LCS 2019 Spring Split — Week 4 Day 2 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

February 17th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

We have now passed the first third of the 2019 Spring Split, which while might not seem like much, is enough to give us a good read on the meta and on the all ten teams that are competing. While we do have a big enough sample size to judge everyone involved, it’s still to early to tell if it’s just Team Liquid steamrolling through all competition, or if the region itself isn’t particularly strong right now.

Either way, let’s take a closer look at the upcoming ten matches, but also highlight three main ones where betting on the underdog could pan out immensely!

Echo Fox vs. 100 Thieves

If we didn’t have Team Liquid vs. TSM just an hour or so afterwards, this would surely be the game of the day. That said, this one isn’t exactly promising fireworks, but it’s probably going to be an exquisite game regardless. Both teams are highly volatile, and they can either reach immense success or implode in the process. Heck, sometimes they can do both within a single game — they’re that inconsistent.

Both teams are entering today’s match without much hype and momentum. They were on the receiving end of things yesterday as they lost to Cloud9 and FlyQuest respectively. There’s not much to go by, unfortunately, because both of their games were lackluster showings, they were passive, reactive, they couldn’t keep up with their opponents, and in the end they barely did anything worth mentioning.

We’re going with 100 Thieves on this one, and with full confidence. Echo Fox are completely out of sync, and even though they do have flashes of brilliance, they are too few and far between. 100 Thieves, on the other hand, should be able to get the win due to the fact that they’re just a little bit less passive and their team fighting is on a completely different level.

Winner: 100 Thieves, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

Counter Logic Gaming vs. Golden Guardians

We’re going with the Golden Guardians on this one. They have finally managed to step up and play as a five-man unit, and it’s a fantastic sight. They’re not a Top 3 team by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re playoff contenders for sure. They were able to go blow-for-blow with Team Liquid, and you could even argue that they were unlucky throughout the game. When their Nexus exploded, they had a perfectly acceptable five thousand gold deficit, against the best team in the region.

For a team that’s currently 2-7, that’s something. CLG are no slouches, that’s for sure, but they’re far more inconsistent and their individual play is often sloppy and indecisive. They’re capable of some great League of Legends, but the fact that they’re not able to output it consistently is a big problem, especially at this level of play. They will, however, make things highly competitive, but the Guardians know that this is an easy win, and also a must win if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. They need to start stringing victories sooner rather than later if they want to reach the Top 6. Fortunately, if they play like they did yesterday, getting a win over Counter Logic Gaming should be within the realm of possibility.

Winner: Golden Guardians, 2.10 (odds @ Betway)

Team Liquid vs. Team Solo Mid

TSM were finally able to get back to their winning ways after a pretty solid showing against OpTic Gaming. It was a back-and-forth game that, in a way, could have went either side, but it was TSM’s stellar team fighting and individual play that allowed them to close things out. Everyone played up to their full potential, with Zven being particularly dominant and impactful on a bottom lane Cassiopeia.

Then again, on the other side, they have Team Liquid. Facing the only lossless team in the LCS is never an easy task. Far from it. Even when they had their backs against the wall, they always find a way to turn things back around. Whether it’s through their stellar macro, individual play, or spectacular team fighting doesn’t matter — they have so many avenues for victory that it’s not even fair towards the rest of the LCS.

How can one bet against Liquid? It’s simple. You don’t. While it probably won’t be easy, they should get the win regardless.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.28 (odds @ Betway)

FlyQuest vs. Clutch Gaming

While Clutch are a multi-threat, layered opponent that’s capable to turning things around in a split-second, they’re still not that competitive of a team overall. Much like Echo Fox, they can perform unexpectedly well at the most random of times, but when push comes to shove, when they have to step up and consistently play up to a certain level, they’re nowhere to be found.

FlyQuest, on the other hand, even though they’re still a bit rough around the edges, are a worthy contender. They’re currently sitting at four wins and three losses, and are coming off of a clean and dominant showing against 100 Thieves. They were better individually, and they executed their team comp to a tee. While they were relatively passive throughout the early game, they knew they could count on their mid and late game team fighting.

While it probably won’t be particularly one-sided, FlyQuest should be more than capable at taking Clutch Gaming down, thus cementing their spot as a playoff-worthy team in the LCS.

Winner: FlyQuest, 1.75 (odds @ Betway)

OpTic Gaming vs. Cloud9

Finally, we have a clash between OpTic Gaming and the 2018 World Championship semifinalists — Cloud9. OpTic were able to make things very competitive against Team Solo Mid yesterday, and the fact that their “A team” has stepped up so immensely should make them a worthy adversary for anyone in the LCS. That said, they’re still rough around the edges, they’re still making individual mistakes left and right, they’re still relatively passive and reactive when they should instead be dictating the tempo of the game, and so on.

They’re a great team overall, but they’re not exactly displaying a ton of potential for the Spring Split. When Summer comes along they could, by all means, be able to compete for the playoffs, but unless they bring back Dardoch and start playing in a more aggressive manner, they shouldn’t be able to reach a spot in the Top 6. That said, they have multiple veterans within their ranks, so they should be able to make things somewhat competitive.

We’re going with Cloud9 on this one and with full confidence. They’re simply on another level right now, and they want to continue their winning ways and eventually lock down a playoff bye.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.30 (odds @ Betway)

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LCS 2019 Spring Split — Week 3 Day 2 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

February 10th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

The second week of the LCS gave us a lot of exciting things to talk about. We had multiple exceptional games, some close affairs, but in the end — not a lot resolved from week one. We did, of course, get a better understanding on all of the ten teams that are competing, whether or not they’re working on their in-game problems and how they’re approaching competitive play in a nutshell, but it’s still far too early to give out any concrete verdict.

Let’s take a closer look at a couple of important week three matches in order to see how each team is doing and what’s most likely to happen going forward.

Clutch Gaming vs. Cloud9

What can one say about Clutch Gaming. They’re still a complete mystery three weeks in. A lot of amazing play all-around, and then some confusing blunders just mere moments later. Incredibly inconsistent and volatile. They’re talented, that’s for sure, but they need more time before becoming an actual contender.

Cloud9, on the other hand, were able to take down TSM after an insanely hectic and close barnburner. They were far from perfect, that’s important to highlight, but their superior late game team fighting allowed them to best their perennial adversaries and make it a statement game. They’re still not ready to compete with the likes of Team Liquid, but they’re definitely a Top 3 team right now that has a ton of potential.

We’re going with the boys in black and blue for this one. That said, Clutch Gaming have the tools that are necessary in order to make this into a highly competitive scrap.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.55 (odds @ Betway)

Golden Guardians vs. Team Solo Mid

The Golden Guardians were finally able to get a win on the board — and that’s great. This time around though, they’re up against a game Team Solo Mid. TSM failed to take down Cloud9, but they looked relatively good in losing regardless. It was a slow game, a game of inches, and Cloud9 simply had the better tools for the late game.

It’s hard siding with the Guardians seeing how they’re still incredibly sloppy, out of sync, and their individual play is filled with errors. They’re just not good as a five-man unit yet, and even though they’re getting there they still need more time.

TSM, even in losing, managed to do things well. They kept things pretty competitive throughout the game, and they’re improving with each new game — regardless if it’s a win or a loss. Losing to Cloud9 is no shame, especially not after they managed to reach such momentous heights at the World Championship last year.

This match, in a nutshell, is fairly one-sided. While the Guardians might be able to make it somewhat competitive, seeing how they have ample talent within their five-man line-up, they shouldn’t be able to go blow-for-blow with Team Solo Mid. Not in the slightest.

In the end, the boys in black and white should emerge victorious. It probably won’t be particularly clean and dominant, seeing how they’re still forming their 2019 identity, but they should be able to get the win regardless.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 1.32 (odds @ Betway)

100 Thieves vs. Counter Logic Gaming

One of the more exciting matches of the day for sure. Counter Logic Gaming are entering the game on a three-game win streak, whereas 100 Thieves are still fresh from taking Clutch Gaming down. Now, while that might not seem like a great achievement, you have to remember that Clutch were sitting on a very respectable 2-2 record. Now they’re tied with 100 Thieves.

