Sunday, February 7th Recap
It’s been a few days with no LCK or LPL action this week but here were our results from Sunday.
Hanwha Life vs Liiv Sandbox (Net: +5.71 units)
DAMWON vs DRX (Net: +2.0 units)
Victory Five vs eStar (Net: +4.765 units)
LNG Esports vs RareAtom (Net: +1.0 units)
Invictus vs Royal Never Give Up (Net: -0.44 units)
FlyQuest vs Team Liquid (Net: +1.0 units)
Evil Geniuses vs Golden Guardians (Net: -2.73 units)
Cloud 9 vs Immortals (Net: -2.83 units)
100 Thieves vs Dignitas (Net: +1.5 units)
TSM vs CLG (Net: no action)
LPL Net Total: +5.325 units
LCK Net Total: +7.71units
LCS Net Total: -3.06 units
Daily Net Total: +9.975 units
Strong finish to the weekend.
LOL European Championship (LEC)
Week 4 – Day 1
With the LCK and LPL off for the Chinese New Year break all we’ve got this week is the LEC and LCS as well as a few of the wildcard region leagues. While I don’t typically write on those, if there are any opportunities I see I’ll be sure to let you know. Notably, the PCS starts up tomorrow (Friday). The PCS, or Pacific Championship Series, is entering its second season of combined Taiwan (former LMS) and Southeast Asia action and has historically been the next strongest of the “non-major” leagues. Historically they’ve had more success internationally than the LCS so it’s a league that we should take seriously with regard to Worlds contenders. Just something to pay attention to over the year.
As we enter Week 4 in the LEC there haven’t been any glaring or out of the ordinary trends to emerge. G2, Rogue, and Fnatic look head-and-shoulders ahead of the rest of the league currently, the middle of the table is still anyone’s ballgame, and the bottom of the table squads have already begun making changes to remain competitive.
FC Schalke 04 -345 vs Astralis +249
Kill Total: 23.5 (over -114 / under -115)
Kill Spread: -7.5 @ -109 / +7.5 @ -120
Team Kill Totals: 14.5 / 8.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over -192 / under +145)
Schalke have been looking much better and have gone undefeated their past two weeks against SK and Misfits, and more impressively G2 and Rogue. It’s a small sample but they’ve got top of the league quality economy statistics and appear to be firing on all cylinders right now.
Astralis is… well, the opposite. I was more bullish (not last place, still not good) on Astralis than most but they’ve looked absolutely dreadful this season. The outer lanes have been getting whooped every game and they seemingly never look to be on the same page. Nukeduck is taking an indefinitely leave of absence for undisclosed personal reasons. In steps Fnatic Rising and EU Masters stud Magifelix. Nukeduck has been better than his lowlight moments this season and has delivered roughly a league average performance level (mid #7, -0.2 rating). Magifelix is stepping into a bad situation, to put it lightly so I’m not entirely sure how much of a difference this will make for Astralis but I applaud them for a least picking up a premium talent for this situation.
Schalke should roll here but I’m not laying this kind of moneyline with them. With these kill and time totals and this kill spread I’m not exactly keen on any of the markets in this contest. Pass
Team Vitality +112 vs Excel Esports -143
Kill Total: 23.5 (over -123 / under -105)
Kill Spread: +3.5 @ -112 / -3.5 @ -116
Team Kill Totals: 10.5 / 12.5
Time Total: 34:00 (over -125 / under -104)
Vitality made a move this week by adding fomer SK Gaming carry Crownshot to their squad after a rough 1-6 start to the season. There’s a lot to unwrap with this move but I’ll put speculation to the side and just say a few things regarding the players. Comp and Labrov were quietly one of the best duo lanes in the West since the beginning of Summer and even this season were strong despite Vitality’s flaws later in the game. They each ranked #1 at their position in my individual player model primarily due to their contributions in the vision game being two country miles better than the field which inflated their numbers a bit. Still, they’ve been effective and efficient from a metrics perspective but Comp has definitely made some critical errors in positioning. Either way, they’re significantly better than public perception. Crownshot is almost definitely an upgrade but I think it’s fair to question just how much of an upgrade in regards to our handicap and outlook for Vitality moving forward. Most people are going to view this as a MASSIVE upgrade. Time will tell just how much of an individual difference it will make.
