What’s new?

The offseason wasn’t a vacation for me. I’ve been working diligently on a number of systems and models to bring you all better, data driven content for the year 2021. You’ll be seeing the first bits and pieces of one of those projects in today’s piece with my individual player performance model.

 

For each team you will see their roster listed by coaching staff, position, and designated substitutes (if any). Next to each player you will see some numbers in brackets or parenthesis like this:

 

Mid: Zeka (+0.158 / 55.96) [10]

 

Each player was compared to other players at their position for the Summer season through a wide variety of statistics and measurables weighted depending on their relevance to that role. For instance, supports do not have damage per minute at all factored into their statistical comparison because it’s not a great measure of support play but they had an increased weight placed on the various vision scoring metrics. By doing this we get a snapshot of a players statistical profile against other players at his position. The numbers go in the following order:

(raw positional rating / “Madden-style” rating centered on 50) [positional ranking]

The raw positional rating and the “Madden-style” sports video game rating mean the same thing but some prefer to see it through that medium. A reminder that the “Madden-style” rating is centered on 50 not the higher numbers you see in those games. In this model (+0 / 50.0) are your “league average” in regards to specifics.

While statistics aren’t the only consideration in player evaluation the idea is to get an unbiased snapshot of a player that you can then balance with film study and your own evaluation to arrive at a composite score of your own. Some very good players don’t exactly have great statistical profiles and some players that many consider poor might have a better looking profile than you’d think. Just remember that the purpose of this type of analysis is to cut through bias and preconceived notions about certain players and this helps to do that.

For the purpose of this article, any player that did not have a statistical profile from the league was assigned a “league average” rating. I listed any numbers from the previous season in a different league if they played in one of the other majors but they still received the “league average” rating. There are a few reasons for this but primarily it keeps the perspective universal which helps in relative comparison. Sure, some new players are going to overperform and underperform but if you consider prospects or new additions higher or lower you can adjust up or down based on your own opinion or preference. If you think Insulator is going to be an absolute monster as a rookie then you can adjust his team upward slightly. Conversely for players you’re lower on would receive a downgrade from this average.

I’ve also listed the averages and average positional rankings based on this model below the roster. Below that is my 2020 team-based model rating and overall rank in parenthesis. 

At the end of this post you’ll find my overall power rankings and tiers as well as a recap of each of my futures positions. I’ll also include the models projections.

 

(Positional Rating by player based model in Parenthesis)

[Rank by positional rating in player based model in square brackets]

 

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100 Thieves

Coaches: Zikz (head), Freeze (asst), Lustboy (role), Kaimera (head analyst), JungleJuice (strategy/analytics)

Top: Ssumday (+0.80 / 78.81) [2]

Jungle: Closer (+0.244 / 59.48) [6]

Mid: Damonte (-0.04 / 48.41) [7]

ADC: FBI (+0.735 / 76.73) [2]

Support: Huhi (+1.156 / 87.49) [1]

 

Projected Starters Overall AVG: +0.58 / 70.185  

Projected Starters AVG Positional Rank: 3.6  

 

Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this offseason from 100 Thieves. They retained their best player and asset in Ssumday and not only did they add younger, upcoming talent but they brought in four out of five of last years Golden Guardians squad who was showing a lot of promise as the season progressed and into playoffs. Another year of experience for the young guns, built in chemistry, and an absolute stud top laner. Sign me up! 

100 Thieves as an organization are doing things the right way. Investing heavily in developing talents with the 100 Thieves NeXT program, retaining talent, and continuing to add coaches and resources to their overall program. PapaSmithy spent a lot of time in Korea and saw just how successful the T1/SK Telecom model has been over the years, and to a lesser extent Cloud 9 here in North America and now he’s building his own factory to churn out quality players. I’m looking forward not only to this team but the future of this organization. In short, “they get it.” 

I’m going to be backing 100 Thieves heavily early in the season. They brought in more or less an entire team that was trending up so there won’t be that awkward building chemistry phase that so many new teams go through in the early part of the calendar year. I expect them to be polished and in mid to late season form immediately giving them a head start on other teams that are going to need time to develop their newly assembled rosters. 

Adjustments:

Pros

  • Should be a fast starter due to roster continuity giving them an edge early which could lead to a great record while other teams are still putting things together.
  • Excellent organization with a ton of real talent in their academy system to challenge and keep the main squad sharp.
  • Great blend of young and experienced.
  • All players with an upward trajectory.

Cons

  • Golden Guardians 2.0 players will need to continue their development to reach the next level (championship contender).
  • Ssumday has been playing for a long time, not unreasonable to expect some regression at some point but he’s shown few signs of wear and tear so far.

LCS Lock-In Futures

Price: +700 (12.5%)

Positions: to win LCS Lock-In +700 (3.75 units)

While it’s a new organization, this is effectively 4/5th’s the same Golden Guardians team that was trending upward before their playoff run ended. If you consider that they could continue improving, made an upgrade to an absolute stud in the top lane with Ssumday, and shouldn’t have any real chemistry issues due to the continuity that sets them up perfectly to hit the ground running. 

I’m not entirely sure how motivated teams are actually going to be to win the LCS Lock-In. Other than prize money it has no actual effect on the competitive season or Worlds seeding. Given that this is the first one it wouldn’t surprise me to see teams want it but it’s tricky to gauge who is going to care and who won’t. I’m giving a bump to teams with a lot of continuity and teams that have a reason to be motivated for it, like Golden Guardians who were eliminated from playoffs far earlier than they wanted to be. Motivation, continuity, loads of talent, players entering the prime of their careers and a short tournament format with best-of-ones and a short, single elimination bracket all add up to a nice mid sized dark horse to back for this tournament.  

