DraftKings eSports: An Introduction (Bonus Day One Analysis)

We all have DraftKings on the mind right now. Whether it’s because you’re busy trying to become a millionaire or if it’s because you can’t stand the commercials playing three times every commercial break – everyone is thinking about DraftKings these days.

And to make matters worse (at least for my wallet) – they now have added video games to the list of options.

DraftKings lets you bet on all of the major sports leagues. Like the NFL, MLB, NASCAR, college football, and League of Legends.

Wait, what?

What is this darn League of Legends thing?

As you may or may not know, competitive gaming is actually super popular, and despite people complaining about it airing on ESPN2 that one time, it has a large following, especially in other parts of the world. So DraftKings has decided to capitalize on that by adding gaming to it’s lineup, starting with arguably the largest event each year – the 2015 League of Legends World Championships, which start on October 1.

Fantasy betting on gaming isn’t new. There are sites already in existence such as Vulcun and AlphaDraft which essentially provide the same service as DraftKings. These sites do more than just League of Legends, but with the world championships coming up, League of Legends (or LoL as it’s commonly called) is the perfect guinea pig for DraftKings before they add more games.

So, you’re tired of betting on the NFL and baseball, and you want to give it a shot? Click here to play DraftKings eSports, and read on for your beginner’s guide to fantasy esports.

(Side note: “esports” was officially added to the dictionary, but many people write it as “eSports”. I’m bound to go back and forth because I used to write eSports, so I apologize if you see it both ways.)

Positions

Just like football has 11 men on the field, and baseball has 9, and so on, League of Legends is a 5v5 game. Each position has a unique identifier:

Top – The top lane player usually plays a character that is more of a bruiser character. Someone who can take a lot of damage, but also deal a decent amount too. This person goes to the top of the three lanes and usually fights 1 on 1 with the other top lane player. This isn’t always the case, but in general terms is how it’s done.

Jungle – This player spends his time roaming the jungle, or the area between the lanes. His job is to build up his character (typically fairly tanky, but good damage), and help the other lanes out when they need assistance (called “ganking”).

Mid – The middle player is usually a magic dealing champion (or ability power – AP), but not always. They are one of two primary damage dealers, the other being the ADC (see below). The mid player plays in the middle lane, which is the shortest lane between the two bases, and typically takes a lions share of minion kills (called CS for “Creep Score”).

AD Carry (ADC) – The AD Carry relies more on physical damage rather than magic damage, and teams have to have armor to defend against it. The ADC usually attacks the fastest and the strongest so they take the majority of the CS as well as are involved in a majority of the kills. These are the strongest players typically and if they don’t play well, the team usually doesn’t as a whole. Same goes for mid.

Support – The support’s job is…to support the team. It’s not about kills with this player, it’s more about making sure the map is “warded” (placing wards allows your team to see an area of the map without physically being there), and to make sure the rest of the team stays healthy and aware of the enemy team. The support typically accompanies the ADC through the laning phase and rarely takes CS away from anyone else.

These five positions go together to form one team.

On DraftKings, you will pick one player from each of these positions, and then two “flex” players, which is two more players from any of the positions.

Then you must pick a overall team, regardless of who you have picked from the player pool.

Know Your Regions

While it’s certainly important to understand how good players and teams are, 90% of their matches come from within their own region, so it’s good to know the strengths and weaknesses of each region against each other for worldwide events.

Korea is easily the most dominant region, and it’s a safe bet taking Korean players and teams against pretty much every other region. After that, it gets a little harder to break down. China is typically #2, with Southeast Asia a close #3.

This year marks the fifth world championship in League of Legends. The first one was won by Fnatic, a team from Europe that is a constant presence in the worldwide scene and currently the #1 EU team again. The second was won by Taipei Assassins from Taiwan. They were a surprise team and beat Korea. The last two were dominated by Korean teams SK Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy White. Although Samsung Galaxy White no longer exists, SK Telecom T1 (stylized SKT) is still around and is the #1 seed from Korea again this season with a couple of players from their championship (bengi and Faker) still on the team.

North America, despite being the home region for the game (it was developed in Los Angeles), is considered one of the weakest regions, if not the weakest, by the rest of the world. Europe and North America typically compete for the 4th best region.

