2019 LEC Summer Split Gauntlet Round 3 — Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

September 15th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

Finally, for our third Best of 5 in a row — and also the series that will not only close out the regional qualifier but also the regular portion of the season — we have a rather exciting clash between Splyce and the former “kings of Europe”. This is, by all means, the most exciting and best way to end the season, and if everything goes “according to plan”, we should be in for one heck of a match.

First of all, it’s important to highlight that there’s very little on the line this time around. Both teams have locked in their spots for the upcoming World Championship, and they’re basically just fighting in order to see who’s going as the second, and who as the third seed. Now, generally speaking, getting that second seed is always preferable, seeing how you’re immediately guaranteed a spot in the Group Stage. The third seed, however, will have to go through the Play-In stage which, to be fair, isn’t as dramatic as it sounds. G2 Esports and Cloud9 had to go through the Play-In stage last year and yet they both finished in the Top 4 once all was said and done.

Being the third seed is not indicative of a team’s actual strength, and it can even be a positive thing as they actually get on stage and acclimate before anyone else.

Regardless, both competitors are going to represent Europe at the biggest of stages come October, and we cannot wait to see them in action.

Because they already attained a bunch of success just by qualifying, they’re surely going to play without pressure, and that’s always a positive thing. They’re going to step foot on stage and test their might against a challenger of seemingly equal strength. But before we delve deeper into the match-up at hand and how it might develop, let’s take a closer look at where each team is at right now and how they got to this point.

For Fnatic, the 2019 season can only be deemed as a resounding success. Now sure, they failed to dethrone G2 Esports, but that’s also understandable. After all, G2 is the most stacked, capable and flexible team Europe ever fostered. Anyone who faces them will automatically be considered as a heavy underdog.

Fnatic lost one of their most important players and yet they still found a way to persevere, to thrive in such a hyper-competitive environment and meet their perennial adversaries in the finals. Heck, they nearly won. That would’ve been a shocker. They went blow for blow with the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational champions; they nearly ended G2’s regional reign. That’s an accomplishment worthy of the highest achievement, and they did so after a pretty tumultuous and inconsistent regular season.

They lost the best and most accomplished European mid laner in history and yet still found a ton of success. That’s a hallmark of a truly great team, and of an equally capable coaching staff. Fnatic had to rebuild from the ground up — more psychologically and style-wise than literally.

Their two recent Best of 5s against G2 Esports left no one indifferent. It was the moment when Fnatic proved that they still belong at the very top of the region and that if G2 Esports wasn’t as staggeringly flexible and stacked as they are, Fnatic would be right next in line for the LEC throne. While their recent losses to G2 did feel somewhat bittersweet and heart-breaking, they were formative experiences and they will surely fuel the former LEC champions for months to come.

Perhaps most importantly, they showcased that they are not as one-dimensional as everyone previously thought. They’re still not a flexible behemoth — not even close, but at least they have deep enough champion pools to actually contest in a Best of 5 against a team of G2 Esports’ caliber.

And the man who filled the void created by Caps’ absence — Nemesis — did far better than anyone expected. He even solo killed the guy he replaced with relative ease, one might add. All in all, Fnatic stand shoulder to shoulder with the best European team in history, and that’s downright spectacular. The sheer fact that Europe will have two such challengers on the Worlds stage is more than enough reason to get excited beyond measure.

Splyce, on the other hand, are a mixed bag right. If you’ve been following their 2019 run, you’d know perfectly well what that means. One day they’ll struggle to execute even the most basic of strategies and team comps. Another, they will blow your mind with their split-second engages, spectacular team fighting and sheer bravado. That’s just the Splyce way of doing things, and that’s why we love them.

That said, their inherent inconsistency is oftentimes worrying. When they’re at the top of their game, when they draft well and when they start off on the right foot, they’re fantastic. But that’s not always the case. In fact, as the season progressed, their bad days were far more frequent. You never know what would happen, and whether or not it would impede their chances of attaining success.

The fact that they had multiple avenues for success — top, mid and bottom lane — meant they were no longer a one-dimensional team. They could win through Vizicsacsi, Humanoid or Kobbe, and how they went about their ways didn’t really matter. What did, however, is the fact that they were competitive from the very get-go, and didn’t need to wait for the late game and a Hail Mary team fight that would swing the game in their favor.

This fascinating mix of players also performed much better than most expected, and they found an identity to call their own. They were proactive, and their patented aggression came in handy on more than one occasion. Their mid laner Humanoid quickly became one of the best mid laners in the region — when he got his hands on a hard carry pick like Akali or Qiyana, and their jungler Xerxe (of Unicorns of Love fame) also (low-key) solidified his spot as a top-tier jungling behemoth.

And for a good couple of weeks, they didn’t even rely on their AD carry to do the heavy lifting. Kobbe, who became known as a late game insurance kind of player, rarely had to do much, seeing how his teammates shared the burden. He couldn’t even flex his late game team fighting prowess because Splyce won a lot earlier than anyone expected.

Until last night, that is. His stellar play was the last nail in the coffin for Schalke 04. But he didn’t win alone, nor did he exactly carry Splyce over the finish line. Once again, everyone played their part. Vizicsacsi’s incredible Gankplank pick absorbed a ton of pressure and created absolute chaos once the late game came around, Xerxe’s early pathing and impact completely outclassed Trick, and Humanoid… Well, Humanoid did Humanoid things, depending on the pick.

