Thursday, January 14th Recap

 

Every once in awhile you just get a really bizarre day of matches. There will almost certainly be more but this was the first one of the year, and I say that without considering favorites or underdogs or anything like that. These were just weird results and even weirder games.

Nongshim RF vs Liiv Sandbox (Net: +2.5 units)

Game one looked a little closer than it actually was but both teams played a fairly disciplined game making each other do everything by the book. Sandbox snowballed game two very quickly and LSB had 12 kills and a 4000 gold lead at the 14 minute mark. Game three got off to a rough start with Summit solo killing Rich and taking his tower at around the 11 minute mark with the help of herald shortly afterwards. Nongshim didn’t look like they were on the same page at all when only two members went to contest the third dragon. After that, LSB were looking to make a pick near the blue raptor pit, for what reason I’ll never know, but Effort hexflashed over the wall and got an absolutely insane engagement on Alistar to flip what looked like a harmless but lazy peek into the jungle into a clean ace at the 17:45 mark.

Game three was essentially over with LSB in full control with a poke comp and a 3500 gold lead as well as two dragons on their side before they punted it all away on this play which sent this game spiraling out of control. Nongshim honestly tried to throw it back too with a really questionable decision on how to engage at the fourth dragon fight. LSB maintained their gold lead through the entire game but ended up getting wiped again at the fifth dragon fight because of what looked to me like a split call. Half the team backed off, the others stayed in for the smite. It’s possible the call was try to smite for the soul and just take the death while everyone gets out but the way LSB split up afterwards didn’t really look thought out. Nongshim were able to chase down the 3 as 5, grab the baron, and end the game.

Bay died to wolves in this game too  by the way, not that it had much consequence on anything it was just funny.

This was extremely poor play in the mid to late game by both of these teams. As a matter of fact it was shockingly bad for the LCK which prides itself on solid macro and understanding of how to avoid critical and sloppy mistakes. Maybe it’s just first match jitters for a lot of new teams and players, it is early in the season after all, but man this was an ugly game three especially.

 

DRX vs Afreeca (Net: -9.27 units)

Ooof…. well that’s about as bad as it can possibly go. I’ll spare you all the hulk smashing I’d like to give to this team right now but the long and short of it is that Afreeca lead in all three of these games and made really REALLY stupid mistakes in game one . Game one was essentially over and they just didn’t play out the game cleanly. Game two was fairly clinical. Game three they had a lead, had set up a gap in vision against DRX that Solka stepped up into unknowingly but Lehends didn’t pull the trigger on ultimate because he was trying to maximize the time he was CC’d from the root+ult combo. Solka managed to quickly pull an Orianna ult combo that essentially wiped Afreeca on the spot taking two members extremely low. Without the Seraphine ultimate up and Solka living, Afreeca were without their key cooldown and this fight was over.

The rest of the game was painful to watch. With limited engage tools against Gragas, Kindred, Orianna it made it extremely hard to do anything other than fish with Zoe bubbles so Afreeca just had to hope for a mistake that never happened.

This one hurts. Afreeca looked very poor during the KeSPA Cup and perhaps it was a sign. I don’t put much stock into offseason tournaments because for every case where a team looks bad and then plays badly in the regular season, there are ten that are plays bad in KeSPA Cup but plays fine or even well in regular season. Afreeca barely lost to anyone below them in the standings at all last year, the line was cheap, it was a perfect storm. Too good to be true I guess. Ultimately this might not end up mattering and we’ve got to do our best not to overreact to one series but man was this a bad look to open the season. Realistically this should have been a 2-0 shellacking and it ended up in a 1-2 loss. They were way ahead in game one and struggled to close because they dilly-dally’d around. They whooped in game two, and then the disastrous mistake in game three, where they also had a lead, cost them.

I had a poor record in “larger positions” last year for the first time in my handicapping career. It seemed like the books got away lucky on every single perfect storm situation where there was an obviously wrong line or a ton of value.  Not the start I wanted but I would absolutely make the same wager again. The price was just wrong but sometimes you just lose and there’s no sense to make from it. Is what it is.

