Tuesday, January 26th Recap
LNG vs BiliBili (Net: +0.005 units)
For many of you, particularly those that were in The Esports Department Discord this morning, it will come as no surprise that I’m opening my recap with this one today. Before I completely dig into BiliBili for their play in this series I need to make one thing crystal clear:
This LNG team is fraudulent.
That’s now four game wins that have been spoon fed to them through multiple unforced errors by their opponents. This is also a team that had a harder time with TT than anyone else has this season. They might get better over the course of the season but I’m absolutely not buying into this at all right now.
Don’t you worry LNG, we’ll get ours in the next few weeks.
BiliBili… what are you guys doing. I know the people in this organization and these players know better than this. They’re all veterans, some from the LPL, others from the LCK (although I know Zeka is young). You know better than to fight for the god damn scuttle crab 4v4 against an Olaf team. I don’t even know what to say. Think it might be time to bench someone to snap them the hell out of this funk. I expect veteran teams to be punishing sloppy January play not contributing to it. Wake up BLG, you’re better than this.
RNG vs Victory Five (Net: -0.5 units)
Likewise, Victory Five… what are you guys doing. Noticing a theme for today? Hell, a theme for this week?
I absolutely loved this game four draft by them. You cornered RNG into having to play skirmish to run you around while you’re composition was simple and easy to execute. All you had to do was play this stay on the same page. Asking them for slow and steady isn’t their brand but you didn’t even have to take this game slow, just smart. All you had to do was NOT feed the Akali. That’s the only way you lose this game. You had a tankless RNG comp and you had Gragas and tons of hard CC. Literally pick any target with Gragas ult or flash E, kill that target. Easy.
Nope. Had to make it hard for yourselves.
Unlike some other teams where I’m still trying to figure out if they actually know what the hell they’re doing or not, Victory Five are one that I am confident in but this was just a bad game three. Aodi went AP Gragas, I would have preferred the tank in this case but I can at least see the thought process of full AP just nuking half their team dead with ultimate for your team to clean up. What I couldn’t understand was Krakenslayer on Miss Fortune against the zero tank/health stacking team. Y4… Galeforce is really REALLY good at helping you avoid some of this mobility on the other team and helping you survive for a couple extra seconds that could be the difference in a fight. Nope, better build Krakenslayer…
Item builds weren’t why V5 lost this game. They could have been troll building and just executed halfway decently and won this but I guess, here in week four that’s apparently too much to ask of the vast majority of the LPL.
I’m not surprised, I’m just disappointed.
RNG continue to figure it out on the fly even when they draft themselves into corners. I mentioned it a few times this season but this team has strong game sense but they’re sort of learning on the fly with Xiaohu at the moment. Think of an insanely good drummer like Sebastian Lanser from Obscura (sorry it’s what I’ve got on in the background) that just got asked to play some of his tracks on someone else’s drum kit. He’ll get it he’s just gotta get used to the new digs. I’m confident Xiaohu can figure this out but RNG are kinda MacGyver’ing this at the moment.
LPL Net Total: -0.495 units
Daily Net Total: -0.495 units
It’s been a brutal week and a reminder that January and February can be pretty volatile until things settle in. Teams can look great in one match and awful the next. Nobody really has that much polish this time of year and if they do they’re usually dominating everyone. Try not to overreact to these small samples unless the red flags are severe enough to warrant that kind of reaction.
LOL Pro League (China)
Week 4 – Day 3
eStar Pro +492 (+1.5 maps @ +142, -1.5 @ ???)
