Less than 24 hours removed from the epic Grand Finals of ESL One Genting 2018 that saw Newbee finally end their years long, 7-game losing streak to Team Liquid, the two rivals, along with six other Dota 2 teams, are set to collide in Shanghai at the Starladder i-League Invitational Season 4 Pro Circuit Minor tournament.
As they have since Season 2 of the Starladder i-League tournament, Team Liquid and Newbee will headline the list of participating teams once again. However, unlike in previous iterations, both teams look like they’re going to have an easy path to yet another rematch in the Grand Finals. Mineski, and to some extent LGD Gaming, serve as the next best Dota 2 teams in the tournament pool and none of the two have come relatively close to displaying the same level of Dota 2 that makes them a legitimate threat.
But, who knows? Bigger upsets have happened in the past. After all, the first Starladder i-League tournament saw a relatively unknown ViCi Gaming Reborn squad pull off the unlikely win against a stacked competition featuring the likes of OG, MVP.Phoenix, Alliance and LGD Gaming.
As always, different from our usual power rankings, our goal here is to organize all the teams participating in this tournament. In this case, we’ll rank all of the 8 Dota 2 teams slated to play at Starladder i-League Invitational Season 4. Recent play, as always, will carry a lot more weight. So will performances in Pro Circuit tournaments.
Starladder i-League Invitational Season 4 Power Rankings
7. Team Empire
6. CompLexity Gaming
5. LGD Gaming
4. Team Kinguin
1. Team Liquid
Teams to Beat: Newbee and Team Liquid
Newbee and Team Liquid are the top Dota 2 teams in the world right now. They, along with a fully healthy Team Secret lineup, make up a triumvirate of Dota 2 teams that are playing on a whole other level. Virtus Pro certainly can make a case for joining their ranks, but their inconsistency is worrisome, and besides, they’re not even playing in this tournament, so what’s the point of discussing them?
In any case, it’d be a huge surprise if Newbee and Team Liquid didn’t make it all the way to the Grand Finals of Starladder i-League Invitational Season 4 for what’s likely going to be yet another epic showdown that has all of the makings of becoming an all-time classic matchup.
Team on the Rise: Team Kinguin
It’s a shame that we didn’t get to see Team Kinguin play at Galaxy Battles. Not to take anything from VGJ.Thunder or Evil Geniuses, but the presence of the all-Polish squad could’ve made things a whole lot more interesting, especially with OG playing with stand-ins. But, what’s done is done, and we’re now left with Team Kinguin’s first Pro Circuit appearance for 2018 after they disrupted the Dota 2 scene by topping their group at the Summit 8 Minor.
The 17-year-old Michal ‘Nisha‘ Jankowski has displayed prowess well beyond his years and could be the next young Dota 2 superstar. Though a little bit older, Natan ‘Exotic_Deer‘ Michalewicz is just as prolific. Between these two youngsters and the evident chemistry of the entire team, Team Kinguin have given OG a good run for their money in Regional Qualifiers, firmly establishing themselves as the 4th best Dota 2 team in a stacked European Region featuring the likes of Team Secret, Team Liquid, and the aforementioned, OG.
Now comes the hard part for Team Kinguin. Having already shed their underdog status, they must now prove that they’re capable of not just pulling off upsets, but that they can consistently beat top teams and win games against those perceived as below them. No doubt they have the talent on paper to do just that. However, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen underdogs show a lot of promise, only to fall off of the map a few tournaments later.
Dark Horse Candidates: Mineski and LGD Gaming
We’re probably giving LGD Gaming too much credit here. After all, they haven’t exactly been in good form lately. But, they’re just too good to sleep on, and lest we forget, the last two Qualifiers they won with their latest lineup came against ViCi Gaming and LFY, who are no slouch themselves, especially the former.
Of course, this could just be another case of a team performing well against regional competition and falling off when up against foreign opponents. It has happened before. However, something tells me that with Xu ‘fy‘ Linsen assuming the role of team captain and going back to the position 4 support role where he made a name for himself, this LGD Gaming squad is legit.
As for Mineski, what can I say? Daryl Koh ‘iceiceice‘ Pei Xiang remains one of the best offlaners in the world and they’ve got a playmaking position 4 player in Anucha ‘Jabz‘ Jirawong, a pre-requisite that the top Dota 2 teams have. Their talent on paper warrants contender status and it’s not like they’ve been a bad team. They’re still one of the few teams to have won a Minor this season, and they did finish as runner-ups back in October in the third season of the Starladder i-league Minor.
Should Mineski ever pull it together, they’ll start looking like the legitimate contenders that we know that they can be, which is quite the scary proposition.
Biggest Question Marks: CompLexity Gaming
We’d love to say that CompLexity Gaming had a nasty fall from grace, but they weren’t exactly a top team to begin with. They had a lot of potential, for sure, but they never rarely showed anything more than glimpses of it so far this season. No doubt, they’re a good team and admittedly, they have a puncher’s chance against anyone, but you can only stay as what can only be considered as underdogs for so long until people start wondering when exactly are you going to start beating good teams on a consistent basis.
With OpTic Gaming starting to shape up and Animal Planet not too far behind, the clock is ticking for CompLexity Gaming to decide if their current roster is worth sticking to or if they’re better off risking a roster swap.
Barring any surprise upset, you can pencil in a rematch No. 3 between Team Liquid and Newbee in the Grand Finals of the Starladder i-League Invitational Season 4. Both teams have all the momentum they need heading into the tournament, and the narrative just fits – Team Liquid and Newbee are currently 1-1 in Grand Finals.
Do you think Team Liquid will go foor three in a row in Season 4 of the Starladder i-League tournament? Or will Newbee get the better of them once again in the Grand Finals? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.