 

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Cloud 9

Coaches: Reignover (head), Westrice (asst), Mithy (strategic), Veigar v2 (position/strategic), Max Waldo (position/strategic), Gary Hoyt (sports psychologist)

Top: Fudge

Jungle: Blaber (+0.7 / 75.49) [2]

Mid: Perkz (-0.259 / 39.74) [10] (from LEC Summer as ADC)

ADC: Zven (-0.22 / 41.29) [8]

Support: Vulcan (-0.52 / 30.15) [9]

 

Projected Starters Overall AVG:  +0.14 / 54.79  * See note below

Projected Starters AVG Positional Rank: 5.4  * See note below

 

Thoughts:

* for players with no ratings “league average” for the position is used

Out: Licorice and Nisqy. In: Fudge and Perkz.

I mean, it’s hard not to be excited for Cloud 9 who landed one of the two greatest players in European history. If Perkz is anywhere remotely near where he’s been in his career he instantly becomes the best player NA has ever seen (since Crown crashed and burned). This team miraculously missed Worlds after dominating this league for the better part of 8 months and then made what appear to be upgrades. So I think the discussion here is to make the bear case for Cloud 9 since everyone seems to be a complete raging bull for this lineup.

I talked a lot about this roster during our hot stove season show and we’ll be talking about them more on this week’s recording (episode 89) but let’s tell ourselves the story where this team doesn’t quite work out and how that happens.

  1. We’ve seen imports from all sorts of leagues simply not work. It happens to even tremendous players like Bang and Crown. I think people forget that at the time Crown came here he was fresh off of a World Championship win and Bang had already taken two down himself. This isn’t the first world class talent to come to NA and it shouldn’t be automatically assumed that he makes a seamless transition although he doesn’t need to face the language barriers that those two faced.
  2. Perkz is obviously a hell of a player but part of G2’s magic over the past three or so years has been their overall talent and, perhaps more importantly, their irreplaceable chemistry. They also had one of the great Western coaches in Grabbz. There’s a chance Perkz doesn’t function nearly as effectively outside of that environment.
  3. Regression. Perkz could certainly just regress to a less than world class level. Age, burnout, wear and tear are all part of the game and happen to even the best players. 
  4. Coaching staff changes. Cloud 9 have had arguably the best coach in LCS history in Reapered at the helm and even though it was fair to question Cloud 9’s second half decisions and drafting last season, he’s had a half decade long track record of repeated success and plenty of “outcoaching” moments on his resume. They won’t have him this year.
  5. Zven was pretty terrible toward the end of last season and had an extremely poor end to the season. He’s had one “good” split in the past four. There’s a chance he’s past his prime. He’ll have to be better if Cloud 9 are going to hang with the other top teams.
  6. Fudge is a rookie. Now I think Fudge is going to be very good but he’s replacing one of the best players not just at his position, but overall, in the LCS in Licorice. Big shoes to fill. There’s a chance he’s good but not quite as good as Licorice was.
  7. Nisqy was actually really really good and there’s a chance that Perkz might not end up being that big of an upgrade when all is said and done.
  8. Blaber appeared to be “figured out” or “solved” by seasons end and looked a lot worse on non-tempo junglers. If the meta shifts away from that there could be issues. Luckily that’s the current metagame so they shouldn’t have any issue at least for now.

Some of these are more likely than others. I think looking past Zven, the coaching changes, and the fact that Nisqy was pretty damn good, and that Fudge is a rookie with gigantic shoes to fill would be ignorant. Cloud 9 should be great but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they’re not the clear best team in the LCS given the level of competition at the top of the table. 

Adjustments:

Pros

  • Perkz
  • Should fit into this metagame well with Blaber’s pool being excellent right now.
  • Some continuity, some fresh blood
  • Cloud 9 prospects have a long history of a high level of performance. Bodes well for Fudge.

Cons

  • Lost arguably the best coach in LCS history in Reapered.
  • If Perkz doesn’t work out this team suddenly looks good but not great.
  • See above “bear case” points

 

LCS Lock-In Futures

Price: +120 (45.45%)

Positions: None

Cloud 9 are simply too pricey for me. This is a super short tournament format with four best-of-ones in the group stage, a best-of-three, and two best-of-fives to take the whole thing down. There’s also a very strong case for a lack of motivation here. First in this tournament is worth 2% of the paycheck Perkz just made and it has no effect on LCS or Worlds seeding. I don’t think they’ll mail it in or anything like that but I want a hungry winner at this price. There’s also questions about how much practice this team has actually gotten together and whether or not we actually see a full lineup. Again, it’s difficult to tell who is going to give it their all at this tournament. That said, Cloud 9 have to have a sour taste in their mouth with how their year ended in 2020 and they could be extra juiced up just to send a message so it cuts both ways I suppose. In this short a format there’s no way I’d pay for a favorite like this unless it was DAMWON playing in the LCS or something like that.

 

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Counter Logic Gaming (CLG)

Coaches: Moon (head), Prymari (asst), Gutex (positional), Beora (analyst)

Top: Finn (+0.604 / 72.57) [2]

Jungle: Broxah (-0.39 / 34.83) [11]

Mid: Pobelter (-0.39 / 34.46) [11]

ADC: WildTurtle (-0.263 / 39.36) [9]

Support: Smoothie (+0.131 / 55.17) [5]

 

Projected Starters Overall AVG:  -0.17 / 43.24  * See note below

Projected Starters AVG Positional Rank: 8.0   * See note below

 

UPDATE: Solo and Keel have been added to CLG’s roster presumably because Finn and Broxah are having visa issues. While I’m significantly less bullish on CLG with this news I will mention that Keel has been getting some positive reviews by people I respect and Solo was a rock solid role player last year on FlyQuest. The bigger concern is how much practice time this roster will get together. I wouldn’t play a CLG future with this news so if you haven’t gotten down yet just ignore this one.

