The Highlights

  • The first international tournament of the year is now in the playoffs.
  • Four teams face off over the next three days.
  • This is the last chance to see international competition before the world championship.

We’ve had 15 days of action in the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI): We started with eight play-in teams (two of which made the main event), and for the past week we’ve seen six of the best teams in the world compete against each other in a round-robin tournament.

But now the playoffs are here, and four teams remain. I predicted three of the four teams to make the playoffs, but the Flash Wolves have surprised in the MSI. Entering the playoffs, these four teams seem rather evenly matched, primarily because the teams with the most skill have been playing and drafting the worst, which makes the outcome of the matchups and playoffs difficult to predict. Even so, there are still some solid bets to make in what is the culminating weekend of the biggest international League of Legends event of the year till the world championships.

 

This tournament has been good to us: If you had put one unit on every MSI bet I recommended in my articles and on Twitter, you’d be up +13.6 units. I was also lucky enough to get several first-place finishes in the $50 Counter Gank and $100 Power Spike guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) during the play-in stage of the event. Hopefully we can finish this last weekend of MSI action strong.

If you’re new to esports, check out my League introduction. While this piece is focused primarily on League betting, it has relevance to daily fantasy as well. For some evergreen insight related to League DFS, take a look at my piece on the three biggest esports DFS mistakes and how to avoid them.

Here are my breakdowns for the two Friday and Saturday matchups, the winners of which will play each other in the finals on Sunday. Lines are from Bovada.

Royal Never Give Up vs. Fnatic

Friday 5/18: 6 am ET

  • Royal: -650
  • Fnatic: +400

MSI Kills per Win

  • Royal: 14.1
  • Fnatic: 14.1

MSI Deaths per Loss

  • Royal: 7.0
  • Fnatic: 16.0

Royal Never Give Up

Roster: Player (Most Played Champion), MSI Kills/Deaths/Assists Averaged

  • Top: Letme (Ornn), 1/1/4.6
  • Jungle: MLXG (Olaf/Graves), 2/1.5/5
  • Mid: Xiaohu (Karma), 2.2/1.3/6
  • ADC: Uzi (Xayah), 5.6/0.8/4
  • Support: Ming (Rakan), 0.9/1.2/8.9

Fnatic

Roster: Player (Most Played Champion), MSI Kills/Deaths/Assists Averaged

  • Top: Bwipo (Sion), 1.2/3/4.6
  • Jungle: Broxah (Trundle), 1.8/1.8/4.8
  • Mid: Caps (Yasuo), 3.8/3.3/4
  • ADC: Rekless (Sivir), 2.7/1/3.6
  • Support: Hylissang (Braum), 0.4/3/6.1

Analysis

Royal has looked like the best team in the event. They’re the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, and they deserve to be. What’s scary for their opponents is that Royal has dominated with good macro play. They’ve averaged the fewest deaths in losses and the second-fewest kills in wins throughout the tournament. They are simply outmaneuvering their opponents, largely due to Uzi. His incredible average of 0.8 deaths per game leads the tournament, and his team fighting has been second to none.

The only problem with Royal — and it’s not a small problem — is that everyone else on the team has been shaky. They’ve maintained their manic nature: They beat their main rivals in KINGZONE DragonX (who made the playoffs), but they also lost to Team Liquid (who missed the playoffs). Royal is not invincible.

Fnatic, meanwhile, has simply not been good at this event. They started strong, winning three of their first five matchups, but after a few tough games they seemed to lack confidence, and they lost four of their last five. During their slump, they notably changed how they drafted. They stopped selecting the type of compositions they’d had success with and started experimenting with weaker lanes, seemingly trying to find anything to get their confidence back.

In their last match, which they needed to win to make the playoffs, they seemed to take a step forward, as they drafted a more aggressive composition and played aggressively on their way to a rout of Liquid. Confidence is key for this team, and it’s hard to say if they’ll come into this match prepared.