The thing that makes a ton of sense about this move and why I’m excited about it is that Vitality’s mid and late game decision making has been their problem this season. They’ve been ahead in games and have managed to throw away a few of them with some suspect positioning and choices. It hasn’t just been a matter of being outscaled. Crownshot did a lot of the in-game leadership for a revitalized SK lineup last season and if he can bring that to Vitality there’s a chance we see an instant team-wide improvement even if the bottom lane takes a little bit of time to gel from a laning perspective.
Vitality were already better than their record. It’s not that difficult to imagine this team at 4-3 with some better decisions and their underlying metrics suggest that they’re being undervalued right now. Combine that with a potentially substantial upgrade and you could have the makings of a run brewing here.
What’s challenging about this handicap is that Excel have turned things around as well. Money has come in on Excel since we recorded and discussed this match on The Gold Card Podcast on Wednesday night and we’re now left with a better value on what could be a refreshed Vitality squad.
I really want to buy-in on Vitality here but I do think this is a wait and see sort of situation at least for the first day. He’s only been with the team for a few days and while I tend to think they wouldn’t be doing this if they weren’t confident that he’d have an immediate impact, there’s still a chance this takes a little bit to kick in. I’ll be evaluating this game closely. If it looks like an instant chemistry type situation then I’ll probably back them Saturday but I wouldn’t fault anyone for taking a shot on them here.
Getting anything remotely close to even money on an under 34:00 seems like a great bargain to me even with a slightly slower league overall this season. It’s still a high total and I think there’s a perfectly reasonable chance for either team to snowball this match. It’s almost a fundamental under at this point in the season.
Time Total: UNDER 34:00 @ -104 (1.04 units)
Misfits +286 vs G2 Esports -400
Kill Total: 27.5 (over -114 / under -115)
Kill Spread: +8.5 @ -118 / -8.5 @ -110
Team Kill Totals: 9.5 / 17.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over -108 / under -122)
Misfits are the perfect example of why you don’t overreact to a strong week one or “highlight reel” plays. This team is feisty and aggressive and I like that they’ve chosen an identity for themselves but I’ve seen enough red flags already in just this small sample size to know that this team is more or less playing aggressively because they don’t think they’ll win otherwise. They’ve picked up some big leads and shown that they don’t always know how to finish teams off. In fact, they’ve struggled to show even the very basic concepts of how to close a game out or to operate these more snowball dependent team compositions (like grouping against the 5v5 comp last week for example).
Typically I like these kinds of teams as big underdogs but G2 could get behind and stall this game out better than just about any team in the LEC and I just can’t see Misfits closing efficiently even if they pull out to a lead. Even more likely? A clinical G2 stomping. G2 have been rather volatile in the method through which they win games. It hasn’t been one strict game plan or style. That makes me a little hesitant to take the under here especially given Misfit’s trademark aggression so far but I do think they’re a very strong likelihood the G2 to just roll this in no time. I’ll take a shot on the under 27.5.
Kill Total: UNDER 27.5 @ -115 (1.15 units)
MAD Lions +157 vs Rogue -204
Kill Total: 24.5 (over -115 / under -114)
Kill Spread: +5.5 @ -120 / -5.5 @ -109
Team Kill Totals: 9.5 / 14.5
Time Total: 33:00 (over -112 / under -116)
MAD had a rough go of it last week including one “lowlight” reel performance by Carzzy against SK. This is a CLASSIC overreaction spot. MAD Lions are an aggressive team, they took an aggressive stance in the draft, something they’ve gained a ton of value doing over the past year, and sometimes they get punished for it. They consistently make +EV decisions drafting but sometimes people attack you for it and that’s what happened here. It’s not really “regressive bias” per se but in a similar fashion, people tend to remember the extremes and not the mean/median performance. You might not remember what you had for lunch on Tuesday three weeks ago but you’ll remember the burnt toast you had at the diner or the luxurious steak dinner you had on vacation. This was the burnt toast for MAD Lions. That said, it’s fair to question Carzzy’s form overall this season. He hasn’t been nearly as dominant although he definitely hasn’t been as poor as that performance either.