DRX were ok but this sort of full on punting is so rare in the LCK that you shouldn’t suddenly become hopeful for this team by any stretch. They did some things well but there were moments even after they had clawed back where they made mistakes and more importantly Afreeca just missed opportunities in a few situations to get them into this situation. This should have been a 2-0. I’ll be fading DRX in their next match for sure.

 

JD Gaming vs BLG (Net: -1.3375 units)

After a weird slow rotation BiliBili managed to catch JDG not on the same page at the first herald, punish what looked like a miscommunication between Zoom and the rest of the team and they came alive after that. BLG were way ahead in the transition out of lane phase but Zoom made up for the error at herald with a sick cleanup at the third dragon. BLG didn’t have any cooldowns left to stop or burst down Aatrox and that’s bad news when he’s as farmed as he was from the free lane matchup against Ornn.

The baron fight in this first game was weird too. BLG made a great pick on LvMao to set it up and then it looked like a split call between committing to the fight (over the wall) and staying in the pit. Meteor ended up securing the baron but JDG were able to pick up an ace off of it to clear the buff.

I have absolutely no idea how BLG lost this game one which turned into a complete clown fiesta. Between this game and game three of RedForce/Sandbox it was already shaping up to be a weird one for the ages regardless of where my positions were. This is CLASSIC early season League of Legends. Sloppy, unrefined, slow, rusty, mistake riddled game play across the board. Never underestimate it. Anyway…

Game two was looking very similar. JDG severely screwed up the setup and rotation to the first herald, BLG punished, but what looked like poor communication resulted in JDG somehow pulling the skirmish afterwards out of a hat to make it into an even exchange.

Look, outplays are cool and everything and we love to watch them and we have to give some amount of credit to the chops of the players and certain teams in those situations to pull them out sometimes, but like turnovers in football, they’re often very high variance and aren’t indicative of repeatable performance or situations. Sometimes it is, sure, most of the time it’s not. In this case, Lillia was the reason this went so well, she’s incredible in these exact situations but even still, JDG got away with one here.

This series, and really all of the series this morning, are a good example of early season sloppiness at its finest. Multiple teams looking really good until one play just completely swings the game in an instant. I’m not putting too much stock into this for either team. JDG probably need to clean up their early game and not get themselves in these situations and BLG need to not throw with big leads. It’s one series, I’m assuming both teams will clean things up and I expect them both to be strong performers this season, this one was just weird.

 

Suning vs RNG (Net: -1.61 units)

And just to top it all off we got another weird one…. Xiaohu cheesing with Orianna top and RNG with the rope-a-dope around the map to somehow manage to close game one. Suning stomped game two when Xiaohu tempted fate again this time with AP Malphite. Game three looked like the dozen circus acts that Suning had during the Summer season where it went the distance with a million drakes and barons and all sorts of buffoonery on both sides.

I don’t know what to really take from this series other than this; hopefully RNG don’t think that because they won some games doing it, that it’s a good idea to keep doing these sorts of weird top lane picks to give Xiaohu a crutch. Sure it might work, and you can bust them out once in awhile to throw a curveball, but in the long term, you’re going to need him to develop into the metagame. Obviously it’s early and he hasn’t been playing this role for long so it makes some amount of sense to “smooth” the transition but I’m just worried that they’ll win and keep thinking they should do this when I think if you spend too much time it’ll stunt this teams development.

Still, RNG put on a macro clinic in this series. They were impressive. The bottom of the table are really going to struggle with this team regardless of who is playing what in the top lane because unlike a lot of the LPL this team actually understands the big picture. Hopefully they continue to develop.

