Welcome to your first regular season action with The Esports Department!

Bright and early on Friday morning we begin the long and grueling road through 136 best-of-threes, two a day until roughly the first week of August.  Having a disciplined, long-term investing approach is critical to success when handicapping. We’re going to be seeing A LOT of games this Summer. You will run hot, cold, and everything in between. Stay patient and stick to your process.

Before a season starts I like to evaluate the teams like I did in my Summer 2020 Tier List and Futures Strategy article but I also like to take a look at the big picture, the underlying macro-trends that are happening in the world of professional League of Legends as well as in the LPL so that we can have an idea of what our overall expectations should be before going into the season not just for the teams themselves but the league as a whole.

Let’s first take a look at the Spring season as a big picture, especially since it’s the one I have the most detailed data on since I’ve started tracking a number of markets.

LPL Spring 2020 Overview

57 out of 136 series went to a third game (41.91%)

Favorites: 85 – 51 straight up (62.5%)

Favorites ATS (+1.5 maps): 54 – 82 (39.7%)

Underdogs: 51 – 85 straight up (37.5%)

Underdogs ATS (+1.5 maps): 82 – 54 (60.29%)

Underdog Sweeps (2 – 0): 25 out of 136 series (18.38%)

Average Game Time: 32:29

Average Kills per Game: 27

 

At first glance this seems like it was a fairly wild season, particularly the 18.38% of series that resulted in underdog 2-0’s but when you take into consideration the drastic mispricing of JDG and eStar (as it turns out) before the season and that they were involved in many of these it suddenly makes a lot of sense. Europe was similar but we’ll get to them next week. It got me to thinking, I wonder how this compares historically to previous seasons. Since, I wasn’t keeping as detailed a line history back then I’ll just compare some of the big picture, plate-tectonics if you will.

 

LPL Summer 2019 Overview

47 out of 120 series went to a third game (39.16%)

Average Game Time: 31:55

Average Kills per Game: 27

LPL Spring 2019 Overview

51 out of 120 series went to a third game (42.5%)

Average Game Time: 32:30

Average Kills per Game: 25

LPL Summer 2018 Overview

69 out of 131 series went to a third game (52.67%)

Average Game Time: 33:31

Average Kills per Game: 25

LPL Spring 2018 Overview

82 out of 131 series went to a third game (62.6%)

Average Game Time: 34:18

Average Kills per Game: 22

 

To say the LPL has become more top heavy might not be fair as the middle of the table is more competitive than it has ever been, but there are certainly far more two game series than there used to be even two years ago. Teams are winning more decisively and teams are likely being incorrectly priced. Kill totals have slowly crept up as well while game times have come down. Everyone’s favorite “bloody” region over the years has actually become a bit more so overall but a lot of that has to do with large changes to the game when the lane swap was more or less permanently removed in 2018 resulting in more action from a kill perspective by design.

So what does this all mean? What can we really take from this besides “oh cool factoid!”? You’ll notice that in the previous two years, the Summer season has become shorter in overall game time AND received a noticeable uptick in kills per game as well. Why does that happen? There are a lot of factors. The game goes through its biggest core changes during the time between Worlds and Spring. Summer usually has some big changes but not on the same level. Teams are also much more comfortable. Most teams, even the bad ones, have settled on a roster by now or have made small changes. All of these teams have had four to six months to play together, build chemistry, and improve. When combined with the smaller changes to the game, this experience leads to more finely tuned play all around which often results in increased pace, less dilly-dallying, and more aggression as a result of more confidence.

In the first six series in the LPL Summer 2019 we had fifteen games (small sampling). There were 25.33 kills per game (up from Spring average of 25) and a 29:52 average game time (down from an average of 32:30 in Spring). The 2018 Spring to Summer transition was similar.

The point is that the first weeks of Summer are usually fast paced and bloodier which makes sense when you consider that the game hasn’t changed as much, teams are more comfortable, and both players and teams are much more finely tuned from a strategic standpoint. We’ll be looking at over kills and under time totals in quite a few spots in this first week or so.

Now that we’ve painted our forest, it’s time to start our journey toward the first trees of the Summer split in the LPL.

LET’S GET TO IT!