It was an absolute shellacking, a masterclass in every regard — but it was also a picture perfect scenario. Schalke imploded in every conceivable way. They didn’t draft well (taking Karma for Odoamne two times in a row is basically a self-inflicted death sentence), they left Gankplank open three times in a row, they didn’t prioritize Aatrox, and they had free reign from the very get go. Any other team would’ve adapted. It’s not that hard, really, and yet Schalke failed to change even a single thing.

As a result, Splyce basically employed similar methods three games in a row and won with relative ease. To their credit, we saw a night and day difference when compared to their previous series against Origen, and it’s obvious that they attained a ton of confidence over night. They were proactive, they were the ones dictating the pace of the game and they were unwilling to give Schalke much room to breathe or focus. They knew they had to overwhelm their opponents, and they did a stellar job in doing so.

That said, they’re not going to have such a field day against a team like Fnatic, that’s for sure. Fnatic are much more flexible, and they share much of the same champion pools. They’re also far more aggressive and in sync when compared to Schalke. It’s not even a close match, frankly.

The Splyce boys are going to have to play their best League of Legends in order to stand a chance, and even then it’s probably not going to be enough. Fnatic are simply too good at this point in time, too synergistic and too capable in order to lose today. That said, the Splyce five-man unit is no pushover, that’s for sure. They were “supposed” to lose against Schalke — all signs were pointing to such a conclusion, and yet they took control of their fate and for the second time ever (as an organization) secured a ticket to the World Championship. A seismic achievement in every regard.

So this probably won’t be a clean 3-0 in favor of Fnatic (although that’s always a possibility). Splyce is going fight to the best of their ability and they’re going to do so without any pressure to perform. They’ve already accomplished what they set out to do, and anything they attain beyond this point is extra. They want to see just how well they can play against a team of Fnatic’s caliber when there’s nothing on the line, and even if they lose in one-sided fashion they’ll still be able to learn something from it. As far as Splyce is concerned, there’s nothing to lose in today’s Best of 5.

Regardless of how things eventually resolve, we should be in for one hectic, skirmish-heavy series.

Winner: Fnatic, 1.15 (odds @ Betway)

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2019 LEC Summer Split Gauntlet Round 1 — Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

September 13th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

As far as regional qualifier openers go, this is a great one. That’s for sure.

Then again, it feels like it could have been considerably better, hype-wise. These two teams are European giants, and yet it feels like they’re somewhat past their prime. Maybe that’s even an understatement. And although we saw short glimpses of their innate potential, they failed to step up when it mattered the most; they failed to play their best when the pressure was mounting. That said, their failures are completely different, and the same goes for their avenues for success.

Splyce definitely diversified their arsenal coming into Summer, and it showed on the Rift almost immediately. They were strong from the very get-go — no long did they await the later stages of the game in an attempt to turn the tides. Instead, they were the ones that were dictating the tempo; they were the ones who imposed their will whenever they saw fit. Such dominant play, paired with their patented team fighting, allowed them to climb the ranks with staggering speed. Once all was said and done, they were neck and neck with Fnatic, and were fighting for a playoff bye. Now, whenever you’re competing with the former “kings of Europe”, there’s a reason to celebrate. They became a member of an elite club, and their incredible resurgence was spearheaded by none other than their own mid laner Humanoid.

Once he signed for Splyce in Spring he wasn’t exactly a top-tier competitor. He did, however, have short bursts of excellence, but they simply didn’t happen often enough to actually warrant any hype or momentum. His level of play in Summer, however, was a completely different story. Humanoid was, by all means, a Top 3 mid laner, and that’s saying something when you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Caps and company. He’s still a bit rough around the edges, but give him a pick that can hard carry and he’ll do the rest. When he was at the top of his game he’s really a force to be reckoned with.

And even though the meta remained the same, Splyce started faltering. There wasn’t any obvious reason as to why that was happening, but week after week they were less and less dangerous. Then again, they were always prone of having dips in performance, so we just thought this was “one of those days”. But they never got back to where they once were; things simply didn’t “click”. After they got outclassed by Rogue it was hard saying whether they lost to a competitor much more capable than themselves, or if they imploded and simply couldn’t mount an offensive. Be as it may, they’re not entering this clash with a lot of hype. Not in the slightest.

They’re no longer getting our full benefit of the doubt, which makes things incredibly complicated betting-wise. We haven’t seen them in action since their 0-3 loss on August 23rd, which means they had more than enough time to get on the same page, fix their issues and enter the gauntlet as a highly competitive, well-rounded contender. But did they iron their kinks out? There are so many question marks this time around.

Despite their inherent inconsistencies, they’re still miles ahead of Origen, that’s for sure. The Spring Split finalists imploded to a staggering degree. Even though they remained somewhat competitive throughout the regular portion of the split, they never reached their former heights. Not even close. They were as inconsistent as humanly possible and their level of play was a far cry from Spring.

In the end, they were unable to climb higher than eighth place. From second in Spring, from a top-tier contender challenging for the LEC throne, to a bottom-tier dweller. That’s as big of a fall from grace as we’ve seen in recent history. Their 7W-11L record left a lot to be desired, and even though you could never really underestimate them, they were unable to get on the same page and mount an offensive. It was a depressing sight, that’s for sure. We’ve seen their highs, and we were definitely not left indifferent. To see them this meek and subdued isn’t a pleasant sight.

