Saturday, January 16th Recap
EDward Gaming vs FunPlus Phoenix (Net: +1.49 units)
After a dominant game one, EDG had substantial lead in game two and forced FPX to challenge them at baron. They picked up the baron and then lost a few shutdowns as FPX cleaned up a few members on the retreat after the buff. They picked up mid and top lane outer tower, three kills (including some shutdowns), and were able to reset to position for the fourth drake fight (2-1 in drakes). That huge swing pulled the 3000+ gold lead to within 600 gold in an instant. It wasn’t a bad baron call but the escape could have been more coordinated. Not much happened until the next baron which has a few overreaches by both sides that FPX managed to come out on top of, pick up the next baron, and eventually turn this game into a win.
Game three had a really brutal start for EDG after Viper and Meiko got caught out twice very early on overextending but EDG were able to keep the gold close and picked up the first dragon which allowed their vastly superior scaling carries Orianna and Aphelios to “get there” and make fights more or less unwinnable in the late game. FPX forced the action early but weren’t actually building much of a lead with it in the grand scheme of things. This game was still very close but you could tell that once FPX’s momentum stopped that this one was over no matter what the kill score said.
There’s a reasonable case to be made that this match could have been an EDG 2-0. They were very aggressive in this series and it ended up punishing them. While I appreciate the confidence, you can tell a few of these decisions weren’t very thought out and FPX were able to punish. In game three, FPX were the overaggressors and they were punished for it. Noticing a pattern here? EDG regrouped and even though they had some really dumb mistakes early in game three, were able to settle it down and stop the bleeding. A good sign after an extremely overaggressive game two.
Nuguri still looks like he’s having some minor communication issues. There were a few teleports and engages in this series that looked “off” in terms of timing as if everyone wasn’t on the same page. It hasn’t really punished FPX yet but that’s now multiple series. We figured it would take some time to get Nuguri acclimated to the new environment. You could argue that he cost them this third game but I’m more just looking at this as a situation to monitor closely.
Victory Five vs LGD Gaming (Net: -1.09 units)
LGD dove the bottom lane at 3 minutes, V5 tried to respond by diving top but they botched it and cult manage to live making it a 1-0 for LGD on top of the first blood bottom for them. This de-synchronized all the teleports and timings and this game just turned into Ringling Brothers as V5 kept punching back knowing how far down they were.
The next two games weren’t remotely close with a very on-brand V5 steamrolling in back-to-back sub-28 minute clinical wins.
V5 are really starting to remind me of Rogue in the LEC last Summer. Everyone knows exactly the plays they’re going to do and still everyone struggles to stop them even after taking counter measures. Slightly different styles but the predictable but hard to stop characteristic is remarkably similar. V5 are just so ridiculously good at this fast-paced, up-tempo style and no matter how predictable it is everyone seems to have trouble stopping them. It’s a real joy to watch.
Liiv Sandbox vs KT Rolster (Net: +1.28 units)
I get the idea with Malphite. Simple, easy to execute compositions. He’s just not that good at the highest levels of play where teams aren’t just going to give you free game ending ultimates. Especially when teams have been playing against it a fair amount. Malphite is the kind of pick you pull out once in awhile or in a counter situation. All you have to do as the enemy team is not give them both carries in an ultimate and he’s essentially useless. He offers very little sustained damage and unlike most tanks, you can just ignore him and run past or flash forward on to the enemy carries and he can’t really peel well if he’s already in. Summit got dumpstered by Doran’s Camille in game one. Good champ vs not good champ. When you don’t do anything without your cooldowns it’s easily punishable unless it’s being used as a counter against a team that can’t punish it.
After a few early kills by Sandbox to start game two, KT managed to punch back and keep it even but Sandbox had stacked up two drakes. The third drake fight turned into this prolonged circus act that found Sandbox picking up the dragon but KT picking up some kills on the tail end from some goofy chases. The fourth dragon fight was won off the back of a sick Orianna ult by Ucal followed up by Blank’s Taliyah ult locking in a few and Hybrid cleaning up the back end. At this point, Sandbox were on infernal soul point but KT had amassed a gold lead with a superior scaling composition and it was going to take some mistakes by KT to win any fights. The next dragon fight was contentious but Zzus Alistar combo’d three people and Ucal followed up with Orianna ult. Sandbox picked up the infernal soul but KT hard won the fight.
