League of Legends European Championship

Summer 2021 Season Preview

 

 

 

Pre-Season Adjustments

 

I’m just going to go team-by-team here and then big picture view at the end.

 

Astralis

Add: no changes

Out: no changes

 

Astralis were far and away the worst team in the LEC this season but they also made a lot of improvement over the course of the split. For the first few weeks with Nukeduck at the helm, the outer lanes were just getting completely destroyed and it really made things difficult overall. After a few weeks MagiFelix stepped in when Nukeduck took a personal leave, the whole team leveled up in general. A lot of people point to MagiFelix as the catalyst, I think it was mostly just coincidence, neither played significantly better than one another or really altered the style of the team in any way, the outer lanes just stopped getting dumpstered and the team was able to stay competitive for a change.

Astralis did slowly improve over the course of the season and I think there’s a reasonable chance that that trajectory continues but by no means do I think they’ll be competing to win the split or even make playoffs. At least we’ll know the bottom of the table in Europe should be competent at the very least. There are some nice building blocks on this roster, most obviously Zanzarah and this metagame could be great for him so I’m cautiously optimistic despite not thinking this team is really going to make a lot of noise in the grand scheme of things.

RANK (GPM in win) RANK (GDPM in win) RANK (GPM in loss) RANK (GDPM in loss) RANK (WAGPM) RANK (WAGDIFF) RANK (kill agnostic GPM) RANK (kill agnostic GDPM) RANK (Opp kill agnostic GPM)
8.0 9.0 9.0 7.0 8.0 9.0 10.0 9.0 10.0

 

 

 

Excel Esports

Add: Nukeduck, Denyk

Out: Czekolad, Tore

 

As a community I think we’ve gone a little too far in the “pro-rebuilding” frame of mind. While I do think some teams string out a losing roster for way too long in the hopes of remaining relevant and are hesitant to “blow it all up” I don’t always think it’s a bad thing to just have serviceable veterans either. We also don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes in terms of personalities and chemistry all the time. That’s a discussion for a different time.

Regardless of what you think of these moves for the long term success of Excel (some people think they should be developing for the future), I think these moves make them better in the here-and-now. I’ve stumped for Nukeduck in the past but the long story short is that he’s a guy that’s had a tremendously consistent career across a variety of rosters and metagames, his champion pool is versatile and deep, and he’s a great in-game leader. What did he do wrong to garner all the hate from everyone? He’s old and unexciting and had the worst season of his career. I’ll simply warn people that assuming people are “washed up” is stupid. Wait until you see it to make that determination. One bad season doesn’t make a washed up player.

I think Excel are going to contend for a top six position this season. I actually like the construction of this roster in general although I think it’s a little weird that they kept, in my opinion, their weakest player in Dan. Time will tell I suppose but the rest of this lineup looks rock solid to me and a major part of Excel’s issues last season were game-to-game consistency and stability. They should look much different this season even if I don’t think they’re a title contender. They’re far from an elite team but they will most certainly be a team that is undervalued by the market and will likely earn quite a few bets from me, especially early on.

RANK (GPM in win) RANK (GDPM in win) RANK (GPM in loss) RANK (GDPM in loss) RANK (WAGPM) RANK (WAGDIFF) RANK (kill agnostic GPM) RANK (kill agnostic GDPM) RANK (Opp kill agnostic GPM)
10.0 10.0 10.0 10.0 10.0 10.0 9.0 8.0 9.0

 

 

Schalke 04

Add: Nuclearint (from academy), Kirei

Out: Gilius (to substitute), Abbedagge (to 100 Thieves)

 

What a weird offseason for Schalke. There was a lot of speculation about the financial troubles of the Schalke franchise but nothing really came of that ultimately (unless you want to argue losing Abbedagge). Gilius moving to sub is another weird move but it makes me feel like maybe there’s something going on there, perhaps he needs a break or wasn’t getting along with the new teammates. Kirei, who we’ve seen at various points before will replace him. Nuclearint has been grinding the developmental scene in Europe for awhile with quite a bit of success. The general consensus on him is that he’s quite good albeit slightly overrated relative to those fields of players. He’s talented but raw so we’ll see how the transition goes.

