Fnatic and SK Gaming will clash in the opening match of the 2021 LEC Spring Playoffs on Friday, March 26 at 17:00 CET, in what promises to be a very one-sided affair. But after such a volatile regular season, some may ask themselves whether Fnatic truly deserve to be priced as the favorites or are the betting odds set based on the brand value alone?
Fnatic vs SK Gaming
Friday, March 26 at 17:00 CET
LEC Studio, Berlin, Germany (LAN)
Fnatic always make it
There is this narrative about Fnatic and how they seem to always find a way to make it to the finals, and their 2020 Summer run only further proved that even going 9-9 during the regular season won’t stop Fnatic from going the distance. They then usually lose against G2 Esports, but outside of that, there was not one team that has managed to stop Fnatic during the playoffs.
Similar to G2, Fnatic players seem to find a new gear in the playoffs, and while this squad has historically performed much better when under pressure, we have to remember this is no longer the same Fnatic as in 2020 and definitely not the same team we knew from 2018.
Fnatic have an excuse for poor performances
There is no hiding the fact that Fnatic haven’t impressed in 2020, particularly in the latter stages of the regular season, but the organization has noted that some of their players and staff members were infected by COVID-19. That said, it remains to be seen how much that has affected their performances and whether they will really perform better now that they’re “cured”.
It’s extremely difficult to say how Fnatic will perform, largely because they were a very volatile team with high highs and low lows. And that was Fnatic’s biggest problem during the regular season – they were either extremely dominant or played very poorly.
SK Gaming looking for an upset
SK Gaming will take on Fnatic in a best-of-five (Bo5) series for the first time since the start of the LEC, which might not be a massive period of time, but it does make you wonder whether SK have it in them to cause an upset and eliminate one of the most successful European teams in history.
It’s easy to see why SK are viewed as massive underdogs here and not only because they field lesser-known and (arguably) worse players, but also due to their shaky performances towards the end of the split. One thing that stood out in SK’s games is their poor early game, which was their biggest weakness, but then again, we have to note that statistically, SK weren’t much worse than Fnatic in that aspect.
The bottom lane could decide the series
SK’s main win condition for this series will be getting their bottom lane ahead since they usually do well when Erik “Treatz” Wessén and Jean “Jezu” Massol win their lane and use that advantage to carry the game. Although both have been playing well this season – particularly Treatz – we have to look who they are facing.
Elias “Upset” Lipp and Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov have been great this season and they usually severely punish weaker opponents, which could be a problem for SK. If SK fail to get their bottom lane ahead, they’re essentially left with no win conditions, since they don’t really play through the top side and we rarely see SK working towards getting Ersin “Blue” Gören ahead.
That’s not to say SK won’t be able to get jungle involved and win the bottom lane 2v3, but it will take a lot more than just playing their usual playstyle.
Fnatic are just “way too strong”
You’ll continue to hear how Fnatic are a much stronger team than SK Gaming and how they will obliterate SK in a Bo5 series. And while that might happen, the numbers these two sides have produced this season don’t show that.
Fnatic might be stronger, and let’s give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ll perform better in the playoffs, but should they really be priced as high as 1.19 (Pinnacle)? Will this volatile, unpredictable and (arguably) weaker version of Fnatic win this game 84% of the time? In my book, the answer is a strong no.
A more realistic implied probability for this match would be 70/30, and while Fnatic should still be viewed as strong favorites, the moneyline odds shouldn’t be lower than 1.40.
Betting Tips for Fnatic vs SK Gaming
The overvaluation of the organization’s name is strong with this match. Not only have Fnatic underperformed during the regular season, but these teams also had a whole week to create a game plan. And while that little time won’t allow for any massive fundamental changes, it’s enough to figure out a plan of how to approach this game – and that usually favors the outsiders.
SK haven’t shown any form of versatility this season, which begs the question of whether there is a chance we see a different version of this team in the playoffs, or will SK just roll with the same playstyle they’ve shown this season. This is a problem since they need to find a way to improve their early-game just to not fall behind too much and find themselves in an unsalvageable position.
Fnatic seem like the complete opposite since they do their best to be an aggressive early-game team and while their playstyle makes it look like they are one, Fnatic rarely grab any significant gold leads early on and also struggle to create any meaningful advantages at the 20-minute mark. They still have extremely talented players, and while they know what they want to achieve, they don’t quite get there – at least in most of their games.
This is an extremely difficult match to predict, largely because we don’t know what Fnatic will do. They should have better players and there are not many people who would dare to say they don’t but the regular season numbers show a different story.
This is essentially a match Fnatic should win, but that perception seems to be based on Fnatic’s dominant wins alone, while it ignores the fact that Fnatic haven’t been very consistent and have suffered a couple of very bad losses as well.
For this match, you either take SK Gaming or you don’t bet at all. While I believe Fnatic should win most of the time, I just don’t agree they should be priced as low as they are. There is even a slight chance Fnatic fall apart completely and lose 1-3 or even 0-3, so I will add a bit spicier prediction as well.
Prediction: SK to win – 4.860 Pinnacle
Prediction: SK Gaming -1.5 maps – 8.730 Pinnacle (0.5 units)
For more free LoL LEC betting tips and predictions, check back tomorrow, when we cover the upper bracket bout between G2 Esports and Schalke 04. For premium LoL and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive betting tips, join our premium membership where we also cover “traditional sports” only 50€ per month.