Dota 2 Tournament Preview: Free Betting Tips For StarLadder i-League Invitational #3

By Bobby Fletcher
Published on October 12, 2017

StarLadder i-League Invitational #3 is a Dota 2 tournament that marks the beginning of the 2017-2018 competitive season. It falls under the “Minors” category within the Dota Pro Circuit, which means it has a prize pool of less than 1 million dollars. In this particular case, the tournament’s prize pool is $300,000.

The third edition of StarLadder i-League Invitational is held in Kiev, Ukraine between October 12 and October 15. The first two editions were won by Vici Gaming Reborn and Team Liquid respectively.

However, none of these teams will be in Kiev to defend their title, so Dota 2 fans all over the world are wondering who will become the new champion. And given that the prize pool is three times bigger than it was in the previous two editions, the competition is sure to be fierce.

Tournament Structure

StarLadder i-League Invitational #3 features 8 teams from 6 different regions:

  •       Europe: Team Liquid, Team Secret.
  •        China: Newbee, Vici Gaming.
  •        CIS: Natus Vincere.
  •        North America: compLexity Gaming.
  •        South America: SG esports.
  •        Southeast Asia: Mineski.

The teams will be divided into 2 groups of 4 and each group will be played in a double elimination bracket format. Every match is a Bo3 (Best of 3). The winners of the upper and lower bracket in each group advance to the playoffs (semifinals).

Here, the winners qualify for the Grand Final, which will be a Bo5.

The 2 groups are the following:

  •        Group A: Vici Gaming, SG esports, Team Liquid, Mineski.
  •        Group B: Newbee, compLexity Gaming, Team Secret, Natus Vincere.

In group A, the first two matches will be Vici Gaming vs SG esports and Team Liquid vs Mineski. The clear favorites to win these two matches are Vici Gaming and Team Liquid.

In group B, the first two matches will be Newbee vs compLexity Gaming and Team Secret vs Natus Vincere. Here, we will most likely see Newbee and Team Secret emerging victorious.

Points and Prize Distribution

Starting with the 2017-2018 season, Valve have introduced a points system in order to create a more transparent ranking system. As a result, tournaments that belong to the Dota Pro Circuit offer not only money, but points as well.

This is the points and prize distribution for the StarLadder i-League Invitational #3 tournament:

  •        1st place: 150 points, $135,000.
  •        2nd place: 90 points, $60,000.
  •        3rd-4th place: 30 points, $30,000.
  •        5th-6th place: 0 points, $15,000.
  •        7th-8th place: 0 points, $7,500.

Analysis of the Teams

Here’s a short analysis of the 8 teams participating in the Dota 2 StarLadder i-League Invitational #3 tournament:

Team Liquid

They had an amazing performance last season, winning 5 important tournaments including The International 7. The team is lead by a legendary captain (Kuro “Kuroky” Takhasomi) and has an all-star roster.

Team Liquid is expected to do well in the 2017-2018 season, but it remains to be seen if they’ve managed to keep up their motivation level and train hard after winning The International.

There hasn’t been any major game patch since this important competition, so if Team Liquid has managed to maintain their level of play, they should be favorites going into SL i-League Invitational #3.


They are the strongest Chinese team at the moment. After their second place finish at The International 7, Newbee went on to obtain a series of good results against top Chinese teams: 6 wins, 4 draws and 0 losses in the DreamLeague Season 8 Chinese Qualifiers and Dota 2 Professional League Season 4.

Newbee haven’t made any roster changes after The International, so they’re expected to bring the same level of play going into the new season.

Vici Gaming

They are an almost entirely different team from the one that failed to qualify for The International last season.

Only one player (Zeng “Ori” Jiaoyang) and the team’s coach (Zhang “LaNm” Zhicheng, who has transitioned to the role of support) have remained.

The other three roles have been filled by well known top Chinese players from other teams.

With their new roster, Vici Gaming has managed to qualify for this tournament by defeating teams that were considered to be much stronger than them. Two of them in particular (LGD Gaming and LGD Forever Young) had taken 4th and 3rd place respectively at The International 7.

Vici Gaming is not yet stronger than their Chinese opponent Newbee (as recent results have shown), but they are definitely expected to overpower top teams from less competitive regions such as SG esports.

Team Secret

They had a mediocre performance at The International 7, taking 9th-12th place. However, after the departure of their carry (Pyo “MP” No-a) and offlaner (Maurice “KheZu” Gutmann) and the signing of Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard (new carry) and Adrian “Fata” Trinks (new offlaner), Team Secret have had a series of impressive performances and are currently on an eleven win streak.

Some of these wins came against top teams such as OG.

Team Secret have managed to qualify for 3 of the first 5 tournaments of the Dota Pro Circuit and have been invited to a fourth (Perfect World Masters), making them one of the 4 teams who has achieved this performance at the start of the new competitive season.

The other 3 teams who will take part in 4 of the first 5 Dota Pro Circuit tournaments are Newbee, SG esports, and Mineski.

Under the leadership of Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, Team Secret are looking quite strong at the moment and will most likely achieve a top 4 finish at this event.

