After a Worlds 2020 play-in group stage that was full of upsets including the first ever win by a team from Latin America over a Chinese team, the knockout stages of the tournament went almost entirely to chalk. Unicorns of Love from Eastern Europe’s LCL, LGD Gaming from China’s LPL, PSG Talon from Southeast Asia’s PCS, and Team Liquid from North America’s LCS joined the automatically qualified teams in the main event. The lone surprise of the tournament being Europe’s 4th seed Mad Lions’ failure to advance.
It was a reminder of the volatility of group stages where games are all best of 1 and underdogs can shock their opponents on the day. There have been multiple examples of World Championships where a favored team comes in with a bad read on how the game is being played at the tournament and can’t recover in time to get out of the group stage. Bettors who can identify favorites who may struggle and underdogs who may be uniquely suited to the Worlds meta-game can find value to bet in the group stage elimination and winners odds. Let’s take a look and see if we can find some of that value in Groups C and D.
Fnatic (+400 to win group, +110 to be eliminated)
- Top- Bwipo
- Mid- Nemesis
- Jungle- Selfmade
- Bot- Rekkles
Europe’s second seed comes in as the kind of flexible team that has thrived at the last couple of World Championships. Their ability to reliably ask both their top laner and jungler to carry the game rather than the traditional carry roles of mid and bot serves them well in a meta that seems open to carries in every role. Additionally, their openness to playing champions outside of their traditional roles can bewilder their opponents in the drafting stage of the game.
Unfortunately for Fnatic, the game isn’t exclusively played in the drafting stage. It’s once the champions get on to the rift where the problems begin for them. Specifically, they begin with their mid laner, Nemesis. He had the worst season of his career this year and is, in my opinion, the weakest mid laner in this group. The mid laner is like the QB in LoL. You can be as good as you want at every other position, but if your QB or Mid laner does not put consistent pressure on the opposing team you’re going to be in a big hole. Nemesis was often putting his team in a hole this summer with a -118 gold differential, a -179 experience differential, and a -3.4 CS differential at 10 minutes making him the worst mid laner in the league in those stats. Fnatic has to be shuddering thinking of what could happen to him in a group that includes BDD and Bjergsen. If Fnatic can carry him through safely, then I like their chances elsewhere, but I don’t see it against the elite mids in this group.
Recommended bets: Fnatic to be eliminated in the group stage (+110)
Gen.G (-140 to win group, +400 to be eliminated )
- Top- Rascal
- Mid- BDD
- Jungle- Clid
- Bot- Ruler
- Support- Life
Korea’s third seed (who I believe should have been the second seed) comes in as the deserving favorites in this group. They are rock solid from top to bottom and filled to the brim with Worlds experience and World Champions. To me, Gen.G is a serious contender to win the whole thing. That has to start with a convincing performance in the group stage.
I’m confident they can do it because of their stylistic range. In the spring, Gen. G played a slow style that focused on scaling up into the late game for team fights. Then, when they matched up against the fast-paced Chinese teams at the Mid-Season Cup, they completely flipped the script and matched their aggression. That style carried them through the summer season in the LCK. If the Play-in stages are any indication of what the meta will be like in the main event, we are headed back towards a traditional team fight meta. That fits Gen.G perfectly. Their best games are where Rascal and Life are playing front line tanks and BDD and Ruler are dishing out damage safely from the back line. Gen. G should get through this group with ease and could go 6-0.
Recommended bets: Full size on Gen.G to win group (-140)
Team SoloMid (+550 to win group, -250 to be eliminated)
- Top- BrokenBlade
- Mid- Bjergsen
- Jungle- Spica
- Bot- Doublelift
- Support- Biofrost
Most people who believe in TSM as the underdog are going to make their arguments based on two things: fit in the metagame and Bjergsen. They are both relevant arguments against Fnatic and LGD. TSM is at their core a teamfighting team and Bjergsen could easily emerge as the best player in this group. The problem for me is that Gen.G has a better argument for both of those: BDD is the best player in the group and they are the more consistent teamfighters. But I see another way TSM could pull off the upset.
To me, TSM’s best shot against Gen.G will come through the top lane. BrokenBlade prefers to play a carry-style counter pick over tanks, that is in direct opposition to Gen.G’s Rascal. If TSM was to focus on getting Brokenblade ahead on a champion like Jax or Camille like they did in the LCS playoffs, Rascal could crumble. It’s one of the ways that Damwon was able to be so dominant in Korea this year and Gen.G has struggled to have an answer for it. Is it the most likely scenario? No, but +550 puts this into the “bettable” zone for me.
