The LoL Championship Series (LCS) will commence the winner’s bracket half of their playoffs with a look at the two tournament favorites–Cloud9 and Team Liquid– against their stylistic antithesis from the middle of the table– FlyQuest and Golden Guardians. Although you’d be hard-pressed to find an LCS fan who’s taking either of the underdogs to win the series , there’s value to be found in exactly how many games the favorites will win by and the props markets that this article will take you through.
Cloud9 (-510) Vs. FlyQuest (+342)
In the Spring Split, Cloud9 won 26 of their 28 games en route to one of the most dominant championship runs the LCS has ever seen. It wasn’t just that they were winning, but the way in which they were winning that was impressive. They were winning by outclassing their opponents in every lane and then transitioning those leads to easy objective takes and tower dives led by the league’s MVP–Blaber. In short, Cloud 9 was never really challenged in the Spring Split.
The summer split has been a different story. Cloud9 has already lost more games in the regular season than they did throughout their entire run including playoffs last split. They enter the postseason as the second seed instead of the clear number one. They are 4-5 in their last 9 games and have looked lost at times. It would be a concerning trend for any other team, but I can’t shake the feeling that Cloud 9 is about to flip the switch for the playoffs.
Their struggles this split have never been about a decline in their players. They still sit atop the league (outside of the bottom lane) in all the important laning statistics like Gold and Experience differentials at 10 minutes. Rather, it has been their much-discussed read on the current meta-game, that has let them slip a little bit in the standings. In a lot of their losses, Cloud 9 has been trying out new strategies instead of their preferred way of playing the game– aggressive, early game focused LoL. I would expect them to have some of those new strategies ironed out from two weeks of practice for this series, but more so I expect a return to the jungle-focused, aggressive style that made them so unbeatable in Spring.
FlyQuest plays like a direct contradiction to Cloud9. They are a slow team who prefer to play under control in the early game and scale for late-game team fights to win. Their problem is: they rarely get to that stage in-tact against Cloud 9. In their past 7 matchups, FlyQuest has not managed to beat Cloud9 once. The jungle matchup, in particular, is a match made in hell for FlyQuest. Santorin–arguably FlyQuest’s best and most important player– can’t seem to figure out what to do against Blaber. His preferred style of playing like another support to his laners by sacrificing his own leads gets him into big trouble against Blaber. Blaber is aggressive in getting big experience and gold leads for himself and then using that to carry his team. With carry jungle champions like Hecarim, Graves, Olaf, and Nidalee in the meta right now, Flyquest could be doomed.
Individual matchup issues aside, Cloud 9, despite their struggles, maintain significant edges in the important team statistics over FlyQuest. Cloud 9’s advantage in the Gold Spent Differential of +8.0% compared to FlyQuest’s +3.3% will be particularly concerning for FlyQuest fans. Teams that are above +6% in that statistic are the best in the world like DAMWON Gaming, JD Gaming, T1 and Top Esports. It’s a good indicator of teams that are getting insurmountable leads on their opponents, rather than just waiting to win on a single, late-game team fight.
The one point of concern for Cloud 9 lays in the Baron pit. After taking an astonishing 87% of Barons last split, they are only taking 65% this split. FlyQuest has them slightly edged out here taking 68% of the barons in their games. However, when we dive into the film of the two games the teams have played against each other this split, we see that C9 took 100% of the Barons in those games. FlyQuest is a good team, but they have unfortunately run into a great team here. I think we’re headed for another sweep in the LCS.
The Picks: Larger size: Cloud 9 -1.5 Maps (-200), Smaller size: Cloud 9 -2.5 (+190)
Props to bet
- Over 22.5 Kills in the first two games (-115)
Cloud9 and FlyQuest are two of the higher average kill total teams in the league at 23.1 and 24.28 respectively. Their combined kills per minute of 0.77 and 0.69 also rate these games as solidly above the average total for the LCS. 4 of their last 7 matchups– including all 3 of their playoff matches last split– have gone over 23 kills. I like the over in the first two matches here because this is where I expect FlyQuest to put up their best fight.
- Cloud9 to kill the First Drake in all games (-165)
“First anything” props can be volatile because you never totally know a team’s gameplan coming into a series. Cloud9 could make conceding the first drake a part of their strategy for the series and then you’re dead before the games even begin, so I want to emphasize a smaller size here. With that said, I think Cloud9 has a clear edge in this department and has made early drakes a part of their win conditions all year. So far, they have taken the first drake in 61% of their games where FlyQuest has taken a league worst 33%. I expect Cloud9 to take the first drake 78% of the time in this matchup, that’s a good enough edge over the implied 63% of -165 to take this prop in all the games.
Team Liquid (-560) vs. Golden Guardians (+375)
The second matchup is another stylistic contrast, except with the roles reversed. The underdogs, Golden Guardians, are the proactive, aggressive, early game team and the favorite, Team Liquid, is the standard, defensive, methodical team. Here’s the problem for Golden Guardians: Team Liquid is a standout great at their style this split. Their mid-to-late rating– a statistic from oracleselixir.com that measures how well a team does at getting gold and taking key objectives in the late game– is the highest mark in professional LoL at 24.0. They consistently out-execute every opponent in late game situations. It is particularly scary for a Golden Guardians team that has not shown an ability to close out big early game leads. Despite having the second best early game rating in the league, they are the holders of the worst mid-to-late game rating.
There were signs of hope for GGS in this regard in their playoff series with TSM though where they were dominant in both stages of the game. In that series, they managed to take 100% of the Barons across three games against a team that outclassed them in Baron rate during the regular season. They will need to do that again against TL who took 89% of the Barons in their regular season games.
Golden Guardians also saw their bottom lane completely break out in their first playoff series. Huhi and FBI dominated Doublelift and Treatz. That’s no small feat considering Doublelift is widely considered the best player in the history of the LCS. Against TL, they will be up against possible MVP–CoreJJ and his laning partner Tactical. CoreJJ has been the backbone of TL this split with solid laning, decisive shot-calling, and a propensity to show up big in late-game situations. His partner–Tactical– has been a solid role player for the team, but does not have the sort of star potential that FBI does. FBI leads the league in laning differentials for ADCs. Golden Guardians could snowball a game or two through their bottom lane here.
TL has the obvious edge in these teams’ matchups this split winning 3 of 4 games. Golden Guardians will need to continue the growth they showed in their first playoff series to take a game here, but I like them to do just that. TL’s GSPD is +5.4%– a solid number, but not the sign of an unbeatable monster. I think Golden Guardians best shot here will be to get one of their famous early game leads (their EGR is 64.1 compared to TL’s 59.3) and then show the control and decision-making they did against TSM to close one out.
If GGS wins a game, it will almost definitely be on the blue side of the map where they are 6-1 this split. It won’t be a walk in the park as TL is 7-1 on the red side, but still their ability to first- pick a hyper carry for FBI on the blue side should make all the difference. Because the loser of the first game gets side selection in the second game, GGS will almost definitely be on blue side in one of the first two games so that’s where I like them the most to pull an upset.
The picks: Golden Guardians +2.5 (-220), Golden Guardians Map 1 ML (+175), Golden Guardians Map 2 ML (+175)