Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3 (Minor) Preview

Valve and Starladder will kick off the season with the Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3 Minor tournament and a return to the storied Cybersport Arena in Kiev, Ukraine where, among others, OG claimed their record fourth Major title.

With that said, here’s a break down of everything you need to know about the first Minor tournament of the season, from what’s at stake to the prize pool, the participating teams, and more.

What’s at Stake?

Image via Starladder

Prior to The International 2017, Valve announced they were going to make changes to  Dota 2’s competitive system.

On September 15, 2017, Valve officially unveiled the Dota Pro Circuit, which they described as an eight-month season of tournaments held around the world that offer Qualifying Points used to determine the eight direct invites to The International.”

Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3 is the first of the 11 Majors and 16 Minors slated for this season and will feature 300 Qualification Points, on top of a $300,000 prize pool.

You can watch the tournament in the Dota 2 client for free, on YouTube, Twitch, or live at the Cybersport Arena in Kiev, Ukraine.

Participating Teams

Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3

Image via Starladder

Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3 will see eight Dota 2 teams converging in Kiev for four days of action.

Six of the eight teams earned their berths via the regional qualifiers, while Team Liquid and Newbee each received a direct invite to the main event.

The six qualifier teams are as follows:

So far, not a single team has reported having issues with securing a Visa for their players. And, with just a few days to go until the event, it’s highly likely we’ll see each team making their way to Kiev on October 12.

Tournament Format and Prize Pool

Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3

A simple illustration of how the double-elimination GSL format works.

The Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3 is split into two parts: a GSL double-elimination format group stages and a 4-team single-elimination playoffs.

During the group stages, the 8 participating teams are divided into two groups of four and play best-of-three series against each other. Afterwards, the winning teams will face off to determine who finishes in 1st place in their group. The first two losing teams will then square off in an elimination match, after which they will play the other losing team to determine who comes in 2nd place.

Only the top two teams from each group will make it to the playoffs.

Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3

Image via Starladder

As for the playoffs, the Starladder went with a single-elimination bracket format, making for a more traditional sports experience — 4 teams will duke it out in a best-of-three series where the winners will move on to the best-of-five Grand Finals.

The distribution of the $300,000 prize pool and 300 Qualification Points are as follows:

  • 1st Place — $135,000 / 150 QP
  • 2nd Place — $60,000 / 90 QP
  • 3rd/4th Place — $30,000 / 30 QP

The Heavy Favourites

Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3

Image via Team Liquid

Team Liquid

Since finishing in the Top 8 in Kiev, Team Liquid have yet to play in a LAN tournament that they didn’t win. That’s four LAN tournaments in a row, punctuated by a 3-0 sweep of Newbee in the Grand Finals of The International 7. 

Considering the current patch plays heavily towards their favour, Team Liquid are as good of a bet as any to defend their title and rip their fifth straight LAN trophy despite not having played much in official matches in two months.


The TI7 runner-ups opened up the season with back-to-back sweeps of LFY to win the DreamLeague Season 8 Chinese Qualifier and looked like a team on a mission of redemption all throughout.

Many consider Newbee as the best Dota 2 team in China right now and given their current standing on top of the Dota 2 Professional League in China, it’s easy to see why.

Team Secret

Who would’ve thought that Team Secret’s newest roster would mesh so quickly and so well that they’d open up the season on an absolute tear?

The versatility of their latest additions, Adrian ‘Fata’ Trinks and Marcus ‘Ace’ Hoelgaard, have afforded Clement ‘Puppey’ Ivanov a wealth of possible draft lineups. Additionally, both of their excellence as core players have eased the load off of Yeik ‘MidOne’ Nai Zheng.

Team Secret’s latest roster may be unproven in a LAN setting, but using that to argue against their status as heavy favourites in the tournament seems foolish; their absurdly high 92% win rate — an unsustainable win rate that should regress naturally — in 25 matches so far this season is proof enough that they’re legit.

Teams To Watch Out For

Keep a close eye on both CompLexity Gaming and Vici Gaming; both managed to make it out of each of their tightly contested regional qualifiers. Mineski also look strong right now and have so far dominated Southeast Asia. However, with TNC Pro Team, Execration and Fnatic struggling, it’s only fair to wonder if whether their dominance is less of a product of the team itself and more because of the lack of competition in their region.

Natus Vincere’s resurgence earlier this season is also noteworthy, even though they’ve seen their recent string of wins overshadowed by Virtus.Pro’s complete dominance of the region and the other teams stepping up their level of play.

This then leaves SG e-sports in an all-too-familiar spot as the heavy underdogs of the tournament.

Don’t Miss Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3

Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3

Image via Starladder

Of course, since Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3 is the first Minor tournament of the season, anything can happen.

Who knows? SG e-sports might play spoilers once again in Kiev and pull off an upset or two. Or maybe the TI curse takes effect and Team Liquid sees a steep decline in performance. Or maybe, just maybe, Mineski will go on to prove that they are just as good against international competition.

With all that uncertainty, the only thing we can be sure of is that all eyes will be waiting for the outcome of this tournament.

Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3

Image via Starladder

The Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3 will start with the group stages on October 12, Thursday until October 14, Saturday, followed by the playoffs on October 15, Sunday.

Who do you think will win the Starladder i-League Invitational Season 3? Will Team Liquid finally play in a tournament they won’t win? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.

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