The way they ended the split was even more depressing. They are 1-4 in their last five games, and they lost to Rogue, Splyce, SK Gaming and Schalke 04 in a matter of three weeks. The only team they won against is Excel Esports — hardly anything worth bragging about. So if they lost against almost every single team in the region, how will they be able to compete against the likes of an in-sync, hungry Splyce? While they did have a lot of time to step up and get on the same page, we’re just not expecting to see a lot of improvement. They did nothing to earn our trust and even though underestimating Origen doesn’t feel right, they still failed to show top-tier League of Legends throughout the second half of 2019.

Then again, they have a fantastic coaching staff, along with one of the best coaches in the region. They’re all experienced veterans that have experienced playing on the biggest of stages. Time and time again, they’ve felt the pressure of performing. They’ve seen it all, and they know how it’s like to play with their backs against the wall. All of these facts should allow them to prosper and clutch things out, but still. Their veteran status isn’t worth much if the majority of their roster is past their prime.

They definitely have an upper hand due to the sheer fact that they haven’t played in quite a while. They were in a luxurious position. While others fought week after week, Origen laid back, recharged and surely came up with a thorough strategy. They knew who they would eventually have to face so we expect them to come out the gates guns blazing.

With so many VODs do go over, one would think that they’d prepare beyond comprehension; that they would be ready for any scenario. And yet we’re weary of trusting them.

To make matters even worse, they’re not even going to play with their full roster:

This one fact changes everything.

Even if we gave them our benefit of the doubt, even if we believed in their ability to turn things around, losing one of their most important players is as big of a blow as possible. Kold is one of the best junglers Europe has to offer. His cerebral, intelligent and calculated style of play ekes out advantages for Origen more often than not, and he’s also fairly impactful on a wide variety of picks. He’s not exactly at the top of his game at this point in time, but he’s still one of Origen’s biggest catalyst — not to mention the fact that he’s an integral voice in-game.

Without one of their most important players, they’re bound to struggle from the very get-go. Their academy jungler might not be half bad, but he’s nowhere near Kold’s level, and their team-wide synergy is going to suffer. That’s guaranteed. And even if they manage to sync up (much like Team SoloMid did with Spica), they shouldn’t be able to compete with the likes of

Spylce and Xerxe. Speaking of Xerxe, the Romanian jungling phenom is having a renaissance of his own. He’s one of the most underappreciated junglers in the region, and yet his flexibility and sheer creativity are second to none, at least in the LEC. He’s a veteran at this point in time and he’s bound have a field day with a relative rookie on the side of Origen, a player who still hasn’t experienced playing on the biggest of stages.

In the end, we simply have to side with Splyce. There’s no reason not to, and even if they hadn’t found a fix for most of their issues they should still be more than capable of getting the win against a weakened Origen line-up. That said, seeing how Splyce are far from a world class team right now, this could potentially go the distance. Regardless of the final outcome, we should be in for quite an entertaining scrap.

Winner: Splyce, 1.35 (odds @ Betway)

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

September 8th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

For our third gauntlet Best of 5, we have a clash for the ages: Team SoloMid vs. Clutch Gaming. Now, regardless of whom you cheer for, it’s hard not to be at least a little bit excited about this one. There are so many exciting narratives surrounding both teams and if they play to the best of their ability, we’re bound to get some insane League of Legends.

There’s also a lot to go over, so let’s first delve a bit deeper into both teams and their paths up to this point.

First of all, it’s impossible not to highlight Team SoloMid’s current momentum wave, or lack thereof. For a staple organization, for a veteran-filled roster, for an LCS giant, they’re not doing as hot as everyone anticipated coming into the 2019 Summer Split. Perhaps that’s even an understatement.

They have the least amount of hype and momentum as humanly possible, and that fact is even further highlighted and enlarged because of their legendary status. Heck, the sights of them trading heavy blows with Team Liquid in the Spring Split finals are still fresh in everyone’s minds. Not a lot of time has passed since that point, and yet they imploded and fell off the tracks — by TSM standards.

The last time we saw them, they were being smacked around the Summoner’s Rift by none other than Clutch Gaming. It was a shocking upset, although it made some sense in the grand scheme of things. After all, Team SoloMid was playing with a substitute jungler. And no, we’re not talking about Grig, nor are we talking about Akaadian. The two jungler they had signed, the two players who are definitely worthy of playing on the LCS stage and already have built-in synergy with the rest of the team weren’t even given the chance to start in the playoffs. In fact, they weren’t even signed on as replacements.

That one decision made absolutely no sense, and it wasn’t the first time Team SoloMid opted for such an ill-advised twist. Now, obviously only they know what they’re doing and why, but if they fail to lock down a ticket to the World Championship it’s going to be for one reason and one reason only — because they decided to make such a tremendous change so late into the split; to make a change they had no business making.

But there’s a positive side as well. Or at least a potentially positive one. We haven’t seen the boys in black and white play in quite a long while. They had more than enough time to adjust, to work on their issues, to communicate and come up with a solid game plan. They had the luxury of watching their opponents skirmish on the Summoner’s Rift. They had to show everything in order to advance, whereas Team SoloMid kept all of their cards close to the chest.

In other words, they showed nothing. We also know they have a well-rounded, highly capable coaching staff. Pair that with a lot of free time and you’re bound to get improvement sooner rather than later. Everything, it seems, is going in their favor. Even Spica, the jungler they opted for, had to show something great in order to warrant a spot on the starting line-up.

