I normally don’t write as much for recaps and take a more “big picture” approach but there was a lot or weird stuff that happened in these group stages. Overall, the biggest takeaway was that my evaluation, that these teams were all much closer than people thought, was true but the results didn’t necessarily show it. This is why I place such a heavy emphasis on film study. As much as numbers can help us they’re just one part of the equation. All of these teams looked a bit rusty to me. The play wasn’t exactly crisp and clean but there was plenty of highlights to keep us entertained as well.

Just as a reminder to people: don’t be results-oriented on a slate of best-of-ones, especially with teams of this level. Watch the tape, pick out the good and the bad and determine on your own who played well and who didn’t that way. There was some weird happenings in this tournament to have it end up the way it did and it’s just another reason why sample size matters.

Day One Recap

T1 vs FunPlus (Net: -0.51 units)

These drafts were strange. Two poke compositions with limited engage but T1’s was far superior in the early and mid game while FPX had a slight edge in the late game if it got there. T1 legitimately looked a little over-excited for this tournament which is going to be a theme on the day. Normally I call them “the adults in the room” meaning they’re usually the ones that exercise patience and intelligent decision-making. T1 played confidently in this first game. Every player was pulling the trigger on any play they saw. In a weird way these teams swapped roles. That’s normally FunPlus’ calling card but T1 were the ones dictating the action. Weird, not perfect, but an impressive performance from T1 nonetheless.

DAMWON vs TOP Esports (Net: +0.919 units)

DWG went with Aatrox/Nidalee/Sylas/Kalista/Karma into a stock and standard 2-core from TOP. If DWG didn’t get massively ahead and push this home they were going to lose. It’s a pretty simple proposition. I didn’t hate this draft actually. Two gankable lanes and they had kill pressure in both outer lanes. Sylas is able to get priority on Leblanc if it’s played correctly. DWG actually did a really good job pushing the pace of this game and understanding their win conditions, TOP just did an excellent job of picking their spots to contest while they scaled up. TOP’s individual players managed this game extremely well and eventually TOP outscaled.

T1 vs DAMWON (Net: -2.105 units)

DWG come back with a hybrid poke composition that demanded perfect execution with little to no front line. T1 got ahead against the poke composition which, if you’re not familiar, usually spells game over for the poking team. They also had a Gragas+Yasuo bottom lane to add insult to injury. This game looked all but over T1 were incredibly sloppy on multiple occasions when transitioning out of lane and into the mid game which allowed DWG to pick up a few dragons. DWG returned the favor throwing in similar fashion. This game devolved from there into a really bizarre back-and-forth which included some Twisted Fate split pushing as Faker nearly solo base-raced DWG to a win. Eventually T1 made a fatal error and DWG stole one. This game was a mess for both sides and the first in a number of massive errors by T1 on day one.

FunPlus vs TOP Esports (Net: +2.125 units)

TOP ran Jayce/Olaf/Corki/Syndra/Yuumi. I can’t stand poke comps with Olaf and no secondary bruiser or tank. It was nice seeing JackeyLove comfortable to run the Syndra bottom, a pick that I feel has been severely underrated around the globe. Syndra is a tremendous bottom laner that’s really only limited by the pilots ability to understand how she works outside of laning phase. Anyway, this game just turned into an absolute clinic in priority play by FPX. Tian made Karsa look real bad and in tandem with Doinb’s Rumble they completely terrorized the rest of the map. It was a pretty basic snowball and a dominant victory by FPX.

FunPlus vs DAMWON (Net: -1.001 units)                

DWG tried the poke comp with an Olaf as their only frontline as well. It didn’t work. Doinb and Tian yet again dominated the mid+jungle priority game which is impressive considering Doinb was playing Galio into Syndra+Olaf. FPX got a little arrogant closing this one out and allowed DWG to get back into the game and even get a baron. It was looking like DWG had actually turned the corner and almost stole this game on a baron push immediately after the fight but they botched it and FPX managed to fight back. This was yet another bizarre game on day one with some punts by both sides.

