StarLadder’s first premier Dota 2 tournament of 2016 will soon be upon us. The StarSeries Season XIII finals, with its $300,000 prize pool and joint operation with China’s i-League, promises to show great action and thrilling games between twelve of the top teams in the Dota 2 scene today.
Fan-favorite squads like Evil Geniuses, Team Secret, Alliance, Natus Vincere, LGD Gaming, and more will be participating in this tournament, which will have a two-group round robin stage followed by a Round of 6 single elimination playoff bracket. The top teams of each group will be seeded into the semifinals, with the next two in the Round of 6. All other teams below third place in groups will be eliminated.
For this preview, the market which our tips will be focusing on is outright winner, which is what most bookmakers have chosen to price up at the time of writing. So without further ado, let’s have a look at the teams!
Evil Geniuses – 13/5 – Paddy Power
Team Secret – 7/2 – bet365, Betway
Team Liquid – 6/1 – bet365, Betway
Alliance – 6/1 – Paddy Power
Virtus.pro – 15/2 – Paddy Power
LGD Gaming – 8/1 – bet365, Betway
Vega Squadron – 11/1 – Paddy Power
Team Spirit – 17/1 – Paddy Power
Natus Vincere – 25/1 – bet365, Betway
CompLexity Gaming – 35/1 – Paddy Power
Wings Gaming – 40/1 – bet365, Betway
Fnatic – 50/1 – bet365, Betway
Evil Geniuses is still the best team in North America and one of the best in the world. The International 2015 champions certainly haven’t been winning everything since TI5 (having only won The Summit 4 since then), but to say that they’re no longer a massive threat would simply be wrong. Besides, most of their losses after TI5 were within the top 3 or 4 of those tournaments. Coming into this one, they’ve been priced up at 13/5 to win the whole thing.
We are talking about a tournament winner bet here, which would make it seem like a hard sell to recommend them given that they kept coming up short in the tail end of 2015, but EG are definitely capable of winning here. Their rivals in Team Secret will likely be their biggest obstacle, but even then EG is still going to be the team to beat. At that price, though, there is likely to be better value elsewhere if you’re not looking for a super safe bet.
Legendary captain Puppey and his teammates comprise another group which is favored to win this tournament. After bagging gold medals at the MLG World Finals and the Nanyang Championships and silver medals at the Frankfurt Major and ESL One New York in 2015, they cemented themselves as one of the top teams in the world last year, even after TI5.
The very end of 2015 was hardly kind to them, though. They only narrowly avoided bombing out of the World Cyber Arena championship tournament by finishing 9th-12th (although it can be argued that the conditions surrounding that tournament affected the results), and they only got into the StarSeries finals LAN on the back of a last chance qualifier, one which they didn’t even truly win thanks to EHOME and OG withdrawing from the competition. Momentum in esports may be overrated at times, but it doesn’t look like they’ve got that on their side right now.
At a price of 7/2, they have slightly better odds than EG does, but it’s still a rather stingy pricing compared to the other options on offer. Their recent performances have also been rather questionable, and while they are still a threat in this tournament (we’re expecting them to finish top 4 at the very least), they’re not the safest option.
It would seem that KuroKy has found the place to be yet again, and that place is in Team Liquid. After the new TL squad’s formation post-TI5, they’ve been placing very well in premier tournaments. They won the sixth season of the Dota 2 Champions League and the fifth iteration of The Defense, both off the backs of 3-1 victories against Empire and OG, respectively. Where they didn’t win, they still managed to score top 4, such as in WCA where they finished third after crushing Wings Gaming 3-0 in the third place match, and in Nanyang where they finished fourth.
With a price of 6/1, betting on Liquid nets a higher return than Team Secret or EG. They are capable of winning this tournament, so as far as the safe bets go this is the one to make.
Vega Squadron is the wildcard bet of this tournament. While certainly not very close to the top tier EU teams, they showed everyone at ESL One New York 2015 that upsets do happen. Though the finals schedule was changed from a Bo5 to a Bo3, holding out against Team Secret near their peak as well as they did in that tournament was something few expected. Elsewhere, though, they’ve had no significant results to speak of.
The 11/1 pricing isn’t bad on its own, but weighed against the rest of the prices on offer combined with their lack of achievements means that betting on them isn’t exactly the best thing to do.
They’re back(?)! The TI3 champions went through a long, long period of roster instability and slumping in 2014, which continued well into the middle of 2015. Only when IceFrog dropped 6.86 were they able to show signs of their former glory again, which culminated in a first place finish at WCA. Even more admirable is the fact that they won that tournament in such deplorable conditions, the worst of which was s4’s illness at the time.
Still, it’s hard to say that they’ve gotten back to form just yet. The ingredients are there: AdmiralBulldog’s heroes got buffed and he’s been playing rat Dota like it’s 2013 again, EGM is actually playing well after the Team Tinker days that really slowed him down, and in general the team has been clicking — but the results need to come more often from here on. 6/1 odds puts them at the same level as Team Liquid (when considering prices from both bet365 and Paddy Power), but Liquid is more likely to win than the Swedes.
Virtus.pro: another one of those CIS teams that never seem to go away, and with good reason. The organization’s had its ups and downs in Dota 2 over the years but for the most part they’ve stuck around long enough to be considered a mainstay of the scene. These days, they run a squad with some of the most experienced CIS players ever, and it seems to be working for them. They won the Esportal Dota 2 League and DreamLeague Season 3 before TI5, placed second at The Summit 4 (a pretty stacked tournament in its own right), won the Dota 2 Champions League charity tournament, and have changed only one player in their roster since then.
Right now they’re in a pretty decent place in the EU scene, but with both Secret and EG in the same tournament it’s going to be difficult for VP to win here at StarSeries. How Silent fits into their team has really yet to be seen, as well. It’s hard to count them out completely, though, and their 15/2 price is decent enough. It’s going to be hard, but it is possible for this CIS team.
While LGD isn’t the top Chinese team at the moment (that honor belongs to EHOME with CDEC coming in close), they’re still a respectable squad. They fell just short of the comeback against Alliance at the WCA finals, and finished within the top 8 at the Frankfurt Major. It’s just that most of the other top teams here are doing better off right now.
Valve certainly didn’t think that they’ve been playing well enough to receive a direct invite to the Shanghai Major. In the context of StarSeries, the competition surrounding them is arguably less stacked than what they’d have faced at Shanghai if they were invited, but top-tier teams here will likely block their path to the finals. At 8/1 odds the payout isn’t terrible, but it’s not that great either considering their chances.
Na’Vi, Team Spirit, Wings Gaming, CompLexity Gaming, Fnatic
These are the teams that are hardly expected to win here. Na’Vi, while forever a fan favorite, has definitely seen better days. Team Spirit has 17/1 odds which is almost tempting because ALWAYSWANNAFLY is an X-factor, but they’re not going to win here with this kind of competition and how little they’ve accomplished together. Wings, CompLexity, and Fnatic are even worse off, with the last team in that order being in the saddest shape ever in recent times.
Team Liquid to win outright with bet365 at 6/1 (7.00)
Virtus.pro to win outright with Paddy Power at 15/2 (8.50)
The Team Liquid bet will be the safe option here. Their odds pay out better than the ones attached to EG and Secret, and Liquid are certainly capable of beating these two teams the way they’ve been playing lately. The Virtus.pro bet pays out slightly higher with a bit more risk, but since their history shows that they can tangle with the best, they get our vote.