Thoughts:

* for players with no ratings “league average” for the position is used

I think CLG might be sneaky good. Finn graded out significantly better than public perception and I’m willing to admit that after going back and picking some random Rogue games to watch film from, that I might have been wrong in my evaluation that “he’s fine but unexciting.” Unexciting additions can be incredibly crafty pickups and I’m quickly becoming a fan of this lineup of savvy veterans. Finn and Broxah are in full “prove you wrong” mode after the public completely dumped on them all Summer long. Pobelter still has great chops and has been the hero on a number of extremely bad teams in the past. This lineup is significantly better than what he’s had to deal with recently. WildTurtle wasn’t his usual self and appears to be a completely reinvented player. No longer a stud on the stat sheet but playing a role and minimizing mistakes was a big part of FlyQuest’s success last season. We’ll see if that’s in the cards for this team or if they decide to be more aggressive. Smoothie is a couple splits removed from MVP consideration.

This is not a sexy lineup but these are all seasoned veterans and a young gun in Finn who wants to prove that it wasn’t just his teammates around him on Rogue doing all the heavy lifting. I also think he had stronger overall top lane competition in Europe so this could end up looking like a walk in the park relatively speaking. 

I like CLG quite a bit more than the market does. Especially for Spring split and the LCS Lock-In tournament. This is exactly the kind of roster that can come together quickly because of their experience and these players have all had points in their careers where they’ve been elite. Do I think it’s likely that they all peak for a long period? No, but I do think they probably deserve more respect than they’re currently getting.

Adjustments:

Pros

  • Experienced veterans
  • “Prove-it” season for multiple members coming off of either poor seasons or season where public perception deemed them as “bad” or “unexciting” (Finn, Broxah, and Smoothie especially)
  • All have shown the ability to be top end of their positions.
  • Veterans tend to come together quickly.

Cons

  • There’s a chance that all the veterans regress around the same time and this quickly becomes a dumpster fire situation. Wide range of outcomes.

 

LCS Lock-In Futures

Price: +2500 (3.846%)

Positions: to win LCS Lock-In @ +2500 (1 unit) (SEE UPDATE)

This is a bit of a “gut” handicap but I can definitely see it happening with this team. All of these players have shown, even recently that they can play toward the top of their positions and a few of them are coming off of “disappointing,” at least to the public, seasons. Not one year ago Broxah was considered one of the best junglers on earth. Smoothie was an MVP candidate a few splits back, Pobelter has been hard carrying bad teams even nearly a decade into his career, Finn was a silent killer in Europe, and WildTurtle has a ton of experience and looks to have reinvented his previously high-variance self last season. Don’t sleep on this team. I’ll likely be taking some of them to win Spring as well.

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Dignitas

Coaches: Jimmy (division coach), Invert (asst), Jim (head analyst)

Top: FakeGod

Jungle: Dardoch (+0.52 / 69.5) [4]

Mid: Soligo 

ADC: Neo

Support: Aphromoo (-0.66 / 25.46) [12]

 

Projected Starters Overall AVG:  -0.03 / 48.67   * see note

Projected Starters AVG Positional Rank: 6.8   * see note

 

Thoughts:

* for players with no ratings “league average” for the position is used

Dardoch returns which was, to me, the only other player worth retaining from this roster last season besides Johnson. Dardoch gets a lot of crap because of a few blunders he’s had in some high leverage situations in a few games and because of bias/”hate” from the Liquid documentary a few years ago. People point to those few big mistakes and ignore all of the brilliant stuff he does game in and game out. Dardoch is a really good jungler and maybe the most underrated player in the LCS over the past year or so. Soligo and FakeGod join from 100 Thieves and Cloud9 Academy respectively, the two academy systems we’re holding in high regard due to their investment in them. Neo is promoted from Dignitas Academy and joining them is veteran support Aphromoo. 

I’m not a huge fan of the Aphromoo signing since I personally think he’s actually past his prime but he’s only a year or so removed from being considered one of the better supports in the league so I wouldn’t rule out at least some positive regression.

This team has some level of potential. When you’ve got an intelligent and efficient jungler like Dardoch who has dealt with some rough teams before and still performed all it’s going to take is one of these solo lanes performing above expectation for this team to be competitive. I’m not saying they’re going to win the split or anything like that but they could avoid being a complete dumpster fire like this squad has dealt with for a little while now. I could see a middle of the table upside. I doubt this team will be a bad team even if they do end up finishing 10th. 

Adjustments:

Pros

  • Both solo lane prospects have a lot of potential. We’ve seen Soligo before but there’s a reason teams keep buying in and believing in him. They’ve got to see something. 
  • Dardoch is one of the best at his position in the league despite public perception.
  • Blend of veterans and younger prospects getting an opportunity. 

Cons

  • Lot of pressure on the solo lane prospects to perform. If neither exceeds expectations things could go south quickly.
  • I have questions about this bottom lane and they’re going to have to prove to me that they aren’t the worst duo in the league.

 

LCS Lock-In Futures

Price: +6600 (1.492%)

Positions: None

If this team had a serviceable bottom lane I actually wouldn’t mind taking a shot on them at this number but there’s just too many questions. Both solo lanes need to work, Dardoch needs to keep playing at a high level, AND the bottom lane needs to gel quickly and be roughly league average. If ALL of those things happen then I could see this team spiking this tournament but they came together later in the offseason than other teams and they’ll likely struggle in this event even if I think they might be a decent team with time.