T1 vs TOP Esports (Net: -0.0859 units)

T1 run the Yasuo+Gragas and TOP tried the Ekko into Faker’s Azir. T1 managed to deal with a few of the curveballs TOP threw at them (see the early four man rotation top to kill Canna) and appeared to have stabilized before heading to baron. T1 secured the baron but lost the following fight pretty badly allowing TOP to get a third drake. Eventually we got to a second baron, this one secured by TOP after pushing T1 off of their initial attempt. This setup by T1 was poor. Yes you have Azir and can rush baron down with limited help but they started it with three people and TOP intelligently forced the fight to wedge out Teddy and Canna who were late to the party. In a fight that isn’t front-to-back T1 aren’t going to win. Azir needs the protection that his ultimate alone can’t grant him or he’s not doing damage. From there TOP managed to lane a good Ekko W and instantly kill Faker when T1 went to set up for dragon (ocean soul). It was a really headsy play by Knight but T1 were slow to get there and prep it. Losing the previous fight didn’t help either. This wasn’t as bad a throw as the previous T1 game but still, an odd lack of consistency in an aspect of the game T1 is normally outstanding.

Futures Eliminated: T1 +450 (-2.0 units)

Day One All-Told: 10 – 12 (-2.6579 units) (includes futures)

 

Day Two Recap:

JD Gaming vs Gen.G (Net: +1.445 units)

Don’t be fooled by the final score, this game was very high level. JDG played really well and had some really creative plays in this game to make things happen but Gen.G weren’t phased by it and seemingly had the answer to everything JDG threw at them. BDD had an absolutely ridiculous game on Azir. Take notes.

DragonX vs Invictus (Net: +2.0847 units)

Invictus got the first two kills in this game but that was about the last thing of consequence they got in this game. Even the dragons they took ended up not being worth the sacrifice necessary for them. DragonX out-traded them at every point in this game. This was the first of three games in which Ning would be severely out jungled. TheShy was solo killed multiple times by Doran, Puff and Southwind took some really poor trades and I think at this point it’s safe to say yet again that Rookie is truly stuck in elo hell. DragonX looked really sharp.

DragonX vs Gen.G (Net: +1.71 units)

It was all about team fights in this one. It was looking like Gen.G were in full control despite a jungle farm difference and then a fight over the third dragon turned into huge win for DRX that would give them a much needed boost. DRX managed to pick up the next four dragons in a row. After cloud soul was picked up, Ruler made a few small errors that were spotted and immediately punished by DRX. The area-of-effect (AOE) damage by DRX’s Kennen/Graves/Rumble/Senna was simply too much to handle and itemize against.

JD Gaming vs Invictus (Net: +1.0 units)

Kanavi got Nidalee and two great solo lanes to gank for and that could skirmish. As expected he completely took over this game and maintained a three level lead over Ning for much of the early game. Ning was massively behind and was building lethality in this game as well which is, frankly, just stupid. LvMao also put on a clinic on playing support Sett and reminded everyone just how good he actually is. Invictus managed to hang around thanks to Rookie’s Azir but there was just too much for him to avoid in fights and JDG managed to close this out even with Invictus picking up a few dragons.

Invictus vs Gen.G (Net: -1.265 units)

The exciting Rookie Ekko vs BDD Yasuo was fun but Clid just got more done than Ning did besides first blood. BDD went absolutely berserk in this game picking up six kills in the first 14 minutes. There isn’t much else to say about this one. Gen.G were in full control the whole game.

JD Gaming vs DragonX (Net: -2.16 units)

Another really high level match. DRX looked to get the upper hand early on picking up the first three drakes and a small gold lead but were slow to setup for the fourth drake. Pyosik attempted to steal it to pick up the coveted ocean soul but JDG picked it up and won the fight afterwards. At this point, JDG’s team composition started to outscale. DRX kept this close realizing the timer they were on but eventually Loken’s Aphelios became way too much to handle.

Tiebreakers (no wagers)

What a heartbreaker for DragonX who played so well during this tournament and were just outmaneuvered in both of these games. Looking back, that slow setup for the fourth dragon in that first JDG/DRX game would end up costing them a playoff spot in this tournament. Gen.G and JDG looked outstanding in both tiebreakers and look to be the two best teams remaining in this tournament. They’ve been the most consistent.

