With the Group Stage complete we’ve got our six teams set for the Rumble Stage that starts Friday morning. This stage of the tournament will be a double round robin with each team playing a total of ten games (two against each opponent). The top four will advance to the knockout bracket which will be best-of-five matches.

Before diving into the actual matchups themselves I wanted to take a look at some of the macro trends that we’ve seen over the course of the tournament so far.


MSI 2021 Kill Spread Winner? Kill Total Winner? Time Total Winner? FAV Team Total UND Team Total Dragons 4.5 Winner? Towers 11.5 Winner?
Fav/Over 20 18 13 21 19 12 18
UND/Under 16 18 22 15 17 24 18
Average 9.33 26.00 31.03 17.00 8.44
Total Games 36


This is for the full group stage. The problem with taking a full-on big picture look at this is that we had a lot of literally meaningless games in regards to our sample of remaining teams or simply blowout games that don’t have much impact on what we should be looking at. If we just isolate the matches between teams that made it this far I counted seven (7) matches. The favorites went 6-1 outright and 4-3 against the kill spread. Kill totals went over in 4 out of 7, time totals UNDER in 4 out of 7. Dragons under 4.5 5 out of 7, towers under 11.5 4 out of 7.

For all intents and purposes I’m throwing out what we’ve seen in terms of numerical trends and such from what we’ve seen so far because we have a “corrupted” sample with more meaningless games than not. With that said, we can look at a few things and perhaps take advantage in a few spots.

Kill Totals were extremely variant in this tournament either coming in way under or going way over. This makes a lot of sense given that the groups were very different from one another stylistically and the fact that we had a lot of relatively weak teams in this tournament. It’s going to skew the results. Patch 11.9 looks to be much more wide open and “bloody” on average than what we’ve seen until this point in 2021. There is still a lot of high damage carry junglers, more viable carry top laners and melee mid lanes, and bottom lanes tend to be a kill lane on one side and an “absorbing” lane on the other trying to scale. This is going to create more volatile games. With that said, I still think this isn’t a one size fits all solution and that it will go match by match. I’d expect to see more unders than we’ve seen so far but we’ll pick our spots.

Fade the flashy teams. This pertains primarily to RNG who had a significantly easier group than the rest of the field. RNG are obviously an excellent team but the way they’re being priced moving forward (as tournament favorites) is perhaps a bit of an overreaction to both the other favorites looking less dominant and more so because they’re utterly obliterating bad teams. If you take an elite horse and race them against weak competition they’re going to look even more dominant than they did. Don’t fall into this trap.

If you’re going to utilize a more statistical approach, compare teams to their domestic performance in rate statistics. A few teams severely underperformed and a few teams over performed so far if you just compare the small sample to their domestic. Take an “average” game from their season until this point and compare rate statistics (not raw) to their achievements here. Particularly things that are fairly independent of the result of the game like CS, kill-agnostic gold per minute, etc. Doing this will give you a more accurate picture than simply the results and numbers from this stage. A few standouts to consider here that I’ll discuss when we get to them.

Don’t be results oriented and overreact to what you’ve seen. Short form tournaments are always challenging because there’s a bit of an art to how quickly to make adjustments or abandon pre-tournament reads. I’m not making any significant changes to my pre-tournament reads based on the groups. We learned very little from what we saw. We talked a lot about this on The Gold Card Podcast this week. For every situation where you could say “Wow, Team X looks great! They’re exceeding expectations!” you could make just a strong a case for regression to the mean and vice versa.

Along the same lines, “how” a team wins, while important, is severely overrated in situations like this coming off of a small sample size. Think of an NFL game; how much different really is a 42-10 win where one team controlled the ball for 70% of the game than a 31-14 game where one team controlled the ball 72% of the game? Sure, if it becomes a consistent performance level it’s something you point to, particularly if it’s against strong competition, but generally speaking people become enamored with “smash” games. Nobody cares about the boring, grind out win where a team doesn’t completely obliterate another team. Every team has a different approach to the game, some teams are willing to take more risks for bigger payoffs, others just eke out small advantages and beat you. Keep that in mind and don’t fall in love with all those 10,000+ gold leads.


MSI 2021 – Mid-Tournament Futures  (Outrights) (via Nitrogen)

  • DAMWON Kia -143
  • Royal Never Give Up +110
  • MAD Lions +1400
  • Cloud 9 +1800
  • PSG Talon +2500
  • GG +15,000


I have a large position on DAMWON Kia that I’m not hedging out of at this point. If it comes to that we can do so along the way. Getting Talon +2200 to make finals is looking excellent at this point. There’s a case to be made for C9 or MAD Lions given the current form for both teams but I’m sticking to what I have.

No additional picks.


Mid-Season Invitational

Rumble Stage – Day One

(odds via Pinnacle)


For the pre-tournament setup I fired on all my opening positions but for this part of the tournament I’m going to play it more like a day trader looking to buy low and sell high on overreactions to results from the first few days. I’ll also be looking to see how teams have made adjustments to the patch. For this reason I’ll be waiting on the later days for this stage and just sticking to one day at a time. I think there’s a good shot we’ll get some even fatter kill spreads on teams like Pentanet if they get blown out in the opening contests.