They have the edge, and even though that might not be the overall consensus right now, they should not be underestimated. Not in the slightest. They’ve been waiting things out, working on their problems and they’re bound to enter the LCS arena and start swinging. They’re hungry, they want redemption and they know what’s on the line. They’ve worked too hard up to this point and not going to Worlds would truly be a failure of seismic proportions.

Again, we can’t know how well they’ll play, but the odds are definitely stacked in their favor, even though they’re universally deemed as underdogs coming into this Best of 5.

And even if we say Spica isn’t up to snuff (although there’s evidence that suggests otherwise), we mustn’t forget that he’s surrounded by four exceptional players, three of which are experienced, grizzled veterans that have been playing at the biggest of stages for years. He has some of the best players in the world to learn from, so there’s definitely ample room to grow and develop. Whether or not that happened, of course, is an entirely different matter, but it’s not like Team SoloMid — once all of a sudden — don’t have the necessary tools to compete. On the contrary, the few weeks that went by shouldn’t erase what they’ve done and accomplished in the recent past.

They’re still a fantastic challenger, albeit a painfully inconsistent one as well.

But the team on the opposite side is perhaps even more interesting. They’re the definition of volatile, and we all love ’em for it. They’re insane, and are the closest North America has to G2 Esports playstyle-wise. Obviously, we’re comparing apples and oranges here, but the crazy tendencies and sheer insanity that Clutch has displayed over the last couple of weeks truly is akin to the way G2 Esports plays League of Legends.

And their run so far has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. First they took down Team SoloMid without breaking much of a sweat. Then they nearly took down the defending champions Team Liquid in what was a nerve-wracking five-game brawler. Then came their reverse sweep loss to Counter Logic Gaming just a week later; yet another insane clash in which they displayed admirable fortitude and mechanical prowess.

Then they outclassed FlyQuest in the first round of the gauntlet, before actually getting revenge on Counter Logic Gaming yesterday in relatively clean 3-1 fashion.

Talk about a spectacular run. A thrilling roller coaster in every regard. 

And throughout this chaos, Clutch persevered with a smile on their face, unrelenting in their aggression and bravado. These couple of weeks heavily resemble the Cloud9 miracle gauntlet run from 2015 back when Hai decided to try his hand as a jungler. We’ve yet to see whether it ends on a positive note, but so far it’s been every bit as crazy and unexpected.

To say that Clutch Gaming is potentially a Top 3 team in North America in 2019 boggles the mind. It makes no sense whatsoever. And yet it seems like it’s the truth. They’re one-dimensional — we all know that, but they’re so strong and cohesive in the things they do that they’re somewhat unstoppable, at least against mid-tier opposition.

Their most recent win over Counter Logic Gaming was eerily similar to their reverse sweep loss. Everything was developing in such a fashion. The first two games were exceptionally dominant. Then Counter Logic Gaming bounced back in style in the third before getting a lead in the fourth. But Clutch Gaming came prepared. After their crushing defeat they went back to the drawing board and worked on their biggest faults. Sure, they’re still inherently flawed as a team but they worked out a ton of problems, as evident from yesterday’s play.

There are two sides of the Clutch coin right now, a positive and a negative one. The positive one is that they’re accustomed to the LCS stage and have wasted no time. They’re in sync and are ready to go at a moment’s notice. There are no stage jitters whatsoever. That’s good. What’s bad, however, is that they played  almost twenty games over the last couple of weeks.

They might not be feeling the impending burnout, but they definitely did give Team SoloMid a metric ton of footage to go over. Their strengths and weaknesses are on full display, and they’ve hidden nothing. They’ve reached the very end of the gauntlet and are about to face the final boss — a team that was awarded such a prestigious position primarily because of their success in Spring.

What a ludicrous turn of events. And yet there is no better way to end the season.

Team SoloMid have the edge this time around. That’s a fact. They know darn well how Clutch wants to play the game. They know of their ten-minute Rift Herald. They know of their relatively shallow champion pool and the way they want to play around the map. They’ve seen it all. Every single thing.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to stop it. That’s why this is so darn exciting. Whenever Clutch steps foot on stage we know we’re in for absolute chaos. It’s so hard to prepare for them, in spite of their one-dimensional nature. You know exactly what they’re going to do and yet it’s so hard to stop them because they’re going head-first through any impending obstacle.

Team SoloMid needs to step up. They need to prove their worth, and they know just how dangerous of a spot they’ve found themselves in. Furthermore, one could argue (perhaps a bit dramatically) that their spot in the LCS pantheon getting challenged. They have to get the job on this one. Otherwise their entire 2019 run has been for naught.

That said, it’s downright impossible not to give Clutch Gaming the benefit of the doubt on this one. They’ve already beaten this iteration of Team SoloMid mere weeks ago and have stood strong in the face of many diverse challenges. They’re not perfect. Heck, they’re not even close. But they embraced their inherent flaws and are doing the best they can with what they’ve got.

It would truly be refreshing to see such a fearless North American challenger go to Worlds. They’re bringing their own flavor to the game; their own twist, and it’s refreshing to see. It might not be particularly one-sided, but Clutch should once again be able to get the win.

Winner: Clutch Gaming, 1.55 (odds @ Betway)

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2019 LEC Summer Split Final — Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

September 8th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

The grand finals. The clash of kings. The Best of 5 everyone knew was bound to happen and the only match-up that makes sense. The LEC el clasico.

