Last Thursday’s matchups will go down as the most “European” day we’ll have this split, as every single one ended in a tie. On the one hand, this kind of parity demonstrated that some teams are likely better than we think. FC Schalke 04, for instance, finally found a second win condition on the back of Etienne “Steve” Michels’ brilliant Olaf play. On the other hand, this was also one of the most frustrating weeks as a European League Championship Series fan and esports gambling expert, as it exposed all of the worst parts of the best-of-two system.
While I have a ton of respect for analysts like James “Obscurica” Chen’s views on best-of-twos as a format, I find myself shaking my head in disappointment every time we see a series end in a tie. If the purpose of the regular season is to sort out who the best teams are so they can be seeded properly, best-of-twos will always fail in that regard, as they punish teams for dropping a map far more than they punish teams for losing a full series.
If you need an example, look no further than the top of the table. Fnatic is fulfilling its standard role in the classic LCS sitcom “Everybody beats everybody, and then Fnatic wins” so far with 17 points, in large part due to Martin “Rekkles” Larsson returning to form while Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon has established himself as a potential MVP candidate. But Fnatic has also done something G2 Esports, currently sitting in second place, has never done: lost a series 0-2. Without a third game to settle these ties, it’s impossible to know whether G2 would have won all of those series if they were playing under North American rules. But shouldn’t we have the chance to find out? Isn’t it important to devalue fluke wins like Team Vitality’s 35 health miracle and reward consistent play? Right now, stomps are rewarded heavily, while bouncing back from a defeat, a trait we value immensely as soon as the playoffs start, is meaningless. That’s incredibly disappointing even before we take into account that five teams are within one point of each other at the bottom of the standings, all of which would have had the chance to separate themselves from the pack in NA’s system.
While I’m crushed by this indecision as a fan of the game, I’m also hurting from the gambling side of things. Smart money lines are hard to come by when you have to pick single maps to go your way instead of a particular series, especially because single map lines leave much less room for upset value. Despite this frustration, Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk and I are here for this week’s podcast, hoping we can find value for you lovely listeners in this dark, best-of-two world.
On today’s episode of the “Guess the Lines” podcast, Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar and Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk try to find some value in this harsh, best-of-two European LCS world. Together, they discuss if the Unicorns of Love have made an actual leap in their play, whether Schalke 04 is a “good bad team” or a “bad good team,” and why Fnatic vs. G2 Esports will be awesome for fans and TERRIBLE for gamblers. They close with their best bets of the week.
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