StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5 is the 17th Dota Pro Circuit LAN event of the 2017-2018 professional season. The tournament brings together 8 teams, has a prize pool of $300.000 and is taking place in Kiev, Ukraine these days, between April 12th – 15th.
StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5 features 8 teams from 6 different regions:
- Europe: Team Kinguin.
- North America: OpTic Gaming.
- South America: SG e-sports.
- CIS: Natus Vincere, FlyToMoon, Vega Squadron.
- Southeast Asia: Fnatic.
- China: VGJ.Thunder.
The 8 participants will be initially divided into 2 groups of 4. Both of these groups will be played in a double-elimination bracket format (GSL). The top 2 teams from each group qualify for the Playoffs, where 1st place from Group A plays against 2nd place from Group B and vice versa. Every match is a Bo3 series with the exception of the Grand Final (Bo5).
Prize pool and points distribution
StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5 belongs to the Dota Pro Circuit, offering not only prize money but qualification points as well. These rewards will be distributed among the participants in the following way:
- 1st place: $135.000; 150 points
- 2nd place: $60.000; 90 points
- 3rd – 4th place: $30.000; 30 points
- 5th – 6th place: $15.000; 0 points
- 7th – 8th place: $7.500; 0 points
VGJ.Thunder is currently sitting at number 8 in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings table with 1665 points. The team has a lot of potential and has had two 2nd place results at Dota Pro Circuit events this season. One of these events was a Major. At the latest tournament it participated in, VGJ.Thunder did poorly (9th-12th place), but the opposition was very strong. At this event, the Chinese team is more than likely to make it all the way to the Grand Final.
This is a CIS team that has existed for only 2 months. And although it’s made up of experienced CIS players, it has very little experience and not a single notable result at the international level. In all likelihood, FlyToMoon will finish StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5 in 7th – 8th place.
Apart from Evil Geniuses, this is probably the strongest North American team at the moment. OpTic Gaming has a lot of potential, having plenty of experience, good individual players and a formidable captain: Peter “ppd” Dager, former TI champion with Evil Geniuses in 2015. OpTic Gaming is easily a top 3 team at this event and could easily get a great result. I’m expecting them to qualify for the Grand Final.
This is a mediocre European team with some level of international experience but not a single notable result. Given the level of competition at this event, they might get a 5th-6th place finish, but it’s still more likely that they will finish among the last 2.
Vega Squadron is an up and coming contender in the CIS region, having recently defeated Team Empire, Natus Vincere and Team Spirit in the CIS qualifiers for GESC: Thailand Dota2 Minor. With its roster of little known but experienced players, Vega Squadron doesn’t stand much of a chance against the main contenders for this event (VGJ.Thunder, OpTic Gaming and Fnatic) but has a good chance of winning against all of the other teams. A 5th-6th or even a 3rd-4th place finish wouldn’t be surprising in its case.
This is one of the strong South American teams, but unfortunately, South American Dota is known to be the weakest of all the 6 recognized regions. Like other teams present at this event, SG e-sports hasn’t really had any notable results this season. And, based on the skill difference between their region and the rest of the world, I think it’s safe to assume that they won’t make it very far into this tournament.
Fnatic is currently sitting at number 11 in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings table with 884 points. So this tournament will be decisive for them in the sense that, if they want to get a direct invite at The International 2018, they need to earn as many points as possible and get back into top 8. If they can’t do it at an event like StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5, where most of the participants are fairly weak teams, then it’s pretty clear that they won’t achieve this goal this season.
Fnatic is the 2nd placed team at this tournament in terms of strength. Their main rival for qualifying for the Grand Final will likely be OpTic Gaming.
One thing to keep in mind for this tournament is that Fnatic will be playing with their coach Adam instead of pieliedie. So we’ll have to see how that decision turns out.
Natus Vincere is currently sitting at number 10 in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings table with 1199 points. So its situation is similar to Fnatic’s. I honestly don’t like this new Na’Vi lineup and consider that after the departure of RodjER, Na’Vi lost all momentum and all hope of getting a top 8 finish at the end of the season. Even when they win, Na’Vi seem to be extremely lucky or are getting carried by one of their cores. The team as a whole doesn’t seem to have much synergy.