Predicting the outcome of this game is downright impossible. We’ve seen a lot of good, and a lot of bad from both teams. Flashes of brilliance but also shows of despair and non-existing cohesion.

CLG, however, showed a bit more strength and bravado. They’re a veteran roster that’s infused with some young blood thanks to their new jungler, and they’re looking to continue their redemption story after a painfully mediocre 2018 season. They’re still not there yet, but seeing how 100 Thieves displayed far more problems in their first three weeks of competitive play, we have to side with Counter Logic Gaming.

That said, this should be an insanely close game. If you’re looking to bet, perhaps it’s best to skip it altogether. It can really go either way.

Winner: Counter Logic Gaming, 2.30 (odds @ Betway)

FlyQuest vs. Echo Fox

Echo Fox have the tools in order to make this a closely contested affair but the level of play that FlyQuest has displayed over the last couple of weeks is head and shoulders above anything that an out of sync Echo Fox squad can bring.

It might not be particularly one-sided, but after witnessing them go blow-for-blow with the likes of Team Liquid, there’s no reason as to why they shouldn’t be able to take down Echo Fox.

Winner: FlyQuest, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

Team Liquid vs. OpTic Gaming

Yet another one-sided shellacking just waiting to happen. The situation OpTic find themselves in is a confusing one. So even though their “B team” played far above expectations, even though they managed to compete at the highest level, they were still subbed out (a portion of them, at least) in favor of the original five-man line-up.

But after seeing them play against Golden Guardians yesterday, it’s hard to give them the benefit of the doubt. They didn’t do much, overall. There were some glimpses of brilliance, but they were minute and negligible in the grand scheme of things. They were sloppy, out of sync, and they failed to mount an offensive from the get-go.

To make matters even worse, they’re up against the reigning champions Team Liquid. There’s simply no way around it — this should be a quick game, barring any exceptional mind-blowing gameplay from the OpTic side.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.22 (odds @ Betway)

 

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LCS 2019 Spring Split — Week 2 Day 1 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

February 2nd, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

The first week of LCS play is behind us. Was it exciting? Was it action-packed? Did teams perform as expected? Well, in short, yes and no. The first week of the LCS was, by all accounts, a strange mix.

There was some good, some bad, and some abysmal. Overall this kind of mixed bag is nothing new if you’re an LCS regular, but after witnessing the hectic over-the-top style of play that’s currently reigning supreme in the LPL, LCK, and even the LEC, many expected the LCS to follow suit. After all, why wouldn’t they? Why would they go against the current meta and play in a much slower, subdued way?

Even though it makes little sense, that was still the chosen course of action for the LCS. To be fair, there were a couple of exquisite games — that’s for sure, but those were few and far between. Many teams underwent huge changes during the off-season, but they were still far too passive, especially in a meta that rewards unrelenting aggression and bravado.

With teams getting more relaxed and synergized, they should start playing more aggressively. Whether or not that’ll happen this week or not remains to be seen, but we’re in for a couple of exciting clashes regardless.

So without any further ado, let’s go over this week’s matches!

DAY 1

Team Solo Mid vs. Echo Fox

To start things off, we have a fairly interesting match between the perennial NA titans — TSM, and Echo Fox. What can we say about TSM after just two games? Well, for starters, they’re actually looking like a full-fledged team this time around, unlike in 2018. They’re aggressive, they’re looking to make plays, they’re not scared to make the first move, and above all, they’re all so mechanically talented that it’s absolutely insane.

Their first game against 100 Thieves was absolutely fantastic on all fronts. They were much more proactive, decisive in key moments, and impactful when it mattered the most. Bjergsen and Zven were still their passive selves, but with three hyper-aggressive playmakers around them, they didn’t have to be the early aggressors. They have two guys (Akaadian and Smoothie) who are always looking (and willing) to engage, and the rest of the team can follow-up easily in due time.

BrokenBlade, in particular, had a fantastic showing against both Ssumday and Huni. In fact, saying “fantastic” might even be an understatement. The young TCL talent proved his worth on the Rift, and even though he was somewhat out of sync with the team against Clutch Gaming, you could immediately see his potential.

And that’s pretty much the main thing regarding TSM this time around. Potential. They have lots of it. Whether or not they’ll make it work in due time remains to be seen, but at least they’re mechanically sound and are playing in a slightly different manner — after years of calculated “by the book” games.

They were winning against Clutch Gaming throughout the entire game until they threw it (and Damonte got online), but even in losing they displayed promising signs for the things to come.

Echo Fox, on the other hand, are a complete mess. They’re still as volatile as ever, but even their big-name jungler Rush didn’t manage to do much last week, if anything at all. You could even argue that he was feeding more often than not. They were sloppy on an individual level, and their team cohesion was almost non-existent. Bad play across the board was the name of the game for Echo Fox. While they were able to beat the Golden Guardians, it was only because they (somehow) managed to make even less mistakes than their opponents. It was a matter of “who will throw the game less”, and Echo Fox emerged as the “superior” team.

Will they improve? Almost certainly, but they’ll need a ton of time before being able to go blow-for-blow with upper echelon of the LCS.

We’re going with TSM on this one and with full confidence. Watching TSM’s upcoming evolution will be an incredibly exciting journey.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

Cloud9 vs. Golden Guardians

Much like the game that precedes this one, the C9 vs. GGS match-up is as one-sided as possible. After people saw the GGS five-man line-up coming into 2019, everyone got hyped up, and with good reason. Four grizzled veterans, and a promising young player that never had such immensely talented allies. It seemed like a match made in heaven, and they looked like a playoff-worthy team at the very least.

But after witnessing their downright abysmal level of play last week, it’s evident that they have a lot to work on, and that they’re nowhere near the playoffs. They’re sloppy individually, they’re making a ton of mistakes that you would never really expect veterans to make, and they’re completely out of sync.

And it’s a shame, too. They have so much talent, and a huge chance at redemption, but it’s just not enough. They will surely improve with time, but with an 0-2 start, and an incredibly tough week two schedule (Cloud9 and 100 Thieves), they’re poised to started the season with an 0W-4L record. The path to the playoffs got a lot harder all of a sudden, and they’re going to have to fight an uphill battle if they want to leave a mark in the Spring Split.

Cloud9, on the other hand, had a stellar showing in both of their games, and even though they lost the season opener against Team Liquid, it’s hard to blame them. Who wouldn’t lose to such a stacked team? Their match against 100 Thieves was far more important, and they played out of their minds.

It was, however, their new mid laner Nisqy (of Team EnVyUs and Splyce fame) that managed to steal the show with his mind-blowing Aatrox play. Not only was he able to completely outclass Huhi on an individual level (even though he did have a favorable match-up), but he also spread his lead to the sidelanes and made an impact across the map.

The rest of the team didn’t slack off either, and barring a couple of snafus here and there, they were pretty much perfect in execution. The current C9 incarnation is a powerhouse, and even though Liquid seems to be their de facto kryptonite, they’re still able to outclass everyone else.

They shouldn’t have too big of a problem in taking the Golden Guardians down. They have the synergy, the mechanical prowess, and the deep champion pools that are necessary in order to compete at the highest possible level, and GGS is just a negligible road block towards challenging for yet another LCS trophy farther down the line.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.25 (odds @ Betway)

Team Liquid vs. 100 Thieves

For our third match of the day, we have a pretty interesting clash between the defending champions Team Liquid and 100 Thieves. While this might seem like a solid match in the making, a clash that could end up being somewhat competitive, we’re inclined to believe that Liquid should, by all means, absolutely demolish 100 Thieves.

Even though the 2018 Spring Split finalists have an incredibly strong roster, they failed to do anything worth mentioning throughout the first week of competitive play. And that’s not an understatement. They did nothing. They were passive, indecisive and mild against both TSM as well as Cloud9, they were slow and unwilling to go for engages and in a meta that favors early skirmishing, that’s quite a big problem.

