nuke isn’t in the pool a like him a lot in my Astralis lineups. I think he’s just a bit behind Dupreeh and Magisk, but should come at much lower ownership. If Nuke is either map 1 or 2, I won’t touch him, and if it’s map 3 I’ll only run him in Astralis 3 stacks.

Speaking of Astralis 3 stacks, I do think it’s slightly more viable to fade Zywoo in favor of an Astralis 3 stack than it was to fade S1mple against Liquid. If Astralis were to sweep Vitality, which while unlikely is much more likely than Liquid sweeping Navi, it’s possible Zywoo ends up outside of the top 3 from that game and top 6 on the slate. I’ll only have a couple of Astralis 3 stack lineups, but it’s not that crazy to do.

Top Captains

Of course, Zywoo is still the top captain on the slate. He’ll undoubtedly be the highest owned player on the slate, both in the flex and captain spot. I won’t go out of my way to avoid him, but there are definitely options that can outscore him, especially given that Vitality are only moderate favorites.

One of those options is of course Device. He’s likely to also garner a bunch of ownership at the captain spot, but significantly less than Zywoo. He’s not my pivot though.

My favorite pivots again come from the other game. I’ll be loaded up on Furia captains here, mostly Yuurih and Hen1, with some Kscerato mixed in. I do think Hen1’s big performance on Thursday might cause his ownership to bloat a little bit, but with Zywoo and Device plus the options on his team and Liquid, I don’t think it’ll get out of control. I still slightly prefer Yuurih though, as his ownership should be lower.

That’s it from me, good luck on Friday!

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