 

LPL Net Total: -2.9475 units

LCK Net Total: -6.77 units

 

Daily Net Total: -9.7175 units

 

Just a brutal day. They happen. All four of these series were bizarre and on days like this I find the best thing you can do is evaluate your positions, see if you were overzealous, and if not and the process/logic was sound then just laugh it off. No use tilting over weird early season days. Still ten months of League ahead of us.

 


 

(I’m going to copy/paste this intro from day one into the first handful of days of matches as a reminder for those just joining us)

“Predicting the metagame”

I’ve done some research into what has been played during the offseason tournaments and on the current patch but while I think it’s important to have a general idea of what’s going on in terms of the champions picked and style of the game in its current state, it can be a futile endeavor to predict every team’s tendencies. Even if you consider your read on the game to be very accurate, it doesn’t mean that all teams, coaches, and players will act rationally and hold the same opinion. For these reasons I try to abstain from making decisive calls based on the metagame in the first few weeks.

That leads me to my next point….

Cognitive Biases and Overall Approach to Opening Weeks

How you decide to attack the first few weeks depends heavily on your risk tolerance but no matter what you choose to do it’s important that you have structure within your process. Over the years I’ve been very aggressive early on in the year because I trust my evaluation of the offseason more than the books and there are frequently very bad lines. There are pros and cons to this approach. While you might be “ahead of the curve” on a team, you could also get yourself in trouble “sticking to your guns” for too long. Last year, for example, I was overconfident that TSM were a good team based on my pre-season evaluation and continued backing them over and over insisting that they’d eventually meet my expectations. Long story, short; they never did.

Another way to play the early season is to be very selective and take more of a “wait and see” approach. This is more what I’ll be doing this season with a few exceptions for what I think are extremely undervalued and overvalued teams.

I’ll be discussing the different cognitive biases over the course of this season, likely in an evergreen style article or podcast but I think the two that come into play this early are overconfidence and confirmation bias if you are “right” about a team in the first few games. It’s a long season folks and the first few weeks mean very little in the grand scheme of things.

In short, I’ll be taking a less aggressive and more of the aforementioned “wait and see” approach to the opening weeks than I have in the past. Staking will be smaller until we get a decent picture of what each of these teams starts to look like and then we’ll ramp up from there along with the models and our eyes collecting more data. Of course, there are going to be a few exceptions to this. There are a handful of teams that I think are not just undervalued, but extremely undervalued and we have some bigger picture trends that I’m going to discuss below that I want to take advantage of early on.

Spring Last Year

We had a bit of a bizarre year last year (obviously…) with the first LPL week being played before the league went on hold over concerns about COVID-19 before picking back up again in the second week of March. In a way we got two different week ones. We had 34 matches over those two separate week ones. Let’s take a look at some of the results:

  • 8 underdog 2-0’s (LGD def TOP, SN def BLG, EDG def eStar, SN def EDG, RNG def TOP, RW def SN, eStar def RW). Admittedly a few of these look a bit silly in hindsight such as eStar who dominated the rest of Spring split and Suning being underdogs to BLG only to eventually end up in World finals.
  • Favorites had a combined 20-14 moneyline record with average odds of -521 over the 34 matches. (underdogs averaged +237 on the moneyline)
  • Favorites went a combined 13-21 against the map spread with average odds just over even at +17.38 (underdogs near even as well at -98.38)

If you would have wagered the same amount on every single underdog map spread through the first two weeks you would have had a +84.35% return on investment. While that seems ridiculous there is a history of this phenomenon across the globe in the major region domestic leagues specifically in the Spring split.

Why is this the case? Some of the good teams had a longer season with a handful of them going to playoffs and the World Championships and the players and coaches don’t get as much preparation time since most take a break while other teams are working (think Super Bowl hangover). Many teams both good and bad are dealing with roster shuffling as players are moved around. The game is also more “chaotic” and “raw” early in the season with the pre-season patch, where most of the major changes to the game for the year take place, only about a month old. It takes awhile to figure the balance out resulting in some over and underpowered champions and higher variance games. There are also coaching and infrastructure changes similar to the players changing teams which can disrupt things.

