LoL NEST 2021 Group Stage Simulation and Power Ranking

LoL NEST 2021 Group Stage Simulation and Power Ranking

Note: I had previously run this analysis using all of the invited teams' prior rosters. Since then, many have announced temporary rosters specifically for this tournament. I have rerun the analysis in light of this, but am keeping the old version up for completeness here.

China's 2021 National Electronic Sports Tournament (NEST) has begun, so I figured I'd sneak in with some last-minute power rankings and group stage simulations. World Champions Edward Gaming are the obvious favorites, but do any other teams have a chance to do well?

Power Ranking

Before getting to the actual group setup, I threw all fifteen invited teams into a single large group to run my power ranking simulation on them.

Here's how it works: I simulated each team playing each other team once (using the average of their blue and red side matchup probabilities). With fifteen teams, each team plays fourteen matches this way. Their rank is just the average number of wins across my simulations. In effect, this is equivalent to each team's average win probability against all other teams.

The results:

Team Name Wins Losses
Suning 11.43912 2.56088
Team WE 11.13928 2.86072
EDward Gaming 8.36566 5.63434
Rare Atom 8.32752 5.67248
Invictus Gaming 8.08516 5.91484
Bilibili Gaming 7.06158 6.93842
JD Gaming 6.60198 7.39802
LGD Gaming 6.46008 7.53992
ThunderTalk Gaming 6.35776 7.64224
Ultra Prime 6.12192 7.87808
FunPlus Phoenix 5.90998 8.09002
LNG Esports 5.8575 8.1425
Victory Five 5.26184 8.73816
Rogue Warriors 4.15922 9.84078
Oh My God 3.8514 10.1486

SN and WE, running with their normal roster, top the list. The academy team of World Champions EDG are still strong enough to take the number three spot on this list, though they are incredibly close in strength to RA and IG.

On the bottom end of the spectrum, we have a few teams that are completely outclassed by the competition. RW and OMG would both go around 4-10, on average, in this hypothetical round robin.


These rankings, as well as my group stage simulations, were built off of head-to-head match probability predictions, courtesy of my model:

Alacrity's NEST 2021 Matchups
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Matchups

Group stage setup

The fifteen teams were split into four groups (three groups of four and one group of three). Each group plays a double round robin, with the team with the most wins moving on to a double elimination bracket. For each group, I simulated all of their games, with some sensible tiebreaker rules to determine final placement as necessary.

Group A

Group A consists of Edward Gaming, Oh My God, Rogue Warriors, and Ultra Prime.

With six games played by each team, here's how their expected records shake out:

Team Name Wins Losses
EDward Gaming 4.47936 1.52064
Ultra Prime 3.31494 2.68506
Rogue Warriors 2.19348 3.80652
Oh My God 2.01222 3.98778
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group A Record Distributions
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group A Record Distributions

Even with their academy roster, EDG should have a distinct advantage in this group. UP are the next best team (and at the time of this writing, actually beat EDG once, though that isn't incorporated into the model or any of these predictions). RW and OMG will have a tough time in this group, but should still pick up a couple of upsets each.

From these records, we can get each team's probability of leaving the group stage:

Team Name % 1st Place Median Place
EDward Gaming 69.46% 1st
Ultra Prime 21.61% 2nd
Rogue Warriors 5.16% 3rd
Oh My God 3.77% 3rd
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group A Placement Distributions
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group A Placement Distributions

EDG have an almost 70% chance to take first, with most of the remainder going to UP, especially if they can pull off the right upsets against EDG.

Group B

In Group B, we've got Bilibili Gaming, FunPlus Phoenix, LGD Gaming, and Suning.

Expected records across six games:

Team Name Wins Losses
Suning 5.02802 0.97198
Bilibili Gaming 2.6238 3.3762
LGD Gaming 2.30198 3.69802
FunPlus Phoenix 2.0462 3.9538
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group B Record Distributions
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group B Record Distributions

When you've got an already top-tier team using its main roster against a bunch of academy rosters, this is pretty much what you'd expect. SN are almost certainly going to dominate this group, and I would expect a 5-1 record from them.

That leads to these likelihoods of winning the group:

Team Name % 1st Place Median Place
Suning 88.47% 1st
Bilibili Gaming 5.60% 3rd
LGD Gaming 3.60% 3rd
FunPlus Phoenix 2.33% 3rd
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group B Placement Distributions
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group B Placement Distributions

With an 88% chance to win the group, SN are looking pretty comfortable. However, all of these roster switchups are here to give the academy players a chance to prove themselves, and you never know who will suddenly be able to play up.

Group C

Group C is Invictus Gaming, JD Gaming, LNG Esports, and Victory Five:

Team Name Wins Losses
Invictus Gaming 3.9276 2.0724
JD Gaming 3.10786 2.89214
LNG Esports 2.66452 3.33548
Victory Five 2.30002 3.69998
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group C Record Distributions
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group C Record Distributions

With all of these roster shakeups, IG emerge as the strongest team in this group, projected to win around 0.8 more games on average than the next best team (JDG). However, that still only puts them at a likely 4-2 record, so there's plenty of opportunity for another team to swoop in and take their bracket spot:

Team Name % 1st Place Median Place
Invictus Gaming 53.52% 1st
JD Gaming 23.40% 2nd
LNG Esports 14.22% 3rd
Victory Five 8.86% 3rd
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group C Placement Distributions
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group C Placement Distributions

That 0.8-game edge in expected wins gives IG a 54% chance to move on, but other teams each have some non-negligible chance at taking first in the group.

Group D

Finally, Group D rounds out the pack with only three teams: Rare Atom, Team WE, and ThunderTalk Gaming.

Each team only plays four games here, since they only have two opponents:

Team Name Wins Losses
Team WE 3.09974 0.90026
Rare Atom 1.82994 2.17006
ThunderTalk Gaming 1.07032 2.92968
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group D Record Distributions
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group D Record Distributions

WE stand a head above RA and TT, with a most likely 3-1 record. In fact, there's a pretty big jump in quality between each team, as they're expected (with some generous rounding) to win 3, 2, and 1 games respectively.

It would take a pretty big fluke for WE to not move on, but what are the chances of that happening?

Team Name % 1st Place Median Place
Team WE 77.82% 1st
Rare Atom 17.11% 2nd
ThunderTalk Gaming 5.07% 3rd
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group D Placement Distributions
Alacrity's NEST 2021 Group D Placement Distributions

With a 78% chance to take first, WE are looking pretty confident right now. Still, there's a one-in-five shot that that's not what ends up happening, so I wouldn't pop the champagne quite yet.


Your most likely four bracket contestants are Edward Gaming, Suning, Invictus Gaming, and Team WE. A lot of this comes down to some roster shuffles and experimentation, with most teams starting some of their academy or substitute players. Suning and Team WE, who did not do so, are at the top of my power ranking as a result.

In addition, this tournament features some of the most lopsided matchups I've seen yet. Again, the roster changes have something to do with that, but in some ways they've helped as well: weaker teams don't have to face the A-teams of the big fish, so there's some matchup compression.

More importantly, unusual roster configurations can make matches harder to predict. Fortunately, my model is already built on individual player factors (as well as teamwork components), rather than just team name, so there should be plenty of opportunity to disagree with the odds market and find some value.

All of my bet suggestions for all of these matches, as well as many more, can be found on the suggested bets page, which is updated daily to keep you on top of it all!

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