Week 4 has arrived in the LEC and I am ready to eat crow on one team I underrated: Schalke 04.
This preseason I was pretty low on Schalkeâ€™s prospects thanks to one man: Gilius. He has been at times in his career near the best player in the league week to week, and then, for lengthy stretches, the worst player in the league. That kind of maddening inconsistency blinded me to the rest of the positions for Schalke which I can now see are quite solid. BrokenBlade has picked up where he left off with TSM, playing carry champions and having standout performances. Abbedagge is still a solid, upper half mid laner that can, on his day, be the best player on the rift. Neon and Limit are the kind of aggressive, if at times wild, bot lane that thrives in the current meta. Gilius, too, has so far been the good version of himself.Â It has led to a +4.1% Gold Spent Percentage Differential and a 5-2 record. Those numbers are no fluke. I was wrong about Schalkeâ€™s outlier performance in the playoffs last year. They are a team on the rise.
In the LCS, what we expected held true. This league is about two teams: Team Liquid and Cloud9. There are going to be folks who would put Evil Geniuses and 100 Thieves in that category as well, but for me, it is very hard to see them competing with these two. So far, neither team has played anywhere near their peak, but are still amassing huge leads through the strength of their individual players. Team Liquid even dropped their first game by playing an experimental team composition that had very narrow win conditions. When a team is using their first game of the regular season to test their limits, it should tell you something: they do not take their competition very seriously. When TL decided to buckle down and win their other two games this weekend, they did so with ease and had a +15.4% GSPD. There will be opportunities for betting against these teams throughout the season when they are experimenting, but when it comes to the playoffs, itâ€™s hard to see anyone but Team Liquid or Cloud9 lifting the trophy.
Matchups & Odds
- S04 (-330) vs. Astralis (+230)
- Team Vitality (-105) vs. XL (-122)
- Misfits Gaming (+290) vs. G2 (-400)
- Mad Lions (+155) vs. Rogue (-205)
- Fnatic (-275) vs. SK gaming (+210)
- S04 (-200) vs. MAD (+145)
- Vitality (-125) vs. SK (+103)
- Misfits (-174) vs. Astralis (+143)
- Fnatic (-240) vs. Excel (+193)
- G2 (-160) vs. Rogue (+120)
- Team Liquid (-800) vs. Counter Logic Gaming (+500)
- 100 Thieves (-255) vs. Flyquest (+190)
- Evil Geniuses (+125) vs. Cloud9 (-170)
- TSM (-300) vs. GGS (+210)
- Team Dignitas (-145) vs. Immortals (+105)
- Flyquest (-165) vs. CLG (+120)
- Cloud9 (-170) vs. 100 Thieves (+125)
- Golden Guardians (+110) vs. Team Dignitas (-155)
- TSM (+235) vs. Team Liquid (-335)
- Immortals (+175) vs. Evil Geniuses (-240)
- Team Liquid (-190) vs. 100 Thieves (+135)
- Immortals (+150) vs. TSM (-205)
- Evil Geniuses (-300) vs. Team Dignitas (+205)
- Cloud9 (-385) vs. Flyquest (+260)
- Golden Guardians (-110) vs. Counter Logic Gaming (-125)
Team Liquid (-800) vs. Counter Logic Gaming (+500)
CLG started off their season with two of the biggest â€œthrowsâ€ I have ever seen a professional team do. In both their game against 100T and TSM, it would be as if they had the equivalent of a 28-3 lead in the third quarter and ended up losing the game. You can take that one of two ways: give them credit for getting leads on two teams that projected to be much better than them or downgrade them because they could not even win the game when everything went right for them. I lean towards the latter. It is very unlikely that they get out to an early game lead against Team Liquid who has the 2nd highest Early Game Rating in the league. If they could not win against the inferior competition with early game leads, what happens against TL when they are behind in the early game? As appealing as +500 can be in a game as variant as LoL, I would not take it here.Â
Game of the week
G2 (-160) vs. Rogue (+120)
As much as this is a clash of two top teams in Europe, it is also a clash of two philosophies about how to play the game.
Both teams are built around the concept that the best way to win the game is by overwhelming your opponents in the early game with large gold leads, the philosophical difference comes in how to do it.