Futures Eliminated: DragonX +900 (-1.0 units)

Day Two All-Told:  11 – 6 (+1.8147 units) (includes futures)

 

Group Stage Total: 21 – 18 (-0.8432 units) (includes futures)

 

The T1 loss to DAMWON is the only thing that really stuck out to me through this group stage as a “bad beat.” I had a pretty solid read on this tournament even if the results didn’t end up showing it. We’re down to just JDG in our futures positions and I think they, along with Gen.G look like the two best teams remaining in the tournament.

Let’s take a look at Saturday’s knockout stage matchups.

I won’t be listing all of the trends that I did in the day one and two posts primarily because this handful of games hasn’t really changed much about them and they aren’t as relevant as current performance and film study with such a small sample size in this scenario.

Day Three – Knockout Stage

JD Gaming -137 (-1.5 maps @ +149, -2.5 @ +420) vs

FunPlus Phoenix +114 (+1.5 maps @ -192, +2.5 @ -667)

Kill Total: 26.5

Kill Spread: 3.5

Time Total: 34:00

Start Time: 1am Eastern

(this line opened -160 / +135 in consensus and has been bet down)

JDG won the playoff series between these two 3-0 but all three games were incredibly close. FunPlus were -144 favorites in that series which was quickly identified as very inaccurate. It probably should have been closer to even money. These are the two best teams in the LPL to me and while I think JDG have a slight edge overall, I think FunPlus don’t deserve to be an underdog of this magnitude even over a five game series, especially with blind pick eliminating some of the side advantage and Doinb and Khan both being huge x-factors in terms of champion pool. I view this series is a coin flip maybe ever so slightly weighted toward JDG. This line should probably be a -120 / +100 or lower. I still like the value on the underdogs even after this has been bet down. Missing out on good CLV sucks but the value is still there.

What’s interesting for us is that we actually have a fairly large sample size for these two teams playing each other this season. A regular season series as well as a playoff series to prepare us for this. In that playoff series the memorably low-kill game one was followed by games two and three both of which eclipsed 30 kills but both were fairly long games. We had a shade over 0.6 combined kills per minute in that series. The kill total for that series was set at 25.5. The first series was long ago in week one so I’m mostly throwing it out.

The Mid-Season Cup has had 25 kills per game and an average game time of 36:17 but we have to factor in that teams tend to be overly cautious in best-of-one settings with a lot on the line. This should be a lot looser not in terms of cleanliness but confidence level. These teams are familiar with one another and have played in high pressure situations before so I wouldn’t expect any nerves.

Kill Totals:

My composite combined kills per game (CKPG) AND odds-weighted CKPG has this at 24.625 kills. In a projected underdog win, in this case FPX  my projections show 24.7. The time total-implied CKPM, which is CKPM multiplied by my projected time total, shows a significantly lower 20.13. While these teams may play a little bit looser, there’s also significantly more opportunities for games to end quicker than in a traditional setting which leads to fewer kills as well. You have to dive beyond that narrative a bit in this situation. With more farm-focused junglers like Nidalee , Graves, and Kindred in the pool right now, it makes sense to go under from that perspective as well. The kill total for this series has been set at 26.5 with juice but I absolutely love the under position.

Other Props:

While the playoff matchup went over 40 minutes twice and over 36 minutes in the third game, both of these teams averaged significantly lower game times during the regular season at 32:44 (JDG) and 31:47 (FPX). This is typically a spot I’d love to play the under in, especially since I think FPX have an even chance of victory in the series and they generally play a more tempo-based game. I’m going to play the under but at half weight. Based on season-long projections this comes in far below that 34:00 and even though JDG have been playing more scaling, I could see either of these teams snowballing a lead in any given game. I think there’s enough of a chance the under hits in two out of the first three to beat the implied odds.

JDG and FPX are another first blood delta matchup. JDG had one of the highest rates in the LPL and FPX one of the lowest. Typically first blood is fairly variant stat, like turnovers in football, but when the gap is this wide and the intent/focus is shown time and time again by these teams I like the first blood market in the correct situation like this one.

