LCS 2019 Summer Split — Week 7 Day 1 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

July 20th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

The seventh week of LCS play is upon us. It’s hard to realize that there are just three weeks of regular season play left. It feels like the Summer Split had only just begun, and yet we’re nearing its completion. Regardless of how well a team performed back in Spring, every team has the chance to attain redemption. The Summer Split is the only thing that matters, and it is the point at which everything coalesces.

Months of hard work and months of grinding could all be in vain if a team is unable to step up and get the job done. With only three weeks left, every single win matters, and teams simply do not have the luxury of dropping games to contenders ranked below them.

History has taught us that the eight and ninth weeks of play end up being the most important, so make sure to tune in this week and watch how the playoff picture resolves.

DAY ONE

Cloud9 vs. 100 Thieves — This is an incredibly exciting match to open up the day. Who would’ve thunk it, after everything that transpired with 100 Thieves throughout 2019? For what it’s worth, they’ve actually stepped up immensely over the last couple of weeks. After they attained their first win, everyone thought “hey, at least they have something”. Then they started stringing wins and no one knew how to react. “Is this really happening?” They went from last place to a very respectable 5W-7L record. In fact, they won five out of their last seven games, with their only two losses coming against Team Liquid and Team Solo Mid. Not too shabby.

Right now, even though a lot of time has passed, we don’t have a good enough read into their inherent strength. They’re solid, there’s no denying it, but it’s still too early to tell how strong they really are. They’re definitely in the running for playoffs and should be able to lock down a spot sooner rather than later. As for this match-up, in particular, everything is on the table.

We’re siding with Cloud9 on this one, although it really could go either way. 100 Thieves already beat Cloud9 a couple of weeks ago, but they did fight against Blaber instead of Svenskeren — a mitigating circumstance for sure. Regardless of the way this game eventually resolves, we should be in for one heck of a ride. Both teams love to skirmish and will surely fight for every inch of the Summoner’s Rift.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.35 (odds @ Betway)

Team Solo Mid vs. Golden Guardians — This one isn’t particularly exciting, and that’s a shame. The Golden Guardians definitely started the Summer Split off with a ton of momentum but have slowly regressed back to their prior inconsistent form. The fact that they’re playing with FBI and Huhi as their bottom lane seriously impacted their team cohesion and overall potential. Why they decided on such a thing still remains a mystery, but they basically hindered their chances of reaching the playoffs. The fight for Top 6 has never been this intense and there are many teams who are similar in strength and are looking to cement their spot in the playoffs.

The Guardians, as it stands, simply isn’t a solid contender. They’re prone to making good plays overall, but they’re just not good enough — neither individually nor as a five-man unit.

Sadly, they’re up against a game Team Solo Mid who, while not as strong as they were in Spring, are still one of the best teams North America has to offer. No matter how well they might start off, they’re bound to lose sooner or later. Team Solo Mid simply has too many tools at their disposal in order to drop this game, and if they draft seriously and play like they can, they shouldn’t have any problem in taking the Guardians down. That said, if Froggen steps up as he’s prone to do, this might be a lot closer than most people expect.

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

FlyQuest vs. Counter Logic Gaming — Next up, we have an absolute banger. FlyQuest are on a huge resurgence and are an actual playoff contender whereas Counter Logic Gaming cemented themselves as an incredibly capable Top 4 team. Now, neither of these two rosters have what it takes in order to tango with the defending champions, but they’re very solid and well-rounded nonetheless.

FlyQuest, in particular, has to start winning games and upsetting teams if they want to stand a chance of reaching the playoffs. This means they will fight their hearts out now that everything is on the line,  and that one fact makes them an incredibly dangerous opponent. On the other hand, CLG is no slouch and will surely fight back to the best of their ability.

In the end, we have to side with Counter Logic Gaming on this one. They showed more on the Summoners Rift and have been far more consistent. One could argue that their highs weren’t that amazing when compared to FlyQuest, but they have solid fundamentals and are a bit more versatile and dangerous than their opponents. That said, this match could really go either way, especially if both teams bring their A game.

Winner: Counter Logic Gaming, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

Team Liquid vs. Clutch Gaming — This is where things get a bit less interesting. Maybe that’s even an understatement. There’s just not much that Clutch will be able to do against Liquid if the latter plays up to their full potential. That doesn’t mean this will be a complete blowout as Clutch rarely goes down without a fight, but no one’s really expecting a competitive match. Things might be a bit closer than anticipated, but in the end, the defending champions should be more than able to get the win.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.28 (odds @ Betway)

Echo Fox vs. OpTic Gaming — Finally, we have a fight between two gatekeepers to close out the day. Not exactly a must watch, but it should be an entertaining scrap regardless. Now, both of these teams are entering today’s match without much hype or momentum. Echo Fox is currently ranked tenth, whereas OpTic Gaming crashed and burned to a shocking degree after being in the Top 5 for multiple weeks in a row.

We can rightfully say that they’re both even in strength and potential right now, but it’s important to highlight that OpTic Gaming have very specific win conditions — Meteos has to create an early lead, and Crown has to hard carry like there’s no tomorrow. If they’re unable to do so, if they are unable to get off on the right foot, then they simply don’t have an avenue towards success.

To be fair, Echo Fox is not much better overall, but at least they’re consistent in their mediocrity. That said, we know just how capable they are. We’ve seen their commendable highs, the only problem is the fact that they can’t maintain such a level of play. They lost more than they had to, and they were often inches away from victory. To their credit, they were able to take down Cloud9 last week which was definitely a surprising twist, and it begs the question — are they “back”? Are they a solid middle of the pack team right now, or was it a one-off thing? Echo Fox definitely doesn’t need much in order to upset, so we’re giving them our benefit of the doubt on this one. They might not be a spectacular, well-rounded team, but they definitely have what it takes in order to take a struggling OpTic Gaming down.

Winner: Echo Fox, 2.45 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

LEC 2019 Summer Split — Week 5 Day 1 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

July 19th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

We are entering the fifth week of competitive LEC play. This is practically the halfway point of the split, which means things are starting to pick up steam. There are many exceptional narratives that have developed over the last couple of months, and there’s not a soul in sight that isn’t excited to see how things eventually resolve.

The fifth week of LEC play will then give us an even better look into all ten permanent partners and their inherent potential. Some are predicted to rise high, whereas others don’t have nearly as much hype or momentum. That said, there’s not a bad team in the LEC right now, which makes betting exceptionally hard. Excel Esports just took down SK Gaming, and Rogue outclassed Origen in a one-sided shellacking. Those are shocking sights, regardless of your allegiance. Teams are improving on a weekly basis and out power rankings constantly change and adapt.

There’s no expected result in the LEC right now because anything can happen. Well, almost anything. No one’s expecting G2 Esports to drop games, but other than that, everyone has the capacity to pull of incredible, mind-boggling upsets. That makes watching the European region that much more exciting, but from a betting standpoint, we’re in uncharted waters.

So with that out of the way, let’s focus on the games at hand!

DAY ONE

Team Vitality vs. Schalke 04 — For our second match of the day, we have a pretty darn exciting clash between Schalke 04 and Team Vitality.

Now, this is by no means a premier match-up when it comes to the standings. We have one team (Schalke) that is excruciatingly close to attaining top-tier status. They have all the right players, the cohesion, the mechanical prowess — they just lack a little bit more time before getting on the same page completely and actually challenging the upper echelon of the LEC.

But they’re insanely talented, even though they dropped more game than they had to. They have four wins and four losses to their name, which is far from bad, but they came close to emerging victorious on so many occasions. They’re currently tied for fourth with Origen, and they’re two wins behind Splyce, so at worst they’re a solid playoff contender that’s currently developing an identity.

They’re exceptional in multiple facets of play, but again, they lack the consistency and the split second decision making in order to reach the very top. They’re coming into week five with a win over Rogue and a loss to G2 Esports, but even their loss to the defending champions didn’t hurt their stock too much. It was a hectic back-and-forth game (at least early on) and Schalke fought fairly well until G2 upped the tempo and basically strangled them across the map.

Fortunately for them, they’re not up against G2 Esports this time around, but instead against Vitality. What can one say about Vitality that hasn’t already been said? We’re all aware of their inherent potential, but their Summer Split play has so far been downright abysmal. Now, as a team, they’re the definition of “volatile” and “inconsistent”. That said, their most recent fumble and fall from grace was far more monumental than anyone expected. They’re still the same team, but it seems as though the recent meta shifts heavily impacted their strength and ability to dominate.

It’s important to highlight that they’ve been improving quite a fair bit over the last couple of weeks, but it still feels a bit negligible in the grand scheme of things. They’re doing a lot better, but they’re still extremely vulnerable and out of sync. Perhaps most importantly, they’re just not playing good League of Legends on an individual level. We all expect more from Vitality and with good reason — they should rightfully be deemed as veterans right now. Not only have they graced the LEC stage for quite some time now but they also created quite a fair bit of chaos at last year’s World Championship. This is a capable team that is unique in every regard, but they’re just not getting the job done for one reason or another.

In the end, we simply have to side with Schalke. The reasons are manifold, quite frankly. There’s always this lingering fear that Vitality will step up and start dominating, but they simply don’t deserve our benefit of the doubt right now. That said, their dualistic nature is always a reason to be scared when betting on or against them.

You never really know when they’re going to improve as it often happens in a matter of days. Regardless, Schalke need this win if they want to further distance themselves from the rest of the pack. Dropping a game at this point to a team like Vitality could definitely cost them dearly in a matter of weeks.

Winner: Schalke 04, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

Excel Esports vs. G2 Esports — This is a fun one, to say the least. And who would have thunk it? Let’s first look at what this match-up really is on paper. It is a fight between the number one and number ten team. It is a fight between the defending, reigning champions, and a team that no one gave much thought coming into 2019, and with good reason.

It is a fight between the best, most successful and flexible LEC team in history… And Excel Esports.

The dankest of timeline really did happen.

But why is this such a hyped clash? The reason is simple — Excel Esports have displayed incredible grit and fortitude over the last couple of weeks, and currently have a deceptively potent early game. Perhaps that’s even an understatement. They’re absolute beasts early on and have nearly taken down both Fnatic as well as Origen. They’re far stronger than anyone gives them credit for, but they’re still rough around the edges. Perhaps most importantly, they lack the shot calling and the calmness under pressure in order to actually pull off such seismic upsets.