There’s no replacing your best player easily. There’s no real way around that, but I do think this roster is actually decent. Limit and Neon were excellent and Brokenblade showed that the move back to Europe wouldn’t hinder his progression either. I think the outer lanes can do a lot to stabilize this team in general. They’re both very versatile. It’s simply going to be a matter of how Kirei and Nuclearint make the transition to this level with mid-jungle becoming more important again on the current patch.

Another cautiously optimistic but not expecting much. Unlike some of the other mid table teams, Schalke are being priced as a good team by the books based on their previous results. They’re overpriced currently and likely going to be a fade early and then back them after the market corrects.

RANK (GPM in win) RANK (GDPM in win) RANK (GPM in loss) RANK (GDPM in loss) RANK (WAGPM) RANK (WAGDIFF) RANK (kill agnostic GPM) RANK (kill agnostic GDPM) RANK (Opp kill agnostic GPM)
5.0 6.0 6.0 3.0 5.0 6.0 4.0 6.0 4.0

 

Fnatic

Add: Adam (from Karmine Corp), Bwipo to jungle

Out:  Selfmade

 

There is a lot of whispers about the culture behind the scenes for Fnatic and regarding the whole situation here but I’m not going to speculate on all of that, just look at what we’ve got.

Fnatic were an immensely talented team individually they just did not play well as a team. Either they’d completely steamroll individual and skirmish oriented plays and stomp a game or they’d look completely lost. They were essentially a very good solo queue team. While Selfmade is considered by many to be one of the most talented junglers in Europe, it doesn’t really matter if the chemistry isn’t there. I actually think this could be a positive move for Fnatic. Players changing positions is one of the most overblown narratives in the industry. It’s usually not as big a deal as people think if the player is just good. Bwipo is very good. In fact, he might end up being a better jungler just based on how he likes to play the game.

I think Fnatic could surprise people. There is so much skepticism around this team but since the moves were made you haven’t heard anything negative once the news itself settled down. Adam was a tremendous developmental player, one of the best at any position in the entire scene in Europe and this team is top-to-bottom ridiculously talented even still after losing Selfmade. If they can become a more finely tuned, synergistic team I think Fnatic could re-enter that top tier conversation. I’m optimistic.

RANK (GPM in win) RANK (GDPM in win) RANK (GPM in loss) RANK (GDPM in loss) RANK (WAGPM) RANK (WAGDIFF) RANK (kill agnostic GPM) RANK (kill agnostic GDPM) RANK (Opp kill agnostic GPM)
1.0 4.0 5.0 9.0 1.0 4.0 6.0 4.0 6.0

 

 

G2 Esports

Add: Nelson (coach)

Out:  no changes

 

Is this the end of G2? Or was that just a bad season?

That’s the click bait version of what everyone is thinking but I also think that how you handicap G2 heading into this split heavily depends on what you think about those questions. Individually they were still peforming at a very high level by most performance metrics although I’d argue Mikyx’s film was less than flattering and it was probably his worst split as a professional player.

We could nitpick the individual players all we want but looking at G2 as a whole it’s rather simple, they were fairly pedestrian by just about every measure we have. They ended up ranked fourth in the economy/objective models power rankings in their own tier below Misfits and above Schalke and Fnatic. They were nearly a full standard deviation behind Rogue and MAD Lions. The reality of the situation is that they finished where they deserved to. They were no higher than 3rd in any advanced or adjusted metric (their best was 3rd in all three kill-agnostic economy metrics). They were 8th in gold differential per minute in losses, 4th in win-adjusted gold per minute, 4th in gold per minute in wins. They were, by most measures, just above an average team.