My Picks:

Moneyline: FunPlus +132 (1 unit)

Kill Total: Map 1 UNDER 26.5 @ -125 (0.635 units)

Kill Total: Map 2 UNDER 26.5 @ -145 (0.725 units)

Kill Total: Map 2 UNDER 25.5 @ -120 (0.3 units)

Kill Total: Map 3 UNDER 26.5 @ -145 (0.725 units)

Kill Total: Map 3 UNDER 25.5 @ -120 (0.3 units)

Time Total: Map 1 UNDER 34:00 @ -111 (0.555 units)

Time Total: Map 2 UNDER 34:00 @ -110 (0.55 units)

Time Total: Map 3 UNDER 34:00 @ -110 (0.55 units)

Prop: Map 1 JDG first blood @ -118 (0.59 units)

Prop: Map 2 JDG first blood @ -118 (0.59 units)

Prop: Map 3 JDG first blood @ -122 (0.61 units)

 

 

TOP Esports -164 (-1.5 maps @ +136, -2.5 @ +386) vs

Gen.G +136 (+1.5 maps @ -175, +2.5 @ -588)

Kill Total: 24.5

Kill Spread: 3.5

Time Total: 34:00

Start Time: ~6am Eastern

I’ll just come right out and say it; this number is way WAY off. I don’t want to extrapolate from a small sample size but Gen.G looked significantly better to me. They look really sharp in terms of decisiveness, communication, and their intent shows underlying procedural consistencies that show me that this team is really dialed in at the moment. My biggest concern was that this team would struggle to adapt to a tournament metagame or that they’d have a bad game plan going into this but I absolutely love the way they’re approaching drafts and the tournament in general right now. I’d argue that Gen.G have looked better than even JDG who I think is the other best team remaining.

Now does that mean I think they should be overwhelming favorites and this is a 50-unit whale play? No. I do think this line is flat out wrong though. Gen.G should be slightly favored here especially given how they’ve played in this tournament. TOP haven’t been bad but haven’t looked nearly as sharp and probably should have another loss under their belts that they got away with against T1. I’m bullish on Gen.G but even if you’re conservatively handicapping this there is absolutely no way TOP should be favored by this much with how well Gen.G, BDD and Ruler specifically, are playing at the moment.

Kill Totals:

My composite combined kills per game (CKPG) has this total at 23.9 kills.  Odds-weighted CKPG has this at 23.543 kills. In a projected underdog win, in this case Gen.G, my projections show 24.7 kills. The time total-implied CKPM, which is CKPM multiplied by my projected time total, is 23.29 kills. Given that these two teams tend to be a more “lane kingdom” style, although Gen.G haven’t been as much in this tournament so far, I think that low total has some room underneath of it. The value isn’t as good as in the first series total but I’ll be playing the unders at half weight (quarter per instead of half per) for the first three maps even with the extra juice.

Other Props:

Gen.G had a 75% first blood rate which is more than double that of TOP Esports over the course of the season. Both teams had similarly high first tower rates. I’ll take the Gen.G first blood on the first three maps.

I’ve determined no discernable advantage over the time total in this spot given the juice, my projections, and how these teams have been playing this tournament.

My Picks:

Moneyline: Gen.G +136 (2 units)

Kill Total: Map 1 UNDER 24.5 @ -123 (0.3075 units)

Kill Total: Map 2 UNDER 24.5 @ -139 (0.3475 units)

Kill Total: Map 3 UNDER 24.5 @ -139 (0.3475 units)

Prop: Map 1 Gen.G first blood @ -125 (0.625 units)

Prop: Map 2 Gen.G first blood @ -110 (0.55 units)

Prop: Map 3 Gen.G first blood @ -108 (0.54 units)

 

—-

“Double Dog” Parlay (2): Gen.G ML + FPX ML @ +466 (0.25 units)

I’m also going to play a double underdog parlay for a small amount since I do feel rather strongly that both of these teams win tomorrow and we can get a fairly big advantage. This is obviously higher risk.

 

I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with thoughts on Sunday’s finals.

See you then!

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