FunPlus Phoenix -698 (-1.5 maps @ -173)
Total Maps Played: 2.5 (over +175 / under -241)
Kill Total: 25.5 (over -116 / under -115)
Kill Spread: +8.5 @ -115 / -8.5 @ -115
Team Kill Totals: 8.5 / 16.5
Time Total: 31:00 (over -102 / under -130)
(Individual player model positional ranking in paranthesis)
EST – Zs (17), H4cker (10), Irma (1, see below), Rat (17), ShiauC (1)
FPX – Nuguri (3), Bo (2, small sample), Doinb (7), Lwx (6), Crisp (6)
Obviously FunPlus look great. I’ve been one of the only people I’ve seen giving them any sort of criticism at all but one thing I also mentioned is that this team is just going to keep getting better and better the more comfortable they and both Nuguri and Bo get with each other. I think we’ll probably see a hiccup here and there as he gets comfortable but there’s still a very high floor with this team, which is something you can’t say about many teams in the LPL.
eStar remain the ShiauC show. When he’s not facilitating bad things, or no things, happen. In almost comical fashion, ShiauC is currently graded #1 at the support position in the LPL according to my individual player model (and a good deal ahead of #2 ranked Iwandy) while Rat is 17th out of 20 ADCs. Surprisingly, Irma has performed solidly but part of the catch with models like this is that you need to figure out if it meets the eye test to you as well. Irma grades very highly in kill participation, gold and XP differentials at 15 minutes, and in the top half in the vision captions but his overall economy is only slightly above average and his damage efficiency (damage per gold per minute) is below average. Just found that interesting. H4cker has had two decent games but has otherwise been underwhelming, along with Zs.
The FunPlus bottom lane has been better this season but they can be a liability at times. If eStar are to win this series that’s the avenue through which they’ll have to get it done. The trick is that they’re going to have to do that while dealing with Nuguri and Bo who had a great debut against SofM.
It’s really hard to rely on one player to carry games against a stacked opposing team. They can sometimes do it against mediocre and bad teams but it’s a tough ask against a team like FPX. There’s a chance we see Bo look more like a rookie at some point but I’m not sure H4cker is the guy to challenge them. FPX roll.
Perhaps the tougher question here is how these games play out. eStar have been a team that likes to force the action early but they look absolutely toothless if they don’t get anything out of it. They have managed to force some teams into goofy games though. The thing is that’s been mostly against bad teams. FunPlus have been a bit of a mixed bag on this front but I think they’re probably going to take care of business here. I do think the derivative markets are fairly priced in this situation.
Over kill totals and favorite spreads have been the biggest advantages since the beginning of week three. Favorites have covered an average spread of 6.28 kills 65% of the time and kill totals have gone over the 25.67 kill total average 57.5% of the time. I could see this game devolving with the way eStar play but I’ll stay away. No huge edge here.
Map Spread: FPX -1.5 maps @ -173 (1.73 units)
Invictus Gaming -566 (-1.5 maps @ -154)
Rogue Warriors +412 (+1.5 maps @ +126, -1.5 @ +1098)
Total Maps Played: 2.5 (over +162 / under -222)
Kill Total: 26.5 (over -128 / under -104)
Kill Spread: -8.5 @ -121 / +8.5 @ -109
Team Kill Totals: 17.5 / 9.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over +103 / under -137)
(Individual player model positional ranking in paranthesis)
IG – TheShy (8), XUN (18), Rookie (3), Wink (5), Baolan (9)
RW – Ziv (19), Haro (11), Forge (18), Michi (16), Reheal (17)
Invictus had a bad series against LNG and everyone is already back to meme’ing on them. A loss to Team WE doesn’t look as bad now and even in that series they more or less gambled hard in the draft in games two and three (see my recap here) after stomping game one. Invictus are an extremely good team that beat themselves more than opponents beat them. Long term you’re going to want to be on their side but you need to be careful about how you do it.
Simply put, Rogue Warriors are close but no cigar for me. They’re doing some things well and I think they’ll get there eventually but they’re officially in “only backing them when they’re severely underpriced” mode to quote a previous recap.
So does that qualify here?
A lot of people are going to point to the TOP Esports upset win and I think that’s a strong case to make given Invictus’ tendency to beat themselves every so often. The difference is that that line was -2000 / +793. That’s a 10% implied probability difference (85% vs 95.2%). So the real questions you need to ask in a series like this are 1) do they need the favorite to beat themselves or at least partially beat themselves? and 2) how often do they win even if that’s the case?