For what it’s worth, we really are getting the best and most exciting conclusion to a split that was already one of the most thrilling rides in LEC history. A fight between two European kings.

Then again, it’s hard to really get excited, for a wide variety of reasons. The mechanical prowess is there. Both teams have experience in spades and have played on the biggest of stages, but G2 Esports just feels better in every regard. They’re downright staggering. They’re not perfect, but many of their inherent flaws are self-inflicted. They want to create a big fight. They want to fight from a 0-2 deficit and complete the reverse sweep.

They’re at home with the current meta and have shown no signs of stopping whatsoever. They’re as clean, capable and dominant as a team can be. Fnatic certainly has the right tools to fight back and make things somewhat competitive, but when push comes to shove, G2 Esports should always prevail — as they did just a week ago when their backs were against the wall. They were looking at an upset loss and yet still found the strength to persevere, turn things around and complete the sweep over Fnatic. It was absolute insanity on all fronts.

To bet against G2 Esports, at this point in time, would be to bet against reason itself. It would mean betting against proper judgment, and that we cannot do. We never know what’s going to happen when G2 Esports steps foot on stage. That’s always a complete unknown. Will we see a Soraka top? Will they role swap for days? Will Mikyx pick his staple (and highly feared) Gragas? Who will get his hands on Pyke? We don’t know, and neither do they. That’s why it’s fun, and that’s why they’re always smiling beyond comprehension regardless of the state of the game.

To G2 Esports, this is all a game; and the LEC finals are just a negligible block in the road, a minute puzzle just waiting to get solved. They have the bigger picture in mind, and they’re unwilling to waste much time to get there.

They might not outclass Fnatic beyond comprehension, but they’re definitely going to win. There’s no doubt about it. How it’s going to unravel, however, is anyone’s guess.

Winner: G2 Esports, 1.28 (odds @ Betway)

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

September 7th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

For our second gauntlet Best of 5 we have a match-up that is, by all means, ten times more exciting than the one that preceded it. Now, this is by no means a fight between two giants of unparalleled strength, but it is a fight between two teams that are fairly similar when it comes to strength and potential.

Clutch Gaming and Counter Logic Gaming already fought against one another mere weeks ago, and it was definitely a clash for the ages. It wasn’t exactly a display of premier League of Legends seeing how both teams showed incredible inconsistencies throughout the series, but it was an exciting, rather thrilling five-game barnburner nonetheless.

Both teams fought their hearts out and by the end proved their worth in front of thousand of roaring fans. In the end, however, Counter Logic Gaming did more. It was a constant back and forth affair that left us at the edge of our seats, but it also ended on a somewhat underwhelming note: Counter Logic Gaming completely dismantled Clutch Gaming.

It was a series’ worth of evolution, and they adapted and grew as the games went by. It was almost comical. They started off as badly as a team could. Nothing worked in their favor and yet they didn’t surrender. Game two was pretty much the same, and yet this veteran-filled roster never lost their poise; they never stopped believing in the reverse sweep. And sure enough, they made it work. They found an avenue toward success; they drafted towards their strengths and completely outclassed Clutch Gaming at the one moment no one thought they could.

They made ample mistakes, that’s for sure, but so did Clutch. Perhaps most importantly, they experimented and yet still found the strength to bounce back. They had mental fortitude for days and their grit was admirable, to say the least. It was the Counter Logic Gaming everyone expected to see, they just needed a bit more time before coming online.

By the end of the series, there was no doubt when it came to saying who was the better and more capable team. Clutch Gaming, for all of the fantastic things they did up to that point, were inherently flawed and it only took Counter Logic Gaming two games to come up with a solution.

It was an exciting clash, that’s for sure, but the fashion in which it ended definitely felt a bit sour. It felt like we witnessed a sham, like we were duped into thinking Clutch had what it took in order to persevere and emerge victorious. It felt like we were being set up for a fantastic underdog story, and yet we never got the ending we thought was coming.

But fast forward a couple of weeks and we have a repeat on our hands.

Now, the meta didn’t change. Nothing earth-shattering came out. Clutch Gaming played one rather underwhelming (to put it mildly) Best of 5 against FlyQuest and that’s all. Counter Logic Gaming had the luxury of relaxing and watching their opponents play, so that have the edge in every way, shape, and form. They already won once when everything was against them, when they were at a staggering deficit. There’s no reason why they won’t be able to do the same yet again.

They’re two Best of 5 wins from going to the World Championship. That would be a seismic triumph for an organization that was irrelevant since 2016. They know such a thing is within reach, and they’re also fully aware that they have all the right tools within their disposal in order to make it a reality. They’re in full control and they’re dangerous, they’re flexible, original, and in sync as a five-man unit. They can attain success through a plethora of different ways, and even though they’re not the most stable or consistent of challengers, they’re more than solid enough to get the win tonight.

Regardless of the way it finally resolves, we could be in for one heck of a Best of 5 if Clutch Gaming steps up and plays to their strengths.

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

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2019 LCS Summer Split Gauntlet Round 1 — Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

September 6th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

For our first gauntlet Best of 5, we have a rather exciting clash between Clutch Gaming and FlyQuest. Now, this match-up doesn’t exactly scream “potential”, but it’s far from an underwhelming one as well. In essence, this is a fight between two teams that love to skirmish. They’re always willing to throw caution out the window and fight until there’s just one team standing.