It was a disappointing sight regardless of the way you look at it. These aren’t rookie but grizzled veterans rather. They know what they should be doing, and yet they’re playing some seriously uninteresting League of Legends. The fact that they were making ample individual mistakes (like Huhi’s base teleport) only added insult to injury. Will they improve with time? Absolutely, but with such a tough schedule ahead, they don’t have the luxury of improving bit by bit — they need to make huge leaps in performance.

It’s hard seeing them win against Team Liquid. They could put up a solid fight, but nothing more than that. Liquid simply looked too strong and capable in their first two LCS wins, and they’re poised to make yet another incredible (perhaps even spotless) LCS run this Spring.

As for 100 Thieves, they have to decide on a singular identity and playstyle, because without one they’re basically running across the Summoner’s Rift like five headless chickens. Doesn’t matter that they have the likes of Ssumday and Band within their ranks — these incredible players aren’t being utilized in the best possible way, if at all.

Team Liquid should be able to take the win regardless of how well 100 Thieves might play.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

FlyQuest vs. Counter Logic Gaming

FlyQuest definitely had a solid, well-rounded roster coming into 2019, but their current level of play is far above anything many could’ve even imagined. They’re in sync, they’re aggressive, they’re on the same page when it matters, and perhaps most unexpectedly — they have mental fortitude in spades.

Even when they were down in gold and objectives, they fought through the adversity and managed to bounce back towards a stellar 2-0 week. No matter how big of a deficit they had, FlyQuest always fought tooth and nail in order to even things out and eke out a win. It wasn’t always particularly dominant nor clean, but they got the job done and looked pretty darn good in the process. They’re willing to fight for every nook an cranny on the Rift, and they’re far more cohesive than the majority of the region.

While things will eventually settle down, if they manage to accrue enough wins early on in the split they will surely have a solid chance at scoring a Top 6 playoff spot in the end.

They did, however, have more than a couple of individual blunders. Their support, JayJ, in particular, had an awful showing against OpTic Gaming — at one point he had three deaths even before the ten-minute mark. Hardly anything worth bragging about.

Counter Logic Gaming, on the other hand, failed to register even a single win in their first week of LCS play. To be fair, no one thought they could take down Team Liquid, but beating OpTic Gaming’s Academy team seems like a given. That’s an “easy win” if there ever was one, and yet they failed regardless. They’re currently looking like a solid team, but nothing more. None of their players are carrying the weight, they’re out of sync, and even though they went somewhat even against Team Liquid in the early and mid stages of the game, they failed to mount an offensive and actually challenge the reigning LCS champions.

Now sure, there’s a ton of potential for CLG going forward, but with FlyQuest and Cloud9 as their upcoming opponents, it’s hard seeing them getting even a single win. An 0-4 start would be absolutely crushing for this team, especially considering the fact that they ended 2018 near the very bottom of the standings. They have the potential, they have the right players, they’re just not playing as a cohesive five-man unit. Will that change with time? Absolutely, but they don’t really have time to spare right now.

We’re going with FlyQuest on this one, although it’s probably going to be a lot closer than most people expect. CLG definitely have the tools at their disposal in order to make this a close fight, but FlyQuest’s synergy and solid mid and late game team fighting should be the determining factor.

Winner: FlyQuest, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

Clutch Gaming vs. OpTic Gaming

Finally, we have a somewhat interesting clash between Clutch Gaming and OpTic Gaming. Coming into the 2019 Spring Split, no one really thought that this would ever be an interesting match-up, and yet after watching these two teams play in the first week of the LCS, it somehow is.

Clutch is entering this game with a perfect 2-0 record, whereas OpTic has a somewhat less stellar (but still perfectly acceptable) 1-1. Seeing these two teams near the top of the standings is an absolute shock. Even though they have some potential within their rosters, they really shouldn’t be ranked as high. Now sure, only a single week has passed and these things happen early on in the split when teams are working on their synergy and trying to figure out what’s the best and most optimal way to play the game, but it’s still a strange sight regardless.

Clutch, in particular, didn’t play that well overall, but they always managed to cling on for long enough before turning the game on its head. They were far from clean and dominant, but individual members — their mid laner Damonte, in particular — were able to clutch things out through some incredible individual play.

OpTic Gaming are an even bigger question mark. The organization decided to start with their Academy roster, and still found more success than anyone thought they would. This ragtag group of players actually managed to take down a much more hyped Counter Logic Gaming, and they were mere minutes away from taking down FlyQuest as well. They were outclassing them on all fronts throughout the early and mid stages of the game, until they threw their leads away through some awful and out of sync team fighting in the mid lane.

We’re going with Clutch Gaming on this one, but not with full confidence. This game can really go either way. The added element of surprise is the fact that OpTic might not start with their Academy team and could very well start with a good portion of their “A roster”. Clutch are entering with a fair amount of hype, and they were able to play both from ahead as well as from behind last week, so we’re giving them the benefit of the doubt this time around.

Winner: Clutch Gaming, 1.55 (odds @ Betway)

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LCS 2019 Spring Split — Week 1 Day 1 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

January 26th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

We are just mere hours away from the beginning of the sophomore North American LCS competitive season, and things simply cannot get any more exciting. The first two days of competitive play will be filled with some exceptional games, but above all, we will get answers to some incredibly exciting questions.

Will Team Liquid’s incredible line-up achieve success for the second year in a row? Will Cloud9 remain at the top even without their star mid laner? Will Team Solo Mid reclaim their long lost throne? Will 100 Thieves’ off-season pickups elevate them to the Top 3? These are exciting narratives, and we’re only just getting started.

All other major regions already played last week, so we have quite a lot of information regarding the meta, what’s good and what isn’t. There’s an immense amount of flexibility right now, and we can’t wait for LCS teams to have a go at it. Karthus jungle? Vayne mid? Sejuani top? If you can think of it, chances are it’s probably viable if a team has enough skill and mechanical prowess to pull it off.

That aside, let’s dive deeper into the first week of LCS play in order to decide on whom to bet on.

DAY 1

Team Liquid vs. Cloud9

The repeat of the 2018 Summer Split finals. The LCS crème de la crème. This is the match-up everyone wants to see, not just for the high-level League of Legends play, but because of its inherent narratives and overarching storylines. Both teams are entering the 2019 season with a metric ton of hype and momentum — for somewhat different reasons. Team Liquid are fielding a line-up that’s arguably the best and most stacked in LCS history, whereas Cloud9 have the synergy and cohesion from 2018. This is, without a doubt, the best and most exciting way to start off the season, and predicting the outcome is downright impossible. Both teams have immense power and potential, but before seeing either of them in action it’s hard to pick a side.

We’re going with Cloud9 on this one, and even though it might be a long-shot, the upset is still highly possible. They have the upper hand when it comes to team cohesion, and if they play their cards right, they could upset Team Liquid from the very get-go. But if you’re more into safe betting, going for Team Liquid would be the smarter choice.

Winner: Cloud9, 2.55 (odds @ Betway)

100 Thieves vs. TSM

Another exceptional clash. This time around though, we have to top-tier teams that are fighting for redemption. They want to make a name for themselves, and join the fight at the top. Both organizations are fielding somewhat revamped rosters, with TSM making three changes to 100 Thieves’ two. Regardless, both teams will fight on a somewhat level playing field, seeing how they need to re-build synergy from the ground up. They both have insanely stacked rosters, and you can make a case for both winning this match.

That said, there’s no language barrier within the TSM five-man roster, and they do have an exceptional shotcaller in their support Smoothie (of Cloud9 fame). These two facts alone should elevate their play above what 100 Thieves have to offer at this moment. TSM’s line-up is brimming with innate potential, the only question is whether or not they’ll be able to sync-up in time and start dominating.

We’re going with TSM on this one, but it could really go either way. Without seeing either team in action, it’s impossible to bet on anyone with confidence. Regardless, the perennial LCS titans should have this one.