For as “trolly” as Invictus can be at times this is still a team that thrives in those kinds of weird games. Rogue Warriors incite weird games. In a way Rogue Warriors are just the worst ever version of Invictus but I digress.
Normally I like Rogue Warriors as a “punch up” underdog but I’m going to be on Invictus here. They’re going to beat themselves from time to time and that’s just something you have to live with but over time this is still an excellent team that’s going to improve the with XUN getting more stage time and Baolan, hopefully, regressing back to his norm. Baolan redeemed himself with a solid series in their last outing after a rough start to the season, I think he’ll keep that up.
Just based on the implied odds alone the -1.5 is a sizeable value play (about 2.75% edge after vig) and I do think this market is fairly accurate.
Note: We’ve got a little bit of a revenge narrative going on here. Forge and Reheal are former Invictus and IG Young members going against their old team. If you dig those kinds of angles go for it but they’re not for me.
This is a slam dunk under time total play even with the juice.
Map Spread: Invictus -1.5 maps @ -154 (1.54 units)
Time Total: Map 1 UNDER 32:00 @ -137 (1.37 units)
Time Total: Map 2 UNDER 32:00 @ -137 (1.37 units)
Time Total: Map 3 UNDER 32:00 @ -137 (1.37 units)
LOL Champions Korea
Week 3 – Day 1
Hanwha Life Esports -510 (-1.5 @ -141)
Fredit BRION +378 (+1.5 maps @ +116, -1.5 @ +946)
Total Maps Played: 2.5 (over +157 / under -213)
Kill Total: 22.5 (over -125 / under -106)
Kill Spread: -7.5 @ -108 / +7.5 @ -122
Team Kill Totals: 14.5 / 7.5
Time Total: 32:00 (over -107 / under -123)
What a weird opening portion of the season for these two teams…
Brion pulled the upset of the year so far 2-0’ing DAMWON and playing damn near immaculately while doing so but then got absolutely stomped by a Nongshim RedForce squad that has left a lot to be desired early on. Hanwha Life have had a tough schedule facing two of the top three (by my evaluation) teams in Gen.G and T1. Their other two matches were against a DRX team that’s been significantly better than most people thought (more on that later this week…) and a competitive KT Rolster.
Hanwha have faced just about as tough a schedule as you can get besides DAMWON. They’ve looked very good and very bad. Most of this teams fortune falls on the non-star players like Arthur and Vsta. When they’re playing well, this team is actually pretty good, when they aren’t Hanwha look awful. These inconsistencies are one of the main factors contributing to their higher kill games. They’re just messy.
Brion look like a decent team but sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture. They aren’t completely devoid of talent but it’s safe to say that they’re working with a lot of bottom half of their position players. Teams like that can’t rely on individual talent, they have to outsmart you, be more fundamentally sound than you. Brion have shown glimpses of being able to do that. They’ve also shown the opposite.
Doesn’t Brion look a lot like Rogue Warriors? Upset over the top dog, very rough and winless otherwise? It’s kind of hard to ignore such an excellent series against a team that just had one of the best seasons we’ve ever seen and looked solid out of the gate so far as well. It wasn’t like DAMWON beat themselves or anything like that. Brion just played a great series.
I think Hanwha are the side here. Just looking at the organic economy for these two teams does a decent enough job at telling the story. The issue I have is that their secondary players are still very suspect and I’m not entirely buying that they’ve figured everything out just because they had a few good series.
Brion have actually been the aggressors in most of their games. They try to jump out to leads and snowball off of kills when they can. Hanwha have been sort of mixed bag. They’re definitely more aggressive than an average Korean team but I think most of their high kill totals have been the result of lots of small errors while clawing back a lead or trying to push an advantage. They’ve been in some really weird games this season and haven’t really controlled too many of their games end-to-end. It’s a little early to say definitively whether that’s who they are or if that’s just been how the cookie has crumbled so far.