 

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Evil Geniuses

Coaches: Peter Dun (head), Artemis (strategic), Turtle (asst), Mash (asst), Empyre (scouting and analysis)

Top: Impact (+0.003 / 50) [7]

Jungle: Svenskeren (-0.215 / 41.29) [9]

Mid: Jiizuke (-0.118 / 45.22) [8]

ADC: Deftly 

Support: IgNar (+1.02 / 84.38) [2]

 

Projected Starters Overall AVG:  +0.131 / 53.94   * see note

Projected Starters AVG Positional Rank:  6.4  * see note

 

Thoughts:

* for players with no ratings “league average” for the position is used

My colleagues are not big fans and Svenskeren and neither was the model given that he’s a more gank-focused than efficiency-focused jungler but I like the combination of him with these solo lanes. I was excited about him with Jiizuke last season and I will be again this season, however, the metagame still hasn’t moved back toward what I’d say is a favorable one for what Jiizuke likes to do as a player. He’s going to have to evolve his game and be better than last year even if he doesn’t quite get to the level he had in his Vitality days. 

Deftly and Ignar should be an explosive bottom lane. Both like to make plays and the current metagame is excellent for that with picks like Alistar, Leona, Samira, and Kaisa being frequent picks in the bottom lane. Given the current meta and stylings of those two players I actually think the EG bottom lane could be one of the better positioned duos in the league for at least the near term future. 

EG also add Impact from Team Liquid, a smart move to get a stable, versatile presence for an otherwise highly volatile team and coach Peter Dun from MAD Lions/Splyce. 

EG are like Rogue Warriors in the LPL but higher up the standings and with better overall talent relative to their league. I actually think Peter Dun is a perfect coach for a team like this. He’s a +EV style of coach willing to attack you in the draft and game planning. His teams have always tried to get every possible ounce of value out of every draft and I’m a huge fan of his approach even if it sometimes looks goofy. 

Evil Geniuses are a team that I could see running hot and cold. They’re going to be volatile, capable of winning any single game or series but they might struggle to find long-term consistency. EG are going to be a dangerous underdog and if they start off slow I’ll be looking for buy low opportunities for sure. 

 

Adjustments:

Pros

  • Explosive players given the right metagame. 
  • Bottom lane is positioned well, stylistically, in the current state of the game
  • Experienced veterans but not too “over the hill”
  • High ceiling, capable of winning any single game or series
  • Aggressive coaching staff to match aggressive collection of players
  • Philosophical uniformity from top-to-bottom, management to roster construction. 

Cons

  • Highly volatile team. This team is going to look brilliant and stupid sometimes in back-to-back games. Tougher to find consistent long term success.
  • If meta changes away from bottom lane while at the same time not to a place that’s good for Jiizuke this team could end up stuck and “patched out.” 

 

LCS Lock-In Futures

Price: +1000 (9.09%)

Positions: None

Was hoping to get a better price. I like this team for a short format tournament like this but not at this price point. I am going to be betting on this team as underdogs very often but when it comes time for the regular season I’m going to have to think long and hard about whether I think they can “run hot” through a double elimination bracket. I’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Don’t sleep on the ceiling for this team.

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FlyQuest

Coaches: Kanani (head), Sharkz (asst), Sygh (analyst)

Top: Licorice (+0.667 / 74.54) [3]

Jungle: Josedeodo 

Mid: Palafox

ADC: Johnsun (+0.256 / 59.87) [5]

Support: Diamond

 

Projected Starters Overall AVG:   +0.184 / 56.8  * see note

Projected Starters AVG Positional Rank:  5.8   * see note

 

Thoughts:

* for players with no ratings “league average” for the position is used

FlyQuest bring in Diamond who spent the better part of the past two seasons in the Cloud9 Academy system as well as fellow alumnus Palafox. They also add Licorice from Cloud 9’s main roster last season, one of the better top laners in the LCS over the past few years and Johnsun who had a promising debut campaign despite the exceedingly high expectations. Rounding out the lineup is an import from the Liga Latinoamerica (LLA) and arguably the most promising player from that scene, Josedeodo who we got a brief taste of at the 2020 World Championships with Rainbow7. 

This is a fresh, young-looking lineup but many of these players have been grinding stage games outside of the LCS for a long time. Palafox and Diamond have been working hard for years now for a chance and now they’re going to get it. Josedeodo was excellent at the World Championship and was one of the highest rated solo queue players amongst all of the pros playing on the Chinese “Super Server” during the tournament. He was utterly dominant domestically. 

It’s a bit narrative street-y but Licorice was “snubbed” for Fudge and is going to miss out on the Perkz addition. You can rest assured he’s not happy about how that turned out and he’s going to be out to prove a point this season. Licorice is one of the best home grown players in North American history. Don’t forget that. 

I like this lineup a lot, especially for a rebuild. A sophomore, a few guys hungry to take advantage of their first big stage opportunity, and one of the best domestic talents of all time to lead them. If these guys all peak at the same time I could see them performing quite well. That said, I could see there being some growing pains as well. 3/5th’s of this lineup hasn’t played major time on the LCS stage although you could argue that Josedeodo has played on a “bigger” stage at Worlds this will be the toughest domestic competition he’s ever had. I love the upside here but will be looking at this more as a Summer play and backing them later in the Spring season when they get time to develop.

Adjustments:

Pros

  • High upside prospects all around.
  • Young and hungry. Palafox and Diamond have been grinding challenger scene for a long time to get this chance only reason they didn’t before was because their superiors were elite. Josedeodo wants to prove it in his first “major region” opportunity.
  • Licorice is still extremely good and Johnsun will be another year better.