Doran redeemed himself in this series after a rough opening day. He completely destroyed Summit’s Malphite with Camille, which he should do, no surprise. The more impressive performance was the classic Renekton couinterpick of Quinn where he absolutely popped off and played fights to perfection. Great bounce back performance.
Both of these teams have some good and some bad with a lot of promise but they’re messy. I think by season’s end they’ll both be pretty good, competitive teams but they’re going to have a hard time challenging the elite teams in the LCK. These should both be playoff teams.
Hanwha Life Esports vs DRX (Net: +0 units)
Hanwha almost fell into the fiesta but reeled it in and stomped game one. Game two Arthur and Vsta made some extremely questionable decisions early on the spoon feed DRX a lead that they never recovered from. Game three was a very close but DRX made a couple positioning errors during the 19-28 late mid game. Eventually Hanwha picked up mountain soul and this one felt over.
DRX have been feisty so far. They’re always bold and always punch back when they get down but the problem is that they seem to always get behind in games unless a lead is fed to them. They remind me a lot of LNG in the LPL last season. Good enough to beat you if you punt a lead to them early but struggling to engineer early advantages. This isn’t a reliable, long term winning strategy but at least they’re good enough to punish if you screw up.
Hanwha Life are starting to be a little concerning to me. It’s obviously very early but the non-Chovy/Deft players on this team have been making a lot of errors. Kingen has mostly been good besides this game three, Arthur has his high’s and low’s, but Vsta has just been a straight up liability through a few matches. It makes sense, he’s been learning a new-ish role to him but with support being so important right now and so many games nearly thrown away form him he’s going to need to improve. He did redeem himself with a momentum swinging play to make a pick with Chovy around the baron pit around the 20 minute mark in game three but he was suspect in this series and that’s going to have to change if Hanwha have playoff aspirations.
Evil Geniuses vs Immortals (Net: -0.21 units)
Team Solo Mid vs Golden Guardians (Net: +2.0 units)
Cloud 9 vs FlyQuest (Net: +1.0 units)
Dignitas vs Immortals (Net: +0.495 units)
100 Thieves vs CLG (Net: -2.18 units)
LPL Net Total: +0.4 units
LCK Net Total: +1.28 units
LCS Lock-In Net Total: +1.105 units
Daily Net Total: +2.785 units
(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 5
Nongshim RedForce +742 (+1.5 maps @ +203, -1.5 @ +2000)
DAMWON Kia Gaming -1667 (-1.5 maps @ -270)
Total Maps Played: 2.5 (over +239 / under -323)
Kill Total: 23.5 (over -115 / under -114)
Kill Spread: +8.5 @ -103 / -8.5 @ -127
Team Kill Totals: 16.5 / 7.5
Time Total: 31:00 (over +156 / under -208)
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 this is one of those situations where you’ve got a ridiculous number and you just have to consider whether or not you want to take some of the underdog or not. DAMWON probably should have lost to T1 but by no means did they look out of character in that series. They played really well, T1 was just better (until that fatal mistake). Nongshim are a team I have optimism for but both they and Sandbox looked pretty awful by LCK standards in their first match which was a sloppy mess. Sandbox looked slightly better this morning against KT but they lost that one too. DAMWON represent a completely different level of competition and you’re not going to be able to get away with looking out of form against them.
I’m staying away from sides in this match. I don’t think Nongshim are there yet. Maybe later in the season.
You could take kill spreads here for DAMWON but with such a low total that’s a bit of a dangerous game to play. I’ll take another avenue.
It’s a little too juiced but I do usually like the under 4.5 dragons prop here. It’s one of my favorite ways to attack what I think are going to be blowouts where they have a lower time total. Time totals are going under 66.66% (repeating of course) of the time so far this year but the average time total has been 32.625 minutes. The kill total isn’t a bad look either as it has cashed in 57% of games so far in the LCK (24.25 kill average).
Afreeca Freecs -213 (-1.5 maps @ +152, +1.5 @ -714)
Fredit BRION +165 (+1.5 maps @ -196, -1.5 @ +454)
Total Maps Played: 2.5 (over +103 / under -132)
Kill Total: 24.5 (over -104 / under -123)
Kill Spread: -4.5 @ -116 / +4.5 @ -112
Team Kill Totals: 13.5 / 10.5
Time Total: 33:00 (over -112 / under -116)
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!
