What a win by Suning this morning! I decided to hedge all my futures positions on JDG with a Suning ML bet last night and, boy, am I glad about that! Everything I thought would push JDG over the edge in this series– teamfighting, macro gameplay, and experience– looked like it belonged to Suning. The fears I had about Suning– a support who sometimes ints his face off and a mid laner who regularly mechanically misplays– looked to belong to JDG on the day. I’m really starting to wish I had pulled the trigger on Suning to win Worlds at 16-1 yesterday. Can’t win’ em all, but we’re going to try tonight:
Top Esports vs. Fnatic
- Top- TES 369 vs. FNC Bwipo The Edge: TES
- Jungle- TES Karsa vs. FNC Selfmade The Edge: FNC
- Mid- TES Knight vs. FNC Nemesis The Edge: TES
- Bot- TES Jackeylove and Yuyanjia vs. FNC Rekkles and Hyllisang The Edge: TES
It’s pretty clear to me at this point that I underrated Fnatic coming into this tournament. I thought that Nemesis was guaranteed to be a liability and their inconsistent gameplay would bite them against high quality competition. Nemesis has played totally under control and a meta shift towards a sort of “weak” mid lane suits him perfectly. He can play Zilean, Lulu or his signature Lucian every game and Fnatic is seemingly better for it. Then, on the gameplay side, where they might have taken a 3v3 coinflip in the enemy jungle because Hyllisang wanted to in the LEC, they are playing measured, macro LoL on the international stage. In fact, in the matchup they won against Gen.G, it was Gen.G who played the frantic, all-in support who threw the game away.
Without Nemesis being a clear liability, it was easy to see a path to contention for Fnatic. Hylli, Rekkles, and Bwipo have all proven themselves on the international stage before and Selfmade cemented himself as the star of the team in Summer. I had doubts about him transitioning his dominant jungling style to the international stage, but so far he has been the breakout player of the tournament and has gotten the better of international stars like Clid and Peanut. Whether or not that lasts into the knockout rounds remains to be seen, but Fnatic has been undoubtedly better than I expected.
Still, they have not played a team like Top Esports yet. That is partially because there is no other team like TES at this tournament. They were far and away the odds on favorite to win it all before the tournament and remain co-favorites with Damwon at the current iteration of the odds. Outside of the support position, you can make credible arguments that they have the best player at each position in the tournament. Top reminds me a bit of Manchester City Football Club. They have bought such a talented collection of players that often it does not matter how they play the game. If every player on the map or field can outplay their opponent and produce individual moments of magic, the fact that they don’t execute team concepts perfectly doesn’t matter. They never go into a game wondering if they have the talent to compete.
It is that confidence that makes TES occasionally beatable. In their game against Flyquest, we got a pretty good script on how to upset them. First, you have to contest them in the early game, if you let TES dictate the pace of the game in the early game you don’t have a shot in the mid or late game teamfights. Flyquest elected to go with a level 1 cheese, but Fnatic is good enough that playing the way they normally do with Selfmade heavily contesting enemy jungle camps could be enough. From that point is where TES’ overconfidence can kick in. They will opt into fight after fight, even at a deficit, believing that they can outplay enough to overcome. They did that against Flyquest and were punished, Fnatic is certainly good enough to punish as well.
This matchup also has some underlying numbers that suggests it’s closer than we might think. Through the group stage of the tournament, the teams sported nearly identical GSPDs with +5.3% for TES and +5.5% for FNC. Neither group was necessarily harder than the other, so for Fnatic to have beat their opponents by a larger gold margin than Top is a surprise, especially with Top having a nearly 1.89 Kill to death ratio. It is the statistical confirmation of some of the issues we discussed earlier. Top will fight and usually win, but their execution of larger macro concepts and objective control is not always perfect.
Those issues make the +2.5 games number of -155 ridiculous here. That means they only expect Fnatic to win one of the first three games 60% of the time. I have them winning one of the first three games nearly 75% of the time, so this number presents a lot of value. Top should come out on, well, top, but Fnatic will have something to say before the contest is over.
The other value I see in this contest is the total of 26.5. Fnatic and Top have both been two of the lower total teams on average in this tournament. Fnatic has gone under 27 total kills in 5 of their 6 matchups and Top Esports has gone under 27 kills in 4 of their 6 matchups. This meta with such an emphasis on efficient jungle clearing and farming also feels like it will tend towards lower kill totals. I have the total available on the first three maps and will be going under on every one.
The Picks: Fnatic +2.5 games (-155) 2u, Fnatic +1.5 games (+250) 1u, Under 26.5 kills on Maps 1,2 and 3 (-115) 1u each