Cons

  • Growing pains. This roster is young and inexperienced when it comes to “big stage” although they’ve been playing professionally for a long time. Could be a perfect blend and not really a downside depending on how they handle it.
  • Will have a tough time measuring up to the truly elite players in the league.
  • More of a late Spring and Summer team than one I think will be good right away.

LCS Lock-In Futures

Price: +1800 (5.263%)

Positions: None

Longer term I like this team quite a bit but right now with such little time together they’ll be hard pressed to have a good showing at the Lock-In. As mentioned above, maybe a team to back at the end of this season or in Summer once they have time to grow together. High potential.

 

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Golden Guardians

Coaches: Inero (head), ChuChuZ (asst), Spookz (player), Swip3rR (player), Bubbadub (analyst)

Top: Niles

Jungle: Iconic

Mid: Ablazeolive

ADC: Stixxay (-0.69 / 24.2) [11]

Support: Newbie

 

Projected Starters Overall AVG: -0.174 / 43.326  * see note

Projected Starters AVG Positional Rank: 7.4  * see note

 

Thoughts:

* for players with no ratings “league average” for the position is used

Niles and Iconic join from the Maryville University team which has absolutely dominated that scene and even had success overseas against Asian universities. Ablazeolive is finally getting a starting opportunity after years and years of grinding the challenger scene to get here with multiple teams. Newbie is the second Liga Latinoamerica import from this season but an unfamiliar face for many since we didn’t see him at Worlds like we did Josedeodo. Newbie was the first Latin American player to reach challenger on the Korean server and is a multi-time domestic champion in the LLA with All Knights and Isurus. He might be new here but he’s not a new player to the professional scene where he’s been starting since 2015. 

To me the big question here is Stixxay who did not impress me at all last season and had been, in my opinion, tremendously overrated for the majority of his career before that. I can understand wanting a veteran to lead the new guys and maybe that’s the logic here but there’s a reasonable chance that he’s the worst player on this team. 

That said, I like this team for similar reasons to why I like FlyQuest. Handful of players that have been grinding for the opportunity and are finally getting it, a veteran to lead them, and an import that’s been one of the best players in the history of his league. Even if the league is smaller, good is good so I like taking the premium players from smaller leagues and giving them a shot. I think Golden Guardians might be more of a late Spring and Summer team just like FlyQuest but there’s a chance the top trio just run completely roughshod all over the league outside of the elite teams. Niles and Iconic are INSANELY GOOD and I’ve been waiting for a long time to finally get to see them on the professional stage. Hopefully they deliver!

 

Adjustments:

Pros

  • Very high upside top trio. Niles and Iconic are two of the best prospects in North America despite not playing in the challenger scene as much as some of these others. Ablazeolive has been a top five solo queue player for the better part of the past four or so years and he’s been diligently awaiting an opportunity in the pros.
  • Young and hungry just like FlyQuest. Explosive talent that wants to seize the opportunity.

Cons

  • Growing pains. First time, full-time LCS experience for 4/5th’s of this roster. 
  • Stixxay leaves much to be desired.
  • Need top trio to deliver on high expectations or this could go south.

LCS Lock-In Futures

Price: +6600 (1.49%)

Positions: None

Again, just like FlyQuest, I love the late Spring into Summer timeline for this team but I’d imagine they’re going to struggle early unless Niles and Iconic just go berserk immediately. Wouldn’t be surprised if that happened but I wouldn’t bet on it. 

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Immortals

Coaches: Guilhoto (head), Malaclypse (asst), KappEquiscu (analyst)

Top: Revenge *

Jungle: Xerxe (+0.48 / 68.08) [2] (ratings from LEC Summer)

Mid: Insanity (+0.46 / 67.36) [5]

ADC: Raes *

Support: Destiny (+0.1 / 53.59) [8] (from LEC Summer)

 

Projected Starters Overall AVG: +0.1 / 53.79  * see note

Projected Starters AVG Positional Rank: 5.8 * see note

 

Thoughts:

* for players with no ratings “league average” for the position is used

Revenge is an interesting experiment. A solo queue star that hasn’t really had a lot of organized play experience (one split with FlyQuest Academy). Perhaps a player recommendation? Xerxe got a lot of crap from people but graded out as one of the best junglers in the LEC last year, #2 in Summer, in my individual player model. Admittedly much better than even I had him and I wasn’t as down as most on him. As a fellow Karthus one-trick I used to study Insanity’s solo queue film quite a bit as recently as a little over a year ago and I knew that he’d he an absolute beast if he could transition away from it and into meta champions. That proved true as he had an impressive debut campaign even on a very poor Immortals 2020 lineup. He would have been the only player I kept from that lineup and that’s what they did.

Raes and Destiny both hail from the Oceanic Pro League although Destiny spent 2020 in Europe. Most Western fans got their first taste of Raes at the 2020 World Championships with Legacy but he’d played previously for years with Dire Wolves and Chiefs. He’s arguably the greatest player of all time from the OPL so it’s going to be interesting seeing how he performs in the LCS.

Overall I like this team but a lot hinges on Revenge. The direct solo queue-to-stage jump is a tumultuous one. For every Pyosik there are five failed experiments but I guess Immortals evaluated everything and figured they’d take a shot on a bit of a wildcard. There’s a chance we see Revenge start strong since teams won’t have a lot of film on him from Academy other than a brief stint with FlyQuest Academy. The rest of this lineup I actually like quite a bit. Reunite two OPL veterans that will likely have some camaraderie in the bottom lane, a stud mid laner entering his sophomore season, an experienced and underrated jungler, and your experimental choice in the top. Reasonable upside, quite a bit of downside if Revenge ends up not measuring up.