DAMWON Kia Gaming -124 vs Royal Never Give Up +102


Kill Total: 26.5 (over -126 / under -105)

Kill Spread: -1.5 @ -116 / +1.5 @ -114

Team Kill Totals: 13.5 / 14.5

Time Total: 32:00 (over -106 / under -125)


You can shop around on this one. I got DAMWON at +100 on the open very early Wednesday morning and there are still numbers closer to that in the market. I like them more or less at -125 or better. Simply put, I think the market is severely overreacting to a couple of bad games. That said, three of their group stage games were arguably in their worst six or seven games of the entire season so far and to a lot of people that’s enough cause for concern that maybe they aren’t quite in form. As I mentioned in the above big picture concepts, I tend not to overreact to a few “weak” wins in best-of-one settings in particular. Conversely, RNG completely obliterated an extremely weak group and everyone is acting like suddenly they’re significantly better than everyone thought they were going into the tournament.

No result would really surprise me here, RNG are very good, but I liked DAMWON more going into this tournament and that hasn’t changed just because of different looking group stages. Don’t be fooled by optics. Keep in mind that RNG will be facing their first stiff competition of the entire tournament in this game, could be a bit of a shock to the system in the first game. I also like the kill total under in this contest given that I like DAMWON to win. Strong correlation.

My Picks:

Kill Spread (alt): DAMWON -3.5 @ +136 (1 unit)

Kill Total: UNDER 26.5 @ -105 (1.05 units)



MAD Lions -767 vs Pentanet.GG +534


Kill Total: 27.5 (over -107 / under -124)

Kill Spread: -11.5 @ -111 / +11.5 @ -119

Team Kill Totals: 18.5 / 7.5

Time Total: 30:00 (over -135 / under -107)


MAD Lions do some really stupid stuff in the first ten minutes of games and if they can figure out how to stop doing that they’re just as live as anyone to take this tournament down… but I digress.

Pentanet had a nice run but I’d be completely shocked if they even got a game in this stage of the tournament. They had to battle just to get games off of Unicorns of Love. That said, this team is carrying it well and they’re loose so I’m looking to different options here, namely the kill totals. I like the MAD Lions team total over here.

My Picks:

Kill Total (team): MAD Lions OVER 18.5 @ -123 (1.23 units)



PSG Talon +367 vs DAMWON Kia Gaming -493


Kill Total: 24.5 (over -117 / under -113)

Kill Spread: +8.5 @ -117 / -8.5 @ -113

Team Kill Totals: 7.5 / 16.5

Time Total: 31:00 (over -114 / under -127)


Talon didn’t exactly blow anyone away in groups but for the most part looked pretty solid to me. I’m not treating them much differently in terms of overall strength than I am Cloud 9 or MAD Lions. That said I still think those teams are a cut below DAMWON and RNG. The question becomes about the number. I think this is probably going to be more competitive than people think and DAMWON aren’t exactly a team to blow teams out. DAMWON were also not a good against the kill spread team this season going just 18-31 against the kill spread in 2021 (not including this tournament which has been sub .500 as well). I like PSG to cover the spread as well as the under here.

My Picks:

Kill Spread: Talon +8.5 kills @ -117 (1.17 units)

Kill Total: UNDER 24.5 @ -113 (1.13 units)



Royal Never Give Up -347  vs Cloud 9  +269


Kill Total: 26.5 (over -105 / under -126)

Kill Spread: -8.5 @ -127 / +8.5 @ -105

Team Kill Totals: 17.5 / 7.5

Time Total: 30:00 (over -110 / under -120)


What’s interesting here is that RNG had such an easy group that there’s a reasonable chance that there’s a day or two of re-adjusting to stronger competition. As I mentioned above, it could be a bit of a shock to their system so to speak. Cloud 9 are in good form right now and I think there’s a chance that this one will be pretty close if Cloud 9’s side lanes don’t get completely blown out. That liability, relatively speaking, hasn’t been an issue thus far let’s see if they can keep it up. I like Cloud 9 to cover the spread with a small taste on the moneyline. Even more than both of those I like the OVER 30:00 time total here.

My Picks:

Time Total: OVER 30:00 @ -110 (2.2 units)

Kill Spread: Cloud 9 +9.5 @ -112 (1.12 units)(Nitrogen)

Moneyline: Cloud 9 +269 (0.5 units)



PSG Talon -565 vs Pentanet.GG +412


Kill Total: 26.5 (over -113 / under -117)

Kill Spread: -10.5 @ -108 / +10.5 @ -122

Team Kill Totals: 17.5 / 7.5

Time Total: 30:00 (over +118 / under -157)

As I mentioned, I think Pentanet are just going to get completely obliterated in this stage of the tournament so it’s simply a matter of how to attack that. The question I have about this matchup is how exactly it will play out. Are Pentanet going to try to play straight up? Are they going to cheese? Are Talon going to play this more controlled or more aggressively? I tend to think this is just going to be a more uptempo smashing but until I see it I’m going to just observe. No matter how you slice it I have a hard time seeing PSG Talon winning this game and I’m just going to take the moneyline.

My Picks:

Moneyline: PSG Talon -565 (5.65 units)



Cloud 9 +102 vs MAD Lions -123


Kill Total: 26.5 (over -123 / under -107)

Kill Spread: +1.5 @ -119 / -1.5 @ -111

Team Kill Totals: 12.5 / 13.5

Time Total: 32:00 (over -126 / under -114)


The matches between Cloud 9, MAD Lions, and PSG Talon are all interesting and the best moneyline opportunities in this stage of the tournament just based on the openers. DAMWON vs RNG is also interesting. The rest is somewhat lopsided because Pentanet aren’t particularly competitive with the rest of these teams. I’m going to be on the underdog in just about every one of these matchups until I see a reason to think otherwise. I’ll be on Cloud 9 here.

My Picks:

Kill Spread (alt): Cloud 9 -2.5 kills @ +120 (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)







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