Worry not about Dota 2 content prior to the Manila Major, fans, because StarLadder has us covered with the StarLadder i-League Invitational, due to begin tomorrow April 14th at 9:30AM CEST. This tournament, along with ESL One Manila should whet our post-Shanghai appetites for a while until we get 6.87 (assuming it’s close at hand).
This will be another StarLadder event in partnership with i-League, much like the previous StarLadder i-League StarSeries 13. That event produced some great games and had some excellent production, so we can definitely expect to see the same in this one. In this article, we’ll be previewing the event with some outright winner tips.
Alliance — 5/2 — bet365
LGD Gaming — 10/1 — bet365
MVP Phoenix — 5/1 — bet365
Natus Vincere — 14/1 — bet365
OG — 11/4 — bet365
Vega Squadron — 10/1 — bet365
Vici Gaming Reborn — 7/1 — bet365
Virtus.pro — 8/1 — bet365
Alliance triumphed over the competition at the last StarLadder LAN, proving once and for all that they are indeed back and ready to compete against the best the world has to offer. Since then, they haven’t taken first place anywhere else, but there’s no denying that they’re still a significant threat here. One can say that their top 8 finish at the Shanghai Major was a disappointment for the team, but their vast amount of veteran experience should allow them to pick up after themselves without letting it get to them too much.
Not to mention that the current patch still favors them in terms of the hero pool. All things considered, we can definitely still recommend them for an outright winner bet even at the price of 5/2. It might not be the most tempting bet in the field, but it’s worth considering as a safe call.
LGD Gaming was the strongest Chinese team coming out of the Shanghai Major, but even that isn’t really saying much. The Chinese scene as a whole struggled immensely at their home major, LGD included. They finished in the top 12, which was disappointing considering their strong lineup of talent at the time. Since then, they’ve shuffled a few players out and even brought xiao8 back into the roster.
It hasn’t worked at all. Their very first match with the post-shuffle lineup ended in complete disaster, and haven’t shown up elsewhere ever since. This drastically reduces our confidence in them, despite having some great talent such as Agressif and MMY. It’s very hard to see them getting into the top 4, let alone winning this whole tournament. Avoid betting on them for now.
Although we were all praises for the Koreans after their stellar performance at Shanghai and their victory at DotaPit, MVP Phoenix have been practically nonexistent as of late — at least online. Losses to teams they should not have lost to (particularly in online qualifiers) mar their record in the past few weeks. It seems that this team is simply destined to fall off the map after showing the world what they can do.
This can be attributed to the fact that their location makes it very difficult for them to play in online scenarios. They seem to only shine in tournaments that don’t have latency as a factor, which is why they did so well in the last two LANs that they were seen in. If they’ve kept their discipline through the hard times, they should still be a team to watch out for at Kiev. Their victory at DotaPit proved that they have what it takes to keep their momentum at a LAN (through all the aggression that they play in their games), so we feel they can take the whole thing at StarLadder. A decent return on that price makes it even better.
Na’Vi have clearly improved with their current lineup as of late, taking top 4 at DotaPit (where they defeated Team Secret to get there) and generally looking better than the days when they looked more like a Tier 2 team than the decorated Dota organization they’re supposed to be. However, even that might not be enough for them to win here given the competition, and that’s in spite of their home field advantage in Kiev, Ukraine. They failed to get past the first round of the EPICENTER qualifier, where they were beaten by Polarity.
Simply put, it’s a long shot for them. A price of 14/1 is fantastic, but let’s face it — they will likely be eliminated in the second round of the losers’ bracket anyway. It’ll be a while before Na’Vi are back to their old glory once again, but for now, your confidence would be better placed elsewhere.
Another significant threat in the field, OG didn’t change a single member of their roster during the spring shuffle. Although they haven’t won a LAN since DreamLeague Season 4, they are certainly still capable of getting to the grand finals of any tournament they decide to join. With the sheer talent they have in their lineup and the amount of time they’ve spent with each other as a team, they are one of the most solid squads in Europe and in the world.
At 11/4, betting on them to win the whole thing is a fairly reasonable decision to make. It makes slightly more than the Alliance bet, and rightly so — both teams are more or less evenly matched anyway. If you want another safe call that makes a bit more cash, look no further than OG. Let’s just hope it’s not the “Miracle & Friends Show” again, as that will make them prone to burning out in the middle of the tournament.
Vega Squadron used to be the wildcard team of every tournament they were in, but since then that title has been taken by MVP Phoenix. While Vega have shown in the past that they are capable of taking advantage of mistakes by some of the stronger teams they face (as evidenced by their win at ESL One New York last year), they’ve failed to show that kind of tenacity lately. In a tournament stacked with great talent, even getting past the first round will be an uphill battle for them. We don’t think it’s a good idea to bet on them here, therefore.
Vici Gaming Reborn
Vici Gaming Reborn: Vici Gaming’s academy squad renamed. This team in particular received some good players in the shuffle, most notably fy from the main team. As we all know, fy-god is one of the strongest support players in the world, and can singlehandedly swing games in his team’s favor at a moment’s notice. Since the shuffle, they’ve posted some great results in online cups, particularly the H-Cup — which they’ve won four whole seasons of.
This lineup clearly works, but it hasn’t been tested at a high-profile event yet. This makes it kind of difficult to recommend them for outright winner, as the results in bigger tournaments aren’t there yet. The returns at 7/1 aren’t even spectacular enough to warrant it. Better to put your trust in the other, more proven teams — but start looking out for VGR. They look like they have plenty of potential from here, and this LAN will provide them with much-needed experience.
CIS mainstays Virtus.pro are playing with a new lineup since the shuffle, with fng in position 3 rather than in the usual support slot. Their roster contains some of the most recognizable names in the CIS Dota scene, so they definitely check out in the talent department. However, this new lineup might need a few more games together in order to gel properly, especially with fng playing offlane instead of his comfort roles. We don’t particularly fancy betting on a squad that still needs testing, so we can’t recommend them in this particular tournament. If anything, their latest games show that they beat Na’Vi at the ESL One Frankfurt qualifiers, but as we all know, that’s not exactly a difficult task. We’ll get back to trusting VP with our money soon enough, but for now, it’s not worth it.
Alliance to win outright with bet365 at 5/2 (3.50)
MVP Phoenix to win outright with bet365 at 5/1 (6.00)
OG to win outright with bet365 at 11/4 (3.75)
Alliance and OG are the safe bets, as we said in their respective previews. The prices attached to both of these teams are respectably profitable given their chances of winning, and should be considered first. MVP Phoenix perform better in LANs than they do in online tournaments due to ping being a factor, and they’ve already proven themselves in this regard. If you feel like rolling the dice on a team with a decent chance to take it all, put your money on the Koreans.
— written by Patrick “EthanKairos” Bonifacio (@EthanKairosSC2)