The professional League of Legends Summer season kicks off tomorrow with the North American LCS followed shortly by China’s LPL on Monday, Korea’s LCK on Wednesday, and Europe’s LEC next Friday. Before I get to the games I wanted to cover a few bigger picture concepts about the transition from Spring to Summer.
Generally speaking, the Summer season has tended to be more competitive on a game-to-game basis which makes sense if you consider that teams have shaken off any rust and younger teams have had time to build chemistry to figure things out. With that said, that isn’t how things have panned out in the literal game results which have been remarkably similar Spring to Summer across the world, with a few exceptions of course. Don’t overcompensate for this because, as I mentioned, the overall results haven’t changed drastically season to season in regards to favorites or underdogs winning more or less both straight up and against the map spreads.
Consider patch changes but again, don’t overcompensate. The patch that we played the Mid-Season Invitational on made for a much different metagame than what we watched four weeks worth of playoffs across the world on prior to that. Patch 11.6 was playoffs, 11.9 was MSI, and now we’re on yet another different patch (11.11). Generally speaking, there has been more blood on these recent patches but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will pan out that way. I won’t be playing many time or kill totals in the opening week because I want to see how these teams have read the patch. In the past I would take more risk and try to get “ahead of the data” but different leagues handle patches differently from one another and I’d rather just wait to see how teams are prioritizing things on this patch than to try to read the tea leaves.
I’ll be basing a lot of my opening salvo of selections across the league on my priors from Spring for both individual players and overall teams. There is a full split of data at our disposal and the books have done a relatively good job of giving half decent openers this Summer. With that in mind, there are some situations that have drastically changed and adjustments to be made. I’ll be discussing those as we go but let’s start from the baseline below, my economy/objective model LCS 2021 Power Ratings based on what we’ve seen thus far.
A few considerations:
K1ing will be getting the start over Zven in a somewhat bizarre move after such a strong overall performance by Zven in the Spring but this kid has absolutely killed it over his years of development in the academy system. Whether or not this is just a temporary thing or not I would expect a bump in the road here or there, especially because the team likely didn’t get that much time to work with him since they were at MSI. Cloud 9 were excellent at the tournament but I’d expect a bit of a hangover here as they’ve had very little time off and to work with their new ADC. In short, maybe adjust Cloud 9 downward slightly until we know what they’re working with but overall not that large a hit.
The biggest problem 100 Thieves had last season was the mid lane severely limiting their draft leverage regardless of which was playing between Damonte and Ry0ma. Abbedagge should solve a lot of that. He’s significantly more well-rounded and talented than both of their previous mids and I’d expect this team to challenge to join the elite tier with Liquid and Cloud 9 this Summer even if it takes a little bit of time to build chemistry. Moderate adjustment upward.
Counter Logic Gaming
CLG did not get to start the season the way they wanted to with various visa and travel issues due to COVID. This disrupted their season quite a bit. Going into the Spring season I’d expected CLG would be the group of savvy, underrated veterans that would have a leg up on the rest of the competition due to experience. With the wrench thrown in their plans it was sort of a “lost” season in many respects so I’m not putting too much weight on their early season performance. The above power number does factor in the entire season (with very slight weighting toward recent performance) and CLG are still power rated above a few teams that finished better than they were in the standings. I’m expecting CLG to be in the 5th or 6th spot and that they’ll likely handle the bottom of the table teams relatively easily. They’re coming in severely underrated by the markets. I won’t be making too many adjustments off of my number but keep in mind that they’re undervalued.
This was a young team and they weren’t as bad as their final record. Expect them to take a step forward.
ADC change to Shiro/Danny could put fuel on the variance fire or perhaps make them a more consistent team. Generally speaking I didn’t like Evil Geniuses as favorites last season where they were 6-4 straight up (average odds -255) and 3-7 against the kill spread (average spread -6.5). Where Evil Geniuses thrived was as an upside underdog. This team has the talent and the direction that the game has gone on recent patches should be a boost to players like Jiizuke specifically with the mid lane pool moving toward “playmakers.” Wide range of outcomes for EG. Their overall number is roughly where I’d rate their performance as well but what they do on a game-to-game basis tends to be one extreme or the other and not a lot of “average” results so keep that in mind.
Solo is stepping in to take over for Niles who needs more time to develop. In short, Golden Guardians couldn’t be much worse than they were last season so I’d expect a slight bump with a veteran stepping in to show these young players how this level is played at. They’ve also had a lot of time to adjust and learn so there’s a reasonable case to be made that GGS are a decent underdog long shot to take in week one while people are terrified due to the awful previous split. That said, I still expect this team to be pretty bad and will likely finish last.
A very polarizing team. There are reasonable cases for regression but I don’t think what we saw last season was totally a fluke or anything either so the trick in handicapping Dignitas, at least in the early going, is going to end up being to fade the market narrative. This is a team that the market is going to strongly overreact to in both directions. If they start off strong it’ll serve as a catalyst via confirmation bias for Spring bulls and vice versa. Generally I think Dignitas are a good but not great team and will likely be the middle of the table along with EG and CLG, clearly better than the “bad” teams but not quite up to the top level.