Ultimately I think this team is too talented not to regress at least somewhat back to their “former glory.” One bad split doesn’t end a team. We’ve seen this before across the world over the years but because of the ridiculously high expectations we have for this team this felt like a gut punch.

Where do I stand on G2? Nothing would surprise me with this roster but if I had a gun to my head I’d say they’re the third best team in Europe now. For years and years they got by with superior macro and dragging people around the map to cover up a lot of imperfections. They were still very good but in a world where the game no longer facilitates that sort of thing and where the other top teams have advanced their play, I don’t think it’s automatic to assume this team will just go back to being good “because it’s G2.” At the same time, they could … “because it’s G2.”

I’m treating G2 as what they were until I see something else from them. I think they’re in their own tier below MAD and Rogue and I think that’s being very generous to them. The individual talent is still there and they should be in that elite tier with those two teams but the competition at the top of the table is fierce and I think teams like Fnatic and Misfits are going to be even better this season. G2 have to show me some progression. They won’t be getting the benefit of the doubt from me.

They’re being priced more or less as co-favorites with MAD and Rogue and I think that’s severely overrating them based on historical performance. I’ll be taking a wait and see approach to G2 to start the season.

RANK (GPM in win) RANK (GDPM in win) RANK (GPM in loss) RANK (GDPM in loss) RANK (WAGPM) RANK (WAGDIFF) RANK (kill agnostic GPM) RANK (kill agnostic GDPM) RANK (Opp kill agnostic GPM)
4.0 5.0 7.0 8.0 4.0 5.0 3.0 3.0 3.0

 

 

MAD Lions

Add: no changes

Out:  no changes

MAD showed very well at the Mid-Season Invitational taking DAMWON to five games in their knockout stage series and generally looked to have shaken the “choke on the big stage” narrative from the 2020 World Championships.

They can be really dumb sometimes but this team is just flat out good and they’re extremely confident. The model still has them very slightly behind Rogue overall but the two of them were leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the field and I think that’s deserved.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit of a post-MSI hangover which could be a good thing if we get their market price down to more reasonable levels but MAD Lions are likely going to be a favorite we fade quite often despite respecting how good they are. They’re simply going to be overpriced for awhile and they’re a team that can beat themselves flipping coins too often sometimes which sets up some good underdog plays against them. By no means does that mean I think they’re overrated, just overpriced.

RANK (GPM in win) RANK (GDPM in win) RANK (GPM in loss) RANK (GDPM in loss) RANK (WAGPM) RANK (WAGDIFF) RANK (kill agnostic GPM) RANK (kill agnostic GDPM) RANK (Opp kill agnostic GPM)
3.0 2.0 1.0 5.0 3.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0

 

 

Misfits Gaming

Add: multiple coaching staff additions

Out: Denyk, Enatron (former head coach), F1re (former analyst)

Misfits were extremely one-dimensional at times last season but as I’ve discussed with DRX, sometimes that’s the best course of action for a young team to get their feet under them. Solidify an identity and add on to it from there. Misfits ended up being a pretty damn good team by the end of the Spring season. While I’m not quite as bullish on them as the model is they did rank in the top three in almost every adjust performance metric, including 1st in win-adjusted gold differential per minute and not below 5th in any one category. They were first in gold differential per minute in wins, 2nd in gold differential per minute in losses. They also progressively improved over the course of the season.

I think everything sets up for Misfits to be a sleeping giant this season. They’re being extremely undervalued by the market based on their performance. Their overall profile has them in a similar tier to Rogue and MAD Lions in most performance metrics and that was with an underdeveloped macro game. They’re a young roster that should take a step forward with a few players’ first season now under the belts. All of these underlying currents should create a rising tide and I want to get ahead of that. I’ll be heavy on Misfits early and often and looking to back them any way I can this season.