G2 likes to overwhelm their opponents by taking a bunch of early game skirmishes and overloading side lanes or the jungle. Rogue likes to overwhelm their opponents by getting leads in the laning phase and turning that into early objective and tower takes. If Rogue sees situations where they can get ahead without taking a coin-flip type fight, they usually opt for that play. G2 has never refused to take a fight in their playing careers. It should be a very interesting match that tells us just how much progress Rogue has made this season.Â
Early value plays
Bet: Rogue ML vs. Mad Lions parlayed w/ S04 ML vs. Astralis (-109)
Despite an even talent matchup with Mad Lions and Rogue, Rogue represents a little value at -210 in this stage of the season. Mad Lions is still figuring out what kind of team they are going to be and have to rely on what kind of player Humanoid decides to be on the day. He is unbelievably talented and possesses great mechanical skill, but still too often dies by himself and takes shots he does not need to. Combine that with the tendency of their bottom lane to also occasionally put themselves in compromising positions, I would expect Rogue to take care of business here. As we mentioned earlier, they are incredible at punishing mistakes and only need a kill or two in the early game to get way ahead.
Unfortunately, we are in a bit of a â€œbuy highâ€ situation with Schalke so far this year, but itâ€™s still very difficult to see them dropping a game to Astralis. Schalke has the better laners at every position on the map and the better jungler to back them up. Still laying -300 is not something I often do in a best of 1, so we are combining these two to get us near even money.
Bet: Flyquest ML (+185) vs. 100 Thieves
When making any kind of bet, itâ€™s important to calculate the implied odds of the bet hitting compared to your projected actual odds, but especially when taking a moneyline dog. For Flyquest to be a valuable bet here they only have to win the game more than 35% of the time. Meaning we can still believe that Flyquest are less likely to win the game than 100 Thieves, but still be the right team to bet. Thatâ€™s the case for me here: I put Flyâ€™s chances to win the game around 42%.
100 Thieves is fortunate to be 3-0 right now. They had to depend on Evil Geniuses and CLG throwing away two substantial early game gold leads to win their first two matches before easily dispatching Dignitas (the worst team in the league). Credit to them for taking the game when it was given to them, but thatâ€™s a difficult strategy to maintain throughout a whole season. Flyquest is a little unlucky to be 1-2 right now. They put up real fights against both Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid before eventually bowing out. Itâ€™s a good look for essentially a brand new team. They should improve on their early game and overall communication in the weeks to come and should get themselves solidly into the playoff picture. 100 Thieves are the deserving favorites, but +185 is too large for Fly.
Bet: Immortals ML (+105) vs. Team Dignitas
Sometimes in esports, there will be a line that reminds you we are in the early days of LoL bookmaking. This is one of those lines. The books have the wrong team favored here. Despite both being 1-2, the talent gap between Team Dignitas and Immortals is enormous. Immortals starts a jungler who was once one of the best junglers in the LEC, a support with LEC experience, and an ADC with World Championship experience. Dignitas starts three players who have spent the entirety of their careers hovering between the developmental league and the LCS with veterans. Immortalsâ€™ image is being dragged down by their game on Sunday with Cloud9 that was essentially over at minute two after they botched an early game jungle invade and gave Blaber a massive lead. They should have done better and deserved to lose, but games that are doomed that early are very hard to judge a team on. This is a good â€œbuy lowâ€ spot with Immortals who are way more talented than Dig.
Prop bet of the week
Cloud9 over 16.5 Kills vs. Evil Geniuses (-106)
Any LoL DFS player can tell you, Cloud9 is the bloodiest team in the LCS. There were points in the season last year where the only question one had to ask themselves when building a fantasy lineup in the LCS was â€œWhat team do I want to combine with Cloud9?â€ I think we may be headed for another one of those seasons. Cloud9 so far in their wins have 15 kills, 26 kills and 21 kills. Thatâ€™s not a huge outlier, but the context of the games matters. They were all stomps in which Cloud9 lead from minute one. Usually, those kind of games tend towards lower kill scores because thereâ€™s little to fight for. With Cloud9, they still maintained high totals. This will be their first real test of the regular season and Evil Geniuses has been a team that loves to scrap so far with 15, 22, and 22 kills in their games so far. If this game is a closer Cloud9 win like we expect it to be, they have to get at least 17 kills to win.