Brion had the unfortunate luck to have to face one of the elite teams in their debut on stage. Gen.G would stomp most teams and frankly there wasn’t really anything particularly bad I was able to catch it was just Gen.G steamrolling. Not necessarily a good indicator for how good Brion might be so they’re still a bit of a mystery.
Afreeca should have 2-0’d DRX and somehow managed to lose the series. See my recap in this post.
So this handicap boils down to what you think of Afreeca’s debut and how much you want to adjust based on what we’ve seen thus far. They didn’t look great in KeSPA Cup which was maybe a sign of things to come but I tend not to look that much into offseason tournament performances other than individual players. Afreeca did lead in all three games and frankly, in two of them they were stomping like they did against the bottom teams for most of last season.
While there were some orange flags (not quite red) to pick on in that DRX series I’m mostly chalking it up to a series that just got away from them. Sometimes weird things happen and as infuriating as it was for me as a heavy backer of Afreeca, they should have won that 2-0. They lead in all three games and I’d anticipate them getting back to their winning ways after losing in such frustrating fashion. The problem is that we were getting -139, admittedly a number that was “too good to be true.” I thought that series should have been significantly higher priced, even higher than this series, and just because it didn’t work out that way doesn’t change my opinion on it. Afreeca roll.
Passing on these until I get a better idea for how Brion want to be playing.
Moneyline: Afreeca -213 (1.065 units)
Map Spread: Afreeca -1.5 maps @ +152 (0.5 units)
LOL Pro League (China)
Week 2 – Day 7
LNG Esports -526 (-1.5 maps @ -149, +1.5 @ -2500)
TT Gaming +353 (+1.5 maps @ +115, -1.5 @ +910)
Total Maps Played: 2.5 (over +161 / under -208)
Kill Total: 26.5 (over -109 / under -120)
Kill Spread: -7.5 @ -111 / +7.5 @ -118
Team Kill Totals: 15.5 / 8.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over -105 / under -123)
LNG – M1kuya, Tarzan, Icon, Light, Iwandy
TT – Chelizi, Bless, Captain, SamD, Teeen
LNG are the public darlings this season with a lot of hype around Tarzan and Icon. An upset win over Invictus the other day has everyone flying sky high on this team. People always overrate “winning big.” When it’s a stomping or a certain player pops off with a big kill total performance it’s easy to attribute that to that team being that much better than the other but just like in an NFL game where there are a few turnovers early it can dramatically affect everything for the rest of the game. For those that do follow the league, look at the playoff matchup between the Steelers and Browns last week. Cleveland jumped out to a 28-0 nothing lead in the first quarter off the back of two Pittsburgh turnovers in their first two drives. Not all turnovers are created equally, some are forced, others are unforced, but that’s a separate conversation.
What I’m getting at here is that LNG picked a highly volatile champion in Tristana. She’s a hyper carry that also has a resetting ability meaning that when she gets ahead or catches part of a kill and multiple members are low she’s going to clean the fight up. Light managed to clean up a fight for an early triple kill in game one and the game was essentially over on the spot. It happens even to good teams. There are things to criticize about Invictus in that moment sure but this wasn’t some sort of tremendous outplay by LNG, it was more botched execution on Invictus’ part. They ran it back again in game two which was a much more contested game but Tristana managed to get fed again and the rest is history.
Light and Iwandy were very good last season, underrated in fact, but the overreaction to this win over Invictus is just ridiculous to me and it’s been represented in the betting markets as well with this line increasing more than 100 points toward LNG.
TT didn’t look great in their first outing. A lot of the same problems from last season cropped up. Their mid game decision making is severely lacking but they do have the players to make things happen. We saw a few nice plays from Captain in his debut but Wei just took over both games in this series and with the knowledge now about how good RNG’s macro decision making looks there’s a chance that TT were just rolled by one of the better teams in the league, something we shouldn’t really fault them too much for.
I’m not buying LNG yet. I’m going to stick to my priors and back TT at the big number. We’re getting almost 50 points more on the underdog than we were early in the week due to overreaction going both ways and this is, after all, the LPL. Until I see some more from LNG I don’t think they deserve to be laying this much against anybody.
I typically love the best value firsts with big underdogs but I’m still getting a feel for how both of these teams are going to try to play so I’m going to pass on the derivative markets for this one.