That’s why we love them, and while they don’t always play at the highest of levels, it’s hard to fault them. They’re trying their best, they’re thriving in a fairly competitive region and are always working on refining their identity and playstyle. They’re not perfect, and they don’t need to be. Right now, they’re not aiming to become the best team the LCS has to offer. They both know that ship has sailed for 2019. Instead, they want to salvage their season and to continue developing.

Also, there’s an incredibly valuable prize on the line — a ticket to the World Championship. They both have three Best of 5s before potentially going to Europe and fighting on the biggest of stages. Not too shabby. As far as consolation prizes go, this one is rather monumental.

That said, both of these two teams are entering this Best of 5 with differing amounts of hype and momentum. Clutch Gaming are, in a way, at the top of the world after their incredible matches against Team Liquid and Counter Logic Gaming. They won everyone over and their fighting spirit left no one indifferent. We all want them to succeed — they’re the ultimate underdog and are fighting their hearts out any time they step foot on the Summoner’s Rift.

They’re also the kind of teams that never shy away from a challenge. Heck, they might not be capable enough to win when it’s expected from them, but they’re going to try their hardest.

This time around, however, there are more than just a couple of exciting question marks.

We’ve seen just how strong and dangerous Clutch Gaming can be when they’re focused and in sync. They’re a beast of a team and they’ve shown no signs of stopping. Their inherent weaknesses sometimes also function as strengths as well, which is quite a confusing sight. They’re fearless, almost to a fault. They found their groove and they’re unrelenting when they get on the same page. In short, they’re an original North American challenger that’s playing its own style. They’re not imitating the Korean macro-oriented style of play, nor are they imitating G2 Esports. The way Clutch Gaming plays League of Legends is completely original — for better or worse.

While they do have glaring weaknesses and holes in their game, they fight with so much grit and passion that it’s impossible not to cheer for them. Also, while they can be exploited, a team has to survive Clutch’s early onslaught and off-the-wall decision making to actually stand a chance later on in the mid and late game. They’re not exactly as flexible or talented as G2 Esports, but they’re every bit as crazy. To make matters even better, they’re a fairly solid mix of players, style-wise.

Huni and Damonte always want to go in and have the mechanical prowess to back it up. Lira is more of a subdued, cerebral style of jungler who prefers playing the vision game rather than invading like a headless chicken. And their bottom lane — which is horrendously underrated — is perhaps their biggest asset. Cody Sun and Vulcan have been playing out of their mind ever since they stepped foot on the LCS stage as a bottom lane duo.

Their biggest weaknesses, however, have to be their unhinged aggression along with individual mistakes and shallow champion pools. Huni is arguably the biggest offender whose patented susceptibility to tilt and overextend was punished on more than one occasion. When he’s on fire, he’s the one who’s carrying his team over the finish line. But when that’s not the case, and that happens far more often, he’s dragging Clutch down to the jaws of defeat. Their confusing drafting tendencies don’t help out either.

But they had more than enough time to diversify their arsenal, to re-focus and adjust to the current meta. They know exactly against whom they’re playing, they know when and how they failed and what they need to do in order to fix it. Whether or not they’ll succeed at doing so is a completely different matter, but the odds are definitely stacked in their favor.

FlyQuest, on the other hand, is a huge question mark right now.

The last time they played on the LCS stage was all the way back on August 4th, and the last time they won a game was on July 27th against Cloud9. Their 5W-13L regular season record tells you all you need to know and their ninth-place finish didn’t exactly blow anyone’s mind. Not in the slightest. Their fall from grace was staggering, especially after their meteoric rise in Spring. Regardless, they’re a talented bunch and they still have some exceptional player within their five-man line-up. They had a month to chill, relax, recharge their batteries and come up with a solid game plan for the gauntlet. They had the luxury of observing their opponents and have kept all of their cards close to the chest, meaning they have the capacity to upset this time around.

The thing is, we simply don’t know how strong they’ll be tonight. They could step on stage and completely obliterate Clutch Gaming. We’ve seen their highs and we were not left indifferent. Conversely, they could completely implode and fail to mount an offensive. It’s also important to highlight that the problems they had throughout the Summer Split could have easily been solved over the last month, so they definitely have a puncher’s chance.

Regardless of the final outcome, one thing is for certain — we should be in for one heck of Best of 5. Both teams know what’s on the line which means they’ll trade heavy blows from the moment they spawn on the Rift. In such a chaotic affair, we simply have to side with Clutch Gaming. They’ve done more than enough over the last couple of weeks to earn our benefit of the doubt. They might not blow FlyQuest out of the water but they definitely have all the right tools in order to emerge victorious.

Winner: Clutch Gaming, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

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LCS 2019 Summer Split ⁠— Finals Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

August 25th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

The last — and arguably most exciting — Best of 5 remaining before the playoffs officially conclude. To say that this is an exciting match-up would truly be an understatement. On paper, this clash has the potential be one for the history books. Even though the LCS landscape often changes in unexpected ways, we could always envision yet another Team Liquid vs. Cloud9 split finals. In fact, one could argue that this was the only match-up that made sense.

Both Liquid and Cloud9 are the only North American teams (excluding Counter Logic Gaming and their 2016 Mid-Season Invitational run) that have ever attained any semblance of success on the international stage. They are the only two North American teams that have made their region proud. So it only makes sense that they should be the ones to go the distance and clash once again in the finals.