How the books derive their prices early in the season?

In addition to the points above, books tend to heavily overprice the favorites, especially those that went to the World Championship or finished the Summer season in a high position. They also shade toward popular teams with name brand value that receive a lot of action as favorites. If we look back at Summer 2020 in the LPL anecdotally who would you guess were the most heavily bet and talked about favorites? TOP, Invictus, FunPlus,  JDG, Team WE, and Suning are your top six teams in the futures markets and their prices are reflected accordingly in the opening match lines. The books also favor teams that didn’t change much, especially ones that were favorites, like the top six in our case. While they consider other roster moves there isn’t a lot of faith given to unknown qualities. In a traditional sports context this would be like grading a rookie quarterback as a varying amount below league average for example. Some end up performing at about that level, others exceed it, and other still far exceed that expectation.

Tying it all together

Good teams from the previous season with a lot of continuity seem like an attractive position to take but historically they have not been successful early in the season for a litany of reasons (see above). Bad or mediocre teams with a lot of changes or unknown players, especially rookies, aren’t given a lot of respect early on and most people are afraid to back them so it makes sense for the books to lean toward juicing up the favorites. This results in a double whammy situation. Not all unknown players end up bad or below average and if you can figure out the more promising prospects in good situations there’s even more gold to be mined here early in the season.

In the early weeks I’ll be asking a lot of favorites if I’m going to pay the tax that comes with their price tag. Typically you want to operate in the middle, making the case for both teams and weighing your options but I tend to shade more towards the underdogs in the first couple of weeks in combination with a lighter staking structure.

We’ll be touching on these points and more as we go today but I’d encourage you to check out my LPL Pre-Season Power Rankings post where I break down each team and their expected trajectory in greater detail.

 


 

 

LOL Champions Korea (LCK)

Week 1 – Day 3

Fredit BRION +606 (+1.5 @ +197, -1.5 @ +1532)

vs

Gen.G -1111 (-1.5 @ -270)

 

Total Maps Played: 2.5 (over +227 / under -303)

Kill Total: 24.5 (over -114 / under -115)

Kill Spread:  +8.5 @ -108 / -8.5 @ -122

Team Kill Totals: 7.5 / 15.5

Time Total: 31:00 (over -103 / under -127)

Expected Starters:

BRO – Hoya, UmTi, Lava, Hena, Delight (jungle situation looks like a legit 50/50)

GEG – Rascal, Clid, Bdd, Ruler, Life

The LCK does NOT announce starting lineups like the LPL does. Sometimes teams will announce via social media beforehand. Be diligent! These are my anticipated starters but do not take this as gospel!

So we haven’t seen Gen.G do much subbing over the past year other than the Life/Kellin splits in 2020 but they did add players this offseason and their prospects are very promising so there is a moderate chance we actually see subs in this series. Keep an eye on team social media before game time.

Gen.G completely roflstomped KT in their first series as if to remind people “hey… we’re good!” They aren’t wrong and frankly it’s tough to go against them here given how “sharp” they looked in their first series. It doesn’t look like a team that’s all that rusty to me. However, there is an angle on this series if you want to call it that; former Gen.G coach for many years, Edgar is now Brion’s head coach.

“Coach gap” can be a thing but I’m really not sure how much it matters if you’ve got better players in every single position. I’m more optimistic about this Brion squad than most are but it’s pretty tough to justify a position here. If Gen.G came out looking sloppy it’d be one thing but they didn’t. If you believe in overconfidence then feel free to fire on Brion. I mentioned on the podcast that I’d probably take a small stake on the +1.5 because weird stuff happens and substitutions are a very real factor to consider in a match like this but after taking more time to think about it today I’m just going to avoid a side in this and attack it from a different angle.