They did win against SK Gaming and that, in and of itself, is an incredible achievement considering just how bad they were for the longest time. They’re not predicted to upset the status quo and no one’s expecting them to actually take G2 down, but they’re going to fight like their lives depend on it — which makes this match an absolute must watch.

A team that has nothing to lose is a dangerous opponent regardless of the context. One thing is for sure: they lack the mechanical skill in order to complete the upset. That said, G2 Esports has the tendency to troll and to do what people least expect them to. They’re bored, that’s a fact. They want to have fun and they could actually draft for fun, meaning they could put themselves at a disadvantage from the very get go.

In other words, this could end up being a much closer match than more people expect. That said, we simply have to side with G2 Esports. There’s no way we can bet against the best and most flexible team in the world right now.

Winner: G2 Esports, 1.08 (odds @ Betway)

Rogue vs. Fnatic — Yet another incredibly interesting clash between two teams that sit at opposite sides of the standings. On one hand, we have Fnatic — the former “kings of Europe”. On the other, a team that has only recently picked up a bit of momentum. Now, to be quite fair, Rogue’s one-sided beatdown over Origen got a lot of people thinking. How could it not? To win is one thing, but to outclass a top-tier team to such a degree is a completely different matter.

But the problem is, we don’t know just how well Rogue played when compared to how badly Origen assembled on that given day. They couldn’t mount much of an offensive and it was evident on the Rift as well. They simply couldn’t get off the ground and while Rogue’s stellar play did disable them from the very get go, they were still uncharacteristically out of sync and prone to making egregious mechanical mistakes.

According to many different sources, Rogue are on an upswing. Many people consider them a playoff dark horse and even though they didn’t do much to deserve such hype (other than beating an unprepared Origen), it’s still an exciting notion that makes this one match, in particular, that much more exciting. Could they take down Fnatic? Could they make it an even fight? The odds are definitely stacked against them, but if they do manage to tango with the second best team in the region then we might see a huge shift in the middle of the standings.

Either way, we have to side with Fnatic on this one. Betting against them at this point in time makes zero sense, and even though the game might be a lot closer than most people expect, they should still be more than capable of getting the win. They’re entering this week with Magifelix instead of Rekkles and that will surely impact their strength, but they should still be head and shoulders above a surging Rogue squad.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

SK Gaming vs. Origen — Finally, to close out the day, we have an absolute banger. Well, at least on paper. Both of these two teams are well-known for their stellar play. They’re some of the best teams the LEC has to offer, and while they failed to leave much of a mark in the grand scheme of things, they were still more than capable enough in order to rattle a few cages and throw their names into the mix.

Origen cemented themselves as a Top 3 team back in Spring, whereas SK Gaming needed just a single split in order to lock down a playoff spot. That’s commendable, to say the least.

Right now, however, both teams lack momentum and hype. They’re definitely solid, that’s for sure, but they’re entering today’s match on a low. In fact, the connection is fascinating. Origen was outclassed by Rogue (a team that was ranked ninth for the longest time), whereas SK Gaming dropped a game to Excel Esports, the worst team in the region (stats-wise).

Both playoff contenders dropped the ball against the unlikeliest of challengers — at the worst possible moment. They need every single win they can get, and by losing to bottom-tier dwellers, they’re seriously hurting their chances of reaching the playoffs.

Speaking of playoffs, the race for Top 6 has never been this intense and close. Other than G2 Esports, only two other teams look like bona fide contenders — Fnatic and Splyce. Everyone else, however, is in the running (except Excel who can’t really attain a playoff spot because of their overall win-loss tally).

This game matters quite a lot. Both teams are extremely close to one another in the standings and getting a win here would give them a huge upper hand once the regular portion of the split concludes. They want to evade any potential tiebreakers; they want to get the job done as soon as possible and not depend on anyone else.

Predicting the outcome of this one clash is downright impossible. There’s not a lot to which we can cling to, especially considering just how badly both teams played last week. They’re looking for redemption and their road towards the top starts here.

We’re siding with Origen on this one, but expect an insanely close, back-and-forth game that could easily enter the fiesta realm. Either way, we should be entertained.

Winner: Origen, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

LCS 2019 Summer Split — Week 6 Day 2 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

July 14th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

We are on the verge of the sixth week of comeptitive LCS play. How is the LCS developing so far? Are we finally seeing concrete signs of improvement? In short — both yes and no. Regardless, we have finally entered the second half of the regular season, which means teams are starting to fight for playoff seeding. Nothing is set in stone just yet, but we’re approaching the point of the split where every single win matters.

That’s an overused statement, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Just a single win can be the difference between proceeding into the Summer Split playoffs and watching the action unfold on the sidelines.

To make matters even more interesting, the North American standings right now are in a state of flux. Yesterday’s games were, for a lack of a better word, chaotic.

The teams that should have won didn’t, and we were greeted with many upsets that simply boggled the mind.

So coming into today, betting is as dangerous as ever. No team is safe, and no verdict is set in stone. Not even close. In other words, if you’re betting on the LCS today, proceed with caution. Things might resolve exactly how we think — or they might take a turn for the worse and develop in a completely different direction.

Regardless, let’s take a closer look at the second day of LCS week 6 play!

Team Liquid vs. FlyQuest — This is where the trouble starts. FlyQuest are currently on a team, and Team Liquid has never looked this vulnerable. Now sure, they’re the defending champions for a reason and they have the cleanest and most insane macro in the entire region — but they can bleed, and they as vulnerable as they’ll ever be.

Across them stands FlyQuest. A team that was once at the bottom of the standings has now improved leaps and bounds and are coming in hot after outclassing the Golden Guardians yesterday. They are on a tear and have racked more wins in a row than you would believe.

Regardless, they’re against Liquid at this point, and even though they definitely have a puncher’s chance, they shouldn’t be able to continue their dominant win streak. That said, expect absolute chaos on the Summoner’s Rift.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.25 (odds @ Betway)

Team Solo Mid vs. Cloud9 — The North American el clasico. The most exciting clash in North America, and one that’s been entertaining us for the longest of time.

This time around, both teams are located near the very top of the standings and are fighting with two spectacular line-ups. They’re not perfect, but they’re improving with each passing week and have more than enough tools in order to make this into one heck of a fight — as they always do when they face each other on the Rift.

We’re siding with Cloud9 on this one. Even though they dropped a game to Echo Fox yesterday, they’re far more cohesive and flexible at this point in time, and they want redemption after their shocking loss to the worst team in the region. That doesn’t mean they’ll attain it with ease, but they should be able to get the job done regardless.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.75 (odds @ Betway)

Counter Logic Gaming vs. Golden Guardians — Yet another exciting clash, but perhaps only if you’re siding towards the Counter Logic Gaming side.

The Guardians have lost all of their hype and momentum after subbing in FBI and Huhi — a decision that is simply abysmal regardless of the way you look at it. They’re not playing any better and the team-wide cohesion is suffering as a result.

They’re dropping games and that’s a luxury they simply don’t have at this point in time.

Conversely, the Counter Logic Gaming bunch is doing everything it can in order to lock down a playoff spot and are basically a full fledged contender — a team that, while still not perfect, is growing and improving at a staggering pace.

Now, their game against Liquid yesterday wasn’t their best, but they did a lot of things right and will surely bounce back sooner rather than later. We’re going with CLG on this one. They have more tools to work with and will surely best the Guardians once all is said and done. That said, this might not be as clean of game as some people expect. The Guardians never go down without a fight, and Counter Logic Gaming is far from a macro behemoth, so expect absolute chaos.

Winner: Counter Logic Gaming, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

100 Thieves vs. Echo Fox — This is far from a must watch, but it should provide ample entertainment regardless. It’s easy to write both of these two teams off and say that they don’t play high level League of Legends, but that’s not a fair assessment. We all know what Echo Fox are capable of and the fact that they just took down Cloud9 yesterday (a team that was tied for first) tells you more than enough: they’re a dangerous dark horse that will improve when you least expect them to.

100 Thieves, on the other hand, has been racking up wins at a shocking pace. From the perennial last place team to an actual playoff contender. They just took down OpTic Gaming and have the opportunity to end the week 2-0 should they beat Echo Fox as well. They’re making all the right moves in order to reach the playoffs, and if they continue playing at such a solid level they should be able to reach the Top 6 sooner rather than later.

Winner: 100 Thieves, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

OpTic Gaming vs. Clutch Gaming — And finally, to close out the day, we have a fight between OpTic Gaming and Clutch Gaming. This is by no means an exciting skirmish. And there’s really no silver lining either. OpTic Gaming are ranked fairly high but they haven’t displayed a seismic amount of skill over the last couple of weeks. They live and die by their mid laner, and if Meteos fails to impact the early game they’re not as competitive as they would be otherwise.

They’re a great gatekeeper, but they don’t offer anything new nor overly exciting. As for Clutch Gaming, well, they’re Clutch Gaming. Toss a coin. They might get out the gates swinging and upset the number one team in the region, or they’ll implode trying. Either way they’re an exciting bunch to watch, but they’re simply not improving quickly enough in order to lock down a playoff spot.

For them, this is do or die. For OpTic, this is a chance to get yet another “easy” win and improve in the standings. They need every win they can get, especially after dropping a game to 100 Thieves yesterday. There’s no more room for error on their side, and they know it.

Winner: OpTic Gaming, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

LCS 2019 Summer Split — Week 5 Day 2 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

July 7th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

It feels like the LCS was on a much longer hiatus even though it was just a two-week break. Everyone was looking forward to seeing their three contenders — Team Liquid, Team Solo Mid, and Cloud9 — duke it out on the Summoner’s Rift against the three best teams from Europe. There were seemingly no negatives: both regions had three highly capable and versatile challengers, and fireworks were basically guaranteed.

All signs were pointing towards at least a somewhat competitive state of affairs. After all, these were the three legendary North American titans, the three teams that stood above the rest time after time. The three teams with the biggest fan bases and most exciting narratives.

But even though the stage was set for a clash of seismic proportions, the tournament itself failed to deliver — on all fronts. Perhaps that’s even an understatement. We witnessed one of the biggest and most farcical blowouts in competitive Western history. This wasn’t an even fight between two regions and their mightiest giants. Not in the slightest. This was, simply put, a shocking display. North America was dominated and outclassed in every single facet of play.