Recommended bets: Half size on TSM to win the group (+550)
LGD (+550 to win group, -210 to be eliminated)
- Top- LangX
- Mid- xiye
- Jungle- Peanut
- Bot- Kramer
- Support- Mark
LGD were one loss away from not even making the play-in knockout stages in what would have been the most shocking upset in the history of LoL World Championship history. It is unheard of for a Chinese team to not get out of play-ins. Then, LGD went 6-0 through the knockout stages and played closer to the standard we expect for LPL teams. Sounds like a perfect spot for a “buy low” on a team from a historically strong region, right?
I’m not buying it. LGD is as individually talented as any team at this tournament, but still have not addressed the macro issues that have plagued them all year. There are times where they play as if they have in-game communication turned off. Even though they ended up going undefeated in their knockout serieses, there were plenty of situations where better teams would have beat them. They will meet those teams in this group.
Recommended bets: None
DRX (+400 to win group, +450 to be eliminated)
- Top- Doran
- Mid- Chovy
- Jungle- Pyosik
- Bot- Deft
- Support- Keria
DRX is another team that could make an argument for the most talented team in the world with one clear flaw: drafting. Occasionally, DRX will try out team compositions with such limited win conditions that their players have to play perfectly to execute it. They are good enough to sometimes win that way, but the question often is: “why back yourself into that corner?”
Generally, drafting issues are easier to fix than gameplay ones. DRX could have been just testing the limits of how they could win in the regular season and will come to this championship with a more standard gameplan. If that’s the case, +400 is tremendous value for them to win this group. They individually outclass Flyquest and Unicorns of Love to a level that it would be a significant upset for them to drop a game to either of those teams.
Then, they just have to beat the tournament favorites, Top Esports, in one or two games. It’s a tall ask, but something they are capable of. DRX’s mid laner, Chovy, is usually one of the first names mentioned in the “best player in the world” conversation. He tore through his matchup with Gen.G’s BDD (another highly-regarded player) in the LCK playoffs. If he can get the better of the other consensus “best player in the world”, TES’ Knight, in a matchup or two DRX will top this group. Additionally, DRX can be confident in their bot lane up against Top. When on their game, Keria and Deft are nearly impossible to beat. With one of Deft’s signature picks, Kog’ Maw, coming back into the metagame, look for DRX’s bot lane to be on their game.
Recommended bets: DRX to win group (+400)
FlyQuest(+2000 to win the group, -2500 to be eliminated)
- Top- Solo
- Mid- PowerofEvil
- Jungle- Santorin
- Bot- Wildturtle
- Support- Ignar
Let’s keep this brief: FlyQuest does not have the talent to compete here and will not be advancing beyond the group stage. It’s unfortunate for North America’s second seed who had a dream season off the strength of the mid-jungle duo, Santorin and PowerofEvil. They will be solidly the third best duo in this group, their bot lane too will be the worst or second worst, and finally, their top laner is easily the weakest in this group. I could go on about their style or stats, but when you’re at the kind of talent deficit they are here, it doesn’t really matter.
Recommended bets: None
Top Esports (-400 to win group, +1600 to be eliminated)
- Top- 369
- Mid- Knight
- Jungle- Karsa
- Bot- Jackeylove
- Support- yuyanjia
Top Esports is undoubtedly a top 3 team at this tournament. They won the strongest league in the LPL. They have an argument for best player in Knight. They can play the game in a myriad of ways and rely on every single player to carry them. These odds suggest that they are the runaway favorite with no flaws. To me, they’re not that.
Despite having a reputation as invincible, their bot lane is beatable. Jackeylove is the kind of player who looks unbelievable in wins and terrible in losses. It is because he believes he can outplay his opponents in every situation. Sometimes that means he snowballs the game for his team, other times that means he lets his opponents back into games unnecessarily or gets set behind. If he tries to outplay against Keria and Deft, they can abuse him. This is strictly about value. I still expect Top Esports to win this group, but -400 is way too heavy for them.
Recommended bets: None
Unicorns of Love (+2500 to win group, -5000 to be eliminated)
- Top- Boss
- Mid- NoManz
- Jungle- AhaHaCik
- Bot- Gadget
- Support- SaNTaS
There will be opportunities to bet on Unicorns of Love at long odds in this group stage, but to win the group is not one of them. They are, like Flyquest, at too much of a talent disadvantage to truly compete. Their style of team is very good at getting upsets in one-offs, but I don’t expect them to be consistent enough to win.
Still, they impressed in the play-in stage. The Unicorns play aggressive, early game focused LoL that can shock teams that are better than them. Their top laner, Boss, could show up as the second best top laner in this group. In the play-in stage, he consistently pressured all of his opponents and moved multiple teams off their gameplan to respond to him. UoL could easily use that strategy to win against Flyquest and it could be viable against DRX as well. Those individual matchups are bettable in my opinion, but there’s still no way they come first in this group.
Recommended bets: None