But no one could have foreseen the many narratives surrounding his match-up, along with the metric ton of hype and momentum both teams have coming into the finals.

But before delving deeper into the match-up itself, let’s look at both teams separately, and how they got this far.

Team Liquid is, as you surely already know, the reigning, defending LCS champions. They’ve won three championships in a row, and by doing so have tied Team SoloMid for the most consecutive victories in LCS history. By defeating Cloud9, they would etch their names in history, and would accomplish a spectacular feat that, by all intents and purposes, won’t be broken for a long, long time — if ever.

If we take a look at their regular season run, however, there’s a lot to like and dislike at the same time. There were their patented Liquidesque moments of brilliance, but more than just a couple of fumbles as well. Despite their commendable accomplishments, they were unexpectedly vulnerable — given their pedigree. We don’t have to turn back the clock much in order to see that as well, seeing how they were nearly brought down by Clutch Gaming just mere days ago. They made more mistakes than anyone expected, and they simply weren’t as dominant, clean, or proactive as one would expect from a team with their laurels.

Cloud9, on the other hand, have been staggeringly flexible, creative, and perhaps even a bit unhinged every time they stepped foot on stage. They were far from perfect, but thanks to their jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, they were able to often weather the storm and persevere under imperfect circumstances. The legendary European jungler became the first man wearing a Cloud9 jersey to have received the highly-coveted MVP award — an incredible feat, no doubt. His play was, simply put, awe-inspiring, and was the reason Cloud9 was able to get the win more often than not.

As a team, they had their fair share of ups and downs, but have always stepped up when it mattered the most. Above their heads, however, lies a fascinating narrative. The organization itself is as legendary as they come, but hasn’t tasted ultimate triumph in half a decade. Five long years have passed since Cloud9 last won the LCS. A drought, in every sense of the word. They want it, and they want it badly. They’re sick and tired of always playing second fiddle to someone seemingly more talented and adept at that one point in time. The only player that has remained from that championship-worthy roster is Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi. Everyone else has yet to lift an LCS trophy.

Recent history is also not particularly kind to Cloud9 when it comes to facing Team Liquid. They have lost every important match ever since Liquid’s dominance started, so it’s kind of hard to get hyped about a potential upset win.

Saying who’s going to win this Best of 5 is an incredibly thankless task. In fact, one could argue that it’s even impossible. Most of the information we have is heavily outdated, or simply no longer as valid as one would think. The fact that Liquid has a stellar record over Cloud9 shouldn’t impact our judgement too much, seeing how both teams grew (and changed) considerably over the last couple of months. These are titans in every sense of the word, and they adapt whenever it is necessary. It’s also hard to give Cloud9 any benefit of the doubt seeing how they failed to get the win even when they had Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen in their line-up (a mid laner many deem superior to his current replacement).

Conversely, Team Liquid always stepped up when it mattered. They know they’re on the brink of writing history, which should definitely give them a noticeable push tomorrow night. What’ll happen is anyone’s guess, as both teams are known for exceptional flashes of brilliance. The fact that Cloud9 won both of their most recent Best of 1 encounters makes us think that this series definitely can go the distance. Regardless, we simply have to side with Team Liquid. They still haven’t given us a reason to doubt them.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.40 (odds @ Betway)

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LCS 2019 Summer Split Semifinal Preview, Betting Tips & Odds

August 17th, 2019

Photo: Riot Games

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already knocking on the 2019 LCS Summer Split semifinals. The most recent split wasn’t exactly the most exciting in history, but it did, however, provide more than enough entertainment (and a fair share of upsets and surprising twists). We’ve seen it all, really, and we were not left indifferent. If anything, there was a slight absence of consistency across the board, and no one was really able to maintain a respectable level of play and actually dominate throughout the split.

Instead, teams took turns and basically threw down until the timer went off. Regardless, when all was said and done, the playoff picture looked pretty familiar. We have the reigning, defending champions Team Liquid at the top, with Cloud9 following closely with their stacked (albeit still weaker than Liquid) five-man line-up. At number three we had Counter Logic Gaming — a surprise if there ever was one, with Team SoloMid trailing slightly behind. Finally, we had two “filler” contenders (Clutch Gaming and OpTic Gaming) to fill out the final Top 6. They were by no means pushovers, but we’ve seen these “second-rate” LCS challengers over the years, and they always failed to leave a mark. (although they did upset from time to time)

Four former champions, two unlikely challengers who improved leaps and bounds over the course of the thrilling (and at times uneventful) 2019 season.

Last week was, for a lack of a better word, pretty surprising. And it was a culmination of multiple different narratives and question marks that eventually snowballed out of control. As a result, we find ourselves talking about a Team Liquid vs. Clutch Gaming match-up — truly the dankest of timelines.

Regardless, both upcoming semifinal clashes carry a ton of hype. Perhaps that’s even an understatement. This is arguably the best possible way things could have unfolded, and all four teams carry unique threats and are incredibly exciting to watch and analyze. Both match-ups have clear favorites, but it’s not all black and white.

Perhaps most importantly, both Liquid and Cloud9 had the luxury of sitting back and regenerating while others fought and showed their hands. That’s invaluable in every regard. Taking a breather from exhausting weekly play is a huge benefit, and the fact that they didn’t have to show anything is also a plus. They’re entering the semifinals as the clear favorites and they should have an edge almost by default.

