Targets: October 18

This off-season refuses to give us games with predictable outcomes! We head into yet another tournament where we’ve never seen most of the teams play before. This first day will be full of surprises, but there is some core data and trends we can rely on, especially for individual players. Let’s dive in.

Featured Image Photo Credit: LoL Esports Flickr

Top

The Stud: V vs. DIG ($7100)
It’s tough to call anyone a guaranteed stud today, since we’ve never seen these teams face off before. But QG’s duel with Dignitas is probably the closest thing we have. V should do fine against SmittyJ, and perhaps more importantly, should have better synergy with his jungler to ensure he gets better ganks to make sure he gets ahead.

Fair warning, this is an expensive pick for a top laner ($700 more than the next option!). And since you can only have 3 players from QG on your squad, I’d probably recommend taking a gamble on a value pick in the Top lane, where the point-ceiling is more limited than Mid, ADC, or even Support.

The Value Pick: Odoamne vs. C9 ($6400)
Odoamne is hit or miss, but he should have no problem finding his footing against Balls in this matchup. I expect C9′s jungler to focus on other lanes here (reasoning below), and I think Odoamne easily holds his own in a more isolated fight up top. He shouldn’t bomb out, and if H2K takes the win, his points go way up.

Jungle

The Stud: Swift vs. DIG ($6500)
Junglers are in the best position to take advantage of uncoordinated rosters. They decide which lanes get pressured hard and when to surprise the enemy from the fog of war. I think this matchup’ll work out great for Swift, who should be able to sow some chaos in the Dignitas ranks.

The Value Pick: Rush vs. H2K ($5400)
He was the NA LCS MVP for a reason: Rush is ruthless, aggressive, and absolutely lethal. The biggest question mark is whether or not he can play nice with C9′s structured shotcalling. But even if he can’t, you damn well better believe he’s going to show up with a few desperate kills and plenty of blood on his hands — everything fantasy owners want.

Mid

The Stud: Doinb vs. DIG ($7800)
Dignitas will likely try to protect mid lane, because they’ll need Shiphtur to step it up and carry this squad if they’re going to win. But even with extra jungle pressure, I expect Doinb to grab one of the control mages he’s excelled on (and that the team has prioritized for him in picks) and do just fine in lane, and then rack up points in teamfights.

The Value Pick: Incarnati0n vs. H2K ($6600)
I’m torn on this one, so let me share the competing facts with you, so you can make a fully informed decision alongside mine.

1) Incarnati0n struggled early on because he didn’t believe that his jungler had his back. Once Hai proved in-game that he would always be there to back Incarnati0n’s play, Incarnati0n drastically improved.
2) Rush was impulsive and independent on Team Impulse, always doing his own thing instead of babysitting lanes.
3) Hai is still the shotcaller on C9 and knows that Incarnati0n needs that backup to feel comfortable to go aggressive, and will likely make sure that Rush gives that to him.
4) It’s unlikely that C9 would’ve signed Rush without making sure he was on board with following Hai’s leadership.

So, if C9 has made good choices and if Rush is a trustworthy teammate, then Incarnati0n should have no problem succeeding in this matchup, especially early on. But if either of those things are not true, he’s very likely to struggle.

My heart says to trust C9′s leadership. They’ve made great choices so far, and I think they’ve done the same thing here. But your trust may not go as far as mine, so adjust accordingly.

AD Carry

The Stud: TnT vs. DIG ($8300)
You’re paying for this premium, but DIG’s support, Kiwikid, was already a weak link in the Summer. If QG is going to rack up points in this game, they’re going to start in the bot lane, where TnT can abuse the current power of ADCs.

The Value Pick: Forg1ven vs. C9 ($7700)
Like I mentioned in the preview article, Forg1ven isn’t my personal cup of tea. But I’m outside the majority here, and he is going up against Hai as a first-time support. If Forg1ven wants to prove he can be the best ADC in the west, he needs to start here and get some early kills in on a distracted Hai.

Support

The Stud: TCT vs. DIG ($6500)
First of all, yes, it’s pretty ridiculous that the ADC and Support players have almost identical names. Secondly, chant it with me: points points points points points!

The Value Pick: Vander vs. C9 ($5800)
I think H2K will put a lot of resources into their bot lane. Odoamne and Ryu are used to playing without jungler support, and Jankos should have great synergy with his ROCCAT alumni in the bot lane immediately. If they can get Forg1ven ahead and tilt Hai, they’ll have a good chance of winning. So I’m willing to pay a little extra here for the upside and the assumption that they’ll have a decent early game with jungle camping down to help them.

Team

The Stud: QG vs. DIG ($5100)
This is the closest to a sure-thing pick you’ll have all weekend.

The Value Pick: C9 vs. H2K ($3900)
C9 loves objectives, and Hai’s shotcalling revolves around smart rotations to secure towers and dragons drop. Lots of upside here, even if it’s a bit more uncertain.

The closest Josh Augustine ever got to going pro in esports was beating his older brother at Street Fighter. He currently works as a game designer at Daybreak Games. He’d love to talk with you on Twitter.