While Team Liquid did put up a somewhat solid fight overall, they were still handily beaten and exploited. There really isn’t much else that can be said. They were meek and subdued, scared, and completely out of sync. They were scattered across the board and couldn’t mount much of an offensive when they absolutely had to step up and get the job done.

Now sure, Rift Rivals is not an important tournament by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a chance to test your might against another region; a chance to learn something new and to grow as a five-man unit. These are the three best North American teams we’re talking about, and they need every single bit of practice they can muster in order to stand a chance at the upcoming World Championship. The old adage “iron strengthens iron” is completely applicable this time around, but no strengthening happened unfortunately.

North America was humiliated in every regard. They had a bad read on the meta, they played in a completely different fashion, they were slow, mechanically rusty and sub-par, and when they had to show off their team fighting prowess, they fumbled with each step they took. It was a disappointing couple of days, that’s for certain. Well, mainly if you’re a fan of the North American LCS.

The effect of Rift Rivals will now be two-fold. It told everyone that North America simply isn’t playing at the highest of levels right now. Not even close. In fact, they’re completely out of sync with the meta and the best and most optimal way to play the game. This means there will probably be a noticeable shift within the region itself. All ten teams will (as they should) adapt accordingly. They simply cannot continue playing in such a way. So we will witness a change in almost every regard — if they’re smart. The other change that’s bound to happen, is that other teams that didn’t compete at Rift Rivals, will have more footage to review, to go over and to analyze. They were just reminded that the LCS pantheon can bleed. And we’re not talking about surface-level scratches either. They were butchered and bloodied after clashing with Europe.

They had the luxury of taking a break, recuperating, and coming up with a solid game plan for the next five weeks of competitive play. This may or may not be enough for significant change to materialize — it all depends on the team. Either way, things shouldn’t be the same after such a heavy-handed beatdown. Not even close.

Another interesting thing is theory-crafting just how the three North American titans will react to such a one-sided shellacking. They will surely adapt, but how much? Will they improve in such a short time span and more importantly — will it be enough? There are so many questions in the air right now, and we can’t wait to see how things further resolve.

So with that out of the day, let’s take a closer look at the fifth week of competitive LCS play!

DAY TWO

Echo Fox vs. Golden Guardians — To open the day, we have a pretty exciting clash. Well, at least on first glance. In reality, this isn’t exactly the biggest or most premier match-up. Not in the slightest, but it should provide ample entertainment. Both teams are entering tonight’s clash without much hype momentum. In fact, there’s simply no hype at all. Echo Fox were supposed to outlast and beat a wounded and confused FlyQuest, but were unable to mount much of an offensive. Maybe that’s even an understatement. They were meek and off the mark early on, which allowed FlyQuest to accrue a big enough gold lead. But as the game progressed, Echo Fox did nothing worthy of mentioning in order to change the state of the game.

They were sloppy, indecisive, and completely scared to make the right proactive play. Even their team fighting, which is so often one of their key assets, wasn’t on display. They were also playing with MikeYoung in the jungle position (a fairly recent change to the starting line-up), and even though he was often lauded for his unfiltered aggression and playmaking prowess, he was unable to do much in yesterday’s game. And again, that’s an understatement. He was a complete non-factor. They went from an inconsistent mechanical deity in Rush, to another mechanically gifted prodigy that simply doesn’t get the job done and was, as a result, relegated to Academy play.

There isn’t much positive that can be said about Echo Fox at this point. In fact, there isn’t anything positive at all, especially after yesterday’s game. But in true Echo Fox fashion, they will bounce back and win when you least expect it to. That’s just the Echo Fox way, and there’s no rhyme or reason behind it. It all depends on the day. We all love watching them because of it, but they are a nightmare of a team when you’re betting on them as they’re as volatile and inconsistent as humanly possible.

Opposite them, we have the Golden Guardians. Now, coming into yesterday’s game, they had a very solid 4W-4L record. It was highly acceptable, and it told a very coherent story: they were a playoff contender and were not messing around. With such a record, they had the ball in their court. They just had to maintain a certain level of play, focus on being as consistent as possible and rack up wins. But against all reason and healthy logic, they opted to start with FBI and Huhi (of Counter Logic Gaming fame), their Academy bottom lane. Now, that decision, in and of itself isn’t that crazy, but the moment in which they chose to do so is. They were up against OpTic Gaming, a team that was ranked higher than them and with good reason. A team that is currently a bona fide playoff contender.

To play two unproven players (Huhi still hasn’t adapted fully to the support position) against a team that was already favored against you is such a bad decision it doesn’t even compute. As a result, they were absolutely demolished across the board. It wasn’t even a competition. They were outrotated, beaten on an individual level, and outclassed in all facets of play. They simply couldn’t do anything on the Summoner’s Rift and were quickly subdued in one-sided fashion.

So this time around, things really depend on the roster that the Golden Guardians decides to field. Will they go with their tried and true team? Then they’re definitely favored. By a lot. If, on the other hand, they decide to repeat the same mistake and, to be quite fair, they are prone to making ill-advised calls and decisions, then it’s downright impossible to predict the outcome with confidence. We also don’t have any information regarding which line-up will be starting, but we’ll give the Guardians our benefit of the doubt.

Winner: Golden Guardians, 1.36 (odds @ Betway)

Cloud9 vs. Clutch Gaming — For our second game of the day, we have a pretty exciting clash between Cloud9 and Clutch Gaming. Now, much like the game preceding it, this isn’t exactly a must watch, but it should be a fun scrap regardless of your allegiance and final outcome.

Clutch Gaming are entering today’s match after losing to Counter Logic Gaming yesterday. Even though they failed to get the job done, they were still surprisingly strong. They made things insanely competitive, but as expected, Counter Logic Gaming was slightly better in all elements of play.

They never gave up too big of a gold lead, but they never found a window of opportunity. They were looking, and looking, but it never came. It never materialized. Counter Logic Gaming had the better draft, they were more proactive, they made the better calls and plays and were, as a result, able to take most objectives on the map and eventually just close out the game “by the book”.

Still, Clutch Gaming did more than enough to earn everyone’s respect, and even though they lost their stock didn’t drop by much. They’re definitely developing into a playoff contender, and they’re showing signs of improvement any time they step foot on the Summoner’s Rift.

On the other hand, we have Cloud9. The boys in black and blue. They were outclassed at the most recent Rift Rivals but they didn’t play with their starting line-up because of Sneaky’s illness. Everyone was unsure how strong and cohesive they would be once the regular portion of the split resumed, but their yesterday’s game quickly answered that lingering question.

They absolutely obliterated Team Liquid. It wasn’t even a competitive skirmish — Cloud9 were better in every single element of play, they were stronger as a five-man unit, stronger on an individual level, and their spectacular team fighting prowess took Liquid off guard from the very get go. Their fantastic engages and rotations left everyone in awe. That said, they couldn’t do it alone — Liquid never put up anything resembling a fight. They were, quite simply, abysmal from minute one. This wasn’t a showing worthy of a championship-winning team. This was a shocking failure on all fronts. Liquid did nothing.

Conversely, Cloud9 made all the right choices in-game and Nisqy’s pocket Veigar pick caught Liquid off-guard. To say that it paid off immediately would be an understatement. He was able to solo kill Jensen and created absolute chaos across the map once the mid and alter stages of the game came around.

But perhaps the biggest surprise came from their Academy top laner Kumo. He simply wrecked Impact throughout the entire game, he had a CS lead, a spectacular KDA, and was able to make key plays across the map. Not only did he not look like an Academy player, but he was able to play up to Liquid’s level — and that’s saying something. If he continues playing at such a high level, the sky’s the limit for Cloud9’s “B team jungler”.

In the end, we simply have to side with Cloud9. They’re one of the best teams in the region even with all of their inherent weaknesses and faults. They’re simply on another level when compared to Clutch, they have many tools to work with and will surely find an avenue toward success even though the might not start off in the best and most optimal way. Cloud9, even with their Academy top laner in the line-up, is as frightening as ever and are looking to build on their hype win over Liquid yesterday.

While it might not be as one-sided as most expect, Cloud9 should be more than able to get the job done.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.35 (odds @ Betway)

100 Thieves vs. Team Liquid — Our third match of the day is an interesting one, to say the least. Both teams are entering the clash without much hype, in a way.

Liquid are the defending champions, but you would never guess it after watching their yesterday’s game against Cloud9. They were outclassed, simply put. It was one of their worst performances in history, one could argue. They couldn’t mount an offensive, they were badly positioning and getting caught out, their play was lackluster and meek, and they looked like a bottom-tier dweller, pretty much.

A shocking display from one of the most dominant teams in the region’s history. Now, it could have been a one-off thing, that’s for sure. Or, conversely, it could’ve been a sign of the things to come. Either way, it’s still too early to know for sure, but Liquid are currently down for the count.

Enter 100 Thieves.

A team that no one in their right mind would give a chance. But their trajectory, at least so far, has been rather fascinating. They’re entering this match after losing to Team Solo Mid, which also happened to snap their surprising three-game win streak. That, in and of itself, is perhaps the biggest surprise overall. The fact that they were able to step up against all odds and actually start playing solid League of Legends is a twist no one could have foreseen. After all, they were abysmal for so darn long. Fortunately, the changes to the jungle and mid lane position were just what the doctor ordered. They’re still not a contender by any means, but they’re getting better and better with each passing week. They’re solid right now, and they’re going to put up a surprisingly big fight regardless of the opponent. If they get rolling, however, they might even win. Imagine that. People would’ve laughed just three or so weeks ago if you said that.

This match-up is so engaging because it revolves around two key questions: how strong is Liquid right now and could 100 Thieves actually get the job done?

Obviously, Liquid is heavily favored, especially after losing to Cloud9 yesterday. They’re surely angry at themselves and are looking for redemption. They need someone to lash out on, and 100 Thieves are next in line. While Liquid might not be playing at their best right now, they’re still a world-class team and they have what it takes in order to tango at the highest of levels. They might not start off on the right foot this time around, but they need just a single small opening in order to turn things around the close out the game. And seeing how 100 Thieves is far from a solid top-tier contender, they will surely give Liquid more than just a small window of opportunity. They’re just not as clean as they have to be in order to compete at this level, so sooner or later they’re bound to make a crucial mistake and subsequently lose the game.