I think Rogue are the real deal and legitimately close to G2 in caliber. My colleagues do not agree with me but they sit atop the league in gold differential per minute, and next to a few of the world’s most elite teams (FPX, DWG) have one of the best gold differentials at 15 minutes as well as kill agnostic economies in the world. To some, their new aggressive “look” has been a nice change of pace, but Rogue are very much playing the same way that they did all year last year, just with different tools at their disposal to further enable that.
I’m about a staunch a Rogue bull as you will find but even I’m laying off this one. Maybe I’ll regret that in a few weeks but this seems like a bit too much of an overreaction over MAD Lions Week 3 performance.
I do like the under time total quite a bit though. Both of these teams can snowball a lead with the best of them and I think there’s a very good chance we see a lopsided match one way or the other here.
Time Total: UNDER 33:00 @ -116 (1.16 units)
Fnatic -263 vs SK Gaming +197
Kill Total: 27.5 (over -114 / under -115)
Kill Spread: -6.5 @ -116 / +6.5 @ -112
Team Kill Totals: 16.5 / 10.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over +131 / under -172)
I’m not sure what they put in the water over at the Fnatic facility but this team plays like they chugged ten Red Bull’s and did a line of coke off their desk during champion select! Fnatic are averaging more than a kill per minute in just the first fifteen minutes of the game for the season and have been on an absolute rampage since a sluggish week one start… maybe they didn’t have their caffeine yet. It hasn’t all been raw, unadulterated aggression either, they’re doing the “old G2” and just fighting while accruing advantages all over the map, at least most of the time. They’re going to look really stupid when they drop games here or there but Selfmade and Nisqy are a tremendous fit for this roster and Fnatic are going to be extremely entertaining for most people to watch this season.
SK Gaming have looked much better than I thought they would but they’ve struggled mightily against the top of the table. Even when they jumped out to first blood and first tower on G2 it never really felt like they had a good shot in the game. I do think SK are probably better than my initial evaluation but they’re going to have a tough time competing with the top of the table.
There’s a chance Fnatic’s aggression gets the best of them at times and they’re certainly going to lose some games in spectacular fashion playing this way but we’ll pick up the value on the overreactions in those spots. I typically hate laying big chalk on teams with more volatile stylings but I do think Fnatic are the side in this contest though. There’s enough of an overall gap in player quality and Fnatic are playing lights out at the moment.
Moneyline: Fnatic -263 (2.63 units)
LOL Championship Series (LCS)
Week 2 – Day 1
The Lock-In Tournament gave us a little pre-season taste of the things to come but don’t forget that the LCS season is still very young and with changes to the format it’s still fairly forgiving to those that have a rough start. While it won’t be a literal “Spring doesn’t matter” this time around with the records carrying over, the added round robin in Summer does give at least some leeway to sluggish starts. Obviouls you can point to certain teams over others but I just wanted to take this time to remind everyone not to overreact to a pre-season tournament and one week of play.
I’ll still be treading lightly on sides in the LCS except in spots that I think are obvious or that I have a particularly strong stance. There’s no reason to rush this and force plays that aren’t there or to overpay. We can be selective, particularly early on while we get a good grasp for what these teams really are and not just from the single digit games we’ve seen from them so far.