Map Spread: TT +1.5 maps @ +115 (1 unit)
Moneyline: TT +353 (0.5 units)
Map Spread: TT -1.5 maps @ +910 (0.25 units)
Team WE +102 (+1.5 maps @ -286, -1.5 @ +307)
Invictus Gaming -135 (-1.5 maps @ +212, +1.5 @ -435)
Total Maps Played: 2.5 (over -108 / under -119)
Kill Total: 27.5 (over -115 / under -114)
Kill Spread: +2.5 @ -114 / -2.5 @ -115
Team Kill Totals: 12.5 / 14.5
Time Total: 33:00 (over +106 / under -139)
WE – Breathe (Curse), Beishang, Shanks, Jiumeng, Missing
IG- TheShy, XUN, Rookie, Wink, Baolan
The Invictus bottom lane had a horrendous outing last series but as I mentioned in the above breakdown that game one in particular just got away from Invictus.
I wanted to share some excerpts from what I’ve written about Team WE in both recaps for them so far:
- (vs V5) “This was a competitive series but my main take away is that Team WE have got a lot of cleaning up to do.”
- (vs V5) “Shanks had a great game one, less so in the 1v1 than he did in keeping up his economy in a very chaotic game which can be difficult to do especially against a counterpick in Syndra. The second game he was destroyed as Viktor vs Syndra, a tough matchup. Game three was neither here nor there.”
- (vs RW) “It’s obviously early in the season and this is only one series but WE are still showing that they aren’t exactly the best at engineering their own advantages. If RW didn’t make the handful of unforced errors that they did they probably win game two.”
- (vs RW) “Jiumeng had a really rough series despite the 2-0 victory. He was caught out half a dozen times in these games so hopefully he can get it back together.”
Victory Five lost that series to a lucky Syndra dragon steal to pick up infernal soul and nearly still won this series after Team WE tried to throw it back yet again. I think WE should be a good team but their trademark, minimize mistakes style of League of Legends has been severely lacking thus far in 2021. I think they can get it together, it’s still early but Invictus will be a much more difficult test, especially from an individual standpoint.
This is yet another big time overreaction. Invictus were -170 earlier in the week, had the weird loss to LNG and people are piling on Team WE who are, I’ll say it, lucky to be 2-0 right now. I expect both of these teams to be better than we’ve seen through a few series but Invictus are a better squad top to bottom especially with the upgrade in the jungle. To me, Invictus are a better team than they were in Summer and using those Summer priors I would have made this -188 / +140 which is even more favored than the opener was. Considering they’ve upgraded, in my opinion, this is a pretty big edge.
Give me Invictus all day.
High total, split push possibilities, give me the under in both kill totals AND time totals.
Kill totals have actually gone under in 61.5% of LPL games so far with an average total of 27.375 kills.
Time totals have gone under 56.4% of the time with an average time of 31.94 minutes. Invictus have been the fastest team in the LPL over the past three splits and were second fastest only to Victory Five in Summer. Stylistically they haven’t changed much so far. Team WE are a bit on the slower side since they tend to wait for their opponents to screw up but I think the combination of siding heavily with Invictus and that WE are well within their means to snowball games as well make the under a nice play here.
Moneyline: Invictus -135 (2.025 units)
Spread: Invictus -1.5 maps @ +212 (0.5 units)
Kill Total: Map 1 UNDER 27.5 kills @ -114 (1.14 units)
Kill Total: Map 2 UNDER 27.5 kills @ -114 (1.14 units)
Kill Total: Map 3 UNDER 27.5 kills @ -112 (1.14 units)
Time Total: Map 1 UNDER 33:00 @ -139 (0.695 units)
Time Total: Map 3 UNDER 33:00 @ -139 (0.695 units)
Time Total: Map 3 UNDER 33:00 @ -139 (0.695 units)
LCS Lock-In Tournament
Week 1 – Day 3
The first two days of this tournament have been a great example of a few different concepts. First, continuity matters in the early season. Teams that have been here, playing, and haven’t had their practice disrupted are at a huge advantage and it’s a bigger edge than having better players. Second, the academy scene and the bottom end starters in the LCS really aren’t that much different. If you think about this like a normal distribution there’s going to be a lot of the average, middle of the curve type players that are displaced by the exceptional ones and they’re all battling for the same 4-5 spots in the league. When a team is forced to start academy players people tend to overreact and automatically downgrade that team. Unless they’re replacing one of the better players at the position this reaction is almost always an overreaction. We saw this a lot during the season last year in every league.