Other Markets:

Gen.G only had 11 of their 31 wins go below this 15 kill total and 5 of them landed on 15. That was during Summer where things were more finely tuned for their opponents too. I see this series playing out one of two ways, Gen.G completely decimate Brion and likely style on the coach that bailed on them in May last year to add salt to the wound, or Brion make it a series by busting out something wild which would also lead to an over. I’m going to take a stake in the Gen.G team kill total.

 

My Picks:

 

Kill Total (team): Map 1 Gen.G OVER 15.5 @ -128 (1.28 units)

Kill Total (team): Map 2 Gen.G OVER 15.5 @ -127 (1.27 units)

Kill Total (team): Map 1 Gen.G OVER 15.5 @ -122 (1.22 units)

 

 

 


 

 

DAMWON Kia Gaming -417 (-1.5 maps @ -133)

vs

T1 +298 (+1.5 maps @ +103, -1.5 @ +774)

 

Total Maps Played: 2.5 (over +147 / under -192)

Kill Total: 25.5 (over -109 / under -120)

Kill Spread:  -6.5 @ -123 / +6.5 @ -105

Team Kill Totals: 16.5 / 8.5

Time Total: 32:00 (over +122 / under -159)

Expected Starters:

DWG – Khan, Canyon, ShowMaker, Ghost, BeryL

T1 – Canna, Ellim, Clozer, Gumayusi, Keria

The LCK does NOT announce starting lineups like the LPL does. Sometimes teams will announce via social media beforehand. Be diligent! These are my anticipated starters but do not take this as gospel!

We got a slight surprise when it was rumored that Ellim, Clozer, and Gumayusi would be playing against Hanwha. They looked outstanding. That said, it raised questions that we talked about on The Gold Card Podcast last night. Could this be what they think the optimal lineup was? Does T1 think Hanwha aren’t that good so they started the subs? I don’t try to answer these questions because, historically, T1/SKT haven’t always made a lot of sense with the subs. Sometimes they want to get reps for their prospects, sometimes they think it’s a strategic advantage, sometimes a player needs rest, sometimes players are better that week in scrims, other times you’ve got chemistry between players… the point I’m making is that this could literally be anything and we don’t know the answer. The only thing that’s certain is that even with the “backups,” if you want to call them that, T1 are capable of beating any team on earth. That’s what years and years of investment into talent development will get you, an embarrassment of riches.

Now, there’s also a chance that we just see multiple squads from T1 based on their opponent sort of like we did in the Easyhoon/Faker season. Maybe Ellim+Clozer+Gumayusi is a better stylistic fit against Team A or in a certain metagame while Cuzz+Faker+Teddy is for a different one, obviously you can mix and match however you like. T1 have an extensive roster and development system. Don’t overthink anything they do. It’s not always indicative of anything.

DAMWON look like their same old ridiculous selves but as we mentioned on the podcast this week, this number is simply too big for how good a full roster T1 have. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen T1 as this big an underdog except the first weeks of their debut season in what was then OGN Champions (pre-LCK). Legitimately I don’t think I’ve ever seen them this big a dog ever. Obviously that makes me want to back them but the reasoning here is simpler than that. I just think T1 are really REALLY good.

Obviously DAMWON are also really REALLY good but I think this number is worth taking a shot on T1 for sure. You’re never going to see an underdog that’s this high quality a team for a long time regardless of the names attached.

 

Other Markets:

This could be a hyper competitive series or one where both teams snowball their leads with brutal efficiency. The kill total is more in line with what I’d expect from two teams that I expect will push the pace of play as well. T1 team totals are worth a look but I’ll be sticking to just my position on the side as well as T1 first bloods.