100 Thieves -256 vs FlyQuest +194
Kill Total: 26.5 (over -114 / under -115)
Kill Spread: -6.5 @ -112 / +6.5 @ -116
Team Kill Totals: 15.5 / 10.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over -132 / under +101)
In much the same way as Victory Five from the LPL, 100 Thieves play like they want to be the premier “uptempo” team in the LCS. This kind of style fights what 4/5’s of this lineup did on Golden Guardians who had a similar identity last year. This style comes with a lot of benefits, particularly in a league that moves at a snails pace where you can catch a lot of people off guard. We saw Cloud 9 smash playing this way last season. The downside is you index heavily into early game which puts a lot of weight on your ability to execute precisely. For this reason, when teams that play with this identity lose it tends to LOOK very bad. This brews excellent overreaction spots to back. Just like the Vitality discussion above, look at the mean and median over the extremes that stick out in your mind.
The reason I mention this with 100 Thieves is that they’ve had a few games that have gotten away from them but they’ve also done something you don’t frequently see from teams with this identity, especially early in the season; they’ve managed to pull a few wins where they were clearly outscaled and stalled out out of a hat and manage a win out of it. On one hand this could be a critique saying “you shouldn’t have been there to begin with” or “your opponents threw this” (which is mostly true) but the ability to figure wins out in weird situations isn’t something that should be ignored either.
Prior the the Lock-In I identified both of these teams as having different long term trajectories. 100 Thieves had a lot more continuity than most teams, a young and ever improving roster that was hitting their stride toward the end of Summer last year. To me they looked like they’d have a strong start. FlyQuest on the other hand were a team that I figured would have some growing pains with a lot of turn over, young players, and some in a new setting. It was going to take some time for them to gel but I ultimately think they’d be a quality team. I still think both of these are true. Josedeodo made an immediate impact on FlyQuest when he joined late in the Lock-In and every passing week I expect this team to improve. 100 Thieves have had a bit of a hot start as anticipated.
I don’t normally write this much on best-of-ones but early in the season I like to point out things to monitor and I think for both of these teams it’s crucial to view things through this lens.
100 Thieves are clearly the more polished team at the moment and I do think they’ll win this match but this price is just a little bit too rich for me in an early season best-of-one. FlyQuest or pass, the latter for me.
I like the kill total under quite a bit here as well. There’s a good amount of the outcomes of this game that end with a lopsided win for either side and particularly in 100 Thieves games we’re going to like unders despite what has transpired so far. We’ve had a lot of “clown fiestas” already this season that are severely warping these total numbers. Time total unders are going to be the play this week as well.
Time Total: UNDER 32:00 @ +101 (1 unit)
Kill Total: UNDER 26.5 @ -115 (1.15 units)
Team Liquid -833 vs Counter Logic Gaming +509
Kill Total: 22.5 (over -114 / under -115)
Kill Spread: -7.5 @ -109 / +7.5 @ -120
Team Kill Totals: 15.5 / 5.5
Time Total: 31:00 (over -105 / under -123)
Still no Broxah for CLG and Pobelter got the academy start so I’d assume we’re seeing Rjs in the mid lane again this week. He looked great until the first intermission in the 100 Thieves game and decent against TSM and Dignitas as well. CLG are dealing with a weird roster situation so it’s really tough to feel strong about backing them in a many spots or even passing a lot of judgment until we see the full roster, presumably in a couple of weeks.
Liquid are much the opposite and look like the class of the LCS as anticipated. Alphari has been ridiculously dominant so far. Turns out he’s good, who knew… Really though, Liquid look ultra polished, outclass almost everyone at every single position with maybe a couple exceptions and even with the changes appear to be in mid-season form already. They’ll drop games from time to time but they’re going to be a grind you up and spit you out group of try-hards and I love those kinds of teams because they’re predictable.
Liquid have no ego, no qualms about beating you 9-4. They don’t style, they don’t appear interested in “cheesing” yet, and look like they’re out to prove something. Becuase they have limited ego, I’m absolutely going to love backing underdog kill spreads against them this season. All three dogs covered last week (IMT +9.5, Dig +8.5, and FLY +8.5). The number has come down while the total has remained the same at 22.5 kills. This is one of the few spreads I’ll be avoiding against Liquid this season who are frequently going to have 8-10.5’s against these weaker squads. Good chance Liquid destory a disjointed CLG here. 5.5 is an extremely low team total and it feels hard not to fire on it but I’m steering clear of this one.