RANK (GPM in win) RANK (GDPM in win) RANK (GPM in loss) RANK (GDPM in loss) RANK (WAGPM) RANK (WAGDIFF) RANK (kill agnostic GPM) RANK (kill agnostic GDPM) RANK (Opp kill agnostic GPM)
2.0 1.0 3.0 2.0 2.0 1.0 5.0 5.0 5.0

 

 

Rogue

Add: no changes

Out: no changes

The manner in which Rogue lost the finals was absolutely tragic. I thought they were the better team in that series and were the best team in the LEC last season it just didn’t end up being the final result. Still, losing to MAD Lions isn’t exactly a huge knock. They also remain one of the most horribly mischaracterized teams in the league. They had by far the strongest early game in the league for yet another season and people are still treating this team like a “slow and steady,” or “more controlled” etc. They can be both people…. I digress.

I fully expect Rogue to remain one of, if not the best team in Europe this season even with other squads taking a step forward. There is still room for improvement here.

RANK (GPM in win) RANK (GDPM in win) RANK (GPM in loss) RANK (GDPM in loss) RANK (WAGPM) RANK (WAGDIFF) RANK (kill agnostic GPM) RANK (kill agnostic GDPM) RANK (Opp kill agnostic GPM)
6.0 3.0 2.0 4.0 6.0 3.0 1.0 1.0 1.0

 

 

SK Gaming

Add: Treatz moves to jungle, Jesiz from coach to support, Twohoyrz (temp sub to start season)

Out: Tynx (to substitute)

(Note: Twohoyrz will be filling in for Blue in week one due to illness)

 

SK Gaming were a team that I liked the character of but didn’t believe in a lot last season. They were the DRX of the LEC. They dug themselves in holes way too often to be a consistent performer and lucked into that never really affecting their results to a major extent. I think they’re the top candidate for regression this season.

I don’t think this roster is particularly poor or anything but their overall performance was drastically below their actual win total (just like DRX). I’m not ruling out that they improve though even with all of the moving pieces here. Treatz solo carried this team on multiple occasions and bailed them out of a lot of terrible situations with game breaking plays. I don’t think that’s reliable or really consistently repeatable but they could also improve with him in yet another playmaking role. For the sake of handicapping I’m treating SK as somewhere in the middle of a hard regression and a slight overall improvement which is going to put them firmly in the unexciting middle to bottom of the table range. I don’t think this team is bad but they’re significantly worse than the record and results they had in Spring. Figure they’ll finish in the bottom three.

 

RANK (GPM in win) RANK (GDPM in win) RANK (GPM in loss) RANK (GDPM in loss) RANK (WAGPM) RANK (WAGDIFF) RANK (kill agnostic GPM) RANK (kill agnostic GDPM) RANK (Opp kill agnostic GPM)
7.0 8.0 4.0 6.0 7.0 8.0 7.0 10.0 7.0

 

 

Team Vitality

Add: SLT (top), Selfmade (jungle), LIDER (mid)

Out: Szygenda, Skeanz

Vitality made the most changes this offseason which I found a little weird considering their performance but the organization wants results so it’s hard to fault them for blowing it up and starting fresh.

I’m going to be honest here. This team has one of the widest ranges of outcomes in any league, maybe the most. If things go well, the potential on this roster is ridiculous but there are a TON of potential issues. First, there are a lot of big personalities on this team. It’s not secret the accusations about Selfmade’s toxicity and he isn’t the only one. This could be a too many cooks in the kitchen situation and if things go south it could blow up quickly.

Second, stylistically this could be a disaster. The big knock on LIDER in his attempts to get to and play at this level over the years is that he’s too one-dimensional to play the pro game. He’s going to get another shot and this is a metagame where I could actually see him thriving but he’s got a lot to prove even from a stylistic perspective. Almost every player on this team wants to be a hard carry and that can sometimes be a problem (see the too many cooks in the kitchen cliche).

