ESL Road to Rio- North American Playoffs – CIS & EU Group Play – May 7, 2020

     Thursday’s slate is highlighted by Team Liquid facing 100 Thieves in the North American playoffs. We’re also finding action in the CIS region as well as the European region. Wednesday was a profitable day for us. We started off the day horribly with Godsent being upset by Nordavind. Godsent had a 13-2 lead on map two before losing 16-14 in the most embarrassing loss I’ve ever seen in counterstrike. We quickly got some of that back with a live play on NaVi after they dropped the opening three rounds of the second map. The skill gap started to show once NaVi was able to have a full buy. They won 16-7. That was followed up by an Ence 2-0 victory. We hit on the moneyline but lost 0.25 units because we also had the over. We finished the day extremely strong, hitting on both Cloud9 and the over as they defeated Envy 2-1 in the first NA playoff game. All in all we netted +1.6 units on a very entertaining day of quarantine. Let’s find the same success today!

Team Liquid (-180) vs 100 Thieves (+150) – 4:00pm EST – Road to Rio (NA) Playoffs 

     Team Liquid and 100 Thieves is by far the best matchup of the day. This matchup features two of the best organizations playing in the North American region. The winner will move on to face Furia in the semi-finals. Liquid is the #5 ranked team globally while 100T comes in ranking #10. Liquid was disappointing in group play, at least to their standards. They finished with a 3-2 record and squeaked into the last playoff spot in Group B as they held the head to head tie breaker over MIBR. Liquid lost in embarrassing fashion as a favorite north of -1000 against Envy. The other match they dropped was against Furia. Liquid was unable to win a map in either of those matches. 100 Thieves looked much better throughout group play. They finished as the second seed in Group A with a 4-1 record. Their only loss came in their first Road to Rio match against Gen.G. After that loss they fired their coach before rattling off 4 straight wins against the likes of Evil Geniuses and Cloud9. In the end, the loss to Gen.G turned out to be huge. Gen.G is the one seed out of this group because they held the head to head tie breaker over 100T.

      Historically, liquid has owned this matchup and come into this one on a 7 map win streak against 100T. I think that history is reflected in the line the bookmakers have set, although I’m skeptical that it should be. Liquid has looked like a shell of itself during the Road to Rio group play and I think you can contribute at least some of that to the Krieg nerf. On top of that, a majority of the win streak came over six months ago. In the most recent match Liquid beat 100T by 19-16 on Vertigo and 16-14 on Mirage. 100 Thieves were winning both of those maps at half time as well. I’m worried about 100T’s ability to close out maps, but they have been in much better form throughout Rio. They’ve certainly stepped up since they fired their coach following the Gen.G loss. The odds imply that 100T only wins this match 40% of the time, but based on the recent form of each team I think that number should be in the 45-50% range. I’ll be backing the pooch to move on to the semi-finals.

Miner’s Money Pick: 100 Thieves (+150) *1.5u*

Winstrike (-155) vs Gambit Youngsters (+125) – 9:00am – Road to Rio (CIS)

     The only match I’ll be targeting from the CIS region is between Winstrike and Gambit Youngsters. Bookmakers are predicting that this will be the most competitive matchup of the day and have made Winstrike a short favorite. Gambit and Winstrike come into this match as the 3 and 4 seed in Group A of the CIS region. Gambit currently sits one game behind Winstreak, so a win here would jump them into the final playoff spot with just one game remaining. This is also a can’t lose for Winstrike. Their only remaining match is against Team Spirit who looks like the best team in their group. A loss for Winstrike will most likely keep them out of playoffs. I don’t see much of a motivational edge for either of these teams.

     I think the bookmakers have this match all wrong. I expect it to be a closely contested match, but I think they set the wrong team as the short favorite. Over the past six months these teams have met in three best of three series. Gambit have won all three of these series with Winstrike only winning one map in total. Gambit owns a +37 round differential across the series and the reality is that these maps were not closely contested at all. Gambit won by an average of 6.5 rounds in their six map wins. I don’t see much changing tomorrow. Winstrike will continue to use their first ban on Inferno while Gambit uses theirs on Nuke. Gambit should use their first pick on Dust2. They are a perfect 3-0 here against Winstrike winning by an average of about 8 rounds. I expect Winstrike to use their pick on Vertigo but I’m not sure if that will play well for them. Winstrike currently has a 4-map win streak on Vertigo but Gambit is 8-1 there over the past few months. Another potential option for them would be train. Regardless, I think the tie breaker map will favor Gambit as they’ve found wins against Winstrike on both Overpass and Mirage. I won’t be surprised to see Gambit win this match 2-0 and think these odds should be flipped.

Miner’s Money Pick: Gambit Youngsters (+123) *1.5u*

North (-165) vs Movistar Riders (+135) – 12:30pm – Road to Rio (EU)

     Each of these teams come into this match fighting for their chance to make playoffs. They each currently sit at 2-3 in group play and need to win this match to have any chance of making playoffs. The teams sitting in seeding 2 through 4 all post a 3-2 record, so the winner will also need one of those teams to lose. Regardless, I expect to see each team extremely motivated to win this match. I think the bookmakers set a near perfect line for this match which hasn’t created much value on either side. North should continue to use their first ban on Train while Movistar will use theirs on Dust2. I expect Movistar to chose the first map to be Overpass. They should have an advantage here as North has posted a 1-3 record at Overpass over the past few months. It is worth noting that the only North win on Overpass came against Fnatic. North will use their first map pick on Vertigo in what should be the most lopsided map of the series. Movistar is 0-4 on Vertigo in the past few months. That leaves Mirgage, Inferno and Nuke and I don’t see any glaring advantages for either team on those maps. North would have a slight advantage at Nuke but I expect Movistar to use their second ban there. My only pregame play will come on the over, but I’ll be looking to target North at +money odds once they drop overpass, especially if Nuke is the last map. If North wins on overpass I’ll be making a live play on North exact score 2-0 as I’m extremely confident of their ability on Vertigo.

Miner’s Money Pick: Total maps o2.5 (-120)

Live Spots:

  • Spirit to win the series if Nemiga steals the first map. Hesitant on this one as Nemiga has beaten Spirit up in the past. Will be based on how Spirit is playing.
  • G2 to win the series if they drop the first map to c0ntact. C0ntact has consistently won their map pick but g2 may be too high of class to keep that up. C0ntacts best chance will come if g2 doesn’t use their first ban on Mirage. If they steal map 1 expect g2 to win 2-1. If Mirage is map 1 then a pregame play on o2.5 at +180 will be placed.
  • North live spots posted in their preview.

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