 

My Picks:

 

Map Spread: T1 +1.5 maps @ +103 (1 unit)

Moneyline: T1 +298 (0.5 units)

Map Spread: T1 -1.5 maps @ +774 (0.25 units)

Prop: Map 1 T1 first blood @ +105 (0.25 units)

Prop: Map 2 T1 first blood @ +105 (0.25 units)

Prop: Map 3 T1 first blood @ +103 (0.25 units)

 

 

 


 

LOL Pro League (China)

Week 2 – Day 5

 

Rogue Warriors -217 (-1.5 maps @ +145, +1.5 @ -667)

vs

eStar Pro Gaming +168 (+1.5 maps @ -182, -1.5 @ +416)

 

Total Maps Played: 2.5 (over +101 / under -128)

Kill Total: 27.5 (over -110 / under -119)

Kill Spread:  -5.5 @ -114 / +5.5 @ -115

Team Kill Totals: 15.5 / 10.5

Time Total: 33:00 (over +101 / under -132)

Starting Lineups:

RW – Ziv, Haro, Forge, Michi, QiuQiu

EST – Zs, H4cker, Irma, Rat, ShiauC

 

BiliBili laid out what looks like a solid game plan against this current iteration of eStar in game two of their first series; don’t let ShiauC beat you. It took a couple small mistakes by BiliBili in game one but ShiauC was the one to capitalize on them and he bailed his teammates out of a some egregious errors themselves with Thresh. Game two was a different story with Meteor camping bottom lane with Olaf to shut down any momentum and the rest of the series looked rather clinical for BLG.

I’ve been talking a lot recently about how teams in the LPL don’t always play their opponents and this is even more so the case in the early season. Most of them are playing what they feel they’re good at and not considering as much what the other team is planning or has a tendency to do. For this reason I’m not so sure Rogue Warriors will follow the above advice. We’re also getting yet another marksman try out from Rogue Warriors, this time with Michi (formerly Linger) of LDL affiliate Rogue Warriors Shark. People tend to overreact to substitutions. Kelin actually looked pretty good through the first two series, some small errors withstanding and he had to face JackeyLove and Jiumeng. Rogue Warriors aren’t a team that are going to live and die by their bottom lane, that’s Haro’s job. For that reason I’m basically treating them the same exact way. Don’t worry about the narrative and questions this may raise, it could just be as simple as someone is sick or they want to try this kid out early in the year. Again, like with T1 earlier, don’t search for narratives that aren’t necessarily there.

I didn’t think I’d ever see Rogue Warriors favored by this much but they did just take down TOP Esports which probably means that they’re overpriced in this situation. That said, I do think they’re the better team from what we’ve seen so far. The problem is that they are, by nature, an inconsistent team.

Rogue Warriors are the side here. I’m not going to be a big fan of eStar until we see Insulator or Irma and H4cker can show me something. Even if we do end up seeing Insulator, eStar still don’t look like a particularly good roster for the time being. They’re officially in my “show me something” bucket. Rogue Warriors are just too wild to back as a favorite at this price but I do think they win this match.

Other Markets:

I was hoping we’d get a lower total. These are two of the bloodiest teams in the LPL over the past 18 months but these could just as well be extremely lopsided games. Tough read, I’ll pass but if you can get a 26.5 or 25.5 at a good number it’s probably worth a half stake.

 

My Picks:

 

none

 

 

 

—–

 

TOP Esports -278 (-1.5 @ +124, +1.5 @ -1000)

vs

RareAtom Gaming +202 (+1.5 @ -164, -1.5 @ +566)

 

Total Maps Played: 2.5 (over +103 / under -130)

Kill Total: 26.5 (over -123 / under -105)

Kill Spread:  -6.5 @ -110 / +6.5 @ -119

Team Kill Totals: 15.5 / 10.5

Time Total: 32:00 (over -104 / under -125)

Starting Lineups:

TOP – 369, Karsa, Knight, JackeyLove, Zhuo

RA – Cube, Aix, FoFo, iBoy, Hang

 

This is going to be our first serving of Rare Atom for the regular season and they get the unfortunate task of running into a TOP Esports squad that hasn’t dropped back-to-back series since April 10th, Week Six of the Spring 2020 split. They only dropped back-to-back’s twice in all of 2020. The thing with pointing out something like that is that it assumes that they’re going to be “up” for this series and there’s a very reasonable chance that TOP are just in a weird funk right now. They haven’t been particularly bad in their series but they’ve been extremely predictable and WarHorse-coached teams tend to be in the years we’ve seen him coaching, at least until they develop more tools.

