The International 10 is almost upon us, so it's time to see which teams our machine oracle has calculated to be the strongest. We'll see how well our power ranking lines up with reality in Stockholm!
Before we get to our actual ranking, 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, group composition, 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
- Team Aster has reported some COVID troubles, which may affect their ability to compete, or at least perform well in, the tournament. This analysis ignores this, and assumes that every team competes with its regular roster at full strength.
Since we're simulating this tournament as an 18-team round robin, our power ranking for each team is simply that team's expected record:
And, in graphical form:
For completeness, here are each team's probability distribution of possible records and their matchups:
The market doesn't provide explicit power rankings, but they do offer odds on the outright winner of The International 10. Lower payouts mean higher probabilities, so we can use this as a reasonable proxy for the market's view of ranking:
Overall, quite a different view from ours! While tournament and group nuances may influence a team's ability to win the whole tournament, every team starts on more or less even footing for TI and so these odds are a pretty fair reflection of a power ranking.
We both agree that PSG.LGD are the strongest team, but the odds imply a pretty sharp dropoff between them and the next team. Our strength dropoff isn't quite so drastic.
Our model favors Quincy Crew and Undying quite highly, and the market places them both in the bottom half of teams. While it's true that a lot of their recent success has been in a relatively weaker region, the individual players in these teams have had quite a respectable pedigree:
Quincy Crew: Yawar "YawaR" Hassan, Quinn "Quinn" Callahan, Arif "MSS" Anwar, and Avery "SVG" Silverman are all TI veterans, while Rodrigo "Lelis" Santos has maintained consistently high results along with the whole Quincy Crew squad.
Undying: Enzo "Timado" Gianoli O'Connor, David "MoonMeander" Tan Boon Yang, and Kim "DuBu" Doo-young are all TI veterans. Jonathan Bryle "Bryle" Santos De Guia and Jonáš "SabeRLight-" Volek have proven that they can keep up with the others' caliber of play, as evidenced by Undying's literally undefeated run through the North America Qualifier.
On the flip side, our model finds OG to be quite overrated, which is somewhat surprising for the only team to have won two Internationals. However, their performance simply hasn't been up to par in the last two years. It's very possible that they'll find their stride and show us that championship-level team we all love, but our model has found that for almost all situations, recent performance is more important than all-time peaks, so it has given OG a pretty substantial discount.
Given these huge disparities, you may be tempted to place a bet on a team like Undying or Quincy Crew to win the whole thing. While either team is unlikely to win, multiplying your money 100-fold on Undying does sound tempting. If you want to throw down for fun, by all means go for it, but from a value perspective we would advise against this.
You may have noticed that the odds offered are usually nice, round numbers, and tend to get clumped together. For example, T1, Quincy Crew, Alliance, and Team Spirit are all paying out at 30 - does it sound reasonable that all four of these teams have the exact same chance to win the whole thing?
The truth is, predicting the outcome of a whole group stage plus double-elimination bracket tournament before a single match has been played is incredibly difficult to do accurately and likely subject to too much noise and variance. So, bookmakers just get lazy and like to use simple, rounded numbers that feel about right, while luring potential bettors in with possibilities of huge payouts.
These payouts may look enormous, but the end result is an absolutely massive vig, so the bookmakers can hedge their exposure:
Bets on head-to-head matches typically carry a vig of around 6%, which means that the bookmaker is paying out 6% less than they should for a "fair" bet. Here, the vig is about 26.68%, or more than four 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 stay on top of them all!
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