Winner: TSM, 2.30 (odds @ Betway)

Counter Logic Gaming vs. OpTic Gaming

For our third match of the day, we have yet another pretty exciting clash between CLG — a team that is pretty much synonymous with the North American region — and OpTic Gaming, a team that became a permanent partner in 2018 but failed to leave a mark throughout the regular season. In fact, saying that they didn’t leave a mark would be an understatement. Their run was painfully mediocre, and even though they had some moments of brilliance and a couple of upsets spread across the entire season, their level of play wasn’t enough to get them in the upper echelon of the LCS.

CLG, on the other hand, had one of the worst seasons in the organization’s history, and they’ve made ample changes both to the team as well as their coaching staff. All of this poses the question — will it be enough?

OpTic Gaming are fielding quite an interesting roster, and their three-man core consisting of Meteos, Crown, and Arrow is a highly interesting one, to say the least. They have a ton of potential, at least on paper, but a lot of possible flaws as well. Looking forward, they could potentially become a dark horse as the split progresses, but right now, seeing how they’re still working on their synergy, they shouldn’t be able to compete with the likes of CLG who are bringing over three-fifths of their 2018 roster. For better or worse.

Winner: Counter Logic Gaming, 1.70 (odds @ Betway)

FlyQuest vs. Golden Guardians

Next up, we have an interesting fight between two teams that are aiming for the playoffs come Spring Split. Both organizations are fielding fantastic rosters, albeit somewhat sub-par when you compare them to the likes of Team Liquid or even TSM. The Golden Guardians made three huge changes during the off-season, and this time around they’re not messing around. TSM and Gravity veteran Hauntzer in the top lane, legendary European mid laner Froggen, along with former Team Liquid and Immortals support Olleh. That’s a pretty stacked roster, and they know it. Will they be able to mesh well enough and compete with the rest of the LCS? Almost certainly, although we can’t know for sure how long they’ll need in order to do so.

FlyQuest, on the other hand, are entering 2019 with a good portion of their previous roster. Overall, they should be about as equally as strong this time around which makes them a solid middle-of-the-pack contender in the making.

We’re going with FlyQuest on this one only because of the fact that they’re bringing over a good chunk of their synergy from last year. It’s probably not going to be particularly clean or dominant, but they should be able to get the job done.

Winner: FlyQuest, 2.20 (odds @ Betway)

Clutch Gaming vs. Echo Fox

Closing out the day we have a relatively uninteresting clash between two 2018 gatekeepers. While Echo Fox did manage to reach the playoffs last year, their level of play was downright unimpressive when it mattered the most. Inconsistency is perhaps the word that’s perfectly apt when describing their play. They have moments of absolute insanity, moments when they mesmerize with their insane mechanical prowess and sheer potential, only to crash and burn mere minutes afterwards.

The latest iteration of Echo Fox continues that trend. Some good, but a lot of bad as well. Clutch Gaming aren’t much different, although one could argue that they have more potential judging from their starting five-man roster. The fact that they have Huni should, in itself, elevate them above Echo Fox, which doesn’t mean they’re without fault either. We still don’t know how well Piglet will perform, and LirA’s 2018 was pretty mediocre in every way, shape, and form.

Overall, you shouldn’t expect top-tier play out of this one. Both organizations are fielding almost completely revamped rosters, and they’ll need quite a fair bit of time before they’re able to compete with the teams at the top. Regardless, both teams want to start off the year on the right foot, so we could be in for some exciting League of Legends, especially if Echo Fox’s Rush gets his hands on a hard carry. As for who will come out on top, you might want to skip betting on this one — the team that implodes the less will eventually eek out the win.

Winner: Clutch Gaming, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

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NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Regional Qualifier Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

September 13th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

After a somewhat lackluster conclusion to the playoffs, we’re entering the very last week of North American regular season play. In just a couple of days, we’re going to find out which team will represent North America at this year’s World Championship as the third seed, and for a lot of these teams there’s a lot on the line.

So who are the teams that are fighting to represent North America at Worlds? Meeting in the first round we have Clutch Gaming and Echo Fox.

TSM is waiting in the second round due to the fact that they’ve been able to secure third place after beating out 100 Thieves in a very close 3-2 series. And finally, Cloud9 are waiting at the very end of the gauntlet, so they have to win just a single Best of 5 this Sunday in order to qualify for Worlds since they went all the way up to the finals.

Also, do note that these matches are all Best of 5, so the stakes are high and we’re in for some top-notch League of Legends.

Echo Fox vs. Clutch Gaming

For our first match of the week, we have a fairly interesting clash between one of the best and most versatile (sometimes to a fault) teams in Echo Fox, and a team that wasn’t really able to be that competitive throughout the regular season.

They’ve attained a certain level of success in 2018 for sure, after all they finished fourth in Spring, but ever since the Summer Split began they weren’t able to return back to form. Or, rather, other teams caught up when it comes to synergy and cohesion so the LirA + Apollo + Hakuho trio didn’t have the edge any longer.

In fact, let’s be a bit more exact – Clutch Gaming ended their regular season run with just six wins and twelve losses. They’re just one win ahead of Golden Guardians, and one win beneath Counter Logic Gaming. To put things into perspective, OpTic Gaming, a team no one gave a chance is actually sitting at seventh with nine wins and nine losses, so quite a bit better than Clutch.

When they did manage to get it together and actually play well they were fairly formidable and that makes sense – they have some very capable players on their roster, but since that was rarely the case, they attained the majority of their wins at the very start of the Summer Split.

Furthermore, they’re 0-2 against Echo Fox in Summer – they lost in the very first week of the split and the last.

Echo Fox are insane – and that rings true no matter how you spin it. They’re fearless, sometimes to a fault. They’ll go for any kind of draft just because they feel like it, and the fact that they were flexing Huni into multiple positions back when mages and bruisers started being meta in the bottom lane really tells you how willing they were to experiment and try things out.

In a pretty stale NA meta, that’s a breath of fresh air, but at the same time betting on Echo Fox was and still is a pretty daunting idea.

The last we’ve seen of them was their insanely close Best of 5 against TSM.

It was an incredibly volatile series with both teams showing their potential, but in the end it was Echo Fox that showed more – even though it wasn’t enough to win the series. Dardoch absolutely demolished Grig in almost every single game, and had Huni played at least a bit better (like you’d expect) Echo Fox would have surely won.

Damonte was more than capable to going blow-for-blow with Bjergsen, and even their new bottom lane held their own against Zven and Mithy. Echo Fox’s insane early game gave them an edge from the very get go however their abysmal overly-confident approach to drafting essentially cost them the series.

Why they would pick Lucian against Bjergsen’s Irelia when they have match point is beyond anyone’s comprehension, and it’s not the first time that they’ve played like that.

Huni was also supposedly under the weather because he had a flu and it impacted his play as well, so they should be coming into this Best of 5 reinvigorated and hungry to prove themselves.

They also want revenge on TSM so they’re probably looking to dominate over Clutch and then avenge their loss on Saturday.

So if Echo Fox doesn’t allow their hubris to get in the way, and if they play like they can, then they shouldn’t have too big of a problem in taking Clutch down.

That said, we haven’t seen Clutch Gaming play in quite a while. They could, by all means, come out with some very specific top-secret strats and team comps and get an upper hand over Echo Fox that way – only time will tell. But overall, they’re the weaker team and they’re entering this Best of 5 without much hype or momentum.

We’re going with Echo Fox on this one, and if Dardoch comes out to play like he did against TSM then Echo Fox should take down Clutch in somewhat dominant 3-1 fashion.

Winner: Echo Fox, 1.25 (odds @ Betway)

Day Three – Cloud9 vs. TSM

For our final match of the regional qualifier, we have an insanely exciting clash between two perennial titans – Cloud9 and Team Solo Mid.

Now, this is also a repeat of the playoff semi-final match, where Cloud9 were able to best TSM in a very close five-game series. To be fair, they were on the losing end for a good majority of the series due to their iffy drafts – but once they let go of Quinn ADC they immediately demolished TSM time and time again.