I’m very bullish on RareAtom. I think their individual players are severely underrated and their production was not matched by expectation last season. They graded significantly higher than their finish in my objective/economy model and individually they grade as one of the best combinations of individuals in the league. Now obviously that’s statistically biased and I’ve talked about that extensively but the point I’m getting at is that they’re undervalued. They looked sharp and ready to go during Demacia Cup as well. Not to mention this is a bit of a small revenge spot for that with TOP ousting them 3-1 in the semifinals a few weeks ago.

This number has dropped from around +245 earlier in the week after TOP’s losses so far. I still like RareAtom as this number but not nearly as much. If this match was played at the end of Summer I would have backed Vici at this number. Obviously the coaching staff and mid lane has changed, they’re also running Aix over Leyan but this is fundamentally the same team and they’re still underrated. It sounds blasphemous to say but I think there’s a reasonable chance TOP lose this series.

 

Other Markets:

The other markets look fairly priced. Pass.

 

My Picks:

 

(I got this at a much better number earlier this week but I’d still play RA at this price and I will grade them at this number for the purposes of record keeping)

Map Spread: RareAtom +1.5 maps @ -164 (1.64 units)

Moneyline: RareAtom +202 (0.5 units)

Map Spread: RareAtom -1.5 maps @ +566 (0.25 units)

 

———————–

LCS Lock-In Tournament

Week 1 – Day 1

 

For longer form thoughts on the outlooks for each LCS team check out my Team-by-Team Outlook and Futures Portfolio post. In it I go over my thoughts for each squad, their trajectory, floor and ceiling scenarios, and discuss some futures positions specifically for the Lock-In Tournament.

Given what we’ve seen in the LPL and LCK so far and given the LCS’s history, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing some longer, lower kill games for the most part. There’s a chance that these teams are just too sloppy given some of them had limited practice time or shortened offseasons and we see some absolute slopfests but I’m willing to bet against that. Especially early in the season, NA tends to keep things more reserved. I’ll be playing a lot of unders.

I’ll have more detailed writeups the more info we get and during the regular season I’ll have more advanced metrics to include but for this tournament specifically I’m using mostly my eyes and evaluation. I’m just not sure how many teams will actually be trying hard, have actually practiced, who will be in peak form vs rusty, etc. There’s just a lot of variables with pre-season tournaments as we’ve seen in the Eastern leagues with KeSPA and Demacia Cups so take what you see with a grain of salt.

I’ll be listing normal unit size wagers but I’m using a significantly smaller bankroll for this tournament.

 

100 Thieves +101 vs Team Solo Mid -130

 

Kill Total: 27.5 (over -105 / under -123)

Kill Spread:  +3.5 @ -111 / -3.5 @ -118

Team Kill Totals: 12.5 / 14.5

Time Total: 33:00 (over +100 / under -130)

My colleagues and I are all rather high on 100 Thieves outlook coming into the season and we all expect them to hit the ground running given that they’re returning four members (of Golden Guardians) and strictly upgraded the roster. TSM, on the other hand are dealing with a lot of turnover. With just Spica as the only returning member I could see TSM having some growing pains as they get acclimated. I do think TSM have the higher upside and superior players but this is a rough opening match for them. 100 Thieves still present a good opportunity although you should know that you could have had this number at +125 earlier in the week so keep in mind that you’re betting into a weaker number. You’ve also got the added narrative angle of the four former Golden Guardians members wanting their revenge for the reverse sweep TSM handed them in Summer playoffs.