That said, it’s going to be an exciting skirmish because it will tell us just how much 100 Thieves improved, and where they rank in the grand scheme of things.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.18 (odds @ Betway)

OpTic Gaming vs. FlyQuest — And finally, we have OpTic Gaming fighting against FlyQuest to close out the day. This is a strange match-up, that’s for sure. On one hand, it is a fight between two teams we’re perfectly accustomed to. But on the other, we’re also witnessing brand-new narratives surrounding them this time around. OpTic Gaming have quickly solidified their spot as a playoff contender just mere weeks into the Summer Split, whereas FlyQuest literally went from that position to their current one: a struggling bottom-tier dweller. A complete, 180 degree change for both rosters, and both of them were unexpected, to say the least.

FlyQuest looked so darn good back in Spring. They were the fourth best team in the League, and that spot in the rankings wasn’t granted to them: they fought for it and won more often than not. They had very clear strengths and they knew what they were doing. But the meta shifted, and their chances of attaining success depleted decreased considerably. The things they were once good at were no longer viable, and they were unprepared for such a change in playstyle. Needless to say, they looked abysmal over the last couple of weeks, and are now ranked near the very bottom the region.

That said, they did recently step up. They’re still pretty mediocre (to say the least), but at least they’re looking better as time goes on. They’re entering this match with a solid win over Echo Fox, but the fact that they won isn’t that surprising. Rather, the fashion in which it occurred was. For the first time in a long while they looked like they knew what they were doing, and that was a refreshing sight. A strong region, a region that is filled with many talented and diverse challengers will improve everyone involved.

OpTic Gaming, on the other hand, is still hard to read, but they’re darn good when they’re on the same page and when they get rolling.

In the end, we simply have to side with OpTic Gaming. They might not be the perfect team, they might not challenge for the LCS throne, but they’re aware of their potential and they’re playing to their strengths. They won’t blow your mind nor will they outclass any top-tier LCS titan, but they’re a solid, well-rounded team that’s capable of throwing down in any stage of the game. And that’s highly commendable, to say the least. They might get pushed to their limit this time around, but they’re still predicted to win and with good reason. With Meteos, Crown and Arrow as their key three-man core, they’re more than capable of trading heavy blows with the best the LCS has to offer.

Winner: OpTic Gaming, 1.45 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

LCS 2019 Summer Split — Week 4 Day 1 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

June 22nd, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

It feels like the Summer Split had only just begun and yet we’re quickly approaching the midway point. This was fast, to say the least. Well, four weeks are more than enough to get a solid enough of a read on ten teams, and last week especially gave us some much-needed closure. Now, this might seem like a strange thing to say seeing how over half the region is tied for first place, but we can confidently say which teams will remain at the top and which ones will drop as the weeks go by.

Obviously things could resolve in a different manner entirely, but overall, we’ve seen more than enough to predict things with confidence going forward.

DAY ONE

Team Liquid vs. Golden Guardians — This is an exciting way to open up the day, that’s for sure. A clash between the defending champions and a team that has quickly risen in the standings and has solidified its spot as a top tier contender that’s worthy of respect and admiration. But let’s look at Liquid first. They’re entering this match with quite a fair bit of hype. While their start to the split wasn’t exactly incredible, that was understandable seeing how they burned out at the most recent Mid-Season Invitational. Last week, however, gave us a showing of Liquid at their most dominant. They were downright spectacular, and while they were still a bit too cautious at times, they didn’t skip a beat once they had to up the tempo and get the job done.

Their clean wins over FlyQuest and OpTic Gaming allowed them to push their overall win-loss tally to four wins and two losses, tying them with a plethora of other teams in the standings. This time around, they have the Golden Guardians as well as Clutch Gaming, two teams that pose different threats but they’re not favored against the defending champs, and with good reason.

The Guardians, in particular, are a bona fide contender this time around and they’re definitely worthy of respect and admiration. While they’re still painfully one-dimensional, and overly dependent on Froggen hard carrying, they’re far better than most people expect. They’re also incredibly aggressive which is a great virtue in the current meta. They’re proactive and unrelenting which should allow them to fight against Liquid on a somewhat level playing field, at least early on. They’re either going to impose their will, or they’re going to lose trying.

We’re going with Liquid on this one, but this should be a closely contested clash that will ultimately be decided in the later stages of the game by Liquid’s stellar macro and team fighting.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

Team Solo Mid vs. OpTic Gaming — For our second match of the day we have yet another exciting clash that will give us a better read into both teams and their overall strength.

Now, coming into the third week of play, OpTic was riding quite the hype train. They had a lot of momentum and were showing no signs of stopping. But once they fought against Cloud9, they were heavily outrotated and outmacroed. That, in and of itself isn’t a problem, but the fact that they were completely shut down in the pick and ban phase was a worrying sign.

They improved as a five-man unit, that’s a fact, but if they don’t get their priority picks then they’re just unable to get off the ground. Meteos is their biggest catalyst in the early game and if he’s unable to have as big of an impact as he has to, then they’re just not as strong in the early and mid stages of the game.

That said, they’re capable and are rightfully considered as a top-tier contender that can upset.

Team Solo Mid, on the other hand, are entering this week on a high note, to say the least. They outclassed Cloud9 last week and were able to enter this week tied for first place even though their initial Summer Split start left a lot to be desired.

They’re incredibly strong, both individually as well as a five-man unit, and they’re playing out of their minds right now. They might experiment a bit too much, but you can’t blame them for testing their limits this early into the split.

They’re considered as the heavy favorites this time around and with good reason. They should be more than able to get the job done, but don’t be surprised if they need a bit of time before getting the W. OpTic are surprisingly solid in all facets of play and will surely fight back to the best of their ability.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

100 Thieves vs. Cloud9 — Our third match of the day isn’t exactly a must watch, to be quite honest. But it is a good chance for both teams to do entirely different things. Cloud9 are slowly but surely getting back into form, and they need an “easy” win in order to regain a bit of momentum after losing to Team Solo Mid last week.

Conversely, 100 Thieves were, surprisingly, able to get their first win on the board, and even though it wasn’t the greatest of skirmishes. They god the job done which is the most important at this point in the split. They’re by no means a solid contender right now nor do they have the tools in order to compete for the playoffs, but her — a win is a win, and they’re at least improving on a weekly basis.

Fortunately for the 100 Thieves, when you’re at the bottom, the only way left to go is up. So, objectively speaking, they’re somewhat solid at this point in time. Amazing’s experience, guidance, and early aggression was exactly what the doctor ordered.

They’re stronger than most people give them credit for, and they should be more than able to register a couple of wins over the coming weeks.

That said, Cloud9 are not an easy team to tackle. Not in the slightest. They’re a versatile challenger and one of the best teams in the region by far.

So betting on Cloud9 is the only logical option in thsi case.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.18 (odds @ Betway)

Counter Logic Gaming vs. FlyQuest — This match-up might not seem exceptional on paper, but in reality, it could end up being a spectacular clash of seismic proportions.

Both teams love to skirmish from the very get go, and this game should prove to be no exception. That said, they’re both entering this clash with different goals in mind, and they’re also on the opposite sides of the standings.

Counter Logic Gaming is currently tied for first place and they were able to take down both Cloud9 as well as Team Liquid over the lat couple of weeks. They’re not perfect, but they’re proving to be quite a fascinating challenger — one that’s layered and incredibly strong in multiple aspects of play.

They’re a force to be reckoned with and the fact that Ruin and Wiggily are playing so incredibly well is really pushing them not just into the playoffs but also towards the very top of the region.

They might not leave a mark this time around, but they should become an incredible challenegr sooner rather than later.

FlyQuest, on the other hand, are currently sitting with just a single win — against Team Solo Mid, of all teams — and five losses. They didn’t make any changes to their starting five-man line-up but they are simply unable to get the job done at this point in time.

They’re more reactive, they’re passive, and they’re playing abysmally both on an individual level but also as a five-man unit. They’re just not particularly good at this point in time and that’s a shame. Could they improve? By all means, but one has to wonder whether it’s a bit too late at this point in time. A third of the split is already completed, and they’re basically completely out of the running for the playoffs, barring any exceptional flashes of brilliance.

They’re a capable team, that’s for sure, but the task at hand is simply too overwhelming.

Counter Logic Gaming are a very tough team right now and they should be more than able to shut down FlyQuest from the very get go.

Winner: Counter Logic Gaming, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

Echo Fox vs. Clutch Gaming — Finally, we have a somewhat confusing clash between two incredibly inconsistent teams. Much like the game preceeding this one, this could end up being an absolute war across the board with the winner getting decided by the slimmest of margins.

Echo Fox looked like the more capable team early on, but they fell off pretty hard as the weeks went by. With Clutch Gaming, things are the opposite. They started off as badly as possible, but were able to find an identity for themselves sooner rather than later, and are currently sitting on a very respectable 3W-3L record.

Predicting the outcome this time around is downright impossible. If you’re looking for a safe bet this is as far from that as possible, so it’s best to just skip this match entirely. That said, we’re leaning towards Echo Fox, at least ever so slightly.

Winner: Echo Fox, 2.30 (odds @ Betway)

CONTINUE READING

LCS 2019 Summer Split — Week 3 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

June 15th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

With two weeks of competitive play behind us, we finally have a big enough sample size to fairly judge all ten teams that are competing. Some have shown more potential than others, and after four games spread across two weeks, it feels like the standings finally came into place. That said, there are still a couple of surprises here and there, but as a whole, things are developing quite nicely over in North America.

The teams that should be winning are doing so, and even though many rosters are still plagued by inconsistency, things are settling into place. We’re still waiting to see a bit more from teams like FlyQuest, Golden Guardians, Counter Logic Gaming, and even Clutch Gaming, seeing how all four teams showed flashes of brilliance over the last two weeks. There are a couple of key questions that are just waiting to be answered — how good are they really? Did we get a short glimpse of their potential, or was it more of a one off thing? If it’s the latter, no one would be surprised. But if it’s the former, however, we could be seeing a slight change in the LCS status quo. OpTic Gaming already solidified themselves as a solid, concrete contender with their spotless 4W-0L record, and they could only mark the beginning of a different kind of era.

