Just watching esports can be a thrilling experience, but nothing ups the stakes like putting something extra on the line. At the same time, figuring out which games to bet on and how much money to risk is no small task. That’s why Upcomer has pulled in the experts to lay out the odds and favorites for some of the most important games this weekend.
However, there are many ways to decide on the right bet. There are always numbers to look at and analysis to consider, but sometimes instinct wins out over all else. That’s why we brought in two, different experts to share both sides. Vanya Kirillov is a betting expert and the founder of Alacrity.gg who uses models to reach the right conclusion. Then there’s long-time League of Legends journalist Tyler Erzberger, who has followed the scene for years and peeked into the mind of the game’s greatest talents. They may take different approaches, but each is valid in its own right.
This week, we’re looking at betting on the latest match ups for summer split playoffs across the League of Legends Championship Series and League of Legends European Championship. Here is what you need to know to cash out this weekend.
Royal Never Give Up vs. Team WE
In round one of the League of Legends Pro League Regional Finals, Royal Never Give Up and Team WE face off to take China’s third spot for Worlds. The winner goes straight to the international stage, while the loser gets another chance to qualify for the Play-In.
Team WE had an amazing run in the playoffs, coming from the first round to win four straight matches before dropping 0-3 sets to FunPlus Phoenix and Edward Gaming. While they’ve proven they’re a team to be reckoned with, our model thinks that RNG should have a pretty handy 69/31 edge here. The odds market generally agrees with RNG’s superiority but has the matchup at 59/41, which gives us some room to find betting value. We would suggest a stake of around 16% of your unit bet size.
Individually, RNG’s entire squad hovers at or above a 60% win rate, with Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao just shy of 63%. WE, conversely, ranges from 53% (Chen “Breathe” Chen) to 56% (Cui “Shanks” Xiao-Jun). This disparity is a steep hill to climb and sets RNG up for a dominant performance.
As a team, RNG have elevated their already incredible win rates by a solid margin, pushing their players’ performance up by 3-5%. Both teams have maintained fairly consistent rosters so they should be more than comfortable playing together.
Direct matchups disproportionately favor RNG. In the summer season, they beat WE 2-1 and took a 2-0 victory in the spring. A combined 80% win rate across these five games is above par for any predictions we had for these matches, although such a small sample does introduce some variance.
While it’s often clear who the MVP of a game is, this is usually determined by big flashy plays or solid teamwork, which are impossible to predict. Instead, we isolated each player’s impact on their team’s overall expected performance by looking at consistent drivers of our predictions.
Chen “GALA” Wei and Jiang “beishang” Zhi-Peng are the steadiest value-creators for their respective teams. Zhao “Elk” Jia-Hao comes in as a close second for Team WE, so this match may be determined by the bot lane. While they may not always be the playmakers, keep an eye on their fundamentals and you’ll find them doing exactly what needs to be done to win.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, RNG are also better at closing games out. They end their games with larger tower, gold and level advantages than WE do, meaning they are better at snowballing advantages into a win. With so many factors in their favor, if they get a solid lead in a game, they’re very likely to keep it.
While it’s commonly accepted that RNG are a stronger team than Team WE, we believe the magnitude of this difference is being undersold by the odds market. Across a variety of metrics, RNG have a slight to substantial advantage, and all of these things add up to create a team that we expect to dominate this matchup. Thus, we would recommend a bet of 16% of your unit bet size on RNG.
— Vanya Kirillov
This one is pretty straightforward for me, with RNG being the easy pick. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility Team WE continues their sharp form from the summer playoffs and knocks RNG into a do-or-die match to make it to worlds, but I’m not buying it.
Team WE beat some good teams to get their spot in this Regionals tournament and even took a series off Edward Gaming before falling to FPX in the upper bracket. After being smacked around by FPX, though, and then cratering back to earth in the rematch with EDG where they got walloped for a second straight series, all that momentum they had is gone.
RNG, a better overall all-around team with high-pressure experience earned with their recent conquest of the Mid-Season Invitational, should take care of business in short order, especially with two weeks of prep time in between their upset loss to LNG Esports.
— Tyler Erzberger
FunPlus Phoenix vs. Edward Gaming
Elsewhere in the LPL, the playoff final pits FunPlus Phoenix against Edward Gaming. These teams are both locked in for Worlds already, with second place guaranteeing either team enough Championship Points to take the second slot. The winner will get a better seed going into Worlds.
These two teams were the No. 1 and No. 2 seed going into the playoffs, so it’s a real clash of the titans in the final. Our model would expect such a clash to be fairly even, but the odds market disagrees and heavily favors FPX.
The market projects FPX to be a 70/30 favorite while we think EDG has a much better shot, with only a 58/42 skew. Thus, we would suggest a modest bet on EDG, staking ~13.6% of your unit bet size. They are still the underdog and this bet is less likely to pay off than to lose, but +208 is a very good payout for a 42% chance of victory.
FPX have an absolute monster of a player in Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon, with a 67.5% win rate. The rest of their squad are still in the 64-65% range, solidifying themselves as one of the strongest teams across all leagues. Edward gaming aren’t too shabby either: their weakest player, Park “Viper” Do-hyeon, has still won 59% of his professional matches.
Viper has also found a team to really click with. While his individual performance may be a step below the rest of the team, playing with EDG has boosted his win rate by a massive 8%. Both teams have found ways to use their players as effectively as possible, but we have to give EDG a point in their favor here. Both teams have held fairly steady rosters, with the exceptions being relative newcomers Nuguri and Viper. Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun had joined EDG at the same time as Viper, but has had more prior experience playing with some of the EDG squad.