I’m open to the possibility of this working out but there are not a lot of great things coming out of the Vitality camp so far so I’m going to take a “prove it” approach to Vitality especially since the market, I believe, way over-adjusted when attempting to factor these changes in. Vitality are going to be overpriced and if it blows up… well we could end up with very few spots to back or even fade them this season. Don’t be afraid to be patient. Don’t think that you need to be the smartest person in the room. Sometimes it’s ok to just wait and see how this is going to shake out.

 

 

Spring Priors / Power Ratings

Post Spring 2021
Team Power # Rank
ROG 1.34444021 1
MAD 1.005501853 2
MSF 0.6081938243 3
G2 0.3421791918 4
S04 0.1503852211 5
FNC -0.1086928632 6
SK -0.7153120616 7
XL -0.7182666327 8
VIT -0.7329984551 9
AST -1.123967607 10

 

My Tier List

(ordered but order matters less than overall tier)

S Tier – Rogue, MAD Lions

A Tier – Misfits, G2, Fnatic

B Tier – Excel, Schalke, Vitality* (average of A and C tiers)

C Tier – SK Gaming, Astralis

 

I do think Rogue and MAD Lions are a cut above the rest of the league but I also expect the A and B Tier teams to be significantly improved this season which means they might not finish with quite as dominant a record over the field. As I mentioned above I’m very bullish on Misfits’ prospects for this season. It’s sort of just a perfect storm situation of being undervalued, plenty of basic macro stuff to improve on, a good metagame for them, and a quietly impressive team in Spring that’s off the radar for most people. G2 are the wild card. If they return “to the old form” then the top of the table in Europe is going to be a blast to watch. It wouldn’t surprise me at all but I’m leaning toward them proving it first. B Tier is the more stable Excel and Schalke lineups and Vitality either being A or C (put them in B to average it out). I don’t think SK or Astralis are bad teams but I just don’t see them making playoffs in this field.

 

 

—-

 

Futures Positions

Prices:

 

Team Futures Price Futures Price (Decimal) Futures Price (as %) % needed to warrant wager
G2 175 2.75 36.364 37.850
Rogue 200 3 33.333 34.819
MAD Lions 225 3.25 30.769 32.255
Fnatic 1000 11 9.091 10.577
Vitality 1600 17 5.882 7.368
Schalke 04 3300 34 2.941 4.427
Misfits 4000 41 2.439 3.925
Excel 5000 51 1.961 3.447
Astralis 6600 67 1.493 2.979
SK Gaming 10000 101 0.990 2.476

 

Total Hold Percentage: 25.263%

Break-Even Modifier: 1.486%

 

The break-even modifier is the hold divided by the number of options in the market. If you apply it to the implied odds suggested by the market price you get the implied percent change of the outcome necessary to warrant a futures position.

For example: Fnatic’s implied price from the book is 9.091% to win the split but given the hold (vig, rake, etc.) you’d need to consider 10.577%, or the odds you’re really betting into in this market. So unless you think Fnatic are more than 10.577% to win the split then it’s not  a wager you should make UNLESS you have a plan to play it over the course of the season or take profits, etc.

 

G2 are getting way too much respect for the season they just turned in. Would it surprise anybody to see them return to the elite tier? Absolutely not but there’s just no way you can bet any of the top three teams to me since I think they’re all more than capable of winning this season.

Fnatic and Misfits are my upside plays and I think the only “longer” shots that I could see pulling off a split win. I’ll be playing each for one unit.

 

Futures Positions:

 

To Win Summer 2021: Fnatic +1000 (1 unit) (+1066 at Pinnacle)

To Win Summer 2021: Misfits Gaming +4000 (1 unit) (+4249 at Pinnacle)

(listed price for record keeping purposes)

 


I believe in accountability. For years I’ve tracked all of my picks publicly. 2021’s selections will be via this spreadsheet but it isn’t updated until AFTER the games have started. The Esports Department subscribers get the first look.

Check out The Gold Card Podcast and can find me on Twitter @GelatiLOL

(all lines from Nitrogen unless noted otherwise)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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