Furthermore, their sub jungle/mid duo also came in handy – they brought a different playstyle, different champion pools as well as a more aggressive approach to the game.

This is an incredibly hard match to predict, especially after seeing TSM outclass and demolish Echo Fox in every way, shape, and form. Bjergsen was back to form and he absolutely dominated regardless of the champion he was on – 45 KDA, with CS leads in every single game, as well as some fantastic DMG/min numbers all-around.

Cloud9 are favored, and with good reason. They’re more flexible, they’re stronger individually as well and they’ve already beaten TSM once – with relative ease once they cleaned up their draft.

They also have a very potent seven man roster, so they’re coming into this match with a lot of potential – but after seeing TSM dominate Echo Fox it’s hard believing in Cloud9 fully.

There are so many questions up in the air – will TSM prepare more for Cloud9’s sub duo? Will Cloud9 finally enable Jensen and give him a high priority pick like LeBlanc, Irelia, or Syndra? Why are they continually putting their mid laner who’s a proven clutch mechanical beast on Galio and Jensen – picks that he can have very limited impact on? Will they continue starting with Blaber – a jungler that hasn’t been able to leave a mark throughout the last two Best of 5s that he’s competed in.

Nuances will become the determining factor, and with both teams playing to the best of their ability it’s quite impossible to go with either side confidently. TSM have the momentum on their side, especially seeing how Cloud9 haven’t played ever since they were 3-0’d in pretty clean fashion by Team Liquid in the Summer Split finals. They tried out three different line-ups and none of them were able to find any semblance of success, but TSM are fall less cohesive and threatening than Team Liquid.

If anything, this should be an insanely close series that’ll almost surely go the five-game distance. Even when behind, Cloud9 have the tools to go blow-for-blow and bounce back.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

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EU LCS 2018 Summer Split Regional Qualifier Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

September 13th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

After an incredibly exciting playoffs, there is just one more week of play left before the World Championship in Korea, and that’s the regional qualifier.

But before we delve deeper into our analysis and reasoning for the last week of EU LCS play, let’s focus a bit on what’s the regional qualifier in the first place.

The qualifier – also known as the “gauntlet” – is a small tournament at the very end of the playoffs, where the top four teams in the region that didn’t qualify for Worlds get to duke it out on the Rift against one another in order to determine who will be the third seed representing their region.

Pretty straight-forward stuff, right? The format is also Best of 5, so the setting is incredibly competitive, and there’s a lot on the line for all of these teams competing. They’ve spent countless months preparing, watching VODs, developing team-specific strategies, overcoming numerous meta shifts and swings, and it all comes down to this.

Depending on how well a team did in the regular season as well as the playoffs, they get dynamic seeding, so since Schalke 04 went all the way up to the finals, they’re waiting at the end of the gauntlet and they have to play just a single Best of 5 match in order to qualify for Worlds.

G2 is waiting in round two, which means we have a clash between Splyce and Misfits in the very first round – and it’s quite an exciting match-up in every way, shape, and form.

Splyce vs. Misfits

This really is an incredibly layered match-up, and it’s incredibly hard to predict as well, but there are numerous aspects that we could go by in order to reach a conclusion.
Misfits are entering the gauntlet without any hype or momentum. While they did outclass G2 eSports in their quarterfinal match-up, they weren’t able to outperform Fnatic which was somewhat expected. The thing with Misfits is that you never really know how strong they’ll come out.

One thing is for sure though – they’re playing a lot better than they did near the end of the Summer Split, you have to give them that. But will it be enough? Probably not.

Most people thought they’d have a chance against Team Vitality after almost taking Fnatic to five games just a week earlier – but they didn’t.

Sencux couldn’t keep up with a very game, highly capable Jiizuke who had a very easy time playing picks like LeBlanc and Ryze. Vitality were always faster on the map, and even though they were sloppy at times as well, they always outperformed Misfits, even in the macro department.

When Misfits didn’t have a lead, they couldn’t do much and they’d simply regress to their passive state – unwilling to go for plays or be the proactive team. They had the edge against Fnatic on multiple occasions, but they were never able to capitalize fully.

For this Best of 5 specifically, we’re betting on the fact that Misfits shouldn’t have been able to rebound after their crushing 3-1 defeat at the hands of Team Vitality. They were close on numerous occasions but they were never strong enough to compete at the highest possible level.

They had amazing early games, they could capitalize on small openings that their opponents gave them but when it came time to transitioning their leads into the mid and late game they always faltered. It was either a botched Baron start or a mindless engage – but they always made a mistake no matter how you spin it.

Opposite them are Splyce – the most confusing and inconsistent team in the entire region. On a good day, Splyce can beat anyone – even Fnatic. On a normal day, they can take almost an hour to take down the ninth ranked Unicorns of Love, or perhaps even lose to H2K – a team that was winless until they managed to upset Splyce.

What’s up with their level of play, and why they’re so painfully inconsistent is still a mystery, but they have all the necessary tools in order to compete at the highest possible level. After all, they managed to end their Spring Split run as the third best European team for a reason.

The last we’ve seen from Splyce was an insanely competitive, crazy close Best of 5 against Schalke in the quarterfinals.

Now, had Odoamne played to the best of his ability (not feeding, in other words) they would have almost certainly taken down Schalke. The first game – the one where they were backdoored at the very last minute while taking down Elder drake was theirs from the beginning. They had the lead from the very get-go, they had three Infernal drakes, they played better in every way, shape, and form and yet just a single blunder on their end lost them the game.

They managed to bounce back immediately and outclass Schalke in the very next game – they’re veterans after all, mental fortitude is an absolute must. Xerxe and Nisqy in particular had a couple of absolutely insane games – their mid/jungle duo demolished Amazing and Nukeduck in almost every single game.

Even in their losses, both Nisqy and Xerxe played out of their minds – and Kobbe and KaSing didn’t slack behind much, although they did have a couple of iffy moments throughout the series.

If Splyce manage to fix their issues, they should, by all means, have the edge over Misfits. They’re not as dominant early game but they’re very clean and strong when the late game comes – and that should be more than enough to take Misfits down.

They can’t change their complete playstyle in a matter of weeks, so they’re probably going to be playing it out safe in the early game up until they accrue a bit enough gold lead to start team fighting with confidence. When they do get a solid enough lead (paired with enough items) they don’t need long to close things out, and their fantastic individual play and stellar team fighting almost always becomes the determining factor.

Splyce have a seriously big upper hand coming into this Best of 5. They had the opportunity to rest, to relax and recuperate after a very long and draining season. They also had the opportunity to watch other teams play their hearts out and show everything they have – and that’s quite the upper hand in the strategic department.

In the end, this could potentially go the five-game distance, if both teams come out swinging. We’re betting on Splyce on this one, but it could be insanely close.

Winner: Splyce, 2.40 (odds @ Betway)

Day Two – Splyce vs. G2 eSports

For our second gauntlet Best of 5 match, we have a pretty hype clash between Splyce and G2 eSports. Before focusing on G2 and how this match could unfold, let’s first focus a bit on how Splyce got here and how they were able to best Misfits in a very close, highly competitive five-game series.

Essentially, it was an insanely close back-and-forth game that could have gone either way. Both teams threw some really big punches, they went blow-for-blow with each passing game, and it was literally anyone’s series for the taking.

What’s important to highlight is that Splyce pretty much lost every single early game expect one. They were constantly playing from behind, they were always at a deficit, but you could never really see that from their play. They were fearless and proactive when it mattered, and they always drafted easy to execute team comps that were team fight oriented, so even when they were behind in gold and objectives, they just needed a good engage from Odoamne or Xerxe to turn things around – and the engage always came.

Speaking of Odoamne, he played a lot better than against Schalke a couple of weeks ago. He wasn’t getting caught out of position (that often), he was always at the right place at the right time, he didn’t go for Gnar which meant Splyce always had a beefy front line, and he was pretty impactful in team fights, which was integral in Splyce’s wins.

