LOL Betting Odds and Picks: League of Legends LCK, LPL Preview (April 8-9)
Christoph Soeder/picture alliance via Getty Images.
With just two weeks remaining in the Spring regular season for China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) and Korea’s LOL Champions Korea (LCK), the playoff picture is becoming clearer by the day.
In the LCK, 2019 World Championship quarterfinalists DAMWON Gaming strung together four 2-0 victories in a row to move into the fourth playoff position. The Afreeca Freecs, who appeared firmly in the “best-of-the-rest” spot just below the elite teams, have come crashing down the standings with just a single game win in their past five best-of-3 series. Savvy veterans KT Rolster have dropped their past two series but moved into the fifth, and final, playoff position with a two-series lead on Afreeca with just three left to play.
The LPL, being a 17-team league, is a bit less defined. Only three match wins separate the third-place team from the team sitting in 11th. Some teams have six series remaining while other have as few as four. As it stands, JD Gaming, Royal Never Give Up, EDward Gaming and Oh My God (OMG) hold the final four of the eight playoff spots with Team WE, Vici Gaming, and Suning nipping at their heels.
As always with end-of-season scenarios, it’s important to take into consideration what I call the “elimination factor.” A team that has been eliminated may begin to start new players or shuffle their lineup around as they look forward to the Summer Season. Teams that have locked their playoff position they will often experiment with unfamiliar strategies in the hopes of gaining an edge in the playoffs. Identifying these positions can prove crucial in handicapping a series.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a couple positions we can take advantage of from this upcoming week.
LOL Champions Korea (LCK)
DAMWON Gaming (-556) vs Griffin (+347)
- Kill Spread: DAMWON -7.5
- Kill Total: 22.5
- Time: Wednesday, 4 a.m. ET
- DAMWON are 7-2 as favorites, 5-4 against the map spread
- DAMWON are 5-0 as favorites of -200 or longer and 4-1 ATS in those positions
- Griffin are 2-12 as underdogs, 8-6 against the map spread
- Griffin are 0-7 as underdogs of greater than +180 and 2-5 ATS in those positions
- Favorites are 51-24, 30-45 against the map spread in the LCK this season
While the mighty T1 may have been playing with fire, allowing certain power picks through against DAMWON, it’s no easy feat to go 2-0 against one of the elite teams in the LCK. To do so in dominant fashion sends a message.
What has been most impressive about this DAMWON run is that they’ve seemingly reinvented themselves out of nowhere. For much of the season they were stubborn and refused to “get with the times,” often playing as if the game was still the same as it was in 2019. That doesn’t appear to be the case any longer.
Griffin finally broke their losing streak with a hard fought 2-1 victory over APK Prince on Sunday morning but you could argue they were quite lucky to win that match. Griffin lost every single neutral objective in Game 1 and still managed to pull out a victory because of a few bungled decisions by APK. This easily could have been an 0-2 series.
While they’ve shown flashes, Griffin haven’t been able to take advantage of leads even when they have them. This is a problem that current coach Han “H Dragon” Sang-yong had with his 2019 team the Jin Air Green Wings, who finished with one of the single worst seasons in professional League of Legends history before being relegated out of the league.
DAMWON are on a roll and I don’t see Griffin stopping them, despite a few decent performances. This is also a poor stylistic matchup for Griffin. Nicknamed the “Greatly Reluctant Fighters,” Griffin have a tendency to surrender advantages across the map without retaliation or a fight. Against a momentum and tempo-based team like DAMWON that needs to be disrupted, that isn’t going to work.
These two teams entered the league, along with Sandbox Gaming, at similar times and were one of the most promising new crops of players for over the 2019 season. The rivalry between them was tense but I don’t think that will be the case this time around. DAMWON finally look like the team many anticipated to be a top-four squad going into the season.
In the first meeting between these two, DAMWON lost game one but dominated the next two and that was when they were in relatively poor form. During this eight-game winning streak, DAMWON are winning by an average of 9.5 kills, while Griffin’s eight most recent losses have been by an average of 9.63 kills. Griffin have also lost with six or fewer total kills in their past five losses.
