I love playoff LoL. Others might get excited by the variance and chaos of trying to predict what +400 dog is going to win each week in the LEC and LCS regular seasons, but for me, watching the best teams make in series adjustments, play what they think is best, and pull out their pocket picks is infinitely more interesting. It is also much more projectable. My playoff/tournament betting record compared to the regular season is about as stark as it gets. Last year, I broke even or lost money during the regular season in essentially every league, to then win it all back in the playoffs. This year, I was up about 4 units going into the playoffs and just won 11 units in two days last weekend betting on the playoffs. Let’s take a look:
That’s our record after taking advantage of some mispriced lines early in the week last week in the LCS. Those kind of spots seem to come along once a week in the playoffs as the books base their lines seemingly only on the teams’ regular season performance/records rather than more telling stats on their gold income, objective rates, etc. This week certainly has a few more of these lines for us to take advantage of and hopefully build the bankroll up before we had back to the variance zone of the regular season. So without further ado, this week’s games:
Fnatic (-525, -2.5 (+160)) vs. SK (+340, +2.5 (-200))
I’m going to keep this one relatively short because two things are true about this game: the stats favor an SK bet and everything I know about the LEC says to make a Fnatic -2.5 bet. I am guessing a lot of folks are going to love the FNC -2.5 here, but I just can’t get there. Fnatic beats themselves way too often to believe in the 3-0 right now. At some point, we have to believe what they’re telling us: they are an immensely talented team who has little direction in game and back themselves into weird corners during the drafting stage. SK has overperformed all season by playing scaling compositions and letting their opponents beat themselves. They’re not even close talent-wise with Fnatic, but if I had to guess they grab one of the games because Fnatic gives it to them. I rarely bet on feelings though, and definitely don’t lay -200 on them. This is a full pass for me.
The Picks: Pass
G2 (-750, -2.5 (+120)) vs. FC Schalke 04 (+450, +2.5 (-155))
Here’s another one that I think a lot of people will think is relatively easy and this time I agree. This is a slam dunk for G2 on the map line. There’s nothing new to say about G2. They are the kings of Europe. They have the best player (on their day) at their position at every position, they have an excellent +8% GSPD, and can win with essentially every kind of playstyle. Other teams in Europe try to narrow down “their” playstyle to focus on and perfect, G2 will play a poke composition one week and a front-to-back teamfight composition the next. If G2 decides they want to, I think they should sweep this series more like 70% of the time.
A large part of that is because I don’t really believe in Schalke. They definitely improved at the end of the season and went on a nice little run, but I don’t think we should throw away their midseason slump, especially because their 3-0 run was against Fnatic, Vitality, and Excel. They have played similarly to SK this season by letting the other team come into them and trying to outplay them with map control and split pushing. That is an awful strategy against G2 who trade up in every single macro play against even the best LEC teams. Schalke’s not that. G2 roll.
The Picks: G2 -2.5 (+120) 2u
Rogue (-418, -1.5 (-167)) vs. Mad Lions (+317, +1.5 (+137))
I want to bet Mad Lions here. It’s very rare that you get a team as talented as Mad Lions at a +300 or more number. I just can’t bring myself to do it. You can definitely construct win conditions for Mad Lions: Humanoid could outclass Larssen on the day, the good version of Carzzy and Kaiser could show up, Mad Lions could have unique picks prepared like they did last year against G2, but none of those have been consistent throughout this year for Mad Lions. In fact, consistent is not a word you could associate with any member of Mad this year outside of the jungle.
It is, however, THE word I would use to describe Rogue. They are unbelievably consistent against every team not named G2. Larssen gets lane advantages consistently, Inspired controls the jungle consistently, Odoamne consistently supports his team, and the bot lane consistently gets priority that turn into early drake takes. That’s kind of the nightmare team for Mad Lions who will often take a fight whether they have the vision to do so or not. Rogue also just outclasses Mad Lions in all of my favorite stats: they have a +8.4% GSPD compared to Mad Lions’ +2.6%, a 10.3 MLR compared to Mad’s -6.7, and even in Mad Lions’ strength the Early Game, Rogue has a 67.5 EGR compared to Mad’s 62.2. I do believe Mad Lions are talented enough to get a game here, but the implied 62.5% on Rogue sweeping or winning 3-1 is showing a little value for me and I’m going to bet with the numbers.
The Picks: Rogue -1.5 (-167) 1u
TSM (-170, -1.5 (+125)) vs. Evil Geniuses (+130, -1.5 (-165))
My friend Gelati of The Esports Department made the case that TSM could have easily won every game against Team Liquid, but threw each away with subtle and not so subtle misplays. It’s what separates good teams from great teams and I thought Team Liquid were deserving winners, but points to the fact that a lot is going right for TSM right now, especially in the pretty convincing game 3 win. TSM knows who they are: They are a top side focused team who relies on PowerofEvil to play heavy scaling champions and win for them in the late game. They mostly play great defensive LoL.
If you were building a team to beat Evil Geniuses in a lab, it would probably look a lot like TSM. EG’s main weakness comes from the unpredictable play of Jizuke, who plays like an Anti-PoE, desperately trying to push every advantage he can in the early-mid game, sometimes to disastrous results. PoE feasts on this kind of player. He doesn’t let them take over the lane and then outmaneuvers them in the late game. A lot of folks are going to focus on the Top Lane as a big advantage spot for EG with the Impact-Huni matchup, and early in the season, I would have agreed, but TSM has been actually supporting Huni and setting him up to succeed the past few weeks and won’t abandon him like they did in lock-in. In that scenario, I think the players have comparable ceilings, with Huni having the lower floor. It’s just hard for me to imagine the top difference being the reason anyone wins this series, and in the stats, TSM is the better team by far. With a +5.0% GSPD in the regular season compared to EG’s -0.3%, there’s really no comparing the teams when it comes to getting consistent gold advantages. I think folks really underestimate how much these differences show up in a 5 game series compared to a one-off. Could EG get a game with a good game plane in a one-off like they did in the regular season? Sure. Will TSM be in winning situations throughout the majority of the games like the stats say they should be? Also Yes. If they can convert those better than they did against Team Liquid (who are much better than EG), this is a fairly easy TSM win.
The Picks: TSM ML (-153) 3u, TSM -1.5 (+147) 2u, TSM 3-0 (+427) 1u
100 Thieves (-187, -1.5 (+124)) vs. Dignitas (+152, +1.5 (-150))
These are two of my least favorite teams in the LCS and I think the public is probably a little bit too high on both of them, but I keep coming back to this: If you just wrote down the names on each of these teams on paper and tried to make a preseason line on a best of 5, it would have been something like 100T at -600, but now after weeks of Dignitas overperforming and 100T returning to Earth after a perfect meta and a hot start, we get 100 Thieves at -187. I think what happened this season matters and Dignitas is certainly better than I thought, but they are also highly fraudulent. They have a -2.4% GSPD (the same as Flyquest) and a 40.8 Early Game Rating which is 4th worst in the league. They’re the kind of team that always eventually loses in LoL: the counter attackers. They let their opponents get huge early game leads and then wait for them to make mistakes in the late game and hopefully win on a coinflip. Nothing has made me more money than betting the other side of this kind of team when they’ve strung together a few wins. It was profitable with Excel in the LEC this year and has started to turn a profit with Dignitas as well with a late season slide. 100T does not inspire a lot of confidence, but will overrun Dig enough times in this series to pull it out.
The Picks: 100 Thieves ML (-187) 1u