Call of Duty League Playoffs: Picks and plays

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Models and Disclaimer

I’ll be using a couple of different methods to break down the teams and matchups involved in these articles, so it’s important that you know what I’m talking about when I reference them. These models can be found here and are based on some of the basic matchmaking algorithms used in the world of competitive gaming.

The main model I’ll be using for betting matchups is called an “ELO” based model, which is a ranking system that considers a teams wins relative to the skill of their opponents rather than in a vacuum. The ELO system is used in competitive environments around the world and is a much more accurate assessment of skill than traditional rankings based on wins and losses alone. My version of ELO rankings for esports is based on seasonal rankings and gives increased points for wins against quality opponents and bigger losses in ELO points to teams that lose against bottom-tier teams, as well as awarding extra points for sweeps. 

Call of Duty Team Model

I’ll also be using proprietary projections to give more depth to the players involved and their roles on teams, which can help us better assess what teams bring to the table if a substitution happens or if we are considering prop bets. These projections will typically be used over a 3 months sample and corrected for wins and losses.

Let’s get on with things!

Call of Duty Player Model

Teams Playing

Paris Legion

Led by the combo of Louqa and Zed, the Paris Legion have come from the bottom tiers of the league and shown constant improvement over the course of the season. In total, they have played 52 maps against teams in the top half of the league and 49 against teams in the bottom half of the league, which gives them a pretty standard strength of schedule. They’ve won 38.46% of games against top half opponents (second best of all teams in the bottom half of the ranks) and 48.98% of their games against bottom half teams (third worst in the league). The ELO ranking for them is seventh best team in the league, much better than their 10th place standings, and their recent form (last 3 weeks of maps) has them sixth best.

Seattle Surge

The Surge are led by Octane, and it’s fair to say that any wins they find hes the one to drag them across the finish line. Having just 40 total maps against top half teams, Seattle has won just 25% of them while only winning 46.94% of their 49 games against bottom half teams. Their recent sample is even worse, with seven maps against bottom half teams and a win rate of just 14.29%. Their ELO rank and league rank are both sitting static at 11th in the league, and they have all but mailed in the season.

Optic Gaming Los Angeles

Optic Gaming Los Angeles, or OGLA as I’ll use moving forward because Optic Gaming Los Angeles is a lot to type, is at this point a very different team than they started the season with. They have benched multiple players and brought up some really strong rookies and have completely turned their season around. SlasheR is the veteran here and the main shot caller, but Drazah and Hollow are both young guns with a lot of explosive plays to give. Over the full season, they’ve held a 59.62% win rate against bottom half teams, the only team today to hold a positive win rate against bad opponents, and in the recent sample that rate sits at 66.67% (12 maps) so the improvements are obvious.

Los Angeles Guerrillas

The poor Guerrillas are the worst team in the league and have a lot of adjustments to make in the offseason. Decemate has the highest ceiling on the team, but Blazt is the leader of the squad, if you want to call him that. They have won just 33.33% of their 42 maps against top half teams and 32.50% of their 40 facing bottom half teams with that 32.50% being by far the worst rate in the league against bad teams. In the recent sample, they have won just 14.29% of their 14 maps. It’s just…. All bad.

Jan 26, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Paris Legion competes against the London Royal Ravens during the Call of Duty League Launch Weekend at The Armory. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Matchups

Paris Legion vs. Seattle Surge

Paris is surging at the right time while the Surge are, well, not surging. It’s worth saying that in the longer sample these two teams should be considered just about even with both having similar win rates against bottom half teams (49% vs. 48% for Paris and Seattle, respectively) but the recent sample tells a very different story. These teams have faced off just once this season, with Paris winning 3-2 in the series. That was all the way back in week five, so it’s hardly applicable now with the way these teams have progressed, but it’s worth mentioning that these teams are familiar and Paris should be the favorite based on history. In terms of sweep probability, Paris has four sweeps on the season and has been swept four times where Seattle has two sweeps and has been swept four times as well, so a sweep is slightly less probable than league averages of around 25%.

Optic Gaming Los Angeles vs. Los Angeles Guerrillas

The battle for Los Angeles! But not really, because Optic Gaming is by far the superior team in the city and it’s not even really close. As noted in the team breakdowns, the Guerrillas are the worst team in the league and it’s really not even close. If you just want to go off of win rates against bottom half teams (since both these teams sit in the bottom half of the official ranks) the Guerrillas 32.50% and OGLA’s 59.62% paint a painfully obvious conclusion to this matchup. These teams have faced off twice this season, with each team winning one of the series, but this was before OGLA made the drastic changes to their roster. OGLA is a deserving favorite here. When considering sweeps, LAG has been swept 25% of their matches exactly (five of 20 total) with no sweeps themselves while OGLA has five sweeps and has been swept four times. If you think that LAG wins, you are taking the over on maps played for sure.

Favorite Bets

Paris Legion moneyline (-225, up to -300)

We just haven’t seen any real improvement from Seattle over the season as no one is stepping up to help Octane carry the load. Paris on the other hand has shown consistent improvement and has been especially strong against teams in the bottom half of the league over the last 3 weeks. When you take the 63.94% win rate for Paris and the 14.29% win rate for Seattle against similarly ranked teams, I have a lot of confidence in Paris being able to trounce the Surge.

Optic Gaming Los Angeles -1.5 maps (-167, up to -200)

I really don’t want to take the moneyline for OGLA because laying that much on a team in esports just never feels good considering all the auxiliary forces on the matches (internet dropping is relatively frequent in the league) but I am feeling good about this handicap bet. OGLA is a way the better team in the recent sample and the Guerrillas are, impressively, a worse team. What you’re betting on here is OGLA being able to win the kill based game types and not drop the search and destroy map (learn more about the game types here) and win in a sweep. The nice thing about this handicap being -1.5 maps and not -2.5 means that even if they do lose one of the kill based maps they can still win 4-1 and you cash this bet.

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