Perhaps the biggest factor though in their win was Kobbe – and that’s somewhat surprising seeing how almost everyone was focused on Xerxe and Nisqy to take the series, much like they almost did against Schalke in the quarter-finals. His play was absolutely top-notch in every way, shape, and form, and that’s partly due to the support he got from his team and KaSing. They were also the better duo in the 2v2, which was also somewhat surprising – no one really thought that Splyce’s bottom lane had what it took to go blow-for-blow with Hans Sama and Mikyx.

If there’s a bottom lane that G2’s bot duo could stand a chance against in the entire gauntlet, then it has to be Kobbe and KaSing. But after seeing Kobbe play out of his mind in a very intense Best of 5 – and not falter once – it’s kinda hard to give Hjarnan and Wadid the benefit of the doubt. Kobbe was absolutely insane and he was exactly the kind of player Splyce needed – subdued, careful, but always at the right place at the right time, ready to dish out consistent damage.

You give the guy some peel, and a solid beefy front line and he will do the damage and carry the game. Had he been just a tad more inconsistent or badly positioned, Misfits would have won, without a doubt. But it was his pristine positioning and insane damage stats (40% Damage Share in game one, 54.3% Damage Share in game two with 1330 DMG/min) that obliterated any kind of front line Misfits had.

He didn’t make any flashy plays but he didn’t have to, and he won’t have to do it against G2 either. He’s an impactful, careful player that knows his role – he won’t go in without a plan, and you can always count on him. When you pair that with a consistent hard carry in Nisqy, a very solid consistent jungler with a champion ocean in Xerxe, and you get a very solid team that’s capable of going toe-to-toe with the very best.

Splyce always had the tools at their disposal, you just never knew whether or not they would play up to their potential or not. They’re also somewhat one-dimensional, which doesn’t help them one bit, but they also have some insane late game teamfighting, so even if they’re at a gold deficit they never play like it. They do lose pretty often because they allow the opposing team to accrue an insurmountable lead, but they still fight tooth and nail every single time.

But to focus a bit more on G2 now, they’re entering this match after a pretty abysmal showing against Misfits just a couple of weeks ago. The sight of them getting outclassed on all fronts in clean 3-0 fashion is still pretty fresh, and there are a lot of question marks regarding their current line-up as well as their realistic power level. Sure, Perkz is always a fantastic player but he wasn’t nearly as impactful recently as we’d come to expect, Wunder cannot play carries or bruisers in the top lane or he’ll get smashed much like he did against Alphari (solo killed twice by Cho’Gath in a match-up that should have been in his favor) so his impact will be lowered by quite a lot, their bottom lane is pretty non-impactful even though they’re very serviceable, especially if you give Wadid an engage support like Pyke or Rakan.

Finally, there’s the Jankos conundrum – will he come out and dominate? Will we see the return of the “First Blood King” or will we get the badly-positioned, mechanically flawed jungler that goes for illogical invades at the worst possible times? They’ve had a lot of time to prepare, and they surely did. But they haven’t been that strong overall, and they haven’t exhibited excellency in any stage of the game – they’re not particularly good at anything.

Splyce aren’t much better, but at least they’ve always had a very clear win condition, and they always stick to it. Draft for late game, don’t go for any crazy team comps, farm it out for fifty minutes and then engage or go for Baron. If things go according to plan they win, if they don’t survive the early and mid game then, well, they pretty much lose by default.

They also have the added benefit of a well performing mid laner – Nisqy was never really a powerhouse in the classic sense but he’s been performing out of his mind recently and that is exactly what you want to have in the regional qualifier. It’s do or die for all these teams, and to have a mid laner that’s able to clutch it out in high-pressure situations is of the utmost importance.

So essentially both teams have somewhat clear win conditions. What’ll happen in reality is pretty much up in the air, but one thing is for sure – it’s probably going to be extremely close.

We’re siding with Splyce on this one, but not will full confidence. If they execute properly, if they give Odoamne the tools to survive possible early pressure from Jankos, and if Xerxe focuses on the mid lane match-up and getting Nisqy ahead then they should, by all means, have the edge over G2. That said, G2 has the talent on their roster so if anything, this should be an extremely engaging five-game series.

Winner: Splyce, 2.55 (odds @ Betway)

Day Three – Schalke 04 vs. G2 eSports

Well, no one really thought it would be one-sided, but to have two insanely competitive Best of 5 matches in two days was about as good as things could have went for the average EU LCS fan.

Predicting the outcome of this very last Best of 5 is as hard as the ones that came before it. We don’t have a lot of intel on Schalke, but they do have an edge. They’ve had an extra week to recuperate after their defeat to Fnatic – and they have nothing to be ashamed of, they’ve had the chance to see G2 show their cards and now they have 24h to come up with a thorough game plan which shouldn’t be too hard seeing how they already know very well how G2 want to play the game.

The thing with G2 is that they’re not consistent, and you could see their flaws even against Splyce. If they manage to get the ball rolling early on in the game, if they accrue a big enough lead then they’re pretty much set to win though their snowball and individual skill, but if they don’t get a lead early then they pretty much lose by default since their late game decision-making and – even more important – team fighting isn’t that good.

Schalke’s late game, on the other hand, is pretty insane. They know very well when they can fight, and they always manage to clutch things out in their favor. They don’t make as many mistakes as Splyce does, so the G2 won’t be able to create the leads they need.

Now, after seeing Perkz play out of his mind on picks like Irelia and Akali, it’s kinda hard giving the edge over to Schalke, but they’re the more layered team, they’re all playing incredibly well on an individual level and they have more tools and avenues to win. Furthermore, Upset will always be able to carry his team when the late game comes, so if they find a way to contain Hjarnan’s Heimerdinger – which can be easily solved by simply banning it out – then they should have the edge in every lane except mid lane.

G2 looked good, but not that good. Had it not been for Hjarnan’s insane Heimerdinger in the very last two deciding games, G2 would have lost. His impact on traditional AD carries was pretty much non-existent whereas Schalke has a Top 3 AD carry within their starting line-up. If Nukeduck manages to hold his own against Perkz, then Schalke should have the upper hand.

That said, this is an insanely close series (especially if Perkz manages to repeat his performance from yesterday) and it could, by all means, go the five game distance. Much like in the first two gauntlet matches, nuances will be the determining factor.

Winner: Schalke 04, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

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NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Playoff Finals Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

September 7th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

For our final match of the 2018 regular season, we have an insanely exciting clash between Cloud9 and the 2018 Spring Split champions Team Liquid.

This is quite possibly the absolute best finals we could have gotten, and it’s also a clash between the two best teams in the entire region. The rise of Team Liquid has been absolutely stunning to watch – after years of absolute mediocrity, but Cloud9’s storyline coming into the finals is even better. Going from tenth place to securing a playoff bye is a sensational narrative.

They did make a couple of mistakes against TSM though, but you could argue that their two losses came more because of their iffy drafts rather than the fact that TSM played better.

The interesting thing here is the fact that almost all pros – Doublelift included – said that Cloud9 is the best team in the region right now. While that doesn’t automatically mean that they’ll win, it does send a very singular message. Cloud9 has also been exceptional at punishing Team Liquid – and that was by shutting Pobelter down completely. What’s stopping them from doing the same once again this Sunday?

While Team Liquid does have numerous veterans within their starting line-up, they’re still a somewhat late game (one could argue one-dimensional) oriented team. And when they do manage to impose their own playstyle and strategy they’re incredibly strong and dominant, but against a team that’s so creative and versatile as Cloud9 is, their win conditions become a lot harder to execute.

Even if you go lane for lane, Cloud9 should have the edge. Maybe their bottom lane duo hasn’t been as dominant in lane as you’d think for a second-placed team, they’re clutch in teamfights and that’s what matters the most. Licorice, in particular, should be their biggest asset coming into this match. The 2018 Spring Split Rookie of the Split has been integral in their success, and he’s been playing out of his mind over the entire year – excluding a couple of misplays in the Spring playoffs.