With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the upcoming LCS Summer Split semifinals!

Cloud9 vs. Counter Logic Gaming

First up, we have a clash between two former LCS champions. That said, a lot of time has passed since both of them lifted the LCS trophy. The times when they were at the top of the North American region feel distant — almost dreamlike. Even though they fought year after year to regain their former glory, ultimate success always eluded them, for one reason or another. This season has proved to be no different, at least so far. Neither team managed to leave much of a mark, and even though they’re incredibly dangerous as competitors, they were simply unable to challenge Liquid for the LCS throne.

They did, however, manage to upset from time to time, and to turn the status quo on its head — at least for a fleeting moment. Saying just how good they currently are is a thankless endeavor, that’s for sure. On one hand, we’ve seen their highs and we were often blown away. When they play to their strengths and when they get on the same page their play is absolutely marvelous. That’s a fact. Furthermore, they attain success through entirely different means as well.

Cloud9 is unhinged more often than not, and they’re willing to go the extra mile in order to surprise their opponents. Counter Logic Gaming, on the other hand, is much more subdued but they also love throwing caution out the window and skirmishing whenever there’s a chance to do so. In short, every time these two teams face each other there’s a reason to celebrate — no one is ever left indifferent.

Counter Logic Gaming are entering this match-up with a fair bit of hype after taking OpTic Gaming down with relative ease in 3-0 fashion last week. They weren’t perfect, but they didn’t need to be. They had the edge in almost every regard and were able to impose their will every time they spawned on the Summoner’s Rift. They’re still rough around the edges, but they’re improving with each passing week and it’s evident in their play as well.

That said, the fact that they already lost to Cloud9 for the playoff bye tiebreaker mere days ago does heavily impedes our prediction — as it should. With everything on the line, Counter Logic Gaming failed to step up and clutch things out. They first dropped a game to 100 Thieves which left them in danger of losing the bye, and then lost handily to Cloud9 in the tiebreaker.

To say that they failed to put up much of a fight would be an understatement. With only two kills on the board, they basically rolled over and died. It was a twenty-five minute shellacking, with Cloud9 emerging victorious with a plus twelve thousand gold surplus. Nine turrets to just one, with four Drakes and a single Baron being taken by Cloud9. Talk about dominant.

Now, that one loss may or may not mean something. Counter Logic Gaming are prone to improving after such resounding losses, but it didn’t feel like they made many mistakes by themselves. Instead, they were forced to make mistakes; they failed to adapt and to compete with Cloud9 on their level. Their innate flaws and mistakes should only get magnified in a Best of 5 format, which is why we simply have to side with Cloud9 on this one. There’s no other way.

That said, if Counter Logic Gaming get on the same page and if they play to their strengths, they definitely have the right tools in order to make this into one heck of a scrap. They rarely go down without a fight (their most recent tiebreaker loss aside), and are more than capable of playing to the level of their opponents. They have finally attained some success after years of absolute mediocrity and they know exactly what’s on the line. Unfortunately, Cloud9 — even though arguably less capable than Team Liquid — are a much harder team to read. They spike much more often and are capable of playing some incredible League of Legends — when they feel like it and when a load of factors align and coalesce.

In the end, this should be a fantastic scrap from start to finish, with Cloud9 getting the win in somewhat one-sided fashion.

Winner: Cloud9, 1.30 (odds @ Betway)

Team Liquid vs. Clutch Gaming

Next up, we have a clash between the reigning, defending LCS champions Team Liquid, and Clutch Gaming. Yes, this is really  happening. No, that wasn’t a typo. We truly are in the dankest of timelines. After disposing of Team SoloMid in relatively clean and one-sided fashion, Clutch Gaming secured a spot in the Top 4. For a team that was considered a bottom-tier dweller for so long, that’s quite the achievement, to say the least. They occupied the bottom of the standings for the majority of 2019 and even though we often saw flashes of their true potential, they were too few and far between to actually warrant any kind of trust or benefit of the doubt.

Their trajectory is a spectacular one, and even if their road ends tonight, they still accomplished much more than anyone ever thought they could. That’s not a small thing either. The thing that is perhaps most interesting about this match-up is the fact that Clutch Gaming present a fairly unique challenge. That’s not to say that they’re exceptional in any one thing, or that they’re favored (they’re not, let’s just get that out the way immediately), but they’re not a standard team, and they don’t play standard League of Legends either.

They’re a volatile carnivorous beast. When they get off on the right foot and play to their strengths (bolstered by a solid draft) they’re a force to be reckoned with. Then again, those moments when everything “clicks” are rare. Perhaps even staggeringly so. When that fails to be the case, when they don’t get on the same page they’re an out of sync beast that just barely manages to put up a fight before ultimately succumbing to the pressure. They’re perhaps best known for their volatile nature.

In the end, we simply have to side with Team Liquid on this one, although we would love to see them challenged in a Best of 5 format. They’re just too darn good in every facet of play that it’s impossible to side against them. They had one full week to recuperate and watch Clutch Gaming show off their cards against Team SoloMid. That’s an invaluable advantage no matter the way you look at it, and that — combined with their incredible level of play, resiliency and experience — should be the determining factor.

That said, if they underestimate Clutch Gaming they could, in theory, drop a game or two in the process.

Winner: Team Liquid, 1.08 (odds @ Betway)

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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)

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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)

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