In fact, our projected MVP of the match goes to Viper. According to our model, EDG would suffer more from his absence than from that of any other player, so pay attention to the bot lane.
These two teams have faced each other five times since November 2020. In that span, the game total is 9-8 in favor of FPX. They may be the stronger team, but a score that close hardly screams 70/30 favorite to us. That having been said, EDG do disproportionately underperform against any of FPX’s players, so we don’t think that 9-8 is the true long-term average of these teams’ matches.
Finally, FPX are better at creating wide gaps in objectives. They take, on average, 2.3 more towers per game than their opponents do, and this includes games that they lose. They can snowball objectives when ahead and can generally keep up when behind, so there’s no point in the game at which they can be counted out.
All in all, FunPlus Phoenix are the stronger team, but we disagree that the No. 2 seed is a 30/70 underdog to the No. 1 seed. Our model puts Edward Gaming at a modest 42% chance to win, which gives us enough value to suggest a 13.6% bet.
I personally rank FPX as the No. 1 team in League of Legends going into the upcoming world championship. Still, that doesn’t mean I believe they should be such heavy favorites over an EDG team that has the tools to dispatch them, particularly in a series where both teams are gearing up for their ultimate goal of the Summoner’s Cup.
Kim “Doinb” Tae-sang is playing the best League of his life, and I have little doubt that he’ll be a menace in the mid lane along with his constant influence across the map. The side lanes, though, can be won by EDG, and while Nuguri is one of the better top laners in the world, he has had consistency issues in his first year adjusting to a new region. EDG’s Flandre has been one of China’s best top laners for nearly a decade at this point and, for the first time in his career, he has a team around him to make a difference in LPL’s hierarchy.
And then there are Viper and Tian “Meiko” Ye, quite possibly the most dangerous bottom lane in all of Asia at this second. FPX’s bottom lane has improved over the course of the year and looks more like the 2019 versions of themselves, most notably supporting Liu “Crisp” Qing-Song. In the head-to-head matchup, however, I’m sticking with EDG’s battery.
I love the flier on EDG with these odds. FPX should be favored, but EDG’s misstep against Team WE (which they rectified) seems to have made them a tasty option for a big bet play.
Hanwha Life Esports vs. T1
Hanwha Life Esports have clawed their way to the Regional Final, coming off of a 3-1 victory over Liiv SANDBOX and a 3-0 victory over Nongshim RedForce and knocking both of those teams out of Worlds contention. They’re up against T1, who got knocked out of the Playoff final by DWG KIA.
The market believes T1 to be a strong 70/30 favorite, but our model doesn’t believe HLE’s hot streak is over quite yet. We’re projecting them to actually be the favorite, at 54/46. This creates quite a bit of betting value, as getting paid out +220 on more or less a coin flip is incredibly high EV. We would suggest staking 32% of your unit bet size.
On a player basis, T1 look stronger. Their weakest player is Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong at a 53% win rate, with the rest of the squad above 57%. HLE are closer to exactly average, and Oh “Vsta” Hyo-seong is actually below the zero line at 49.56%. HLE will have to strongly outperform their past to win here.
T1’s substitute for Gumayusi at bot lane, Park “Teddy” Jin-seong, has performed phenomenally. Our model finds that the team is substantially stronger with that swap. They had played most of the playoffs with Teddy, before swapping Gumayusi back in for the last two games against DWG KIA, winning one game but ultimately faltering.
Teddy is also the player that, according to our model, provides the most direct value to T1. Ezreal is his most dominant champion accounting for the current patch, if he can get his hands on it. For HLE, the glue that holds them together is Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu. This is another match that may just be decided by the bot lane.
Fortunately for HLE, they are fairly in-sync as a team, elevating each other’s performance. Unfortunately for them, T1 are equally as in-sync. Both teams have had a fair amount of turmoil in their rosters, allowing less time for their players to really mesh. Overall, teamwork is a wash between the two contestants.
In direct matchups, HLE are 4-6 to T1 since December 2020. Most recently, HLE took a 2-0 win in the last week of the summer season. Looking at individual player matchups, both teams have a mix of overperformance and underperformance, so it’s another tie here.
These two teams have different approaches to winning the game. HLE end games, on average, with a higher level advantage but lower objective advantage than T1 do. They focus more on farming and team strength than securing objectives, so this may be a match decided by a decisive final fight and not a slow siege. It’s unclear which approach is superior and the answer will come down to how well each team can execute their respective strategy.
If you’ve been counting up the points, these two teams look very similar across a swathe of metrics. In short, it’s hard to differentiate them, which translates to a very even match. An even match is a far shot from the 70/30 stomp that the odds market predicts in T1’s favor, which creates a high-value bet on Hanwha Life Esports. Given the huge differential and reasonable probability of a payout, we suggest a 32% bet on Hanwha Life Esports.
Wow, HLE went from being dead in the water a few days ago to making the world championship with a date against the season runner-up, T1. The loser of this matchup will be sent to the worlds play-in qualifiers while the winner will get to relax in the 16-team group stage, practicing and lying in wait for their matches to start.
For this type I match, I’d rave the wave with Hanwha. I wouldn’t put much on either with seeding matches like these being so unpredictable, but with how Hanwha seems to be peaking at the right time, the odds give a good payout if they can cause the upset.
As in any sport, electronic or traditional, when you have the best player on the field, there is always a chance that the result can go their way. No offense to the best to ever do it, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, but at this time, it’s hard to say anyone but HLE’s mid laner Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon is the main character of this match.
Either stay clear of this match due to its wonky seeding nature or take a chance on HLE with Chovy and Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu rounding into form.