Prediction: RNG 3-1

I think Royal is going to win this match, but I strongly believe that if Fnatic can win Game 1 and gain confidence then they can win this matchup. Royal has shown a propensity to sub their jungle players in times of trouble, and it can throw off the chemistry in the team and cause bad compositions if they don’t handle it correctly. If Fnatic wins Game 1 they will have a real shot to win the series, but overall I like Royal to take it down.

Picks

There’s not a lot of value in betting on the Fnatic moneyline, but I do like Fnatic +2.5 (-175).

If Fnatic wins Game 1, their odds to win future games will increase greatly: For these two teams in particular, momentum is going to be important. If Fnatic wins Game 1, I’d also like:

  • Fnatic Game 2: +250
  • Fnatic Game 3: +250

I’m avoiding the rest of the props as of now.

KINGZONE DragonX vs. Flash Wolves

Saturday 5/20: 6 am ET

  • KINGZONE DragonX: -330
  • Flash Wolves: +255

MSI Kills per Win

  • KINGZONE DragonX: 17.8
  • Flash Wolves: 12.8

MSI Deaths per Loss

  • KINGZONE DragonX: 15.7
  • Flash Wolves: 13.0

Flash Wolves

Roster: Player (Most Played Champion), MSI Kills/Deaths/Assists Averaged

  • Top: Hanabi (Gangplank), 1/2/4.5
  • Jungle: Moojin (Trundle). 2.1/1.8/5.1
  • Mid: Maple (Zoe), 3.6/1/4.9
  • ADC: Betty (Ezreal/KogMaw), 3.6/1/5
  • Support: SwordArt (Morgana), 0.6/1.5/8.8

KINGZONE DragonX

Roster: Player (Most Played Champion), MSI Kills/Deaths/Assists Averaged

  • Top: Khan (Camille), 2.4/2.1/4
  • Jungle: Peanut (Zac), 1.7/1.3/6.4
  • Mid: BDD (Ryze/Karma), 2.9/1.8/5.1
  • ADC: Pray (Ezreal), 4.6/2/5
  • Support: Gorilla (Tahm Kench), 0.6/2.7/8.5

Analysis

The only question is whether KINGZONE actually shows up. Flash Wolves have been better than KINGZONE in every possible way at this event. But KINGZONE is unquestionably the better team. They dominated the toughest region in the world to get here, and I don’t know a single esports fan who didn’t have them pegged to win before the group stage started.

But how about now?

KINGZONE seems shaken, and they have demonstrated zero ability to adapt to the international meta. They haven’t done anything identifiable to stabilize their play after losses. They managed to win their matchups against non-playoff teams, but against the playoff teams they went 2-4, tied with Fnatic for worst mark among the four remaining units. They also lost both their matches to Flash Wolves.

I doubted Flash Wolves entering the event, but their MSI play has been superb. Here’s the problem: They’ve shown only one strategy, which has been strong, but KINGZONE has some of the best coaches in the world.

Prediction: KINGZONE DragonX 3-2

With a few days off, the KINGZONE coaches should be able to come up with something to deal with the upstart Flash Wolves.

Picks

Despite thinking that KINGZONE will win, I like the odds that the underdogs are getting, especially when they’ve already beaten their opponents in head-to-head matchups twice over the last week. Given how close I expect this series to be, I’m taking Flash Wolves +255.

Props haven’t been posted yet for this matchup, but I might put some action on those as well.

League DFS

There is only one slate for these two games. KINZONE and Royal stacks are easily the safest for cash games, but in GPPs every team is live. Fnatic and Flash Wolves stacks in GPPs could pay off big in the event of an upset. In GPPs I expect Royal to be stacked at 70-80%, Flash Wolves and KINGZONE about 50%, and Fnatic around 20-30%.

Till next time, I’ll see you on the rift.

Pictured above: Flash Wolves, 2018 MSI

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@Nty9problemsDFS