We’ve finally reached the end of the European League Championship Series’ experiment with the best-of-two format, which was received like a DC Comics superhero movie: people either loved it or really hated it. Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk and I haven’t been shy about our opinions of the format throughout the podcast, but it’s easy to claim those criticisms had a lot to do with the fact that we run an esports show in which we analyze gambling lines, and best-of-twos are the death of real value. Now that we’re in the home stretch, we can look at the standings and see whether the format truly made for more interesting and involving plot lines heading into the final week, and the result is a resounding “meh.”
The biggest problem with best-of-twos is the artificial parity it puts into the standings. If you grab the 2-0, you get the three points you rightfully deserve, but the difference between losing a series outright and splitting a map is minimal. That’s why teams like Splyce, who continually played top tier teams to draws at the beginning of the split, was stuck near the middle of the pack until the very end of the split. There’s no reward for going toe-to-toe with a top tier team if you don’t get a chance to claim the upset in Game 3, and thanks to the format, we’ll never know if they could.
In a similar vein, FC Schalke 04 and Team Vitality are likely heavily regretting the lack of a third game, as both teams are locked in a tie for seventh that will likely lead to another tie, given the strength of schedule remaining. Both teams had seven draws over the course of the split (matched only by G2), and the resolution of these series would have been massive for both squads. In the worst case, it likely would have rewarded whatever team can actually close games with their backs against the wall (you know, that skill we value during the playoffs and every other level of competitive play) and made the last week slightly less interesting, but in the best case, we could have seen an actual race for seventh place as the two traded win and loss streaks at various times throughout the split. You could argue that best-of-twos are what made a do-or-die series for these teams to close out the week, and you’d be right…but is this really the way we wanted to get there?
At the end of the day, we’ll never know whether teams that won off flukey victories (friendly reminder that we had two games in which the losing team dropped the enemy nexus to less than 50 health) would have been able to keep the magic alive for a Game 3, nor whether teams like Schalke and H2K would have proven themselves if given the chance to close a series out. The impact of a third game could have shaken up the standings entirely…but now we’re in a place where there are very few individual games that matter unless significant upsets occur. You can hate NA’s position of having five of the six playoff teams locked in before Week 9 even starts all you want, but at least we know they earned it by closing out teams when it counted most. Artificially delaying the point at which the best teams prove themselves as being worth of our attention and respect helps nobody, especially not the teams who are looking at those ties and wondering what might have been.
The good news is that despite all of that, we still have quite a few watchable games on the horizon, and given Europe’s propensity for upsets, it’s important to navigate through all of the possibilities on display. That’s where Walter and I come in to help you find value in this arbitrarily valueless time.
On today’s episode of the Rough Drafts Guess the Lines Podcast, Chase “RedShirtKing” Wassenar and Walter “Ceades” Fedczuk do their best to shake their cynicism toward the best-of-two format to find excitement in this week’s EU LCS action. Together, they discuss the incredibly thrilling battle for ninth place, whether Schalke or Vitality are more likely to avoid relegations, H2k and Unicorns of Love’s quest to avoid a first round matchup against Fnatic, and how G2 can cement its status as the team to beat with a strong victory to close the split. They end with their best bets of the week.
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