LOL Betting Odds & eSports Preview: League of Legends Championship Picks (Saturday, March 21)
Norbert Barczyk / PressFocus
After a one week postponement, North America’s League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) will continue. With the threat of the COVID-19 virus threatening the health of the studio audience, staff, and players, the teams will be playing remotely from their facilities on a tournament server for the rest of the season.
While this should not negatively affect the games being played, it’s a bit of a bummer for the overall audience. The broadcast and commentary will also be done remotely and can be watched for free on Twitch.
With only two weeks remaining in the regular season and with only six playoff positions for the 10 teams, the stakes are high for some and low for others.
The extra week to prepare for these matches adds a new wrinkle to handicapping the weekend slate of games. It’s possible some of these underdogs could be better equipped to play spoiler.
The playoff picture in the LCS is a complex one. Only one team (Cloud 9) has secured a playoff berth and only two wins separate second from eighth in the standings. Even the ninth-place team, Dignitas, has an outside chance to make it in. It’s anybody’s game!
Let’s take a look at the three games I’m liking quite a bit on the betting slate this weekend.
Team Solo Mid (-301) vs. Golden Guardians (+237)
- Kill spread: Team Solo Mid -6.5
- Kill total: 21.5
- Time: 5 p.m. ET
After a tumultuous start to the season, Team Solo Mid (TSM) find themselves with 8 wins and 6 losses. TSM handed the undefeated Cloud 9 their first loss in decisive fashion in Week 7 and followed it up with a win against FlyQuest to earn themselves a share of second place.
After defeating Cloud 9 and FlyQuest last week, any schedule is going to look easier, but Team Solo Mid now face Golden Guardians and Immortals, two teams vying for playoff position themselves.
Golden Guardians are currently sitting at 6-8, in a tie for 7th place, and just outside of the playoffs. Their most impressive win was against Team Liquid back in Week 3 but Liquid were without their star free agent jungler, Broxah, for that match. The Golden Guardians also managed to steal a win in a game they were losing against Evil Geniuses in Week 2.
Over the course of this season, they’ve had a lot of trouble defeating the top teams in the league like Cloud 9, FlyQuest, and, of course, Team Solo Mid.
The last time these two teams faced off, Team Solo Mid were in the middle of a difficult start to the season, recovering from team-wide illness and they still completely smashed the Golden Guardians. Team Solo Mid have also shown a much cleaner transition to the mid-game where they’re pushing their advantages instead of stagnating like they were earlier in the season.
Team Solo Mid are 7-4 as favorites this season and also have an average margin of victory (AMoV) of 9.5 kills per game while the Golden Guardians have one of the worst average margins of defeat (AMoD) in the LCS at 11.5 kills per game.
Pick: Team Solo Mid -6.5 kills (-110)
Cloud 9 (-430) vs 100 Thieves (+325)
- Kill spread: Cloud 9 -7.5
- Kill total: 21.5
- Time: 6 p.m. ET
Cloud 9 suffered their first defeat of the season last week at the hands of Team Solo Mid but have been, by far, the most dominant team in the league. Sometimes when you see a team lock up the No. 1 seed you’ll see them mess around or take their foot off the gas a bit but Cloud 9 bounced right back the next day and obliterated the Golden Guardians.
100 Thieves are running hot, with fours wins in their last six games. The losses came against Team Liquid and Team Solo Mid, two good teams if you consider Team Liquid’s rough start, but the wins are what concern me and in a few instances how they’ve won.
Against Dignitas, 100 Thieves were behind and surrendered the power neutral objective of the dragon soul, which effectively ends the game. Dignitas botched their close and ended up losing. This game was one of only a handful of wins with fewer kills than the enemy team in all regions this season.
There is a chance Cloud 9 lose their edge because of the week off. They’ve already locked up the No. 1 seed and have nothing to really play for. In situations like this we frequently see teams experiment with new picks but Cloud 9 haven’t shown that tendency at all this year, even after their loss.
Not a single player on this roster has won a domestic championship and I think we can expect them to continue putting in full-effort performances. I like the value we’re getting on the kill spread for the favorites who have won by 8 or more kills in 10 of their 13 wins this season.
Pick: Cloud 9 -7.5 (-119)
Team Liquid -157 vs Evil Geniuses +129
Kill spread: Team Liquid -3.5
Kill total: 19.5
Time: 7 p.m. ET
The winners of the last four splits, Team Liquid, have struggled mightily this season. Visa issues for their star free agent, Broxah, kept him out of commission for the first three weeks and struggles for super star ADC, Doublelift, have really kept this team from developing any momentum.
It was beginning to look like things had taken a positive turn when Liquid rattled off three in a row heading into last week but then they lost to the last place Counter Logic Gaming and again to Immortals on day two.
Evil Geniuses have struggled to find a team identity. The way their roster is constructed leads them to have times where some players want to be doing one style or strategy while others want something else. That said, they have a lot of talented players and have cobbled together a nice run in the last few weeks to bring them to 7-7 and a three-way tie for fourth.
I’m going to be on Liquid here for a handful of reasons.
First, I think this break couldn’t have come at a better time. Prior to the season, most people had Liquid winning the entire split yet again and Broxah was considered an upgrade by most at least on some ways, but with more time to build chemistry and play together this team is definitely going to improve.
Second, Evil Geniuses are wildly inconsistent game-to-game because of the stylistic strengths of their players. There’s a lot of philosophical dissonance on this roster and you can see that in the way they make decisions in game. Typically teams with these kinds of issues only win when they get ahead and Liquid have been an excellent early game team when they focus on that as their gameplan.
Third, is experience. Liquid have a significant edge in overall player quality with studs at every position but they’ve also been in back-against the wall, must-win types of situations at higher level competitions and have ‘clutched it out’ before.
Give me Liquid with a split staking of the moneyline and kill spread.
Pick(s): Liquid -157; Liquid -3.5