A field of 20 League of Legends esports teams will compete for a share of ₩ 158,000,000 (US $136k) at the 2019 Korea eSports Association Cup, which runs from Monday, December 23 to Sunday, January 5. Here are our predictions for day two in Ulsan, with betting odds from ESB’s top-rated bookmakers.
KT Rolster vs Ulsan
Tuesday, December 24 – 17:00 KST
KT Rolster (-1666.67) enter the KeSPA Cup hoping to get their wheels spinning ahead of the 2020 season. They have endured a disappointing year, finishing ninth in the LCK Spring Split and eighth in the LCK Summer Split.
It’s fair to say KT Roster are miles from what they used to be. They have rebuilt their roster since the end of the LCK season, but the changes have raised more questions than answers.
We have high hopes for the bottom lane duo Kim “Aiming” Ha-ram and Park “TusiN” Jong-ik, who previously played together at Afreeca Freecs. Even though it has been over a year since they stood at the Summoner’s Rift side-by-side, Aiming and TusiN should have the synergy to make things works.
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While bottom lane looks solid, there are some question marks regarding KT Rolster’s top lane. In December they signed Jeon “Ray” Ji-won and Kim “SoHwan” Jun-yeong to replace Hwang “Kingen” Seong-hoon, who left for Bilibili Gaming.
A lot of the team’s success will come down to Kim “Malrang” Geun-seong, who is a young, talented jungler with loads of unused potential. If Kang “Hirai” Dong-hoon and the rest of the coaching staff manage to activate Malrang and bring out the best of him, KT Rolster will have a successful season; otherwise, it will be an uphill battle for the 2018 LCK Champions.
Despite having a lot of work left to be considered one of the elite LCK teams, KT Rolster will fancy their chances against Ulsan (+587), who are regarded as one of the weakest teams at the tournament.
Ulsan qualified for the KeSPA Cup via the KeG Championship, which featured some of the weakest teams in the region. That alone paints a clear picture of how strong this team is. While Ulsan will want to make a statement, we do not believe they can stack up with the superior LCK team here.
Prediction: KT Rolster -1.5 – -250 at BetOnline
Hanwha Life vs ESports Connected
Tuesday, December 24 – 20:00 KST
After yet another disastrous season, Hanwha Life (-10000) opted for another roster rebuild that saw four new members join their ranks. This time, Hanwha decided to keep their mid laners Kim “Lava” Tae-hoon and Kang “Tempt” Myung-gu, who are expected to split time in the starting lineup depending on form and conditions.
This does give them some leeway to manage their mid lane and put up the optimal player for a given fixture. Hanwha Life also made a very solid choice by signing Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin and Kang “Haru” Min-seung, who both previously played for Gen.G.
While Hanwha Life lost their long-time tandem of Kim “key” Han-gi and Gwon “Sangyoon” Sang-yun, they managed to pick up two solid replacements in Jeon “Zenit” Tae-gwon and Son “Lehends” Si-woo from KT Rolster and Griffin respectively. Both players left a lot to be desired last season, but on paper they seem like an upgrade over the previous bottom lane duo.
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While Hanwha Life seem to be the hit-or-miss team of 2020, they are not expected to struggle too much against ESports Connected (+891), who finished the Challengers Korea Summer Split in eighth place.
The match will see Kim “Moojin” Moo-jin reunite with Hanwha Life, who let him go in late October. Moojin played only eight games last season before he was benched in favour of Kim “bonO” Gi-beom.
Don’t expect any surprises here. While Hanwha Life were by no means one of the strongest teams in the LCK last season, neither were ESports Connected in the CK. Hanwha should win easily and cover the handicap.
Prediction: Hanwha Life -1.5 – -476.19 at BetOnline