With that in mind I still like the over here. To open the season, Kill totals were averaging 24.2 kills in the LCK and they’ve ticked down quite a bit to an average of 23.8 in week two with the majority of games now on 23.5. Hanwha are averaging 28.1 kills per game. Now, as I mentioned, they’ve played in some real slobberknockers for better or worse and I don’t think that’s necessarily where they’ll be all season but Brion are also dying an average of 14.3 times per game. This total is way WAY too low. This should be at minimum a 24.5, the only reason it isn’t is because Hanwha are heavily favored. In games with a -300 or greater match favorite, kill totals have gone under 12 out of 19 times. Four of those matches have been DAMWON, two were T1, and the other was Gen.G. Hanwha isn’t on that list (although they were one of the T1 matches, as a dog).
I’m going with a heavy stake on the team total over here. Hanwha are a quite sloppy, Brion like to fight their way out of a corner, and this total is very low. Hanwha have also gone over their team total in every single game win this season. Perfect storm.
Moneyline: Hanwha -510 (2.55 units)
Kill Total (team): Map 1 Hanwha OVER 14.5 @ -110 (1.65 units)
Kill Total (team): Map 2 Hanwha OVER 14.5 @ -110 (1.65 units)
Kill Total (team): Map 3 Hanwha OVER 14.5 @ -110 (1.65 units)
DAMWON Kia Gaming -203 (-1.5 maps @ +177, +1.5 @ -759
Gen.G +165 (+1.5 maps @ -220, -1.5 @ +528)
Total Maps Played: 2.5 (over -123 / under -108)
Kill Total: 23.5 (over -108 / under -122)
Kill Spread: -4.5 @ -115 / +4.5 @ -115
Team Kill Totals: 13.5 / 9.5
Time Total: 33:00 (over -140 / under +106)
Weird week for these two as well.
DAMWON were upset by Brion before laying a beatdown on Afreeca and Gen.G were upset by Hanwha Life (not quite as embarrassing) after defeating T1.
I’ve said it a few times over the course of the season and I’ll likely say it again unless evidence proves otherwise but the top three teams in the LCK are all very good and, I think, fairly evenly matched. You can nitpick who you think the best is but I’m likely to take the underdog in each of these appearances unless I have strong evidence not to.
The case against Gen.G here is that Bdd has been having probably the worst few series of his career so far this season and ShowMaker has been absolutely lights out (as usual) leading the league in every major metric in my individual model except carry efficiency (damage per gold per minute). Only Chovy close through ten or so games.
Both of these teams are very similar. They’re all excellent individual players but generate the majority of their early advantages through snowballing via the herald to pick up tower gold. Each are picking up more than 75% of the heralds in their games and Gen.G have picked up first blood in most of their contests to boot. Both have exceptional overall economy scores as well. In my opinion, weird matches withstanding, these are the two best teams in the world right now.
As I sort of mentioned at the top, this is an underdog or nothing play. I’ll have a Gen.G position.
Gen.G have generally been an over team, especially in wins, but DAMWON have, surprisingly, been an under team this season. If you have a stronger lean than I do in either direction in this match I think it’s reasonable to take the corresponding total play but 7 out of 9 of the last games between these two dating back to January last year went under 20 kills. Different year and all but mostly the same lineups that’s enough to warrant a play on the under. DAMWON have also been significantly less bloody this season.
Map Spread: Gen.G +1.5 maps @ -220 (1.1 units)
Moneyline: Gen.G +165 (0.5 units)
Map Spread: Gen.G -1.5 maps @ +528 (0.25 units)
Kill Total: Map 1 UNDER 23.5 @ -122 (1.22 units)
Kill Total: Map 2 UNDER 23.5 @ -122 (1.22 units)
Kill Total: Map 3 UNDER 23.5 @ -122 (1.22 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)