Picks: DAMWON -7.5 kills; DAMWON -1.5 maps
LOL Pro League (China)
JD Gaming (+200) vs Invictus Gaming (-278)
- Kill Spread: Invictus -6.5
- Kill Total: 28.5
- Time: Thursday, 7 a.m. ET
- Invictus are 9-1 as favorites, 7-3 against the map spread
- Invictus have been favored by no less than -234 this season (Avg Odds: -720)
- JD Gaming are 1-1 as underdogs, 2-0 against the map spread
- Favorites are 65-32, 39-58 against the map spread this season in the LPL this season
Bolstered by the return of long-standing top laner Zhang “Zoom” Xing-Ran, JD Gaming enter this matchup winners of their past three matches, including a clean sweep of third place eStar. JD Gaming entered the 2020 season with title aspirations after making one of the biggest free agent acquisitions of the offseason in Lee “LokeN” Dong-wook to fill in the marksmen position that had been a huge detriment in 2019.
With wins in five of their first six series it appeared that those lofty expectations were well on their way to being met, but a three-match losing streak in late March began to raise questions.
Invictus Gaming enter this matchup fresh off of a 2-1 victory in one of the most impressive, and entertaining series of the season against Royal Never Give Up. The 2018 World Champions have been utterly dominant, dropping just a single match the entire season en route to a league best 10-1 match record (20-6 in games).
With one of the shortest average game times at 30:26 and the highest combined kills per minute rate (1.11 per min.) in the four major regions, Invictus Gaming matches are always a fast-paced, roller-coaster ride. Their fight-first-ask-questions-later style fits their incredibly talented roster perfectly allowing them as many opportunities as possible to display their superiority.
While it hasn’t been the case nearly as frequently as it has in past seasons, Invictus Gaming have a tendency to drop games with their fast-and-loose play style particularly against teams that are comfortable in scrappy, high-kill games. Of their six game losses this season, four of them came against other top-of-the-table teams like Royal Never Give Up, eStar, and FunPlus Phoenix.
JD Gaming haven’t been a high-kill team in terms of results, but have been most comfortable pushing the pace of games in a similar fashion to what Invictus like to do. They’re also one of the few teams on the planet that boast the pound-for-pound individual talent to measure up to Invictus.
It’s often a tall ask to go against such a strong record but JD Gaming have a great shot at winning this series outright. Underdogs are 58-39 against the map spread this season, so getting an elite team that’s hitting their stride at -161 to take a game (+1.5 maps) is a bargain when they have a great shot at winning this series outright.
Lay the -161 on JD Gaming +1.5 and stake half the potential winnings on the moneyline and a quarter on the JD Gaming -1.5 maps (+452).
Picks: JD Gaming +1.5 maps; JD Gaming money line; JD Gaming -1.5 maps
With large favorites on the slate over the next few days it’s important to consider the expected game script for the winning teams and to identify the underdogs most likely to take down a series so you can portion your exposure accordingly.
Here are a couple of series I’m building around and a couple that I’m limiting exposure to over the next few days.
Series to Build Around:
JD Gaming vs Invictus Gaming (Thursday)
Not only does this matchup feature the highest combined kills-per-minute on the slate, but also the highest total at 28.5 as is to be expected in any matchup involving Invictus Gaming.
As previously mentioned, I absolutely love the underdog in this spot. While JD Gaming have an underwhelming kill-per-win average, when two fast-paced teams meet they often result in high-kill affairs.
You can build around both sides of this matchup.
Team WE vs TOP eSports (Wednesday)
I expect TOP to win this matchup and while they have below average kills-per-win on the season, their trending number is significantly higher with an average of 20.5 in their past six wins.
Team WE have averaged 11.5 kills per loss in their last six games. If you took that number over the course of the full season it would rank second-highest in the LPL.
Team WE haven’t played since Thursday and could be more prepared than TOP, who just played on Monday. That could lead to a three-game series and, potentially, a lot of points.
I wouldn’t rule out an upset here either and Team WE have the highest kill per win number in the LPL.
Series to Avoid:
Rogue Warriors vs Vici Gaming (Wednesday)
In terms of combined-kills-per-minute, this is the third bloodiest matchup on the slate over the next three days but Vici are scoring below the league average in kills-per-win over their past eight games and well below average for the season.
While Rogue Warriors can be a scrappy underdog, Vici have looked much better as the season has progressed and I’d expect them to win this matchup.
LGD Gaming vs Royal Never Give Up (Thursday)
Royal Never Give Up are one of the cleaner and more disciplined teams in the LPL and tend to play lower-kill games in wins almost like the top-of-the-table LCK teams.
I’d expect them to win this matchup, 2-0, but will most likely be avoiding a lot of their players in my lineups.