While the three titans at the top aren’t going anywhere (Team Liquid, Team Solo Mid, Cloud9), it’s fair to say that any spot below them is up for grabs. And the sooner a team is able to synergize and step up as a unit the better. They will not only build confidence and momentum, but also grab a couple of key wins that could end up deciding their fate once the regular portion of the split concludes. If two teams are tied, the head-to-head record plays a big role, so someone like OpTic Gaming is already in a spectacular position with their four wins even if they do drop a couple of spots over the coming weeks.

With all of that said, let’s take a closer look at this week’s games!

DAY ONE

Team Liquid vs. FlyQuest — To open up the day, we have an incredibly exciting clash between the defending LCS champions, and an unlikely challenger in FlyQuest. Now, two weeks have passed, and we have a fairly solid read on both teams. Liquid are still recuperating from their most recent success on the international stage, so they’ve shown a lot of good but also a ton of bad play on the Summoner’s Rift. They’re a spectacular team — of that we are sure, but they’re wounded right now, and they’re not exactly playing up to their full potential. They’re bound to drop a couple of games over the coming weeks just because of the fact that they burned out a little, and that’s understandable.

This means FlyQuest actually have a chance, perhaps the biggest one they ever got. So will they win, will they make the best of their opportunity? The odds are definitely stacked against them, that’s for sure. But they definitely have the right tools in order to challenge in the right way. If things go as expected, we should be in for one heck of a skirmish from the very get-go. FlyQuest has definitely been a bit hot and cold over their last four games, but they didn’t do enough to warrant any benefit of the doubt, not yet at least.

This is basically a repeat of their clash back in the Spring Split playoffs. And we all know how that one ended — a quick and dominant showing from Liquid allowed them to demolish FlyQuest in clean 3-0 fashion. Will this game be any different? Odds are: no. But FlyQuestis a resilient bunch. They’re strong, they’re cohesive, they’re a bit crazy, and are unwilling to go down without a fight. So we’re siding with Team Liquid, and that’s perhaps the only logical choice at this point, even though they’re sitting at a rather underwhelming 2W-2L record right now. They want to bounce back, they want to create momentum and they know this is a must win.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.28 (odds @ Betway)

Cloud9 vs. OpTic Gaming — If you thought our last match was exciting, wait until you see this one. A fight between the number one team in the region (if we were to judge solely off of the current standings), and one of the most beloved and celebrated North American teams in history — Cloud9. Now, predicting the outcome of this game is pretty darn hard, and that’s a strange feeling. We’re talking about OpTic Gaming. They’re a gatekeeper at best, and we’re saying this after watching them play for months and months. They had some flashes of brilliance sprinkled over the last year and a half, but as an organization — regardless of the roster they fielded — they never did much to warrant any hype or respect. They were okay. They were serviceable, and in a competitive environment such as the LCS, that just doesn’t cut it any longer.

But 2019 has been telling a different kind of story for the OpTic squad. Now sur,e they had a somewhat easy strength of schedule up to this point, but a win is a win — and they have four to their name right now. That’s two more than Team Solo Mid, two more than Liquid, and one more than Cloud9. Not too shabby for a team that recently ended up just outside the playoff Top 6. They’re playing with confidence, and they’re confused at their success as much as we are. Something changed within their roster and it’s evident in their play as well. They’re still somewhat subdued at times, scared to go for a play out of a fear of failure, but when push comes to shove, they all sync up and do the right thing. That’s, at the very least, a hallmark of a solid playoff contender, and they’ve definitely thrown their name into the mix thanks to their recent level of play.

Cloud9 aren’t much worse, hype-wise. They had a couple of ups, a couple of downs, but as a whole, they’re as strong, capable, and volatile as ever. Perhaps “crazy” is the better word here. Their one loss came against the Golden Guardians, but they were the ones to blame for that defeat — Golden Guardians basically just capitalized seeing how the boys in black and blue imploded at the worst possible moment in the game.

That one game aside, they’ve been on point game after game, and even though they’re not predicted to really challenge Team Liquid’s throne, they will remain a top-tier team for the foreseeable future. Predicting this game is hard, but we simply have to side with Cloud9. There’s no reason not to, even though they haven’t been spotless over the last two weeks. On the other hand, this will give us a better read on OpTic and their innate potential. If they take down Cloud9, then it’s high time to get hyped about their potential. If they fail to do so, however, they’ll drop down into the “mid tier” category where many feel they actually belong.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

Counter Logic Gaming vs. Echo Fox — Yet another exceptionally interesting clash between two teams we simply can’t fully judge right now. Four games is a solid sample size, that’s for sure, but both of these teams showed incredible play, which was often followed by mind-boggling decision-making and shoddy team play. We’ve seen them at their best, but also at their worst. So what gives? They’re still developing synergy and they’re adapting to the current meta. That means they’re more prone to making mistakes than one might think, and it’s showing in their play on the Rift as well.

That said, both of these two teams are exceptional competitors. They have a ton of potential, but it’s hard saying just how strong they’ll eventually be. Between the two of them, Counter Logic Gaming seem to have the edge, and their skill ceiling feels much higher. They’re more versatile, more flexible, and they’re more solid in every facet of play. Their strengths, however, aren’t always on display, but they’re a very serious playoff contender and they’re bound to reach the Top 6 if their continue playing in such fashion.

Echo Fox, on the other hand, are (as expected) far more volatile. They’re a coin toss type of team. When they come to play, when they impose their will, they’re capable of some great things. But the problem is we never really know which Echo Fox will come to play, and how well they’ll start off. And there’s no logic behind it all either. They can lose to the last-ranked team in the region, and then upset Team Liquid a day afterwards.

Right now, even though they’re basically even, we have to side with Counter Logic Gaming. They’re coming in hot after taking down Team Liquid last Sunday, and they’re improving as a five-man unit at a staggering speed. How high they will eventually climb still remains to be seen, but they definitely have the potential to challenge the upper echelon of the LCS.

Winner: Counter Logic Gaming, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

Clutch Gaming vs. Team Solo Mid — Much like the three games preceding it, this one has a metric ton of potential, albeit whether or not it ends up being as exciting still remains to be seen. We’re either in for a hectic clash between ten players who are skirmishing non-stop, or a one-sided beating from Team Solo Mid. Much like Echo Fox and CLG before them, judging these two teams is downright impossible. For every good move they made, there was something highly questionable or just bad following it.

As expected, Team Solo Mid are better across the board. They’re more capable, more synergetic, more talented both individually as well as a five-man unit, and they’ve shown more not just over the last two weeks but last split as well. They’re a behemoth, even though they’re not exactly playing like one right now. They always drafting late game team comps and even though they pull them off more often than not, the deficits they find themselves in eventually become insurmountable. Why do such a thing so early in the split? Are they practicing? Trying something new out? Either way, regardless of the answer, they’re just not as capable on such team comps as they think.

Conversely, Clutch Gaming showed a lot of progress last week as they took down both 100 Thieves (an expected result) as well as the Golden Guardians (an unexpected one). Judging their power level right now is impossible, but we’ve seen flashes of exceptional play. They’re still the crazy, unhinged team we all know, but they’re a bit more cohesive this time around, and they’re playing to their strengths. With a better AD carry in the line-up as well, they’re dangerous across the board. Huni and Damonte are solid laners and team fighters, and when you add all of that up, you get a fairly solid and deceptively strong contender.

So do they stand a chance against Team Solo Mid? Absolutely, although the odds are stacked against them. We’re going with the boys in black and white on this one, although this is a fight that will be waged on a somewhat level playing field. Expect and absolute barnburner with a ton of bloodshed and hectic skirmishing.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 1.35 (odds @ Betway)

100 Thieves vs. Golden Guardians — Closing out the day, we have a clash that is definitely not as exciting as the four games preceding it. Then again, any time 100 Thieves step foot on stage is far from a moment for celebration. This is literally a fight between the worst team in the region and a solid up and coming playoff contender. So, basically, not a lot to talk about. 100 Thieves have slowly shown improvement over the last couple of games but these changes and upgrades are of an incremental nature. They are negligible and minute. Conversely, the Golden Guardians have been playing exceptionally well and are coming in hot after their upset win over Cloud9 last week.

They’re not perfect, they’re often making ludicrous mistakes that simply have no excuse, but they’re still light years ahead of what 100 Thieves bring to the table. They are better individually, but also as a five-man unit. Even if they start the game with a deficit, odds are, they’re going to bounce back and get the job done. With such a stellar carry in the mid lane (Froggen), they’re poised to run over 100 Thieves.

We’re going with the Guardians on this one. There’s simply no reason not to as it’ll surely be a one-sided shellacking.

Winner: Golden Guardians, 1.28 (odds @ Betway)

DAY TWO

OpTic Gaming vs. Team Liquid — An exciting match-up to start the day off. Coming into this week, this seemed like a much more even fight, but after witnessing both teams’ level of play yesterday, it’s downright impossible not to side with the defending champions They were able to outclass FlyQuest in all facets of play, and once they accrued a big enough lead, they were as commanding as possible. It was the kind of showing everyone expected from the champs, and there simply isn’t anything OpTic has to offer right now to make Liquid’s life hard. If they draft well (and ban accordingly), they shouldn’t have a problem in taking OpTic Gaming down. That said, if the boys in green and black step up and impose their playstyle, this could be a pretty even fight.

Winner: Counter Logic Gaming, 1.65 (odds @ Betway)

Echo Fox vs. 100 Thieves — This isn’t exactly the most exciting clash in the world if you’re itching for top-tier play, but it should end up being a fun scrap regardless. 100 Thieves have definitely shown improvement yesterday and even though their play left a lot to be desired they at least made things somewhat competitive. Small, incremental upgrades are the name of the game right now for the former LCS finalists, and they’re definitely showing improvement. Echo Fox, on the other hand, looked really great against Counter Logic Gaming, and even though they eventually failed to get the win, they didn’t lose much stock. Smaller errors are easier to fix, so they should be coming into today’s match looking for redemption. We’re going with Echo Fox on this one, although it might end up being a lot close than most people expect.

