Punters have jumped on the pandemic-proof e-Sports bandwagon following the wholesale shutdown of the world’s biggest codes and competitions. Video gaming leagues wasted little time in transitioning from in-person LAN tournaments to a remote online format as the coronavirus crisis worsened. E-sports betting is booming as a result.
Competitions focused on iconic multiplayer online battle arena game League of Legends are among the most popular in the e-Sports realm. The object is for teams to achieve a victory condition by destroying the core building – known as the ‘Nexus’ – at their opposing team’s base. In e-Sports League of Legends tournaments, group stage matches are typically played over a best-of-three-maps format, while play-off matches are usually best of five maps.
The League of Legends Pro League (LPL) is the premier professional LoL competition in China, and it’s currently getting towards the pointy end of its Spring Split season. Here are the LPL teams to watch for before delving into Sportsbet’s e-sports odds.
LPL Spring Split 2020
FunPlus Phoenix won last year’s LPL Summer competition, which ran from June to September, to take the league’s top seed into the 2019 Legends of League World Championships. FunPlus Phoenix were crowned LoL world champions after taking out the Europe-hosted tournament, which ran from October to November.
The LPL Spring Split got underway in mid-January but was postponed after just one week due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 17-team competition resumed online on 10 March, with the group stage set to run through until 20 April.
The top eight finishers progress through to the play-offs, with the top two gaining passage straight into the semi-finals, the third- and fourth-placed teams heading directly into the quarters, and the teams placed fifth to eighth going into a preliminary knockout round.
Invictus Gaming live up to name
With a name translating to ‘unconquerable’ in Latin, Invictus Gaming have a big reputation to live up to. But the Legends of League team are holding up their end of the bargain.
Runners-up in the 2018 LPL Summer Split, Invictus Gaming went on to become that year’s LoL world champions – breaking a five-year South Korean stranglehold on the Legends of League World Championships in the process.
Invictus subsequently won the 2019 LPL Spring Split, before slumping to a disappointing first-round-play-offs exit in the Summer Split. A semi-final appearance at the World Championships was a heartening result heading into 2020, however.
The perennial contenders have taken that momentum into this year’s Spring Split. Invictus are clear at the top of the LPL table with a dominant 10–1 record and a plus-14 maps differential.
At the time of writing, Invictus Gaming were red-hot favourites to win their match-ups against JD Gaming on Thursday and Bilibili Gaming on Sunday. Invictus will be all but guaranteed top spot with three group stage fixtures remaining if they prevail in both.
Invictus Gaming’s Korean duo, TheShy and Rookie, and Chinese player Ning have all racked up e-Sports career earnings in excess of US$600,000. All three were part of the 2018 World Championships triumph.
eStar and FunPlus strive for top-two finish
eStar Gaming have enjoyed a dream debut LPL campaign, currently sitting second with a 9–3 record – and the mantle as the only team to beat Invictus during the Spring Split.
Accepted into the LPL in December and assembling a low-profile line-up, eStar rolled Invictus 2–0 last month as part of a five-match winning streak. But the newcomers will be eager to get back on track after consecutive losses to fifth-placed Royal Never Give Up and 10th-placed Vici Gaming.
Despite their recent mini-slide, eStar are warm favourites to account for JD Gaming and Team WE in this week’s matches.
FunPlus Phoenix endured something of a World Championships hangover at the start of the Spring Split, losing their only two matches (to Invictus and eStar) prior to the season’s suspension. But the LoL world champions have gone on an 8–0 run since the resumption, including five victories with two-maps-to-nil scorelines.
With a youthful but high-quality team of proven performers in big matches, FunPlus should be favoured to edge eStar for an all-important top-two spot and a ticket directly to the semis. At the time of writing, they are short-priced favourites in this week’s assignments against LNG e-sports, Vici Gaming and Edward Gaming.
Meanwhile, Top Esports (7–3) have a tough draw to negotiate if they are to hang on to fourth spot and book a quarter-final berth. Royal Never Give Up, JD Gaming and Edward Gaming are hot on their heels with identical 7–4 records.
It promises to be a frantic final fortnight of the LPL Spring Split group stage. Invictus Gaming remain the team to beat, but FunPlus Phoenix are coming home with a wet sail, and some other high-flying teams are showing signs of wobbling towards the end of a lengthy campaign. Check out the odds for the Head-to-head, Correct Score, Map Handicap and Total Maps markets on remaining LoL LPL Spring Split matches.
Sportsbet has LoL LPL Spring Split betting options and LoL LPL Spring Split odds available on all upcoming matches. Bet now.