Adjustments:

Pros

  • Upside is certainly there but perhaps more questions than some of the other rebuilding lineups.
  • Insanity and Xerxe could prove to be much better mid/jungle duo than people might think.

Cons

  • Huge question with Revenge.
  • Possible the OPL bottom lane is more camaraderie than actually good although I would expect them to be at least serviceable. 
  • If Insanity regresses at all this team might struggle. 
  • Need a lot of things to go well to be a real contender. Might be a 9th or 10th place team that isn’t bad but isn’t good enough.

LCS Lock-In Futures

Price: +2500 (+3.846%)

Positions: None

The allure of the unknown here is intriguing but not at this price. I think this team could be better than a lot of people expect but still not great if that makes sense. If Revenge ends up being pretty good and the bottom lane is league average or better than Immortals will be a team I back early and often as they’ll be cheap but I’m going to wait and see.

 

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Team Liquid

Coaches: Jatt (head), Kold (former LEC, Strategic), H4xDefender (two-way), Yaltz (head analyst), Teekhay (remote analyst), Zercei (analyst)

Top: Alphari (+0.75 / 77.04) [1] (from LEC Summer)

Jungle:  Santorin (+0.87 / 80.78) [1]

Mid: Jensen (+0.51 / 69.5) [4]

ADC: Tactical (+0.67 / 74.54) [4]

Support: CoreJJ (+0.78 / 78.23) [3]

 

 

Projected Starters Overall AVG: +0.716 / 76.02

Projected Starters AVG Positional Rank: 2.6

 

Thoughts:

* for players with no ratings “league average” for the position is used. I used league average for Alphari even though he was #1 with a bullet in the LEC top laners

I absolutely love this lineup and think Liquid are the best top-to-bottom roster in the LCS. They are arguably top two or three at every single position and brought in Alphari, who completely dominated in the top lane in Europe despite being on a bottom of the table team. The sky is the limit for this roster and unless we see some heavy heavy regression or Alphari struggle to make the transition to North America then I think you’re looking at the best team in the LCS. This is a very difficult team to poke holes in and they’ll be another split in with Jatt and his coaching staff who did a stellar job turning around a brutal Spring split performance. 

Adjustments:

Pros

  • Great coaching staff
  • Elite talent at every single position
  • Import arguably the best player at his position in the LEC. Assuming smooth transition, should be instantly the best top laner in the LCS.
  • Continuity in coaching staff and 3/5th’s of starting lineup.
  • Tactical another split matured.

Cons

  • Alphari doesn’t make the transition from EU and NA smoothly/growing pains.
  • Some of the veterans have been playing for many years, could be some burnout/wear-and-tear/regression.

 

LCS Lock-In Futures

Price: +220 (31.25%)

Positions: to win Lock-In @ +220 (6 units)

I don’t normally pay up for favorites but I think this roster is better than Cloud 9 and that they should be favored. Frankly, other than hype, I have no idea why they aren’t as they had a decent showing at Worlds as well. They did draw a tougher group than Cloud 9 did with 100 Thieves, CLG, GGS, and TSM but I think this is the best team in the tournament and arguably the one with the highest floor. I’ll likely be backing Liquid to win Spring as well. 

This is a heavy handed wager given the price tag but we’ll likely have opportunities to buy out of this position at plus money along the way. Four out of five teams will make it out of each group and I have a hard time seeing Liquid not at least get out of it and into the knockout stage where we’ll have a few chances to buy out of this if we don’t like what we see.

—————————

 

Team Solo Mid

Coaches: Bjergsen (Head), Mabrey (asst), Curry (asst), Kayys (strategic)

Top: Huni (+0.03 / 51.2)[5]

Jungle: Spica (-0.58 / 28.1)[12]

Mid: PowerOfEvil (+0.71 / 76.11)[2]

ADC: Lost

Support: SwordArt (+0.20 / 57.926) [14]  (ratings from LPL Summer)

 

Projected Starters Overall AVG: +0.05 / 51.72  * see note

Projected Starters AVG Positional Rank: 6.2  * see note

 

Thoughts:

* for players with no ratings “league average” for the position is used

Somehow the most talked about offseason was TSM even with Perkz coming to North America. The whole fiasco with SwordArt possibly not coming over due to contract issues potentially screwing up the Huni and PowerOfEvil trades, Bjergsen retiring to become a coach, Doublelift retiring again… just a complete mess. Now that we’ve settle on a lineup let’s see what we’ve got.

SwordArt is obviously the big acquisition to most. The World Championship Finalist with Suning has had a long and storied career in the LPL and LMS with multiple Worlds Top 8 appearances and many domestic titles, especially back in his LMS days. SwordArt is a savvy, experienced veteran that’s quite good when the meta fits him. Worlds last season was an absolutely perfect metagame for him. His best champions throughout his career happened to be the best champions at the time. He was a great leader for Suning and mentored budding super star carry Huanfeng well, at least on the rift. All of that said, I do think he’s been a slightly overrated player throughout his career. He’s been a bit of a liability when the meta doesn’t favor him and even during a perfect meta he wasn’t close to the best support in the league. Now, the LPL is also much steeper competition than the LCS and there’s a chance he comes over here and just goes wild on this league but there are some talented supports here as well and the game is much MUCH different than it is in the LPL. Don’t assume, like Perkz and Alphari, that the transition will be automatic and seamless, especially with language barriers. Luckily, reports are that his English is great and he has some help with eastern teammates. Also working in his favor is the current meta appears to still be very good for his style of champions. 

