The Biggest Takeaways from Starladder Invitational Season 4 So Far

After three full days of Dota 2 action, we’re finally down to the fourth and final day of Starladder Invitational Season 4. Tomorrow, the 4 remaining teams in the tournament will take center stage in a single-elimination playoffs. This will culminate in a Grand Finals that will decide which team will take home a huge chunk of the prize pool worth $300,000 and 300 Qualifying Points.

With every Dota 2 team left in the tournament playing to win tomorrow, every match will be a must-watch. Though Team Liquid and Newbee look like they’re going to set themselves up yet another rematch, who knows? Mineski and LGD Gaming are no slouch. The former, for one, were able to take a game off of Newbee and very nearly took the top seed in Group B from them. Meanwhile, LGD Gaming gave Team Liquid a good run for their money, a fact belied by their 2-0 series score against the reigning TI champions.

With so much Dota 2 having already been played, and with so much left to play tomorrow, here are some of the things we’ve learned from the group stages of Starladder Invitational Season 4:

Empire Could Make Things Interesting in CIS

Starladder Invitational Season 4

Image via Team Empire

So far, it’s been a two-man race to the top of the CIS Dota 2 scene between Virtus Pro and Natus Vincere. The former edges out the latter, but it is those two teams who have been on top of CIS since the start of the season. Team Empire, who many thought would breakthrough after their underdog run at The International 7, could finally emerge and make things interesting.

While they ultimately fell short of qualifying for the playoffs, Team Empire showed that they were more than capable. Rostilav ‘fn‘ Lozovoi, for one, continued to prove his worth as a player, while Maxim ‘yoky-‘ Kim emerged as a capable position 4 support player after playing in the offlane for most of his career. Their substitute for the tournament, Alexander ‘Nix‘ Levin, also played admirably and synergized well with the rest of the team.

Team Empire have yet to officially register their roster, but if it’s the same five-man lineup that showed up at Starladder Invitational Season 4, then CIS will have yet another contender in their hands.

South America Continues Its Freefall

Starladder Invitational Season 4

Image via Infamous

The Kiev Major showed us that South America wasn’t as weak as the rest of the world perceived them. The International 7 cemented that fact. The 2017-18 Pro Circuit was supposed to be their next big followup. So far, however, not a single team from the region have yet to have a strong showing. In fact, not a single South American Dota 2 team have yet to advance to the playoffs of a Pro Circuit tournament.

SG e-sports have already locked up their roster. Infamous are likely to follow soon. With no upcoming Dota 2 squad from the region looking to challenge these two teams, it might be a while before we see another South American team make some noise.

Team Liquid vs Newbee Is The New El Clasico

Fans originally dubbed Natus Vincere and Alliance’s matchup in the Grand Finals of TI3 as Dota 2’s El Clasico. Four years later, a new series is looking to take the place of that legendary series.

Team Liquid and Newbee are two of the best Dota 2 teams in the world right now. Case in point, in between these two teams are 4 Pro Circuit Minor titles, which is about a quarter of the Minor tournaments this season. They’re also fresh off of a five-game series in the Grand Finals of ESL One Genting, and are looking at a possible third Grand Finals matchup tomorrow in the playoffs of Starladder Invitational Season 4.

If this keeps up, the Dota 2 community may have no choice but to cede the “El Clasico” title to the budding rivalry of these storied franchises.

Tomorrow Is Going to be Intense

With 4 Dota 2 teams left in the pool, all of which are among the best in the world, we’re in for quite the treat. Mineski vs Team Liquid may not be as lopsided as most people think. The same goes for LGD Gaming vs Newbee. Each “underdog” have a legitimate chance of upsetting the favourites and spoiling their chances for a third Grand Finals rematch.

With at least two weeks separating Starladder Invitational Season 4 and the Katowiece Major, let’s all sit back, relax and enjoy what tomorrow has in store for us — upset or not.

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