Some even see them capable of reaching the Grand Final, but it remains to be seen how they will fare against the likes of Newbee and Team Liquid.

Natus Vincere

The good old “NaVi is back” meme certainly seems to hold some truth at the start of this new season, as the CIS team has qualified for 2 of the first 5 Dota Pro Circuit tournaments.

And they had to do it to the detriment of much stronger CIS teams such as Virtus.pro and Team Empire.

It looks like Danil “Dendi” Ishutin and his teammates might have found the right formula for success after a very disappointing previous season, but they’re still regarded as a heavy underdog at the moment.

Keep in mind however that the StarLadder i-League Invitational #3 tournament takes place in Kiev, Ukraine, so the NaVi fans might propel them to some completely unexpected victories. So, while it’s certainly risky to bet on them, it might be just as risky to bet against them!

compLexity Gaming

compLexity went through some roster changes at the start of this new season, trying to win back the glory from a few years ago. And they chose to do it by bringing back the Swedish Blomdin brothers (Rasmus “Chessie” Blomdin and Linus “Limmp” Blomdin), who were with the squad back in 2015, when compLexity placed 9th-12th at The International 5.

After their departure, the North American team tried and failed to find success with a number of different rosters. But, after their return, compLexity seems to be turning into a tier one Dota 2 team once more, having qualified for 2 of the first 5 Dota Pro Circuit tournaments this year.

SG esports

Until they achieve something important on the International Dota 2 stage, they’ll probably be known as the squad that ruined Team Secret’s run at The Kiev Major.

But even though only one player of that team is still a part of the SG esports roster today, the South Americans have had a dominant season start in their region, qualifying for 4 of the first 5 Dota Pro Circuit tournaments, including the ESL One Hamburg Major.

Right now, despite their regional successes, they are viewed as a heavy underdog at the International level and are expected to lose against pretty much every team at StarLadder i-League Invitational #3.


After a very bad 2016-2017 season, Mineski has recently resurfaced with a new roster, qualifying for 3 Dota Pro Circuit tournaments and being invited to a fourth (Perfect World Masters).

Under the leadership of Chai “Mushi” Yee Fung and with the help of veterans like Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang, Mineski are completely dominating the SEA region at the moment.

But, unlike their South American opponents from SG esports, they are given more credibility at the International level, simply because Southeast Asia is a region with a strong Dota 2 tradition and multiple teams that obtained exceptional results in the past.

Betting Tips

When betting on StarLadder i-League Invitational #3 matches, you should keep in mind that this is the first important Dota 2 tournament of the new competitive season. This means that it’s still unclear what the real pecking order is.

Luckily, the game hasn’t seen any major patches since the end of The International 7, so in that regard, you can expect that giants like Team Liquid and Newbee will still be very hard to beat, simply because they probably have the current state of the game figured.

They know what works best and against what, and can adapt their playstyle in order to get consistently good results. That being said, however, most of the other teams are in the process of proving themselves, and some may turn out to be much stronger or weaker than anticipated.

Here are a few betting tips and tactics that you can use when betting on this event:

Take the lowest risk bets initially, until it becomes more clear what the pecking order is. For example, it’s not that big of a risk to bet that Newbee will defeat compLexity Gaming. But it’s rather risky to bet that Team Secret will defeat NaVi, or the other way around. Even though the odds are clearly in favor of Team Secret.

Wait until you’ve seen the drafts. If you have a good understanding of the game, watch the drafting phase first and then place your bet. In Dota 2, it’s often possible for a team to completely outdraft the other, and gain a huge advantage right from the start of the game. What happens during this phase usually has a big impact over the result of the match, especially between evenly matched teams. If you can’t figure out who has the upper hand at the end of the hero picks, listen to what the analysts are saying and look for signals that one team clearly has a better draft than the other.

If you want to bet on the result of a match in which one team is much stronger than the other, you can get improved betting odds by betting on a game event that is consistent with the result of the match. For instance, betting that team A (if it’s much better than team B) will be the one to destroy the first set of barracks is a game event consistent with a victory in favor of team A. But the odds of this event will be significantly higher than the ones associated with a victory for team A.

Look for drafting strategies that revolve around putting early game pressure on the opponent team and are used against drafts that revolve around defending until the late game, when the carry hero can overpower the entirely enemy line-up (Anti-Mage drafts for example). In these scenarios, the team that goes for the early push draft will often be the one to kill the first Roshan.

If you happen to place a bet on a clear favorite and the match starts to go heavily in their opponents’ favor, you can often cancel out the bet by betting enough money on the opposing team during the match, while it still has good enough odds to allow you to do this. For example, let’s say you bet $10 on Vici Gaming to win the first map against SG esports. Initially, on betway.com the odds are 1.12 – 4.25 in favor of the Chinese team. If the match starts to go heavily in favor of SG esports, you can bet another $10 but this time on SG esports, while their odds of winning the map are still higher than 2. At this point, the second bet cancels out the first, in the event of a victory for SG esports. Make sure however that when you do this the stronger team doesn’t have a line-up that could easily come back from the brink of defeat and win the game.

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