Winner: Counter Echo Fox, 1.60 (odds @ Betway)

Team Solo Mid vs. Cloud9 — The most anticipated North American clash. The fight everyone wants to witness. Right now, it’s hard saying which team is better. They’re doing a lot of stuff right, but they’re also rough around the edges. They’re still unknown quantities in the current meta, but it’s important to highlight that Cloud9 definitely showed more every time they stepped foot on the Rift. They have more hype and momentum right now, and the better overall win/loss record as well. They might not be the best team in the region, but they’re darn close. That said, Team Solo Mid definitely has the tools to make this into one heck of a series, so expect and absolute barnburner.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.95 (odds @ Betway)

FlyQuest vs. Clutch Gaming — Following the NA el clasico, we have yet another interesting clash, albeit not as monumental. We have a fight between the Spring Split playoff contenders FlyQuest, and the team that just can’t get “off the ground” — Clutch Gaming. Generally speaking, Clutch Gaming have a better score, but FlyQuest had the hardest schedule out of any team in the region up to this point. They had to fight every single top tier team, and as a result, dropped a couple of games along the way. That was expected, although it’s important to highlight that they don’t really have any momentum at this point. Regardless, they’re a talented bunch with a fair bit of potential. Unlike Clutch, they have an identity for themselves and it’s evident any time they play. Sometimes they don’t really get to show it off against top tier opposition, but this game should be much more one sided than the odds below tell us.

Winner: FlyQuest, 1.80 (odds @ Betway)

Golden Guardians vs. Counter Logic Gaming — Finally, to close out the day, we have a very exciting clash between two playoff contenders. These two teams have shown exceptional growth over the last couple of weeks, and it’s hard saying which one has the edge. Counter Logic Gaming have definitely seemed like the better and more cohesive unit, but also as a more threatening line-up. They have more weapons, and they can play through any of their three main lanes. The Guardians, on the other hand, always rely on Froggen to hard carry, and while he’s often up to the task, there is only so much that a single player can do. This should be an insanely close match, but we have to give the edge over to Counter Logic Gaming. They’ve shown great fortitude in each of their games and they’re a much more layered team at this point. That said, expect fireworks from the very get-go. Neither team will go down without a fight and they’re both willing to skirmish whenever the need arises.

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

CONTINUE READING

LCS 2019 Summer Split — Week 2 Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

June 7th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

The first week of the 2019 LCS Summer Split is behind us, which raises the question — was it any good? Did any of the ten teams improve, did we see anything new? The answer lies somewhere in the middle. There were a lot of positive things, but also many negative ones. The region overall looked good, but it doesn’t feel like it improved much during the off-season. Still, there are many good teams present in North America, and they’re fighting tooth and nail in order to challenge the status quo.

So without any further ado, let’s take a closer look at the second week of competitive LCS play!

DAY ONE

Cloud9 vs. Echo Fox — To open up the day we have a rather exciting clash between the perennial LCS titans Cloud9 and Echo Fox. Now, generally speaking, this clash wouldn’t bring that much entertainment on most occasions, but seeing how both teams played exceptionally well last week, this game has the potential to be the best and most entertaining game of the day.

Cloud9 had a couple of their moments of patented brilliance, but a couple of fumbles as well. All in all, we can fairly summarize their week one performance as “commendable”, considering that they were probably going through initial stage jitters after being away from the LCS stage a while. Most importantly, we saw them in their best form — aggressive and in sync. This was the Cloud9 everyone expected, and even though their execution wasn’t spotless, they were still more than able to get the job done and end the week with two wins to their name.

Echo Fox, on the other hand, are entering the second week of competitive play with a fair bit of hype and momentum, and that’s mainly because they were able to take down Team Liquid. And it wasn’t just a flash in the pan either — they outclassed Liquid on all fronts. Now, Liquid made numerous egregious errors, they lost the game by themselves basically, but Echo Fox did everything they had to in order to get the win, and they were pretty much spotless in their play.

Echo Fox’s aggression, even though unhinged and unfiltered in nature, is always somewhat calculated and under control. They know what they’re doing, and they’re always ready to take momentous risks regardless of the state of the game. To the untrained eye, this can look like absolute chaos, but they revel in it, and they know their way around a hectic five-on-five team fight.

We’re going with Cloud9 on this one, but this is far from a one-sided match. Echo Fox have supposedly been dominating in scrims over the last couple of weeks, which means their win over Liquid might have not been a fluke, but rather an indication of their new-found strength. Regardless, we simply have to give Cloud9 the benefit of the doubt. They might not be particularly clean or dominant, but they should be able to get the job done.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.25 (odds @ Betway)

Team Liquid vs. 100 Thieves — A fight between the reigning champions and the worst team in the region. There’s really not much that one can say about the game at hand. If anything, Liquid are entering week two off of a loss to Echo Fox, and they’re surely hell-bent on revenge. You can expect a quick and one-sided shellacking in the favor of the defending champs.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.18 (odds @ Betway)

Team Solo Mid vs. FlyQuest — This is where things get a lot more interesting. By all accounts, the boys in black and white have the edge across the board, but seeing how both teams entered the Summer Split in a somewhat weakened state, this battle should be on a much more level playing field. Team Solo Mid were outclassed by Team Liquid on the first day of competition, but were able to bounce back with a solid showing against their perennial adversaries Counter Logic Gaming.

Now, the fact that they weren’t as aggressive or cohesive in their first week of play shouldn’t deter you from boarding the TSM hype train. Even though they might need a bit of time in order to ramp up, they’re still one of the most stacked and talented teams that North America has to offer.

FlyQuest, on the other hand, looked nothing like their Spring Split selves. They were passive, unwilling to throw down when it mattered the most, and were out of sync as a five-man unit. Perhaps most surprisingly, their team fighting was nowhere near as potent and strong as it once was. Whether this was just a slow start or a sign of their upcoming decline still remains to be seen, but they’re entering this week without any hype or momentum.

To add insult to injury, they’re in a three-way tie with the likes of Clutch Gaming and 100 Thieves — two teams that ended last split in ninth and tenth place, respectively. That doesn’t mean they won’t be able to pick up the pace, but they’re currently not seen as a solid contender. We need to see more from them on the Summoner’s Rift before giving them our benefit of the doubt.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 1.28 (odds @ Betway)

Optic Gaming vs. Counter Logic Gaming — Next up we have yet another exciting clash between two mid-tier teams. This will be a must-watch game for many fans of the LCS because it will give us a better look into two teams that are trying their best in order to become bona fide contenders. They both showcased a lot of positive growth and potential last week and they’re looking to continue building on their most recent success.

Counter Logic Gaming were, however, a bit more cohesive, and they were quicker to snowball their leads. They didn’t lose a lot of time when they saw an opening, whereas OpTic basically played two of the strangest games possible. They were a lot more passive and reactive — almost scared to make a play in fear from failing. That’s quite a big difference between them, and it will heavily impact their play this week as well.

In the end, we have to side with Counter Logic Gaming. They should have an edge in almost every single lane, and they’re much stronger in the early and mid stages of the game. That said, this will probably be an insanely close game that will be decided by the slimmest of margins.

Winner: Counter Logic Gaming, 1.90 (odds @ Betway)

Clutch Gaming vs. Golden Guardians — To close out the day, we have a pretty interesting clash, although it’s far from a must watch. It is a fight between a bottom-tier team and a solid gatekeeper that’s looking to solidify its contender status. Either way, both of them have something to prove. Clutch Gaming wants to leave the bottom of the standings and actually register a win after their abysmal showing last week, whereas the Golden Guardians want to continue building on their stellar 2-0 record and prove to the world that they not only belong in the upper echelon of the LCS, but that they also have the tools which are necessary in order to upset the status quo.

While this might not look like a spectacular clash, make no mistake — both teams love to skirmish and they’re not the ones to shy away from a good old fashioned fiesta. Clutch wants to bring the fight down to their level and they have the right players in order to make this into one heck of a game. That said, the Guardians have shown more than enough last week in order to earn our trust, so we’re siding with them. They’re a team on a mission and they’re wasting no time whatsoever. They know every win counts and they’re making the right improvements in order to not only end up in the playoffs but also challenge the three LCS giants at the top — Team Liquid, Team Solo Mid, and Cloud9.

Winner: Golden Guardians, 1.50 (odds @ Betway)

DAY TWO

Counter Logic Gaming vs. Team Liquid — For our first match of the day, we have a pretty exciting clash between the defending champions Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming. Now, while the odds are heavily stacked in Liquid’s favor, that doesn’t mean CLG doesn’t have the tools in order to bring the fight to the defending champs. This will surely be a hectic affair with a ton of action, especially if CLG come out the gates swinging.

While it’s still too early to give out a concrete verdict on either team, we simply have to side with Liquid. Even though they needed a bit of time before ramping up after their most recent Mid-Season Invitational success, they’re still the best team in the region and should be given the benefit of the doubt regardless of opponent.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.20 (odds @ Betway)

100 Thieves vs. Clutch Gaming — Next up, we have a clash between two of the worst teams in the region — statistically speaking. They’re currently regarded as two bottom-tier teams but they do have some potential overall. Clutch Gaming is entering today’s clash with a fair bit of hype after their one-sided shellacking of the Golden Guardians, and if they play the way they can (and draft a one-dimensional team comp which they can execute to a tee), they should be able to dispose of 100 Thieves with relative ease.

While it surely won’t be a clean or one-sided performance, we simply have to side with Clutch on this one. Until 100 Thieves do something worthwhile on the Summoner’s Rift, they’re going to be regarded as the worst team in North America, and with good reason.

Winner: Clutch Gaming, 1.75 (odds @ Betway)

Echo Fox vs. Team Solo Mid — A rematch of the 2019 Spring Split playoff quarterfinals. A clash between the perennial North American titans TSM and the definition of a volatile dark horse Echo Fox. An exciting clash, without a doubt. Predicting the outcome of this one game is particularly troubling seeing how both teams currently have huge ups and downs.

TSM has a confusing tendency to draft late game-oriented team comps with Sona and Taric, but things just aren’t going in their favor. They often find themselves in such a big deficit early on that they simply don’t have the ability to turn things around even when they do attain all of their items. Echo Fox, on the other hand, are as inconsistent as ever. They’ll have one abysmal game and then improve over night and dominate the very next day. Whether or not it’ll happen today as well remains to be seen.

Either way, regardless of the final outcome, this game will be a good indicator on just how strong both teams are. We’re going with Team Solo Mid on this one because they already know how to take Echo Fox down, and if they play as well as they can they should have no trouble in emerging victorious.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 1.22 (odds @ Betway)

Golden Guardians vs. Cloud9 — For our fourth game of the day, we have an exciting clash between two former playoff teams: Cloud9 and the Golden Guardians. Even though the Guardians quickly emerged as a solid contender, we simply have to go with Cloud9 on this one. They’ve been more consistent throughout 2019, and they’ve shown exceptional synergy and cohesion every time they stepped foot on the Summoner’s Rift. While this might not be the cleanest game of the day, the boys in black and blue should be able to get the win.

