I am going to preface this, by saying that it has been a while since I did this kind of detailed breakdown for betting on esports, so read it and use it at your own risk.
StarSeries i-League Season 7 is nearly upon us, and as Astralis and Liquid - the two top rated teams in the World - sit out the tournament in Shanghai, a field of other teams will be vying for the throne vacated by the two BLAST Pro Series São Paulo finalists.
The absence of the two top teams in the World, won't disappoint fans too much however, as the remainder of HLTV's top 10 will be in attendance.
From a betting perspective, that absence means that there's a considerable doubt as to who will take the trophy. With no clear favorite among the participants, there ought to be value to find, if one can discern the odds and match it up against probabilities.
A look at the teams
To create an overview of the teams in attendance, I've listed them below in this format:
- ENCE / #3 / 4.33 / 2.0
- Natus Vincere / #4 / 4.33 / 2.0
- FaZe / #5 / 11.0 / 5.5
- NiP / #6 / 15.0 (Unibet) / 5.5
- MiBR / #7 / 8.0 / 4.0
- Renegades / #8 / 15.0 / 7.5
- North / #9 / 15.0 (Unibet) / 5.5
- Vitality / #10 /10.0 (Unibet) / 4.5
- NRG / #11 / 15.0 (Unibet) / 6.5
- Fnatic / #15 / 21.0 (Unibet) / 6.5
- BIG / #18 / 17.0 / 9.5
- TyLoo / #24 / 34.0 / 17.0
- ViCi / #28 / 101.0 / 51.0
- Spirit /#41 / 51.0 / 26.0
- Panda / #69 / 67.0 / 34.0
- paiN / #155 / 101.0 / 51.0
If you think the above table seem a little overwhelming, don't sweat it, because it is. It took me 20 minutes to type up, because I had to double and triple check.
Here are the quick takeaways (broken down in more detail later):
- ENCE at 4.33 seems like a good deal. A quick conversion tells us that 4.33 equals 23.1% probability, which is in the lower end considering their current form.
- North at 15.0 (6.7%) probability seems pretty low as well, considering that they have just won ECS Week 2, and beat Vitality in a BO3 in the final. Vitality comes in at 10.0 and 10% probability to win, which seems a bit off.
- FaZe at odds 11.0 (9.1%) could be seen as an overreaction based off of a string of bad performances.
- NRG at 15.0 (6.7%) are also coming in after an ECS victory, and historically have really good StarSeries-events. They have had a month to work with tarik, which by the looks of it is an upgrade. Maybe worth a punt for the Grand Final appearance at 6.5 (15.4% probability) - but it's very close.
- The long shot would be ViCi. At 101.0 someone really made an error. Just 2 days ago they beat TyLoo in a BO5 Final for the spot at IEM Sydney, and they showed at the Minor that they are able to win games against some of the best teams in the World. It's a punt for sure, but at 0.9% probability it's one of those that would make sense to put a few $ on. Consider, if you want to lower the risk, to bet on them being in the Grand Final instead, to the tune of odds 51.0. The only good reason I can find for this line, is that they're facing NaVi in the first round of Swiss.
A quick note on bet-value
Before we go really deep, it's important to remember that odds and probabilities are the same. You are betting on an outcome, and the odds is how probable the bookmaker believes it to be. Thus in the following, I will be arguing for probabilities and then showcasing how that translates into odds (and when we should play).
ENCE is valued at odds 6.0 to win on GG.Bet. That is equvivalent to a probability of 16.7%.
We believe that ENCE actually has 23% probability of winning, because their current form means they are a sure #3 in the world. The odds that would be an equivalent to 23% probability is 4.35.
The difference between 4.35 and 6.0 is what we call "bet-value" and constitutes the edge we believe we have found. In the circumstance here, the bet-value is 138, meaning that we are getting a 38% extra value by the bet being 6.0 instead of 4.35.
Remember that bet-value is entirely subjective, and that the higher an odds, the lower a probability, and the easier it is to skew the betvalue by making small mistakes. A high bet-value does not mean it's a safe bet - it is a tool to help us evaluate bets
Taking the deep dive
Okay you got through to here, and your reward is less rambling and more analytical deep dive. But before we get really deep, I'll list a few factors that are worth noting before making any bets:
- The event will be using a BO3 Seeded Swiss system, which means that seeding will determine match ups each round - and make teams with bigger map pools more valuable.
- The Grand Final will be a BO5, so experience, dexterity and a big map-pool are all elements of which you should be mindful. Who has, for example, played BO5 finals before?
- Because the Grand Final is BO5, the normal relationship between teams means less, because endurance and composure is likely to have a great impact. A bet on a finalist could be an interesting way of cutting your risk down (you are obviously also cutting down on potential winnings, but alas, you can't get everything)
- Because the tournament is played in BO3 Swiss, teams will likely have less than 12-16 hours to prepare for a given opponent. So teams that have good fundamentals and don't overthink the games, are likely to come out on top.
Intro: If the participation in the Major Grand Final was a fluke, someone forgot to tell Natu's boys, because they were brilliant at BLAST Pro Series this weekend, and they come into the tournament on the back of incredible results.
Odds: At odds 4.33 and 23.1% chance to win it, there ought to be some value. Especially as some of the other favorites are currently lacking form.
