Typically, it’s dangerous to make sweeping statements after one or two weeks of play, but there are two I am ready to make: G2 is the best team in the LEC, and Team Liquid is the best team in the LCS. It’s not exactly a bold take, Team Liquid was the second most likely team to win the LCS according to the odds and G2 was the runaway favorite in the LEC before the season began. But what is rare is how quickly these two teams have established themselves as the “teams to beat” in their respective leagues. Usually, the first few weeks are filled with variance and upsets as the best teams try to establish themselves. Not so for TL and G2 right now, who are 5-1 and 3-0 respectively.
It’s not just that the teams are winning that is impressive, but the loose and at times careless ways in which they are winning. Both have looked bored with normal gameplay already and have ventured into “limit-testing” to motivate themselves. It is confirmation of the preseason whispers that these teams were absolutely dominant in the scrimmages that teams play for practice during the week. We can’t crown Team Liquid and G2 yet (Cloud9, 100 Thieves, Rogue, and Fnatic would all feel rightfully aggrieved), but I have little doubt that the path to the LEC and LCS championships will run through these two.
As for the rest of the teams, the Western leagues have never been closer. In the past, there has always been a few teams that felt totally hopeless, but even Astralis and Golden Guardians (who I power ranked at the bottom of their leagues) feel like they have some reason for optimism and can pull upsets against middle-of-the-leaguers. It’s a refreshing look for the leagues and for DFS players/bettors. More teams in the middle mean that there are more opportunities for value rather than lots of big favorites and big dogs. With that in mind, let’s get to the betting opportunities:
LEC and LCS Week 2 preview (Moneylines and Game Lines)
The LCS is in the Semi-Final and Final stage of their “preseason” tournament, meaning their matches this week will be played in a 5 game series, hence the “Game Line”. LEC is in regular-season play, and matches are played in best of 1s.
- 100 Thieves (+135, +1.5 (-155)) vs. Cloud9 (-190, -1.5 (+115))
- Evil Geniuses (+165, +1.5 (-135)) vs. Team Liquid (-230, -1.5 (+115))
- Mad Lions (-175) vs. Excel (+125)
- G2 (-1200) vs. Astralis (+575)
- Schalke 04 (-155) vs. SK (+115)
- Misfits (+195) vs. Rogue (-280)
- Vitality (+230) vs. Fnatic (-335)
- Excel (-220) vs. Astralis (+160)
- Vitality (+325) vs. Rogue (-500)
- Misfits (-170) vs. SK (+125)
- Schalke 04 (+370) vs. G2 (-600)
- Fnatic (-145) vs. Mad Lions (+105)
Astralis (+575) vs. G2 (-1200)
G2 is going to have a lot of -1000 somethings next to their name this season. Some of them will be deserved, some will just be because the public loves to hammer G2 when they can get them at a moneyline anywhere near -200. This one is deserved. It would be a total shock if Astralis won this game. The talent discrepancy on display in this game will be as if the Lakers and Pistons or Chiefs and Jets were playing.
Game of the week
Fnatic (-145) vs. Mad Lions (+105)
Two 1-2 teams rarely get “game of the week” status, but these are not typical 1-2 teams. Both have one loss to a top team (G2 and Rogue) and a loss to Misfits, who are getting the look of a top team. Both are trying to acclimate to playing with a new key player: Mid laner, Nisqy, for Fnatic and jungler, Elyoya, for Mad Lions. Both project to get better and crack the top 4 as the season progresses. This will be the first stepping stone towards meeting their lofty preseason expectations for whoever wins this one.
Early value plays
Bet: Misfits ML (-170) vs. SK Gaming
The public and the books haven’t caught up to this fact: the Misfits are really good. They have a +8.0% GSPD according to oracleselixir.com. They have wins against Mad Lions and Fnatic and could easily be 3-0, if not for a pretty poor drafting stage from their coaches against Vitality. Here’s what’s so exciting about Misfits: they already know exactly who they are. They are a team with solid veterans who are going to go even in the top lane and the bot lane and two young studs in their mid lane and jungle, who they are going to count on to carry the team. Razork has started the season as the best jungler in the league. The current meta of junglers who can dominate objectives and dish out damage in the team fights fit him perfectly. He is the kind of transcendent playmaker that every great team needs.