Furthermore, Cloud9 is 2-0 over Team Liquid in the Summer Split, and they all bring more depth and flexibility in the draft phase – which, to be fair, could be a negative as well. They’re far more versatile and they can play a plethora of different playstyles – and we’re not even counting in their secondary jungle/mid duo that completely demolished TSM when it mattered the most.

To be fair, even if Cloud9 lose this match they’re still going to be the “final boss” in the regional qualifier, and they’re absolutely one of the best teams in the entire region right now, so there’s no doubt whether or not they have what it takes to win and lock down their ticket to Worlds.

That said, it would be so much easier for them to simply come out and dominate this Sunday and “be done with it” rather than prepare for an additional week, and they know it. They’re worked hard throughout the split – after all, if they didn’t they wouldn’t have been able to go from tenth to second in just five weeks – and they want to get some well-deserved rest before going into full tryhard mode for Worlds.

How this series will pan out is completely up in the air. Both teams have a chance to win, and both teams have veterans and tons of experience. Cloud9 has a couple of rookies as well, but they’re not playing like rookies. Whether or not the big stage will affect their play remains to be seen, but they know this is their time to shine. There hasn’t been a Cloud9 banner in the LCS studio since 2014, and they want a new one. Furthermore, 2018 seems to be the year of Cloud9 – they’ve won the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive major in Boston, they won the Overwatch League and this is the only thing left.

We’re going with Cloud9 on this one, but it’s going to be insanely close and nuances will be the determining factor.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.95 (odds @ Betway)

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NA LCS 2018 Summer Split Third Place Match Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

September 7th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

For our North American LCS third-place decider, we have a pretty interesting clash between the perennial NA titan – TSM, and a newcomer that’s been able to attain a pretty respectable amount of success straight out of the gates – 100 Thieves.

Their paths towards this match do differ however. TSM had a pretty abysmal start to the split overall, but they were able to pick up the pace and finally play at least close to the level that people expected from them – especially with such a stacked line-up. 100 Thieves, on the other hand, received a ton of slack online after their mistreatment of Meteos, and ever since AnDa joined the line-up they haven’t been as strong. They still excel at the things they’re good at, they’re still a very formidable team no matter how you spin it, but they’re not exactly top-tier, they’re more of a gatekeeper. A really, really solid gatekeeper.

100 Thieves failed to put up much of a fight against the 2018 Spring Split champions Team Liquid in their semifinal clash, and even though they did win the first game of the series, they didn’t do much else throughout the next three. A couple of good individual plays her, a good teamfight there, but in the end it wasn’t enough. They were pretty mediocre on an individual level, and above all the biggest conundrum that happened was the fact that they decided on starting with their Academy AD carry Rikara instead of Cody Sun – the guy they’ve been developing synergy over the last 9 months.

Differences and squabbles aside, deciding to “punish” a player that’s obviously better and more in-sync with the entire team at such an important moment of the regular season is completely insane, and because of it they could end up without a ticket to Worlds.

TSM, on the other hand, played fairly well against Cloud9. It’s hard to tell whether C9 botched a couple of drafts and lost because of that (putting Jensen on utility picks, Sneaky on Quinn), or if TSM really had the upper hand in a couple of moments, but all in all it was a very close, highly entertaining series. As it came to an end, TSM kind of regressed to their old Spring Split ways and drafts – Bjerg on Ryze, Mithy on Tahm Kench, etc.

But even in their loss they showcased enough to get respect, and they’re surely a Top 4 team right now. The only question that remains is – is 100 Thieves above them or not?

Right now, we don’t know whether or not Cody Sun is starting and that’s a problem. With him, 100 Thieves are a much stronger team than with Rikara, but even with Cody they actually lost to a game TSM near the very end of the regular season.

For TSM, this is the beginning of their redemption story. They didn’t have the best showing throughout the year, but that’s fine. They’ll bounce back as they always do – they just need a bit more time. Sure, it’s a shock not to see them dominate and represent North America at international tournaments, but they’re the most decorated and well-known North American team for a reason.

They want to reach Worlds, and this is the first step. They’re not that close, but it’s possible, it’s within their reach. They should, by all means, be able to step up and secure a better spot in the regional qualifier. The pressure is mounting, but if there was ever a team that’s been able to endure such hardships and volatile swings in play – it’s TSM.

Winner: TSM, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

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EU LCS 2018 Summer Split Third Place Match Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

September 7th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

The EU LCS third place match isn’t any less exciting than the finals, so we’re in for two days of action-packed top-tier League of Legends. What makes this match-up so exciting is the fact that we have two teams that are aggressive and prone to go for crazy plays from the very moment they step foot on the Summoner’s Rift. Vitality have generally been considered the most aggressive early game team, but they’re not as clean nor as dominant when they don’t accrue big leads.

Misfits, on the other hand, held the record for some insane gold differentials at ten and fifteen minutes, and they were definitely the cleanest, most proactive team in the entire region for the first couple of weeks of the Summer Split.

We won’t focus on their slump, because right now that’s history. They’re stepping up considerably, and after witnessing their masterclass in execution against G2 eSports, it’s impossible to count them out. Coming into their match against Fnatic though, a lot of people were unsure if the Kings of Europe had what it took to take down a game Misfits squad – after all, Misfits always outclassed Fnatic when it mattered the most, even in 2018.

And while Fnatic did manage to clutch things out in the end, they didn’t look that good, and by default – Misfits did.

They didn’t always draft that well, in essence they outsmarted themselves with certain picks like Ivern in game one, but they almost always had the better early game than Fnatic, they always accrued leads in the early game and transitioned over to the mid game much better than the current “Kings of Europe”.

Their macro was on point, and they were always at the right place at right time. They did struggle individually perhaps, they weren’t able to create big enough leads in order to snowball into the late game, but that wouldn’t have been a problem had they not made just a couple of crucial mistakes in each and every loss.

It was painful to see, like a game you were playing yourself. You were better in lane, you focused objectives instead of mindless skirmishing, you took down everything you had in front of you and it was just a matter of minutes before you would last-hit the enemy Nexus, but a single mistake – either in positioning or a bad call – completely turned the tides of battle.

In the end, it was their lackluster drafting and inability to group up in those clutch moments that cost them the series. But regardless, they showcased a ton of positive play, they were proactive, they made things happen and they were always the one to make the first step.

Against Team Vitality, that kind of playstyle could be the determining factor.

For Vitality though, there’s quite a lot running on this match – their ticket to Worlds. If they manage to win against Misfits, and Fnatic wins the Summer Split, then Vitality automatically qualify for the World Championship due to the fact that they were able to end fourth in Spring.

Their Best of 5 against Schalke was a pretty abysmal showing. All that time that they had thanks to their playoff bye was obviously either unused or at best misused. Their drafts were awful from the very get go – the fact that they can play anything doesn’t mean they should play anything.

They were completely demolished by Amazing’s Skarner and Vander’s Shen, and yet they let both picks go through for the second game as well. Picking Poppy into Shen is a pretty cool idea, but only if you execute it correctly. Jactroll, unfortunately, didn’t. In fact, Vander was able to taunt people at will. They put Jiizuke on picks like Galio which is somewhat in his wheelhouse but after it didn’t work in game one they should have adapted better.

As games went by, they failed to adapt – it was as if they didn’t want to. As if they thought they were the better team, it’s just that their execution was a bit off. Perhaps that’s true as well, but they weren’t better – that was obvious from the very get-go.

Jiizuke, one of the better performing mid laners in the region, didn’t have a good showing against Nukeduck either. His impact was almost non-existent and the way he played was pretty uimpressive as well. He’s one of Vitality’s strongest assets, and yet he was completely underutilized from game one onwards.

Kikis also had a pretty mediocre showing against Amazing. He was a complete non-factor in every game except the one where Vitality managed to get the win, and his staple Trundle pick no longer worked out. As someone who is paramount to Vitality’s more subdued playstyle and success, he absolutely needs to step up and perhaps adapt a bit in the current jungle meta if Vitality want to stand a chance against Misfits.