Maps: In addition, ENCE are one of the few teams in the tournament that has actually played (and won) a BO5 final before. ENCE also has a deep map-pool, with both Mirage, Train and Nuke reaching into the 70% win-rates. Their perm-ban is Cache (which they've only played 4 times in the last 6 months), but even that seems to be passable from a quick glance at the statistics. Their Achilles heel is Inferno at 47% win-rate and Overpass is only 57% (8-1-5), but that in itself should make any veto against the Finns a hard one.
My probability of ENCE winning: ~25%
Conclusion: At 25% there's value down to around odds 4.0 and 108.25% bet-value if you can get odds 4.33 on Bet365. I doubt there's a favorite as big as ENCE going into the tournament, and the only thing that could be a little concern, is if the team is ready to jump into a plane only 5 days after coming home from BLAST.
Intro: There's an optimism around the team, following their ECS Week 2 victory, that saw them qualify for the ECS Grand Finals later this year. The team has a history of performing good after an extended offline break, and after sitting out the Major, StarSeries will be their first LAN in a while.
Odds: At 15.0 North is viewed as an outsider to the tournament, but 6.7% probability seems a little on the low side with their ECS run in mind.
Maps: This is where a winner's bet on North seems to become a little of a long shot. Nuke, Train and Dust2 looks good, if not Astralis-level (who is, anyway?). Inferno vs Vitality last week was a blow-out of the French squad as well, but historical data shows that it's close to a coin flip for North. In a BO3 match up, North will always have at least two winnable maps against any opponent, but it needs to click for a victory to happen.
My probability of North winning: 9%
Conclusion: At odds 15 you're finding a solid 135% bet-value at a 9% win probability. I'm probably biased, but what the hell, I think there's value and who doesn't want an underdog to win? #HearTheRoar
Intro: In many ways the same as North, however they have had a bigger map-pool historically. Three good maps and three passable, with Dust2 being their perma ban. With tarik coming in, the team will definitely be changed somewhat, but only time will tell in what direction they are moving.
Odds: 15.0 is too high in my opinion. Definitely value here.
Maps: NRG posses an insanely good Inferno (a map that is often the decider), which is a good weapon to have in a BO3 Swiss. Overpass and Train are really good as well, and with a passable Nuke and Mirage, you suddenly got yourself a diverse map-pool.
My probability of NRG winning: 10%
Conclusion: 150% bet-value says it all. I think that this is one of the most "off" odds entirely on the winner's bet here.
Intro: I don't understand the line for FaZe. Yes, they have had issues after letting karrigan go (and before), but so has a lot of the other teams coming into the tournament. They lost 4 out of 5 games at BLAST Pro, but none of the games were blowouts and they had a good impression against Astralis on Dust2 in the last game.
Odds: 11.0 and 9.1% is probably on the low side considering it is a team with NiKo, GuardiaN, AdreN, Olofmeister and rain.
Maps: Oh boy, this is where it gets hard. Since adding AdreN, the team has had a hard time finding the maps that suits them. Inferno and Dust 2 both seem solid, and Cache has shown some promise, but otherwise there is far and few between the good maps. This could become an Achilles heel in this format, but for a team that seems to be playing more loose and less structured, it is of less concern.
My probability of FaZe winning: 10.5%
Conclusion: FaZe has issues right now, but if any iteration of this FaZe roster has taught us anything, it is that once it clicks, it really clicks. The downside of FaZe is that their map-pool seems to be not up to par right now, and they lost to direct StarSeries competitors on 3 different maps at BLAST Pro. I feel the value is there with some 115% betvalue (at 10.5% win probability), but it's slim.
Intro: Surprised North in the IEM Katowice Minor Playoffs and went on to almost qualify for the Major. It took some #NiPMagic to deny them that feat, but they nonetheless showed that they have what it takes to compete with the Western teams.
Odds: 101.0 or 1% / 51.0 or 2% for getting to the Grand Final
Maps: There is not a lot of data to go by here, but against Top 50 in the World, over the last 6 months, they have played 27 maps. Dust2 and Overpass are their best maps (they won both maps against TyLoo in the IEM Sydney qualifier the other day), and Inferno + Mirage are coin flips. Their perm-ban is Nuke, and they look atrocious on Train.
My probability of ViCi winning / going to the Grand Final: 2,5% / 5%
Conclusion: At odds 101 there's little chance of ViCi actually winning the event, and I don't consider this bet a fruitful one, but there is undeniably value in it. I don't think that a team as good as ViCi have shown themselves to be, have less than a 1/100th chance to win. I mean, TyLoo is given 2.9% by Bet365, and if we give the same to ViCi, we end up with a bet-value of around 300%!
I doubt that ViCi is going to win the event, their map-pool is too shallow for it against the best teams at the event, but a surprise home soil Grand Final? Not out of the question completely. Bet365 puts TyLoo at odds 17 for a Grand Final appearance and by the looks of it, ViCi should have the same. We'll be a bit more conservative and say that we give them 5% to get into the Grand Final. At odds 51 that's still a whooping 300% bet value!
If you got this far, here's a bonus:
There's a surebet in the first round of Swiss at StarSeries: North vs NRG.
Bet 365 have North as heavy favourites and are odds 2.1 on NRG to win it. GG.Bet have NRG as the favourite and have North at 1.98.
If you balance the bets right, there's 1.91% to pick up at no risk. The distribution can be seen below.