This line is just way too low for a matchup of a top of the table team against a bottom of the table team. For comparison, this is the same moneyline you can get in the Super Bowl for a matchup of the NFL’s top two teams. SK is not close to Misfits level. They are the third worst team in the league in GSPD and have a worse player at every position when compared with Misfits. Misfits should win this closer to 75% of the time, rather than the 63% that a -170 moneyline implies.
Bet: Fnatic ML (-145) vs. Mad Lions
As discussed earlier, both of these teams have had problems to start the season, and, really, it’s the same problem: overplaying. Both teams have players who believe in their own talents so much that they will try to outplay from losing situations rather than back off and live to fight another day. Mid laner Humanoid from Mad Lions, in particular, is doing this to a problematic degree and leads the league in solo deaths. This problem feels a bit stickier for Mad Lions to me.
Fnatic when they needed a win after a 0-2 start showed a much more controlled look against Schalke 04 on Sunday. They still stuck to what makes them great–dictating tempo with aggressive play– but rather than only looking for small skirmishes and ill-advised team fights they used their aggressive play to take map objectives. Fnatic will never be the slow, methodical team like Rogue nor should they be. But seeing them show some restraint in mid game teamfights was a promising sign for the future of this team. Mad Lions are entirely built around Humanoid, their wildest player. They will live and die with his, at times, amazing and, at other times, puzzling 1v1 battles until he figures out how to rein it in. I don’t see him reining it in here against the veteran squad of Fnatic. Fnatic should win here and win with big scoring for all you DFS players.
Bet: Team Liquid -1.5 Games (+100) vs. Evil Geniuses
I made the case for Team Liquid in the intro, but here’s some statistical backup to show just how dominant they have been. They currently have a +14.1% GSPD on oracleselixir.com. That makes them one of three teams across the World with a better than +10% GSPD. Teams with those kinds of numbers are not just winning, but controlling essentially all aspects of the game and amassing huge gold leads. Team Liquid is doing that in the LCS Lock-In tournament. Their laners are getting gold and CS leads on their own and Santorin is transitioning that into Jungle domination. TL’s only loss was before Santorin arrived in America and with a substitute jungler, since his arrival TL has looked downright unbeatable.
Evil Geniuses while playing great LoL are probably a little overrated at the moment. Despite also being 5-1 in the tournament, their GSPD is only +6.8% so far. The eye test also says they have left the door open for their opponents so far. During game 1 of their series against Golden Guardians, GGS popped out to an early game lead thanks to aggressive jungling. Evil Geniuses were able to use their veteran experience to pull the game back and get the win, but if they do that against Liquid they will lose. Their 5-1 is also a little bit tainted by the strength of competition. EG’s group had Flyquest, Immortals, CLG, and Dignitas, all teams that project outside of the playoffs and were expected to be worse than EG. I give EG credit for taking care of business, but I am skeptical of the idea that they are a top team. Team Liquid should get ahead early and often in this series and win 3-1 or 3-0. The 3-0 for TL currently pays +325 and is also worth a look.
Prop bet of the week
Team Liquid First Drake vs. Evil Geniuses (-110)
I would be careful here as this is a double-dip with the Team Liquid -1.5 games bet, but there is definite value. Team Liquid has taken 100% of the First Drakes in their 6 games so far. EG has taken 50%. Both teams have won 5 games and lost one. That should tell us something: TL values first dragons much more than Evil Geniuses. First Drakes are a key part of TL’s gameplan for winning the game, while it is just a nice bonus for EG who prefer to use ganks and roams to get laners ahead. Couple their priority on first Drake with what was written above about TL being far and away the better team, I would expect them to dictate the pace and play of these games. If that is true, they will almost definitely take the first drake more often than EG. I would place a small bet on them to take the First Drake on all the maps, so that if the series goes to 5 games you can still be profitable with TL getting the first Drake in at least three of the games.