They simply have too many tools at their disposal in order to drop a game to the Guardians at this point.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.32 (odds @ Betway)

FlyQuest vs. OpTic Gaming — Who would’ve thought that a clash between FlyQuest and OpTic Gaming would be considered as a “must watch” clash? OpTic have quickly solidified themselves as a bona fide contender with their stellar 3-0 record, and if they have a repeat performance and take down FlyQuest, we simply have to consider them a playoff-worthy team at this point.

Their play still isn’t that clean and they’re rough around the edges, but they’re playing more and more like a cohesive five-man unit, and it’s quite a treat from a spectator’s standpoint. They will surely run into trouble once they clash against the upper echelon of the LCS, but anyone not located in the Top 3 should be beatable at this point. That said, FlyQuest are far from a bad team, and they’ve shown signs of life in yesterday’s game against Team Solo Mid. It feels like they’re more and more dependent on V1per and his stellar playmaking (which is far from a bad thing), so expect them to not only draft in his favor but to also prioritize the top side of the map.

Either way, this is surely going to be one heck of a game. We’re siding with OpTic Gaming, at least ever so slightly. They’ve shown a better understanding of the current meta, and they’ve all been performing incredibly well on an individual level. That said, expect fireworks from the very get-go.

Winner: OpTic Gaming, 1.95 (odds @ Betway)

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2019 Mid-Season Invitational Knockout Stage – Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

May 16th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

After a couple of days filled with exquisite League of Legends, we have finally reached the Knockout Stage. This is, by all means, the best and most entertaining moment of the tournament. While Best of 1s do bring out the volatility out of all competing teams, nothing beats a good ol’ Best of 5. This is the moment when all the best League of Legends tends to happen. The exceptional one-sided shellackings, the brutal and exhausting five-game wars, as well as the exciting reverse sweeps.

When two teams of seemingly equal strength collide, the viewers tend to win out the most. We get to watch two titans clash; two giants of incredible force and talent. They go back-and-forth and absolute chaos tends to ensue. This time around, we’re not exactly getting the two best teams in the world, but we’re getting the next best thing — a fight between the defending World Champions and a team that’s brimming with potential: the North American champions.

Now, if you’ve been following both regions over the last couple of months, you’re probably aware of the fact that Team Liquid basically don’t stand a chance. That’s not exactly a scientific prediction, but it is one that’s made out of common sense. It is grounded in reality and based on empirical evidence. Everything that we’ve seen so far, everything that has transpired over the course of the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational, leads us to believe (with good reason) that Invictus Gaming are the heavy favorites coming into this Knockout Stage Best of 5.

Perhaps that’s even an understatement. They’re the Goliath in this scenario, but they plan on rewriting the biblical story.

Invictus Gaming is, for a lack of a better word, an absolute titan. They’re the best team in the world, and their last games gave us an even deeper insight into their innate strengths and weaknesses.

We’ve seen an aggressive, highly cohesive, unrelenting Invictus Gaming. A team that is basically without equal in the current meta. We’ve seen their split-second decision-making as well as immense talent across the board. They’re exceptional in every regard. We’ve also seen the playful Invictus Gaming — a team that’s willing to ignore good reason and just fight willy-nilly regardless of the opponent. They’re a League of Legends giant, but even giants want to have fun sometimes.

These moments shouldn’t be deemed as a “weakness”, but rather just another layer that makes them who they are. They can experiment to their heart’s content and still turn things around the clutch out the game.

They have multiple playstyles and they’re dominant and exceptional regardless of the path they opt for.

Their only recent blemish was a rather one-sided loss to SKT T1 in the last game of the Group Stage. That is the aspect that makes predicting their full strength a rather complicated endeavor.

Then again, they’re not going up against SKT T1. At least not tomorrow. Instead, they have a team that’s far less capable and layered.

The North American champions are a great team — there’s no way around it. They have two World Champions within their starting line-up, and some of the best and most talented players that the region has to offer.

And yet they are nowhere near as flexible or as capable as most of their peers. They’re, in fact, rather one-dimensional, and their avenues towards success are also fairly limited. They can all chime in a carry a bit of the weight, but when push comes to shove, they always rely on Doublelift to do the hard carrying. And that’s perfectly fine overall — he is a spectacular clutch AD carry after all. But against team that are as capable and as flexible as Invictus Gaming, SKT T1, and G2 Esports, that’s just not enough. They need to diversify their arsenal, and even if they are working on their biggest flaw they definitely don’t have enough time in order to challenge a team of Invictus’ caliber.

Anything they might come up with, Invictus will definitely have an answer. There’s a very palpable limit to how crazy and creative Liquid can be. They never shocked anyone with their flexibility — they focus on what they did best, perfected those singular aspects of play, and always played to their strengths. That was more than enough on home soil (they’ve just stringed three championships after all), but when it comes to the international stage, that’s just inadequate.

They did, however, start improving as the tournament went on, so they could, in theory, be able to trade blows with the LPL champions, but once the dust settles they shouldn’t be capable of doing much against Invictus. They simply don’t have the right tools in order to win. Not yet, at least.

We’re going with the LPL titans on this one. How could we not, after all that they’ve done and the immense skill which they’ve displayed? While they should be able to get the win, Liquid could, in theory, be able to make things somewhat competitive. Obviously that’s a bit of a stretch, but it could happen. Either way, this could be a Best of 5 for the ages.

Winner: Invictus Gaming, 1.01 (odds @ Betway)

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2019 LCS Spring Split Finals – Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

April 13th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

After eleven weeks of top-tier play, we have finally come to the 2019 LCS Spring Split conclusion. The road towards this point was long and filled with top-tier play, but also a fair number of mind-boggling fiestas and throws.

In the end, we’ll witness the absolute best and most hype final match-up possible – Team Solo Mid vs. Team Liquid.

This is a Best of 5 for the ages. It’s hard to really emphasize how incredible this series will be, and it’s not even an optimistic stretch – both these titans have what it takes in order to win and dominate on home soil for years to come. They’re frighteningly capable, mechanically talented, and shockingly experienced. They’ve all played on the biggest of stages and their mental fortitude is second to none.

How could this not be one of the best LCS finals in history?

But before delving deeper into how both teams stack against each other, let’s take a closer look at how they got here.

Team Solo Mid are entering this clash as the favorites – although that might not be evident if you take a look at the betting odds. They’re 2-0 in their head to head record against Liquid, and have shown no signs of stopping (nor any glaring weakness) throughout the last couple of weeks. They’ve been mopping the floor with their opposition, and have looked downright spectacular in the process as well.

They’re exceptional in the early game but also potent and capable once the mid and later stages of the game come around. Perhaps most importantly, they’re fantastic on a multitude of different team comps and strategies. They have three lanes through which they can play and attain success. An exceptional top laner in Broken Blade who can dominate and carry his share of the weight on a wide variety of champions, the greatest mid laner that has ever graced the LCS stage in Bjergsen, and a fantastic bottom lane duo that can go blow-for-blow with anyone in the region.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was just how quickly their jungler Akaadian adapted and made a name for himself. His aggressive playstyle was exactly what Team Solo Mid needed, and he unlocked TSM in more ways than one. They’re a lot faster in all stages of the game, a lot more aggressive, they’re snowballing their leads and are commanding when they impose their own will.

By all means, they are the best and most capable team that North America has to offer, although it’s important to highlight that a good portion of that statement comes due to the sheer amount of their momentum. Regardless of the challenge presented, they have always passed with flying colors. They endured every onslaught and have emerged victoriously time after time. No matter the meta or the opponent, they have what it takes in order to play at the highest possible level, and they legitimately have a chance to make a mark on the international stage in 2019.

And if there’s one thing that their recent Best of 5 semifinal clash against Cloud9 highlighted, it is the fact that they have mental fortitude and resilience in spades. How does one approach the TSM puzzle? If you can’t outclass them early, and you can’t out team fight them in the late game, what’s your avenue towards victory? Even if things go awry and they don’t impose their playstyle from the very get-go, they’re still exceptionally resilient and have a ton of grit. They won’t go down without a fight, and they will only lose once their Nexus explodes three times – not a second earlier.

But praising Team Solo Mid is easy – after all, they deserve it fully. Their opponents, however, are far from meek or negligible. They’re titans in their own right. While their level of play did leave a lot to be desired near the end of the regular portion of the split, they have managed to bounce back in spectacular fashion and completely outclass and decimate FlyQuest in clean 3-0 fashion just a week ago.

They needed just a single game in order to figure their opponents out, and once that happened, they were able to kick things into overdrive and demolish FlyQuest towards a spectacular 3-0 finish.

Team Liquid, however, is somewhat one-dimensional. Think of them as the North American Fnatic. Exceptional in a lot of facets of play, but also incredibly easy to read. Then again, reading them is one thing – countering what they do and how they do it is a completely different matter. A team has to be downright spectacular (not to mention confident and mechanically gifted) in order to take them down, but at this level of play those virtues are not as rare as one might think.

If Liquid imposes their will they’re a frightening team, but they mostly just play through Doublelift. If they’re unable to do so, they don’t have a backup plan. Sure, they have Jensen within their ranks – a legendary mid laner by all metrics – but they haven’t been playing through the mid lane in quite a long while. Why they choose to do so is unknown, especially considering the fact that Jensen’s been dominating ever since he joined Cloud9 a couple of years ago.

Not to mention the fact that Bjergsen has been able to – at the very least – match Jensen’s impact and team fight prowess over the years. He’s a much more impactful mid laner right now and has been playing more champions than his counterpart. Whatever Liquid comes out with, TSM should be able to counter. While they might not exactly outclass their opponents, they should be more than capable at getting three wins in a Best of 5 that’s has so much promise.

This series is so darn exciting because it could, in theory, go either way, and yet Team Solo Mid has more tools to work with. They’re much more flexible and they have a chip on their shoulder after dropping the ball in 2018. They’re entering the finals with a ton of momentum and are more than capable of making their dream a reality. They took out Echo Fox, they came back and reverse swept Cloud9, and have even beaten Liquid both times in the Spring Split.