I the full complement of additions give TSM a huge upside not just SwordArt. 

PowerOfEvil was an absolute monster last season in both Spring and Summer. This guy has been nails for years on end now and he seems immovable. POE might quietly be one of the best Western players of all time given the degree of consistency he’s had throughout so many rosters in his career. This was just about the best possible replacement for Bjergsen and I’d argue it might even be an upgrade overall.

Huni has had his ups and downs but let’s not forget this is a former World Champion that’s had success in three leagues over the course of his career. Let’s not hold a few mentally checked out Academy games cloud our judgement. Huni isn’t as much of a feast or famine player as people think and given quality surroundings he’ll feel less inclined to have to outplay every situation to carry his team.

Spica proved me wrong time and time again last year and the meta remains excellent for what he was doing last season. This kid is really good and I expect him to continue his progression as a sophomore. 

Perhaps the most unknown of the bunch if Lost, who spent last season with TSM Acadmey and was one of the better ADC’s in the league. Before that he was with Echo Fox’s Academy system and years before that played in the OPL with Legacy and a few other teams. Lost is a gifted player that’s been grinding for an opportunity for awhile now and he’s going to get it. Luckily for him he’s got a great surrounding cast and the style he plays should be a good fit for the current collection of heavily played carries we’re currently seeing. 

I like this TSM lineup a lot, particularly for their upside. There’s a chance all of the moving parts make them a bit rough to start but the overall quality of players they have is second only to Liquid for me. I like this roster more than I like Cloud 9 even with Perkz in the mix. Lost is the biggest question mark and ADC is the perfect spot to have the one relatively new guy playing and truthfully he’s not even new having been a professional for half a decade now. It might seem hip to want to fade the drama and the hype but this team is completely stacked with talent and I expect them to be competing to win the title in Spring once they get some time to build chemistry.

Although they had a great read on the meta and I gave props to their coaching staff during the Summer playoffs, the past few years with Parth and company on this staff I’ve constantly been disappointed with their read, approach, and drafts. I legitimately think that Bjergsen could prove to be an upgrade as a coach even in his first chance at the gig. Just because TSM’s staff did a great job for about a month when it mattered last year doesn’t excuse the years of shortcomings before that. 

Adjustments:

Pros

  • Extremely high ceiling. Loaded with talent.
  • Elite players at every position except ADC if Huni can return to career average form.
  • Current metagame is perfect for a few of the new pieces including SwordArt.
  • Veteran experience, even for the pseudo-rookie ADC Lost who has been playing professionally for more than half a decade. 
  • Possibly a coaching upgrade? I’ve been skeptical of TSM’s coaching staff over the past few years. Even in his first experience in the role Bjergsen could end up being an upgrade. 

Cons

  • Lots of moving parts. A lot of turnover in the offseason means they might be a bit of a slow starter as they get themselves acclimated.
  • Rookie head coach. Bjergsen has been around the scene for almost a decade but this will be his first experience as a coach. I expect him to make the transition well as his character, skill set, and demeanor seem well-suited to the role but there’s a chance we get some growing pains. 
  • Huni has been a little up and down recently but don’t forget that even at 2019 Worlds he was impressive with a much worst Clutch team than this lineup.
  • If meta shifts away from SwordArt, reasonable to question whether he’s worth the paycheck. Should still be good but maybe not dominant.

LCS Lock-In Futures

Price: +500 (16.67%)

Positions: to win Lock-In @ +500 (3 units)

This team just has too much talent and upside not to take a chance on. I have Liquid as the top team, TSM, Cloud 9, and 100 Thieves shortly behind them but I think TSM have the most upside of that bunch. There are a lot of moving pieces for sure and maybe they don’t start off well but all they need to do is be one of the four out of five teams to get out of this group (albeit a hard one) and we can look for hedging opportunities or re-evaluate from there. Good chance they get paired against someone from the weaker group. I’ll likely have TSM to win Spring futures as well but we’ll talk about that at a different time.

 

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Power Rankings and Tiers

I like to organize my pre-season evaluations into tiers over specific individual rankings although I will include them here. It’s more important to have an idea of where the cutoff points and separations are in overall quality than the specific finishing position which is significantly more results oriented. Below is how I define my tiers.

 

    • S Tier – These are your championship contenders and the teams. They have the fewest questions to answer and typically have very high floor or “worst case scenarios.”
  • A Tier – These teams are typically one or two pieces away or one big question answered from joining the S Tier. A Tier teams are very likely playoff teams.
  • B Tier – On the outside looking in for playoff position. Frequently not bad but not good enough to consistently perform against the top two tiers. Usually have multiple scenarios that need to go well to result in an upgrade to a higher tier. Capable of “running hot” and beating better teams but tend to settle out of playoffs by seasons’ end.
  • C Tier – Teams that are almost definitely not making the playoffs. Usually lack overall talent or have too many “if’s” regarding prospects or new players/coaches. Usually toward the bottom of the table.
  • D Tier and worse – Teams that are either definitely worse than even the C Tier or that simply don’t look like a team that should be competing in the league they’re in. Lack talent, experience, usually need a lot of things to go right to even be mediocre.

 

S Tier

 

  • Team Liquid (S+)

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  • Team Solo Mid
  • Cloud 9

——————————

  • 100 Thieves (S-)

 

A Tier

 

  • Counter Logic Gaming
  • Evil Geniuses
  • FlyQuest

 

B Tier

 

  • Golden Guardians
  • Immortals
  • Dignitas

 

I actually like the LCS overall this split and think it should be a much more competitive league at the top and even through the rest of the table. I don’t know if we’ll see any truly bad teams like we did last season. The entire league should be elevated off of what I considered a bit of a “down” year. A few of these B Tier teams definitely have upside bull cases where they can over exceed expectations but this tier list ultimately breaks down to sort these teams by who I have the least-to-most questions for. 