I have to admit, I just don’t like a lot of what this team has done on the Rift. This roster doesn’t really do much for me and while I think they’ll likely be at least a little bit more coherent in Summer, I don’t really give FlyQuest much of a shot to make noise here. I think they’re the worst team besides Golden Guardians and that there’s an outside chance that they finish last without substantial improvement. I think they’re being very slightly overvalued by the market based on results.
I expect Liquid will remain in the elite tier. Not much to say here, they’ll be a contender to win the split and I personally think they’re the best overall roster in the LCS.
Team Solo Mid
Expect TSM to be slightly better this season. After a rough start that had a lot of people doubting they performed about as expected. Bjergsen will be in his second season as a coach and this roster, which had a ton of turnover, now have a full split under their belt and can really hone things without having that awkward chemistry building phase when you have a lot of moving pieces. I’d expect TSM to challenge the top teams and think they’re even capable of winning the season if they catch the higher end of their range of outcomes.
I got ahead of their curve and hit a few of these openers already but I’ll be just covering Friday’s games here in this post. If you would like to view positions from Saturday and Sunday, wagers for the full weekend of games so far can be found via the Spreadsheet linked here and at the bottom of every single post.
LCS Summer 2021
Week One – Day One
Team Liquid -192 vs Team Solo Mid +148
Kill Total: 23.5 (over -122 / under -106)
Kill Spread: -4.5 @ -122 / +4.5 @ -106
Team Kill Totals: 13.5 / 10.5
Time Total: 33:00 (over -101 / under -128)
Eco/Obj Model Projected Line: -160 / +125
Suggested Model Play: TSM +148
There wasn’t a lot of price action on these lines all week until today and this one has picked up a fair amount of Liquid backers. On The Gold Card Podcast this week, which we recorded on Wednesday night, this was -169 / +127, lame, one way action… Don’t back Liquid here. They’re the better team and should win this match in the ballpark of 60% of the time but especially on week one, and especially given the value we’re now getting on TSM I think they’re worth a play.
Moneyline: TSM +148 (1 unit)
Evil Geniuses -164 vs Dignitas +127
Kill Total: 27.5 (over -122 / under -105)
Kill Spread: -5.5 @ -114 / +5.5 @ -114
Team Kill Totals: 15.5 / 11.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over -122 / under -106)
Eco/Obj Model Projected Line: -203 / +155
Suggested Model Play: Evil Geniuses
I haven’t really liked backing Evil Geniuses as favorites as mentioned above and these are arguably the two teams with the widest range of outcomes in the LCS this season so I’m taking a bit of a wait and see approach with both. Model likes a slight value on EG here but I’m just going to pass this match.
Golden Guardians +518 vs Cloud 9 -1000
Kill Total: 23.5 (over -127 / under -108)
Kill Spread: +9.5 @ -122 / -9.5 @ -111
Team Kill Totals: 6.5 / 16.5
Time Total: 29:00 (over -172 / under +126)
Eco/Obj Model Projected Line: -1264 / +593
Suggested Play: no value
I’m taking a bit of a narrative angle with this one. The numbers say there isn’t any value on this but I can’t stress enough that Golden Guardians were simply not playing the professional level game last season and that a veteran presence to direct and serve almost as a coach in game could be a drastic improvement for them. If they’re just a competent team then there’s value here. Cloud 9 are also using a new player and it’ll be his for LCS stage game even though he’s played on stage for Academy before. You’ve also got the hangover angle as well with Cloud 9 traveling for MSI, preparing for that, with limited downtime upon returning to work with K1ng or just in general. This is about as good a time as any to back the big underdogs.
Kill Spread: GGS +9.5 kills @ -122 (1.22 units)
Moneyline: GGS +518 (0.5 units)
100 Thieves -286 vs Immortals +203
Kill Total: 23.5 (over -118 / under -115)
Kill Spread: -6.5 @ -122 / +6.5 @ -111
Team Kill Totals: 14.5 / 8.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over -120 / under -111)
Eco/Obj Model Projected Line: -356 / +244
Suggested Play: 100 Thieves -286
Just using priors there’s already value on 100 Thieves. I would adjust both of these teams upward and expect that, due to it being the first game of the season, that they’re both going to be well-prepared so I won’t be playing this one. It makes sense to want to back 100 Thieves here but my only real concern is that the first game of the season tends to give underdogs a slight boost as it’s typically the most prepared that they’ll be all season for a single game. Immortals kept their promising lineup together and there’s a chance 100 Thieves have some chemistry to build with Abbedagge still so I don’t think this is “automatic” by any means but I would lean toward the Thieves. Half stake
Moneyline: 100 Thieves -286 (1.43 units)
FlyQuest -111 vs Counter Logic Gaming -119
Kill Total: 26.5 (over -108 / under -127)
Kill Spread: +3.5 @ -112 / -3.5 @ -120
Team Kill Totals: 11.5 / 13.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over -167 / under +121)
Eco/Obj Model Projected Line: -147 / +111
Suggested Play: CLG -119
This opened with CLG small dogs in a few places but has generally hovered around this esports even money look.
This is my favorite position on opening day. Simply put, CLG are a better individual team, a more experienced team, and even if you look at their full season sampling which includes the rough first few weeks, CLG are much better. In fact CLG could have been “expected” to win at least a few more games than they did based on their statistical performance. Undervalued team against one of the weaker squads in the league on opening day. I’ll eat this up even despite the “first day bump” we typically give to dogs.
Moneyline: CLG -119 (2.38 units)
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)