The StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor will be held in Kiev from March 7-10 with 500 DPC points and US$300,000 up for grabs, not to mention an entry ticket to the upcoming DreamLeague Season 11 Major.
Eight teams from five different regions will take part in the event – Europe, CIS, China, South America and North America all being represented. The tournament is one of few that offers two spots to South American teams.
OG (Title odds: 2.970)
Tournament favourites OG are improving and reminding us of the glory days of The International 8. The team recently finished 3rd in ESL One in Katowice and iLTW is gelling with the team more. Another noticeable change for OG in Katowice was the addition of a second coach which seemed to bring positive results. OG still do not have as reliable late game as they did when ana was on board, but the team have improved this aspect recently.
Another of the fancied teams, Gambit have impressed in the last few months. The CIS team are undoubtedly the one to have shortened the distance between Virtus.pro and the rest in their region. They only lost to Team Secret to finish 2nd in ESL One Katowice and it would be no surprise to see them in the final of StarLadder as well. Particular strengths are the early game and the drafting phase, during which they forged victories in Katowice.
Old but Gold (22.290)
The Russian team qualified from the CIS region and feature veterans such as Illidan, G and VANSKOR. They are a brand-new team, created only a month ago, and finished 2nd in the CIS qualifier, beating Team Empire in the process. The true test will lie in this tournament where they will face stronger opposition. Old but Gold avoided Gambit in the qualifiers, so it’s hard to tell what their current level is.
Flying Penguins (18.050)
EternaLEnVy has been struggling to find a solid roster, being part of both compLexity and Infamous earlier this season. This polarising figure had an interesting season with Fnatic during the last DPC where he made some impressive plays, but also suffered some disappointments. Flying Penguins also have the off-laner Sneyking in their roster, who was part of the impressive plays of Forward Gaming at TI8. The Penguins beat each of the other three teams in the North American qualifier to earn their spot.
Team Odd (36.090)
The youngest team in the tournament, Team Odd were only founded at the beginning of February and have an entirely Peruvian roster. Known previously as Playmakers Esports, that roster features players who, despite their young age, have been part of some of the best South American teams around, such as Elite Wolves and Infamous. Team Odd do not have any international experience though and may struggle against top-tier opposition.
Boom ID (15.920)
Became the first Indonesian team to make a breakthrough on the international Dota 2 stage earlier this season when they took part in the Bucharest Minor. Overcoming a qualifier featuring Tigers, winners the opening Minor of 2018/19, Boom ID will have an idea of what to expect and should certainly be better prepared this time.
Vici Gaming (3.980)
Vici area name that the regular Dota 2 fan normally associates with Major tournaments but the Chinese outfit have been in the shadow of other teams on the domestic scene this season due to the likes of PSG.LGD, Team Aster and EHOME. Nevertheless, Vici Gaming managed to beat Team Aster to earn their spot here and are one of the favourites to win the Minor overall. The team have participated in both Majors so far this season, finishing in 7-8th spot each time. Vici made three major changes to their roster at the beginning of the season and started promisingly with a 2nd spot at ESL Hamburg in October.
Royal Never Give Up (6.360)
RNGU look strong contenders for the title. The team were formed this season and feature Monet and ah fu, part of the LGD.Forever Young team who finished 3rd at TI7. They emerged victorious from the Chinese qualifier featuring teams such as Vici Gaming and Team Aster, beating the latter. RNGU were recently significantly bolstered by the addition of one of the most experienced Chinese captains, LaNm, who joined the team on February 16. Last but not least, the team also has Mikasa, one of the most respected captains in their region.
OG, Gambit and Vici Gaming are deservedly at the head of the market for title glory in Kiev. Fourth favourites Royal Never Give Up certainly have the potential to upset this fearsome trio, but the rest of the teams will really have to step up their game in order to be competitive.