My Picks:

Moneyline: 100 Thieves +101 (1 unit)

Kill Total: UNDER 27.5 @ -123 (1.23 units)

 

 

Counter Logic Gaming +290 vs Team Liquid -435

 

Kill Total: 25.5 (over -111 / under -120)

Kill Spread:  +8.5 @ -120 / -8.5 @ -112

Team Kill Totals: 8.5 / 16.5

Time Total: 31:00 (over +100 / under -130)

CLG will be without Finn and Broxah for this tournament due to visa issues. In their place will be Solo and Wiggily who has renamed to Griffin. This was just announced on January 11th meaning that even if they were playing some before the signing, that this team has had limited time together. With that said, these are both LCS players. Solo can be a solid role player and we’ve seen Wiggily as one of the stronger junglers in the league at one time, although it was quite a bit ago.

Liquid are the play here. I think that eventually CLG are going to be like FlyQuest last year, a savvy, disciplined, veteran team that just makes very few mistakes and plays a solid macro game and they’re almost definitely going to be underrated but this is a really tough first outing. It’s a big number but lay the 8.5 with Liquid here and we’ll go once again with the under.

My Picks:

Kill Spread: Liquid -8.5 kills @ -112 (1.12 units)

Kill Total: UNDER 25.5 @ -120 (0.6 units)

 

 

Cloud 9 -294 vs Evil Geniuses +219

 

Kill Total: 25.5 (over -115 / under -114)

Kill Spread:  -8.5 @ -103 / +8.5 @ -127

Team Kill Totals: 17.5 / 8.5

Time Total: 31:00 (over -122 / under -106)

I’m not entirely sure this Cloud 9 team is going to be quite as good as they should be immediately although Perkz did arrive in North America weeks ago which is more than we can say for some of these other acquisitions. Cloud 9 are obviously a very good team but there’s a reasonable chance we see some hiccups to start the season as they all get used to each other. Evil Geniuses are going to be a great “punch up” underdog not because they’re high variance but because their ceiling is quite high and they have a lot of playmakers on this roster. I like the underdogs to keep this one competitive. This one I could see being one of the bloodier games so I’ll pass on this total.

My Picks:

Kill Spread: Evil Geniuses +8.5 @ -127 (0.9525 units)

Moneyline: Evil Geniuses +219 (0.5 units)

 

 

Dignitas +189 vs FlyQuest -256

 

Kill Total: 25.5 (over -128 / under -105)

Kill Spread:  +6.5 @ -115 / -6.5 @ -116

Team Kill Totals: 10.5 / 15.5

Time Total: 32:00 (over -120 / under -112)

I like this FlyQuest rebuild and I’m not a huge fan of Dignitas, to the point where I think they might be the worst team and have the lowest upside in the league. That said, FlyQuest had a lot of turnover and have a collection of players that are new to the LCS stage, although they’re not new professionals. There’s a chance we could see some growing pains with this roster. I do think FlyQuest is the right side here but I’ll be taking a half stake on the kill spread only.

My Picks:

Kill Spread: FlyQuest -6.5 kills @ -116 (0.58 units)

 

 

Golden Guardians +195 vs Counter Logic Gaming -250

 

Kill Total: 25.5 (over -116 / under -111)

Kill Spread:  +5.5 @ -116 / -5.5 @ -112

Team Kill Totals: 10.5 / 15.5

Time Total: 32:00 (over -130 / under +100)

Niles and Iconic are one of the most intriguing pickups of the offseason for me. The Maryville University team completely dominated the collegiate scene here and overseas in recent years. These two players easily could have been playing in challenger but opted to take that route. I’m very excited for them but this is yet again a roster with a fair amount of turnover and without an excellent performance from that duo I’m significantly less confident in the rest of this roster.

As I already mentioned, CLG are dealing with the visa issues which likely disrupted their preparation but the trade off is that these are veterans that have all been around the block a multitude of times against a few true rookies, an import from Latin America, and an ADC I’ve had questions about in the past few splits. I think the veterans probably get this done but this is just a stay away for me. Too rich a price to pay for a team that potentially had limited prep time.

My Picks:

none

 

 

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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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