Cloud 9 -179 vs Evil Geniuses +135
Kill Total: 26.5 (over -114 / under -115)
Kill Spread: -4.5 @ -109 / +4.5 @ -120
Team Kill Totals: 14.5 / 11.5
Time Total: 34:00 (over +171 / under -227)
Evil Geniuses appear to have embraced their aggression and willingness to outskirmish and individually outplay other teams. I absolutely love the identity. They’re going to be a great punch up underdog against the elite squads this season and their overall player quality is going to be enough to shield them from too many sloppy losses against the bottom and middle of the table, although I’m sure we’ll see a few here and there.
Cloud 9 looked improved from the Lock-In with dominant performances last week averaging +3600 gold differential at 15 minutes across their three games. The catch here is that they did it against a somewhat soft schedule of TSM (bad current form), Golden Guardians (growing pains), and Immortals who I do think are pretty good but got completely run over. Evil Geniuses present a much more challenging look.
With a week of the “Camp Fudge” strategy on tape I think teams will be able to make adjustments. Evil Geniuses also have Impact who utterly destroyed all but Alphari in the Lock-In tournament. That’s going to be a problem. If you believe in narratives you’ve also got the Jiizuke finally getting a chance to face Perkz again this time in North America.
Evil Geniuses, much like 100 Thieves and honestly Cloud 9, are going to have their “look bad” moments but ultimately I think they’re all going to be pretty good teams. I like the underdogs here. This should be closer to a coin flip this early in the season particularly given the form we’ve seen from both. Cloud 9 are being hyped up from stomping on a couple bad teams week but we saw during the Lock-In, they’re far from inflappable at the moment.
Time total is way overjuiced but that’s where I’d lean. Pass there, but I do like the kill total under. Sure, both of these teams are scrappy but again, most scenarios are going to play out with a lopsided win one way or the other here. A reminder, the average total in the LCS in week one was 23.43 which was an adjustment down from the Lock-In’s average of 24.33 so this looks like an overreaction to a bloody week one.
Kill Total: UNDER 26.5 @ -115 (1.15 units)
Moneyline: Evil Geniuses +135 (1 unit)
Golden Guardians +225 vs Team Solo Mid -303
Kill Total: 23.5 (over -114 / under -115)
Kill Spread: +7.5 @ -123 / -7.5 @ -105
Team Kill Totals: 8.5 / 14.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over -118 / under -111)
It’s a little weird to say given the names on TSM but both of these teams are going through growing pains right now. I expect both will be significantly better as the season goes on. That said, this handicap is simple… TSM don’t deserve to be laying -303 to anybody in the LCS right now, even Golden Guardians. Close your nose and put the underdogs on your ticket.
Kill Spread: Golden Guardians +7.5 @ -123 (1.23 units)
Moneyline: Golden Guardians +225 (0.5 units)
Immortals -110 vs Dignitas -120
Kill Total: 23.5 (over -108 / under -127)
Kill Spread: +2.5 @ -118 / -2.5 @ -114
Team Kill Totals: 10.5 / 11.5
Time Total: 33:00 (over +102 / under -139)
This is one of my favorite positions of the week but it’s mostly just an eye test situation. Immortals look pretty good to me. They took a game off of Liquid on Friday but the absolute shellacking they received from Cloud 9 on Sunday left a bad taste in people’s mouths. Dignitas haven’t really shown me anything… at all. It took a 1+ kill per minute bonanza against CLG, one of the bottom of the table teams for them to sneak one out. I will admit, they did have 100 Thieves and Liquid to close out the week, not the easiest schedule but they looked absolutely toothless in those endeavors as well.
There’s a chance this is a huge overreaction by me, maybe my only one in the LCS so far. Call it a “gut” handicap and tail at your own risk but Immortals just look like a VASTLY superior lineup individually and they’ve looked pretty sharp for a new roster despite the two losses. I made this my Pick of the Week on The Gold Card Podcast this week.
Kill Spread (alt): Immortals -1.5 kills @ +118 (1 unit)
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)