Now, there’s no easy way to go about this match. We quite literally have no idea how it’s going to pan out – anything is possible. Misfits might come extremely well prepared, and straight-out dominate Vitality from the very get-go. On the other hand, Vitality are quite a strong team, and when they’re able to impose their own will they’re one of the best in the entire region. After all, they were able to secure a playoff bye for a reason. That said, both teams are incredibly volatile, Vitality especially. You never know what they’re going to come out with, and when betting on League of Legends that’s quite the problem.

You can’t even deduce their current power level from their semifinal clashes as their matches develop differently and they were against two completely different teams. Going into the match on Saturday, Misfits are favored for some reason, and the odds are stacked heavily against Vitality. While they didn’t look that good, they absolutely have the tools to make this into an insanely competitive series.

But the problem with Vitality is the fact that they always draft with hubris, they always make the wrong move when it matters the most. They had match point against Splyce in the 2018 Spring Split playoffs and they didn’t want to make a single change in the draft – they “had it”. And yet in actuality they didn’t.

This kind of arrogant approach to the game won’t get them far, and that’s the only thing that’s preventing us from betting on Vitality. They should have the edge on paper, they should have the upper hand in most lanes – Attila and Jactroll shouldn’t have a problem with Hans Sama and Mikyx, Jiizuke should be able to outclass Sencux and Cabochard shouldn’t have a problem against Alphari – but if they play as arrogantly as they always do, then they could get heavily punished.

Misfits don’t need a big opening in order to close things out or to snowball a lead. They probably would have beaten Fnatic last week if they weren’t against Caps – an world-class player that we haven’t really seen in the region for quite some time. His ability to go for insane off-meta picks like Vayne or Wukong and still make them work in the meta is absolutely astonishing.

We’re going with Misfits on this one but not will full confidence. Either way, expect an absolute barn burner that could go the distance. In the end, nuances will be the deciding factor, but one thing is for sure – Misfits are insanely motivated, and they want that ticket to Worlds.

Winner: Misfits, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

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EU LCS 2018 Summer Split Playoff Finals Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

September 6th, 2018

Photo: Riot Games

After nine weeks of regular season play and two weeks of the playoffs, we are finally just days away from the very last split finals of the year, held at the Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid, Spain. This has, without a doubt, been one of the most exciting years in EU LCS history. We’ve seen numerous exciting narratives and storylines develop from the unlikeliest of places, we’ve seen new prospects rise and the old guard crumble.

The 2018 Summer Split was also the very last time we had the opportunity to watch some of these teams play, seeing how the whole region will be franchised coming into the 2019 Spring Split. All in all, it was an extremely thrilling couple of months, and if you’re a fan of the European LCS, you’re going to be satisfied by the fact that we really do have a couple of highly capable teams that will represent us at this year’s World Championship in Korea.

With that out of the way, let’s focus on the Summer Split finals.

Fnatic are entering this week’s match as the clear favorites – but there’s a lingering feeling in the air that they might not be as strong as people think. They’re considered as the absolute best team in the region almost by default, and with good reason. They’ve displayed an uncanny ability to play and execute almost anything they go for, and they’re also pretty insane to boot so you’re never going to end up regretting watching them duke it out on the Rift.

Their semi-final series against Misfits wasn’t exactly a good display of their skill or potential. Even though Fnatic started the series off on the right foot, it was Misfits that was almost always faster on the map. They often out-macroed Fnatic, and executed their gameplan a lot better. Now, obviously, Misfits were only able to win just a single game, but they had the upper hand in every single game expect the very last one.

It was a strange sight to behold. Even though Misfits were entering the series with some serious momentum after outclassing G2 in quarters, they were still a slumping team no matter how you spin it. To see them go out and almost beat Fnatic in a very competitive match is something you didn’t expect to see.

Game two of their match was especially interesing – or abysmal to watch if you’re a Fnatic fan. The amount of individual and team-wide mistakes that Fnatic made was downright insane. Mindless engages, forced fights, sloppy macro – not something you’re used to see from one of the most decorated European teams in history.

The problem with Fnatic is the fact that they never slow down. They never pull back and devise a secondary plan if the first one fails – they just continue brute forcing things, and at times it works – especially against lower tier opposition, but when it doesn’t work they look alarmingly bad.

Game three was also pretty similar, and Fnatic were just minutes away from being 1-2 in the series – until Caps pulled off a miracle Vayne condemn just in the nick of time and turn the series around. But that one single incredible display of skill doesn’t erase just how sloppy Fnatic played leading up to it.

Now yes, they’re absolutely insane when they’re at the top of their game, but for a team that’s touted as the heavy favorites even before the Summer Split began, they didn’t do enough to justify the hype.

As for Schalke, they were able to pretty much dismantle Team Vitality from the very get-go which was also fairly surprising in a way. They were coming into the match without a lot of hype after barely being able to take down Splyce. Vitality were always an insanely proactive team early on, and their aggression is essentially unmatched in the region.

How could a late-game focused team have a chance, when they couldn’t even handle Splyce’s early game? Somehow, against all odds, they not only managed to endure the early onslaught, but they actually bested Vitality where they were the strongest.

Schalke’s early games were exceptionally clean and proactive, spearheaded by Amazing’s Skarner and Vander’s Shen. To be frank, Vitality kind of made egregious errors whenever they could, so they did help out Schalke considerably, but it was still Schalke’s their superb macro that was the deciding factor.

When they drafted comfort picks, and when they were playing up to their individual potential, Schalke looked absolutely fantastic. Vizicsacsi and Upset once against had a couple of sensational games, and they will surely have to repeat that level of play if they want to stand a chance against Fnatic.

Schalke, much like Misfits, bring a very specific set of threats but it’s nothing that Fnatic hasn’t seen before.

Looking at this match-up specifically, Fnatic have the edge in every single lane. Vizicsacsi is a fantastic top laner, but he shouldn’t be able to accrue any kind of lead against the likes of sOAZ and Bwipo, Amazing isn’t as good nor as flexible as Broxah (both in the draft as well as in-game), Nukeduck is nowhere near as capable or impactful as Caps, and Upset and Vander don’t have an edge over Rekkles and Hylissang either.

Schalke are a very formidable team in the late game though, and Upset showcased some insane teamfighting capabilities against Vitality. His 7/1/10 Ezreal game where he was able to output 1505 damage per minute is the perfect example of just how impactful he can be when given the tools to carry.

He’s also a pretty passive AD carry in lane, so the bottom lane will almost surely be a snooze fest from the very beginning since both players want to scale up until the very late game.

Verdict

So who has the upper hand coming into Sunday’s match? On paper, it should be Fnatic.

But Schalke are far from a negligible challenger. They’ve been outperforming people’s expectations throughout the entire Summer Split, and perhaps importantly, they’ve showcased a fantastic ability to adapt when it matters the most – just like they did against Team Vitality last week.

A very big question lingers in the air – Fnatic always find a way to come out on top, but against such a mid-late focused team like Schalke, that doesn’t make many mistakes throughout the game, maybe they don’t have such a big edge as most people originally thought.

But in the end, Fnatic are the “Kings of Europe” for a reason. They have an insanely capable six-man roster that has proven time and time again that they’re a world-class team that’s capable of going blow-for-blow with the very best teams in the entire world.

Furthermore, this is the very first time Schalke’s playing at such a big venue, in front of such a big crowd – that’s almost surely going to be rooting for Fnatic. This isn’t the regular season, nor are they playing in front of a small Berlin crowd. Schalke has a sports psychologist as a part of their coaching staff, but playing such a high-stakes game is a nerve-racking experience and many players fail to perform up to expectations.

In short, Schalke have a lot of going against them, but they absolutely have the tools to make this into a highly competitive Best of 5 series. How close it’ll be remains to be seen, but it’s simply impossible to bet against Fnatic at this point. They’ve been able to win every time when it mattered, and this match should be no different.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.35 (odds @ Betway)

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