 

Futures Portfolio:

 

When considering outright futures you need to calculate the books hold percentage, convert the odds to percentage chances, and as a rule of thumb take an even distribution of the hold percentage to each team. Some prefer to add more to the top end as that’s typically how books price it but for the sake of this exercise I just used an even distribution. Then factor in that this capital will be tied up and not available to you for other positions/leverage. 

 

For me, a team needs to have not just a higher chance than their projected odds, but a significantly higher chance to justify tying up the capital. For higher end teams I typically need to see a 10% edge between my projection and the implied price. For medium and lower it’s usually double.

 

I broke down each team, assigned my own percentage chance based on a combination of factors. I took the player-based model projections, adjusted upward or downward by percentages based on the pro’s and con’s listed here for each team, and factored in priors to some degree for teams with a lot of continuity. I then created my own outright market by assigning a percentage to each team and compared it to the book markets. Any place that I saw substantial value I took a position. 

 

Hold percentages grow with the amount of offerings in the market. While the LPL futures had roughly a 37.4% book hold, the LEC came in closer to 21.5%. The LCS tallied up to a surprisingly high 30.9% for the Lock-In Tournament which is ten teams just like the LEC but a shorter format and likely more variance because of it. These are only at one location for the sake of this piece but you should calculate the hold percentage for whichever book you’re using. It’s typically going to be a shade over 2% which is in line with the -110 “rake” of 2.4% per side that we’re used to in most traditional sports. 

 

My colleague John George, here at The Esports Department, has one of the most succinct ways I’ve heard of putting the concept of volatility in regards to futures markets;

 

“You’re not picking who the best team is, you’re picking who is going to win the tournament/league.” 

 

How often does the best team actually win their conference or the title in traditional sports? 50% of the time? 75%? 90%? Oftentimes we see the team that is widely considered to be the best fail to finish as the eventual winner. Does this make them not the best team? No. When evaluating top of the table or expensive teams it’s important to determine their level of volatility. Some teams “bad case scenarios” still look pretty good on paper. Certainly take that into account but remind yourself that no team is immune to volatility. No one. 

 

To Win LCS – Lock In Tournament

 

  • Team Liquid +220 (6 units to win a net of 5.45u all told)
  • 100 Thieves @ +700 (3.75 units to win a net of 16.25u all told)
  • Team Solo Mid +500 (3 units to win a net of 4.25u all told)
  • Counter Logic Gaming @ +2500 (1 unit to win a net of 12.25u all told)(SEE UPDATE)

Total Exposure: 13.75 units

This is more than I’d normally put on a tournament with such a big hold but I showed value on each of these teams when building my own futures market. It’s also a shorter format tournament with really obvious and easy spots to hedge out of these positions if need be. Given that this will only be a couple of weeks long I don’t mind the capital being tied up either like it would for a season long tournament. This layout would have me winning a net of 5.45 units on a Liquid win, 4.25 if TSM wins, and much much more if CLG or 100 Thieves spike it. 

A big part of why I’m betting so heavily in this tournament has to do with the format and how the groups drew out. The Knockout Stage will be pairing teams from the two groups against each other. The two groups are as follows:

 

Group A: 

  • 100 Thieves
  • Counter Logic Gaming
  • Golden Guardians
  • Team Liquid
  • Team Solo Mid

Group B:

  • Cloud 9
  • Dignitas
  • Evil Geniuses
  • FlyQuest
  • Immortals

 

Group A is really stacked compared to Group B. Four out of five teams will make it out. So unless you finish last place in the group, which I have a hard time seeing happen with the young Golden Guardians team in Group A, the good teams are all going to get out and two of them will likely catch at least relatively easier matchups from the other group than if they had to face their own.

 

Let’s assume Golden Guardians and Dignitas are the odd teams out. Group A finishes something along the lines of Liquid #1, TSM #2, 100T #3, CLG #4 and Group B finishes something like Cloud 9 #1, FlyQuest #2, Evil Geniuses #3, and Immortals #4. With this setup you’d have Liquid playing Immortals, 100T playing FlyQuest, TSM playing Evil Geniuses, and Cloud 9 playing CLG. Other than Cloud 9 I think you’d see the Group A team favored, likely rather heavily in those series. We could legitimately have the three or all four teams from Group A in the semifinals which would essentially lock up a profit for us. I’ve essentially built a parlay against Cloud 9 (and to a lesser extent FlyQuest and EG) at roughly -323 in the “worst case winning” scenario. 

 

  • If TSM win I placed a ~ -323 
  • If Liquid win I placed a  ~ -262
  • If 100 Thieves win I placed a ~ +119
  • If CLG win I played a ~ -112

 

Now obviously Cloud 9 could win this but I have a hard time really seeing any of these other teams taking it down. Maybe I give Evil Geniuses or FlyQuest an outside shot but this is essentially a Group A vs Cloud 9 event to me and as you’ve read I’m a little more bearish on Cloud 9 than the public and A LOT more bearish than the book price.

 

We’ll re-evaluate that power rankings and likely do another LCS total futures post after this tournament is over and we ramp up for the regular season.

 

I’ll see you next time!

 

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If you would like to see a video or another article on this process feel free to let me know on Twitter (@GelatiLOL) or hit me up on the Discord. If there’s interest I’d be happy to do a piece on my process for this in more detail.

 

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