There are other countries that compete through “wildcard’ spots in the tournament if they aren’t in a region with a recognized league. These teams come from South America, CIS, Australia, etc. This year, the representatives are from Brazil and Thailand.

It’s also worth noting that the event is being played in Europe this year. Home field advantage doesn’t work quite as well in gaming as it does in other sports, but it can be a factor. The International 2015, which was the biggest gaming tournament in history with a prize pool of $18 million, was won by an American team this year, and the finals for it were in Seattle. It had to have been nice to hear the USA! USA! USA! chants.

Pricing

Like big time NFL players are way overpriced, so are the top Korean and Chinese players typically. These are definitely the best in the world, but are priced as such. It doesn’t seem quite as bad as some football players when it comes to overpricing, but there are still some players that become out of reach pretty quickly.

The top five most expensive players for day one of Worlds are:

$8,800: PraY (KOO, KR) – ADC
$8,600: deft (EDG, CN) – ADC
$8,200: KurO (KOO, KR) – Mid
$8,000: Pawn (EDG, CN) – Mid
$7,800: Faker (SKT, KR) – Mid

North American teams (at least for day one) only have two players even over $6,500.

Statistics

Whether a team is good or bad is one thing, but one thing you need to do is look at the stats of the players because there is a certain level of individuality to the players you pick. For instance, a wide receiver in the NFL is only worth anything if the QB is targeting him a decent amount. And a QB isn’t going to throw the ball as much if he’s being pressured all the time or getting sacked with a terrible offensive line.

Football is very much a team game. While League of Legends is too, there is an early phase called “the laning phase” where players are in their respective lanes and it falls on them to be smart and play well individually.

So while a budget pick in football may fail solely because they aren’t getting called on by the coach, or targeted by the quarterback, in League of Legends, it all falls on a player because everyone is playing and has the ability to play well or not.

So while a team or a region may be weak, there is reason to pick players based on their skill alone, rather than match-ups or any other factor.

One other thing to look at, is that while players like Easyhoon ($7,000) and Faker ($7,800) seem like decent values for really good Korean players, they actually substitute out with each other many times, making their fantasy play less valuable. Faker is the “main” player, but it’s an interesting dynamic that you don’t see on teams in other regions.

I recommend looking at statistics on eSportspedia, a good site for doing some solid research on how players and teams have performed so far this year. But be careful to notice how many games each player has played. There are some subs that have put up solid numbers, but won’t see the playing field in the world championships.

The Points System

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Here is how players will accumulate points:

Kills = +3 PTs
Assists = +2 PTs
Deaths = -1 PTs
Creeps = +0.02 PTs
10+ K/A Bonus = + 2 PTs (10 kills OR 10 assists in a single game)

For the creep score, it takes 50 CS to equal one point. So a good CS game will get you about 6-8 points. A couple of kills and you’ve matched that. So CS isn’t quite as important. This point system also helps support players out as well, as a support can rack up a lot of assists. ADC are still going to be your main players with the fact that they have a hand in everything, but it’s important to understand that a really good CS game is about 350 CS, which would give you 7 points. That’s not going to be as important.

Teams will accumulate points as follows:

Turrets = +1 PTs
Dragons = +2 PTs
Barons = +3 PTs
First Blood = +2 PTs
Win = +2 PTs
Win in under 30 minutes bonus = +2 PTs

The bonus for winning fast is nice, but it will hurt players and teams a bit to win quickly. That usually means less CS, less kills/assists, and less turrets and dragons/barons. I’m a little surprised they don’t give a player a first blood bonus, on top of giving it to the team.

There are only 11 turrets to take down, so that is the ceiling. They do not say anything about inhibitor points.

Another important thing to remember is that the group stage for the world championships is only one game in each match. Once the bracket begins, matches will move to a best of five match. When that happens, teams can get bonuses for winning early (as to not affect scores by playing less games). It is an extra bit of strategy when you think a match will end up 3-0, instead of 3-2.