Pinterest

 

LPL Summer 2020

Week 1 – Day 1

 

EDward Gaming -175 (-1.5 maps @ +176) vs

Team WE +136 (+1.5 maps @ -233)

Kill Total: 26.5 (-112 over / -116 under)

Kill Spread: -4.5 @ -111 / +4.5 @ -118

Time Total: OTB

Starting Lineups:

EDG – Aodi, JunJia, Scout, Hope, Meiko

Team WE – Morgan, Beishang, Teacherma, Jiumeng, Missing

Trends:

EDG were 7 – 3 (4 – 6 ATS) as favorites in Spring

Team WE were 6 – 6 (5 – 7) as underdogs in Spring

Team WE won the first meeting between these teams 2 – 1 as +244 underdogs

This is an interesting matchup to open the season because it’s two teams that I’m rather bullish on compared to my peers. A lot of people are assuming regression backwards from both of these squads, particularly Team WE, but I don’t see it being as drastic as what you’d hear asking around. I think the primary reason for skepticism is the Aodi + jungle situation on EDG not being exciting and Teacherma’s obvious and well-chronicled weaknesses but I don’t see anybody discussing the good things both of these teams do.

I wasn’t too excited when Aodi was shoved into the starting role on EDG but he proved me wrong time and time again on multiple different champions, in multiple different roles, carry, tank, weak/strong side, in counter matchups, against counter matchups, that he can find success and on a few occasions even ran away with games. The chemistry between him and emergency substitute jungler JunJia was instant and very apparent so while I think Jiejie might be a better player in a vaccuum, I’m not downgrading EDG for running back something that was clearly working, at least for now.

Team WE, in much the same light as eStar, were a team that I thought would be “figured out” but if we learned anything from the LPL this split it’s that the non-elite teams are extremely slow to adjust and that being proactive is a recipe for success. Quite frankly, Team WE play the game the way you should play it in 2020 and it took me awhile to accept that as gospel, whether I liked it or not. It’s why they were able to get wins against  good teams last season, including EDG.

This matchup is much closer to a 55-45 matchup than the 60-40 it implies. I think we’re getting a small value on the underdogs here. Don’t forget, this team played two highly competitive games in the playoffs against TOP Esports and won one of them. In hindsight, that’s pretty damn impressive  TOP looked pretty good at the Mid-Season Cup and a lot of people are calling them the best team in the world. Keep in mind, Teacherma had to play he’s signature Aurelion into a brutal matchup of Syndra TWICE and AGAINST KNIGHT in that playoff matchup. Don’t think too badly of him on that series alone. Team WE learned a lot from that series and likely won’t be forcing Teacherma into the Aurelion Sol vs Syndra matchup anytime soon. I wouldn’t rule out that he’s picked up another champion or two in the off-season as well.

While I think EDG are the better team overall, with a full offseason and limited roster movement for these teams they’ll both be well-prepared for this match and I’d expect a close affair.

For those that are new, this is going to be what I like to call “The Underdog Special”: a split staking between the underdog +1.5 map spread to win enough to cover our wagers on the moneyline and sometime the underdog 2-0. Underdog spreads hit at a 60.29% clip in the Spring and if you bet a unit on each instance of this you would have ended the season with a little over +5% return on investment (ROI). In this case we’ll be taking a light shot on the underdog 2-0 but mostly playing for Team WE to cover with about a 45-50% chance of an outright victory.

Other markets:

Keep an eye on the time total if/once it’s posted. I’ll be on anything under 32:00.

My Composite Combined Kills per Game (cCKPG) which is a blend of regular season and playoffs, has this kill total at 26.3 kills. My odds-weighted projection, which is an odds-weighted blend of kills per win (KPW) and kills per loss (KPL) composite averages has this total at 27.1 kills. In a projected underdog win, in this case Team WE, 28.36 kills. Team WE were a particularly high kill team during the Spring but given historic trends for Spring to Summer transition we’re going to be taking the OVER 26.5 as well as some alternate totals.

