- The North American (NA) and European (EU) League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) starts this weekend.
- A new patch has changed the landscape of the summer split.
- Junglers and mid-laners are the most important players in the new meta.
After a few weeks off, League of Legends is back! While games have already started in the Chinese LPL and Korean LCK, the action in North America and Europe kicks off this Friday. With the summer split, Riot Games has released a new metagame that has already shaken up professional play in Asia, and we should expect to see the same in NA and EU LCS. Thanks to the new meta, many betting lines in this first week of play are exploitable, which means it’s time to make some money.
If you’re new to esports, check out my League introduction. While I focus primarily on League betting in this breakdown, it has relevance to daily fantasy as well. For some evergreen insight related to League DFS, be sure to check out my strategy pieces on the three biggest esports DFS mistakes and how to avoid them and the two most important stats for League DFS.
The New Meta
While the attack damage carry (ADC) position has traditionally ruled professional play, in this new patch all but the most powerful of ADC champions have been weakened to such an extent that most teams thus far have turned to bizarre combinations of bruisers and assassins if they can’t get their hands on the most priority ADCs during the draft phase.
The new metagame is also extremely aggressive. Compared to the spring split, the average game time is down almost a full five minutes in the leagues that have already started. Whereas late-game skill was crucial in the previous patch, in the spring split it seems as if early-game ability is more important.
With all these factors taken into account, we’ll want to back teams with strong jungle and mid-lane players. Strong junglers will help their team get ahead early, and since ADCs have been weakened it will be up to midlaners in this meta to do a lot of the carrying.
Here are some matchups I’ll be targeting this weekend. (All odds are taken from Bovada.)
100 Thieves vs. Team Liquid: Saturday 6/16 at 5 p.m. ET
- 100 Thieves: +110
- Liquid: -135
- Bet: 100 Thieves +110
Liquid’s reliance on their superstar ADC in a meta that doesn’t fit him bodes badly for the former champs in a finals rematch. I’ll take my shot on the more balanced squad at plus odds.
TSM vs. CLG: Saturday 6/16 at 6 p.m. ET
- TSM: -220
- CLG: +170
- Bet: CLG +170
CLG is a well-balanced team with a longstanding jungle/mid synergy, and TSM’s botlane has already seemed to cause communication problems. TSM is probably still a favorite, but the positive odds are too good to pass up here.
Golden Guardians vs. Optic Gaming: Sunday 6/17 at 3 p.m. ET
- GGS: -105
- Optic: -120
- Bet: GGS -105
GGS and Optic were the two worst early-game teams in the LCS last split, but GGS should be improved following their decision to replace Hai as the mid-laner. I expect Optic to end this split at the bottom of the standings.
Clutch Gaming vs. Echo Fox: Sunday 6/17 at 6 p.m. ET
- Clutch: +145
- Echo Fox: -185
- Bet: Echo Fox -185
Clutch managed to end last split successfully despite being down an average of 837 gold at 15 minutes, but that slow-play strategy won’t be successful in this meta. This isn’t a meta in which that strategy will be successful. EchoFox is one of the the best early-game teams in the league. I’m happy to lay a bit on Rick Fox’s squad.
Team Vitality vs. Splyce: Friday 6/15 at noon ET
- Vitality: +120
- Splyce: -155
- Bet: Vitality +120
Vitality’s 52.6 early-game rating was the fourth-best mark in the league last split, and they have one of the best jungle/mid synergies in the league with Gilius and Jiizuke. They are also one of only four teams to average a positive gold differential at 15 minutes in the EU LCS. Spylce is the better team, but Vitality should be primed to go on a run in this meta.
Unicorns of Love vs. Schalke 04: Friday 6/15 at 2 p.m. ET
- Unicorns: +130
- Schalke: -165
- Bet: Unicorns +130
Schalke’s downgrade from Pride to Amazing at the jungle position couldn’t have come at a worse time, and their terrible jungle/mid synergy is likely to limit them early in the season.
G2 vs. ROCCAT: Friday 6/15 at 3 p.m. ET
- G2: -210
- ROCCAT: +165
- Bet: G2 -210
G2 sported the second-best early-game rating in the league last season at 56.5. Additionally, G2 averaged +808 gold at 15 minutes, whereas the weak ROCCAT team had a -144 differential at 15 minutes. I’ll lay some odds on the former kings of Europe.
Team Vitality vs. Giants Gaming: Saturday 6/16 at 1 p.m. ET
- Vitality: -165
- Giants: +135
- Bet: Vitality -165
As is the case in their earlier matchup against Splyce, Vitality is just in a great spot early in the split. I’m happy to take them against a better team in Splyce; I’m certainly happy to take them against a worse team in Giants.
Fnatic vs. Schalke 04: Saturday 6/16 at 2 p.m. ET
- Fnatic: -230
- Schalke: +180
- Bet: Fnatic -230
Broxah and Caps are right up there with Gilius and Jiizuke for jungle/mid synergy, and Schalke projects to be a bottom-of-the-standings team in this split with one of the weakest jungles in the league. The reigning champs should roll through this one without much trouble.
FunPlus Phoenix vs. Snake: Friday 6/15 at 7 a.m. ET
- FPX: -110
- Snake: -115
- Bet: FPX -110
Last split, FPX sported one of the highest combined kills per minute in the world at .72 thanks to their aggressive style, which should play well in this meta. Given Snake’s substandard performance at the end of last split and in their first match this split, I’ll take FPX.
FunPlus Phoenix vs. EDward Gaming: Sunday 6/17 at 2 a.m. ET
- FPX: +305
- EDG: -400
- Bet: FPX +305
This is the riskiest bet I’ll be placing this weekend. EDG is a vastly superior team, but given how well this meta suits FPX I can’t help but take the odds on the big upset here.
I’m extremely excited to see how this meta plays out and I hope everyone enjoys watching some of the most unbelievable professional play we’ve seen in years. Until next time, I’ll see you on the rift.