Players and teams will accumulate bonus points for winning a series early as follows:

Every game not played by winning players = + 20 PTs
Every game not played by winning teams = + 15 PTs

Games not played = Maximum games in series – Games played in series (Players must earn stats in at least one of the games in the series in order to be eligible for this bonus)

Day One Match-ups

EU – Europe
NA – North America
SEA – Southeast Asia
CN – China
KR – Korea
Wild – Wildcard

fnatic (EU) vs. Invictus Gaming (CN)

In the history of LoL, fnatic is definitely the best European team. They won the first ever world championship, and they went undefeated in the most recent season, a feat never before accomplished. Many people will point to the weakness of the European region, but it’s still an impressive achievement to go undefeated.

iG is the third seed out of China, and got in via a last chance qualifier in the loser’s bracket of the Chinese regionals. While qualifying for worlds out of China is no small feat, they are definitely not one of the stronger teams from China. I like fnatic to win a close one here. fnatic is a good budget team pick at $3,500.

Top plays:

fnatic: Rekkles (ADC – $7,000), YellOwStaR (Support – $5,300), Febiven (Mid – $6,800)
iG: Kid (ADC – $6,700), Rookie (Mid – $6,700)

Cloud 9 (NA) vs. ahq e-Sports Club (SEA)

Cloud 9 was the king of North America for so long, but had a rough summer season. They only made it in due to their great spring season performance and a crazy run through the region finals to get the #3 spot. ahq is one of the top teams in southeast Asia and come in as the top seed from that region.

This is not a good first match-up for Cloud 9, and I recommend staying away from them as a team. Hai could be a good budget pick in jungle for C9, however. A good team pick could be ahq at $4,100.

Top plays:

Cloud 9: Sneaky (ADC – $6,300), Hai (Jungle – $4,800)
ahq: AN (ADC – $7,200), westdoor (Mid – $7,100)

SK Telecom T1 (KR) vs. H2k-Gaming (EU)

This should be a huge win for SK Telecom T1. H2k comes in as the second seed on points, but is probably the third or fourth best team in Europe. SKT should have their way with H2k, and would be a good team pick if you’ve got the money to spare, but they have a high price tag at $4,500.

Top plays:

SKT: Bang (ADC – $7,300), bengi (Jungle – $5,900), Faker (Mid – $7,800)
H2k: Hjarnan (ADC – $5,400), Ryu (Mid – $5,100)

Edward Gaming (CN) vs. Bangkok Titans (Wild)

This is a match-up that should be another massacre. Edward Gaming has been a little inconsistent, and come in as the #2 seed from China after getting upset by LGD in the summer playoffs. They are still the best team in China in my opinion, but they are very expensive plays. I can’t in good faith suggest anything from the Bangkok Titans.

Top plays:

EDG: Pawn (Mid – $8,000), Deft (ADC – $8,600), Clearlove (Jungle – $6,900)

Counter-Logic Gaming (NA) vs. yoe Flash Wolves (SEA)

Flash Wolves is the second seed out of southeast Asia, but I think CLG can get the better of them here. I’m not ready to tell you to pick either team, but CLG is hot right now after winning North America fairly easily. Doublelift is going to be a good player to watch for, although his price is a little high. I’m not looking to any of these players to perform really well, but maybe some will surprise me.

Top plays:

CLG: Doublelift (ADC – $7,600), ZionSpartan (Top – $6,400)
FW: Steak (Top – $5,000), Maple (Mid – $6,200)

paiN Gaming (Wild) vs. KOO Tigers (KR)

This game should easily be the biggest blowout of the day. paiN isn’t new to the world stage, but KOO is a strong Korean team who shouldn’t have any problem winning their group. The problem with this game when it comes to fantasy is that all of KOO’s players are super expensive.

Top plays:

KOO: KurO (Mid – $8,200), Gorilla (Support – $6,100), PraY (ADC – $8,800)

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Jon Lunceford is a sports media broadcaster and digital professional. Jon is a graduate of the University of Alabama school of journalism, and played football at Birmingham-Southern College. He has also won two AHSAA Football State Championships while at Homewood High School and was a two-time World Cyber Games Team USA representative. He currently hosts Primetime on WJOX 94.5 and runs the high school athletics site JoxPreps.