For those that are new, the alternate total approach is a way diversifying my exposure to a market to create a “synthetic” line that’s better than what we’d get on just one number. Usually this involves multple alternate markets but on this one I’m just going to split my exposure between the over 26.5 and 27.5

My Picks:

Spread: Team WE +1.5 maps @ -233 (2.33 units)

Moneyline: Team WE +136 (0.5 units)

Spread: Team WE -1.5 maps @ +364 (0.25 units)

Kill Total: Map 1 OVER 26.5 @ -112 (0.28 units)

Kill Total: Map 1 OVER 27.5 @ +107 (0.25 units)

Kill Total: Map 2 OVER 26.5 @ -118 (0.295 units)

Kill Total: Map 2 OVER 27.5 @ +100 (0.25 units)

 

 

 

LNG Esports +146 (+1.5 maps @ -213) vs

Suning -189 (-1.5 maps @ +164)

Kill Total: 26.5 (-116 over / -112 under)

Kill Spread: +4.5 @ -111 / -4.5 @ -118

Time Total: OTB

Starting Lineups:

LNG – Chenlun17, Xx, Maple, Light, Iwandy

Suning – Bin, SofM, Angel, Huanfeng, SwordArt

Trends:

Suning were 2 – 4 (1 – 5 ATS) as favorites in Spring

LNG were 2 – 8 (5 – 5 ATS) as underdogs in Spring

Suning won the Spring matchup 2 – 1 as +123 underdogs

 

Isn’t it crazy to think that LNG were -181 favorites the first time these two teams met? It was in the second week back from hiatus and LNG had yet to fall off the cliff that they did in the second half. The long story short on both of these teams is that they’re differing degrees of underrated.

LNG have some sweet underlying metrics for their players but simply haven’t been able to put it all together primarily because of extremely linear, all-in late game scaling drafts and that just get them run over before they have a chance. In my pre-season tier list I had them ranked in the bottom three.

Suning had similarly impressive underlying metrics including the best damage per minute carry in the world in Huanfeng (thanks to a whole boatload of Miss Fortune ultimates) but had a few really bizarre series over the split, most of which they found ways to lose from advantageous positions.

I think the addition of Steak and his assistants is a much needed change of scenery for this LNG team. While he hasn’t been a particularly great coach over the years, he’s been way above-average and always has a knack for finding what his teams are good at and giving them an identity in much the same way that YamatoCannon does. If LNG can quite with the all-in on scaling and become more balanced in the draft this team has the talent to at least be a middle of the table team or compete for a playoff position. The players on this team are not bad enough for this to perform as poorly as it did without major coaching issues.

Suning have some positive regression coming and I think they’ll finish with a similar or better record in Summer. LNG will also be better this split even if I don’t think they’ll be a playoff team. With a full off-season for Chenlun17 to get acclimated and to prepare for this matchup with the new coaching staff I think LNG have a reasonable chance to take this series. I absolutely love the “bad” teams from last season in the first week or so of the next season. They’re almost always a value because the team they face is almost always overpriced. Similarly to the last series, I handicap this series at closer to a 55-45 than a 61.6-38.3 that the odds imply. Give me another “underdog special.”

Other Markets:

Keep an eye on the time total if/once it’s posted. I’ll be on anything under 32:00.

My Composite Combined Kills per Game (cCKPG) has this kill total at 27.25 kills. My odds-weighted projection, which is an odds-weighted blend of kills per win (KPW) and kills per loss (KPL) composite averages has this total at 26.62 kills. In a projected underdog win, in this case LNG, 29.16 kills. Suning were one of the bloodiest losers in the Spring and were competitive in most of their losses. LNG were one of the least bloody losers but I suspect with the new coaching staff will have fewer drafts where they just roll over and die in the early game. That along with our Spring to Summer transition historical trends suggests a strong position on the over in this series.

 

My Picks:

Spread: LNG +1.5 maps @ -213 (2.13 units)

Moneyline: LNG +146 (0.5 units)

Spread: LNG -1.5 maps @ +375 (0.25 units)

Kill Total: Map 1 OVER 26.5 @ -116 (0.58 units)

Kill Total: Map 1 OVER 27.5 @ +104 (0.5 units)

Kill Total: Map 2 OVER 26.5 @ -118 (0.59 units)

Kill Total: Map 2 OVER 27.5 @ +100 (0.5 units)

 

This time of year always feels like the lift hill on a rollercoaster: slowly you climb to the top and then it’s a rush to the bottom as gravity takes over. We’re at the top of the hill folks. It’s time. Strap in and let’s do this!

I’ll be back again tomorrow with Saturday’s selections and a recap of these games.

See you soon!

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