Unders and underdogs have also been extremely profitable in this tournament thus far.
Underdogs are 6-4 straight up, 7-3 against the kill spread.
Kill totals have gone under in 7 out of 10 games (average total: 25.4)
Time Totals have gone under in 7 out of 10 games (average total: 32.1 minutes)
Favorite team totals have gone under in 7 out of 10 games (average total: 15.6 kills)
Under 11.5 towers taken has hit in 9 out of 10 games as well.
Dragons under 4.5 hit in 6 out of 10.
The reason I mention this is that I’ve seen a lot of people catch on to this trend but the books have now adjusted as you’ll see in the totals today to the point where it’s no longer essentially an automatic system position, we’ll have to look at each, game-by-game.
One other note. If it’s not obvious at this point you shouldn’t overreact to a single day or weekend of games. None of these teams are another galaxy better than the other at this point in the season. It’s important to evaluate these teams before the season but keep in mind that it’s not as stratified as most people would have you believe. Over the course of the year we’ll know but right now, when these teams aren’t that refined, anything can happen. You need a damn good reason to back a favorite in a best-of-one at these numbers even if this was eight weeks into the Summer season, I’ll be hard pressed to back any of them in this situation.
Immortals +401 vs Cloud 9 -625
Kill Total: 22.5 (over -118 / under -110)
Kill Spread: +9.5 @ -114 / -9.5 @ -115
Team Kill Totals: 6.5 / 16.5
Time Total: 31:00 (over -114 / under -115)
Revenge had a pretty savage day despite the lack of score line to show it completely destroying a tricky Camille matchup as Gragas and buying a ton of time for his team in the EG matchup. Good to see the solo queue stud is at least translating to some extent so far.
Cloud 9 looked more like many thought they’d look with a near perfect game over a disoriented FlyQuest but it certainly helped that FlyQuest botched an early dragon play to snowball this out of control. Nxi thought he was sneaking a solo dragon but when his bottom lane came up to help, he was pretty low and it gave his position away, the rest turned into multiple kills and a dragon for C9 and this game was essentially over already. More on FlyQuest later.
I actually think Immortals are worth a shot here. They haven’t looked that bad and their strengths line up well with Cloud 9’s strengths. I’ll be taking them with most of my stake on the huge kill spread. This should be a competitive matchup this early in the year. This total number is more in line with what I expected so pass on that front.
I’m passing on them because I’ve got enough exposure to this game but first props for the underdog are definitely worth a look if you’re looking for something else. First blood @ +123 is a good number.
Kill Spread: Immortals +9.5 kills @ -114 (1.14 units)
Moneyline: Immortals +392 (0.5 units)
Team Liquid -200 vs 100 Thieves +155
Kill Total: 24.5 (over -120 / under -109)
Kill Spread: -5.5 @ -112 / +5.5 @ -116
Team Kill Totals: 14.5 / 10.5
Time Total: 28:00 (over -192 / under +146)
These were my two picks to take this whole tournament down before it started. After an excellent showing on day one, 100 Thieves came crashing back down to earth with a more mortal appearance against CLG yesterday in an absolute circus of a game. They had an advantage but CLG were able to weather the storm enough to stabilize and outscale after a blazing start from the Thieves. Ssumday had an incredible first 15 minutes in this game and put on a clinic on how to play weak side to make it difficult for your opponents and he was in a counter matchup to boot.
Liquid didn’t play yesterday so they have the advantage of seeing another day of film from each of these teams. They looked clinical in their breaking down of CLG even with a sub jungler in Grig (Armao). It’s a small sample obviously but maybe some evidence that all the hate Broxah was getting might not have been warranted as this team was stacked in the lanes last year too. If you’re lanes are just winning this hard you don’t even really need to do much.
I like Liquid quite a bit to win this tournament and think they’re the best team in the league but this is just too rich a premium to pay for them. This is a 100 Thieves or nothing position to me. I’ll be passing on a side to play the time total here. 100 Thieves very clearly want to be an uptempo team. If we’re going by last year Liquid are capable of doing the same thing but prefer to play things more controlled. This time total correction is kind of hilarious to me it’s a 3-6 minute difference from what we were seeing yesterday and even with the juice is worth a position when you should have two competitive teams. The time totals have been mostly under but we’ve seen the three overs so far and they’ve all been in competitive games which I expect this one to be.
