As the League of Legends 2021 World Championship is gearing up to kick off, it's time for one last bit of summary analysis on all of the teams. Everyone loves power rankings, and in a sea of pundits we wanted to offer you the cold, unfeeling, unbiased perspective of a quantitative model. Let's see how things shake out.
Before we get to our actual rankings, a few points about our methodology:
- These rankings were created by simply simulating a massive group stage where each team plays each other team.
- Thus, it creates a fair comparison of how each team stacks up against each other, but does not reflect our prediction of the final outcomes of the tournament. Tournament structure, the longer path from Play-Ins, which exact teams face each other, and other logistical nuances mean that the tournament may play out completely differently.
- Since these are hypothetical matches, there's no such thing as side selection advantage. So, we ran our prediction for either possibility and took the average.
- As the matches actually play out in reality, that information will get incorporated into the model, and so these matchup predictions will change (probably not by much) to make sure we always have the most accurate predictions before each match
Since we're simulating this tournament as a massive, 22-team round robin, our power ranking for each team is simply that team's expected record:
|Royal Never Give Up||13.1478||7.8522|
|Hanwha Life Esports||9.5324||11.4676|
|Unicorns of Love||9.1379||11.8621|
Or, if you prefer pretty graphics:
For good measure, here are a few more summary plots, showing each team's probability distribution of records in this hypothetical round robin, and our matchup table (though they may be a bit hard to read with so many teams).
While odds markets don't supply explicit power rankings, they do offer odds on the outright winner of the whole tournament. Teams with lower odds are more likely to win in the market's view, so we can use that as a proxy for ranking:
FPX are the market favorite, paying out 3.00 and thus implying a 33% chance of winning the whole tournament. Our model still places them highly, but the top five teams are all very close to each other and we think that FPX aren't the clear top dog.
In particular, we believe that PSG Talon are being severely underrated. Odds put them at decidedly middle-of-the-pack, while they're our sleeper pick for one of the top contenders.
It's worth noting that the odds on the market reflect each team's chances of winning Worlds - which would include their potential path to get there. Odds on Play-In teams are inflated because they have to get through to the Main Event first before even being on even footing with other teams. Our rankings don't account for this, and are simply meant to be a summary of overall team strength, so this comparison isn't exactly apples-to-apples.
You may have noticed in those offered odds that various teams have been lumped together into the same payout. For example, UOL, GS, and RED are all at 251. It's unlikely that any model would treat them as all being of the same exact caliber, so the takeaway here is that oddsmakers often get lazy on extremely unlikely and hard-to-predict tail event scenarios and just throw rounded numbers out.
We'd advise against actually placing bets of this nature, at least if you're looking for value. If you want to take a 250-to-1 rider on your favorite team, go for it! From an expected value perspective, however, it's a bad idea. As we just mentioned, oddsmakers throw out rounded big numbers to get your attention, but the result is an absolutely massive vig:
On a normal match, oddsmakers typically charge a vig of around 6%, which means that they're paying out 6% less than they should for a "fair" bet. Here, the vig is about 29.5%, or almost five times higher than normal! This pretty much guarantees that the EV of any one bet is negative.
In short: betting on outright winners is tempting due to the potentially huge payouts, but the value in doing so is severely stacked against you.
There will definitely be plenty of opportunity to bet on individual matches, however, so keep up with our suggested bets page to never miss a beat!
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