There’s no real challenge at this point – they only have to come out and play as well as they can, and the LCS trophy will be theirs.

The odds are against Team Solo Mid, and there’s no logical reason for it. They’re a stylistic nightmare for Team Liquid and should be more than capable at taking the reigning champions down. The odds are simply too good not to go all-in with the most decorated and respected organization in North America’s history. While it’s not going to be easy or one-sided, Team Solo Mid should be able to get the job done.

There was just a single question mark coming into the playoffs – will they be able to bounce back from a deficit? Do they have enough mental fortitude and grit to claw their way back towards a victory? Fortunately, their incredible reverse sweep against the favorites Cloud9 proved their worth and stellar mental game. To get back into the series and win the whole thing after being down 0-2 and after getting smacked around is worthy of the highest praise.

Liquid definitely have the tools to make this into a highly competitive Best of 5 clash, but they’re going to face their toughest challenge yet – a game Team Solo Mid. While they could take a game or perhaps even two, they shouldn’t be able to defend their throne.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 2.75 (odds @ Betway)

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LCS 2019 Spring Split — Semifinals Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

April 6th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

There are only three Best of 5 left to be played before we see an LCS champion crowned. That’s incredibly exciting, regardless of your allegiance! In the end, we have four exceptional teams looking to make a name for themselves, and they’re all entering the semifinals with different amounts of hype and momentum. Each team carries a different narrative this time around, and who’s going to come out on top is still completely up in the air.

But how so? Shouldn’t anyone be extremely favored? Should Team Liquid be the favorites to win the whole thing? Long story short — no. And that is the main reason why the current Spring Split is so darn exciting and invigorating. We haven’t seen such a ferocious fight at the top of the region for quite a long while. The North American LCS was always a top-heavy region, but the gap between the top teams this year narrowed. Now it’s a somewhat level playing field. Anyone can win, depending on how well they play on the day, and how fast they are when it comes to imposing their own will and playstyle.

We really will witness four exceptional teams duke it out on the Rift, and you do not want to miss either Best of 5. No, really. This is as good as it gets, and we should be in for a couple of insane games. These four teams are deceptively strong and close in regards to overall strength and potential, and each series could potentially go the five-game distance. In that scenario, the viewers win out the most.

All four competitors want to play League of Legends in a slightly different way. Team Liquid are the “by the book” kind of team — they want to win through stellar macro, objective control, and eventually snowball their leads into a commanding late game when they would out-team fight their opponents. That’s a great style overall, but it’s also fairly one-dimensional in a meta that favors a bit of craziness. They can only play a singular style, and when that fails to do the trick, they don’t have anything to fall back on. They haven’t diversified their arsenal over the course of the Spring Split, and in the competitive LCS landscape that’s a problem. They’re the defending champions and they have a target on their back, but they’ve been somewhat complacent, and it’s showing in their play on the Rift as well.

If they get out the gates swinging, they’re often impossible to take down — but they don’t always manage to impose their own will. They’re playing almost exclusively through the bottom lane and that definitely isn’t the best and most optimal way to play the game right now.

Then you have Cloud9 — a team that has lost very little strength even though they no longer have a behemoth in the mid lane. They’re basically just as strong, just as capable and unhinged as they always were. You never know what you’re going to get when Cloud9 come out to play, and that’s a good part of the reason why their games are always a must watch. They can go out, experiment, get outclassed and still come back the next game and dominate. They’re extremely flexible, with some amazing, top-notch players in each and every position. Finally, their team fighting is spectacular, regardless of the way you look at it. They’re playing like they’re ahead even when that’s not the case, and you can be sure they lost only when their Nexus explodes — not a second earlier. They’re a team filled with fortitude and grit, they have multiple veterans, and they fight each and every second of the game. This is exactly what allowed them to dominate on the World’s stage last year and they currently show no signs of stopping or regressing to a prior form.

Then there’s the boys in black and white, the perennial LCS titans — Team Solo Mid. One can argue that they have the biggest chance of winning the whole Split, and even though a good chunk of that aura comes from their recent win streak, they’re actually doing their part of the work and have looked downright spectacular over the last month or so. They have threats in every single lane and each of their players are spectacular in every regard. They’re also deceptively flexible and have been finding success with a wide variety of team comps and strategies throughout the Spring Split. They’re phenomenal and the fact that they’ve been playing for so little and have still attained so much success is worthy of the highest praise. They’re definitely the favorites right now, but they have arguably the toughest test in front of them — Cloud9. But more on that later.

Finally, FlyQuest are perhaps the weakest of the bunch, but they’re far from actually being weak. They’re also somewhat one-dimensional like Team Liquid, but they’re a lot more adept at the current meta than their opponents. They have more threats in every lane, and have looked more aggressive, proactive, and quite frankly dangerous than many give them credit for. They’re not the kind of team that surrenders when behind, and they fight for every nook and cranny on the Summoner’s Rift. They’re a tough nut to crack for any opponent, and are looking to create an upset for the ages come Sunday.

Lastly, all four teams pose different kinds of threats. They want to play League of Legends differently and attain success through different means. Which play style is better remains to be seen, but the odds are stacked in Team Solo Mid and Cloud9’s favor.

With all that said, let’s focus on the two upcoming semifinal matches:

Team Solo Mid vs. Cloud9

What can one say about a TSM vs. C9 clash? We have seen so many over the years and they never fail to deliver. This one, as expected, should be no different. To make matters even more exciting, these two organizations are fielding two rosters that are downright exceptional. They might not be perfect in their play, they might not be on the same page at any given moment, but the sheer amount of mechanical talent and in-depth knowledge of the game is seismic. Both these teams have what it takes to reign over North America as the LCS champions, and yet there can be only one. This time around, it is a clash between the number two and three teams in the region, respectively.

Whenever these two giants clash, fireworks are almost always guaranteed. They can prepare all they want, but once they step foot on the Summoner’s Rift and see each other, it is as if they go completely insane and just skirmish non-stop. That’s great — for the viewers — but when betting on either team, this fact makes things incredibly difficult. What can happen this time around? No one knows for sure, but high octane top-tier play is almost a given. Both teams have incredibly deep champion pools, and they’ve shown fantastic proficiency at a wide variety of team comps and strategies. They have insane early games, they can kick things up a notch and start dominating in the mid game, but they’re also behemoths once the late game comes around. Their team fighting are second to none.

And it isn’t dependent on their leads either. Both teams ignore the gold tally and just fight like they’re winning regardless of the score. This readiness to skirmish when ever and where ever allows them to turn things around even when they’re playing from a deficit. They don’t acknowledge it, and by proxy start making the right moves around the map and eventually even things out.

To make matters even more interesting, both rosters have some of the best players not just in the region but in the world as well. Both teams have exceptional top laners that can shine and hard carry on bruisers and tanks alike, aggressive playmaking junglers that are known for their mechanical prowess and early game impact, highly talented mid laners that can go for assassins and mages much like utility picks like Zilean and Galio, and highly talented bottom lane duos that are among the best in the entire region.

No one really has an edge either way, and even though you can chalk up a point for TSM since Bjergsen is the more seasoned and mechanically dominant player, Nisqy manages to even things out when the mid and late game team fighting comes around. Cloud9 always want to skirmish, whereas Team Solo Mid wants to do the same but on their own accord. When they have a lead, and when they know what they’re up against, that is the moment when they want to strike and deal the coup de grâce.

In many ways, this is an impossible clash to predict. Both these teams had their incredible ups and downs throughout the Spring Split, and they both have pretty different ways of playing the game. Saying that one style is better or more suited to the meta than the other is impossible at this point in time. Cloud9 do, however, have a 2-0 score in their head-to-head tally with Team Solo Mid, but in the grand scheme of things that holds little to no impact right now.

We have to pick a side, and we simply have to go with Team Solo Mid — although this is far, far from a one-sided affair. Both teams have the tools to make this into an insanely close Best of 5, and it’ll be decided by the slimmest of margins. Cloud9 have shown more tenacity and flexibility over the last year and a half, and they made just a single change to their line-up from 2018, so they should be able to whether the storm if things go awry in the beginning. Then again, TSM has shown so much proficiency in the current meta that it’s impossible to bet against them right now. They also played a Best of 5 before this one so they’re more relaxed, and they won’t need as much time in order to acclimate to the LCS stage as their adversaries might.

Cloud9 are definitely the safer choice here, but the boys in black and white definitely have a big chance to upset and reach the 2019 Spring Split finals.

Winner: Team Solo Mid, 1.80 (odds @ Betway)

FlyQuest vs. Team Liquid

After the TSM vs. Cloud9 semifinal match-up, this one doesn’t seem overly engaging — at least not on first glance. But this match-up has just as much potential for back-and-forth action. Unlike the one preceding it, it doesn’t exactly warrant non-stop action — and that isn’t a bad thing per se. Why it is interesting, however, is the fact that FlyQuest actually have a chance. There’s a ton of pressure mounting for Team Liquid, that’s just a fact. They’re not only the defending champions, but they haven’t looked as good near the end of the split as one might expect.

In fact, they looked pretty meek and average. For a team with so much inherent talent, that’s downright unacceptable. Their arsenal is pretty limited, and it shows in their play as well. And even though we haven’t seen them on the Summoner’s Rift in quite some time now, we doubt they diversified their playstyle by a considerable amount. They’ve surely fixed a lot of their early game problems, but whether or not that’ll be enough still remains to be seen.

FlyQuest, on the other hand are entering this semifinal clash after a spectacular five-game series over the Golden Guardians, and are looking to pull off an upset for the ages. They have multiple threats and have been underestimated throughout the entire split. They might not be perfect, but they’re deceptively strong once the mid and later stages of the game come around. Their early game isn’t exactly spectacular, but they mostly lose if they get overwhelmed early on. Seeing how Liquid likes to do things “by the book,” FlyQuest have a solid puncher’s chance.

All that said, we have to side with Team Liquid on this one, but if you’re in the mood for betting on the underdog, now could be a good time to do so. Obviously, the odds are heavily stacked against FlyQuest, but they really do have a chance to upset. It’s important to highlight that a lot has to go in their favor in order for them to win, but at least there’s a chance. Regardless of the final outcome, this Best of 5 will surely be a lot closer than most people expect.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.07 (odds @ Betway)

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