Kill Total: UNDER 24.5 @ -109 (1.09 units)
Time Total: OVER 28:00 @ -192 (1.92 units)
Dignitas +270 vs Evil Geniuses -385
Kill Total: 22.5 (over -114 / under -114)
Kill Spread: +7.5 @ -112 / -7.5 @ -115
Team Kill Totals: 7.5 / 15.5
Time Total: 27:00 (over -175 / under -143)
Dignitas looked sharp on day one and got stomped by Immortals on day two. For those that don’t know, I’m a bit of a Karthus one trick over the past seven years. I can tell you from a lot of experience, Gragas and Viktor are very very difficult champions to play against because they can keep you from dying in a great place to abuse your passive and they can keep you out of a fight. I understand that they wanted a fast clearing, magic damage jungler for the Yone/Camille solo lane combination and with Nidalee and Taliyah banned they were somewhat cornered into picking this, but you have to identify whether it’s more important to have a diversified damage profile or whether a champion just isn’t going to be practical in a situation. I’m not sure what is in their pool right now but I would have rather seen Olaf and just try to snowball this game before it mattered. Immortals didn’t really have a huge front line in this game. Anyway, I digress…
Evil Geniuses have looked pretty good so far but I just can’t justify laying this kind of money on them. I’ll take a small stake in the dogs at this price. 27 is the lowest time total I think I’ve ever seen so I’ll be taking the juiced over there but this kill total is more in line with what I anticipated for this tournament so pass there.
Kill Spread: Dignitas +7.5 kills @ -112 (0.56 units)
Moneyline: Dignitas +270 (0.5 units)
Time Total: OVER 27:00 @ -175 (1.75 units)
Prop: Dignitas first blood @ +111 (0.5 units)
Counter Logic Gaming +202 vs Team Solo Mid -270
Kill Total: 23.5 (over -119 / under -109)
Kill Spread: +7.5 @ -123 / -7.5 @ -105
Team Kill Totals: 8.5 / 14.5
Time Total: 31:00 (over -149 / under +114)
I always say it but don’t underrate savvy veterans. CLG managed to stabilize and pull that game out yesterday. TSM did the same thing. The difference is that one of those was earned, the other wasn’t. TSM had absolutely no business winning that game against Golden Guardians who got way overambitious and fed the game back to TSM multiple times. Good on TSM for sure but just keep that in mind.
This is yet another dog or nothing situation. I’m going to take a position on CLG here. TSM are eventually going to be good but they look to be off to a rocky start and I’ve got some questions about Bjergsen’s drafting through two games. I’m sure he’ll be fine long term but right now it’s a bit concerning.
This total is interesting. I could see this being a slower, more drawn out game but plus money on the under is something that’s just a bit too appetizing for me not to take a small piece of.
Kill Spread: CLG +7.5 @ -123 (0.615 units)
Moneyline: CLG +202 (0.5 units)
Time Total: UNDER 31:00 @ +114 (0.5 units)
Kill Total: UNDER 23.5 @ -109 (1.09 units)
Golden Guardians +319 vs Team Liquid -455
Kill Total: 22.5 (over -114 / under -114)
Kill Spread: +7.5 @ +100 / -7.5 @ -130
Team Kill Totals: 6.5 / 15.5
Time Total: 31:00 (over -114 / under -114)
Golden Guardians got a little too far ahead of themselves against TSM and it cost them. This is a classic rookie/young team mistake that we’ve seen countless times over the years. Liquid are going to be a much tougher fortress to crack than TSM was and I don’t see them surrendering the lead nearly as much. That said, there is a big price gap between the moneyline and kill spread here because the total is so low. In a normal situation this would be at least 8.5 or 9.5 kills on a map moneyline like this but the lower total pushes the threshold to increase the kill spread much higher. This is the one favorite I’m going to back today but I’m keeping staking small on it. I wouldn’t back this at 8.5 or 9.5 so just pass if you can’t find a good number.
Kill Spread: Liquid -7.5 kills @ -130 (0.65 units)
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.
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)