StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 2

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The International is now just weeks away and the teams are entering the final preparations phase. The Summit 5 just ended with Wings Gaming snatching the win from under OG’s nose. Neither of those teams will be in participation this week however, as we enter the final pre-International tournament in StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 2.

Starting on July 21st at the Beyond The Summit House, Los Angeles, the tournament will be awarding players with a fairly generous $300.000 prize pool, with $135.000 reserved for the eventual winners and all teams being awarded at least $7.500 in prize money.

At least half of the participating teams will also be competing in The International, with the likes of Na’Vi, Fnatic, Evil Geniuses and Team Secret all taking participation. Three teams got direct invited into the event in Evil Geniuses, Team Secret and Na’Vi all being invited directly. Other five places were filled through qualifiers with F.R.I.E.N.D.S. , CDEC Youth, Digital Chaos, CompLexity and Fnatic winning their places in the tournament.


The Favorites

In the absence of the likes of OG, Team Liquid and Wings Gaming, we will see quite a fierce combat among the other teams, and we can expect some awesome matches. The bookies are favoring Evil Geniuses, the USA team playing on their own turf in front of domestic crowd, but several other teams are expected to make a good showing.

Evil Geniuses: One of the most prestigious gaming organizations in the world and the current holders of The International title, EG are the biggest favorites of this USA based tournament. After they absolutely dominated the scene last year, 2016 has seen them experience a serious decline, with their only real result this year coming at the Shanghai Major back in March.

Still, Evil Geniuses will be playing on home turf in this one and given their squad, previous results and the fact they will be eager to make things happen before The International, we can expect them to make quite a showing. The bookies have them at 6/5 at the moment but these odds don’t really seem too favorable from a betting standpoint.

Team Secret: The reigning Shanghai Major champions Team Secret come into the tournament with good chances as well. The Shanghai result was their biggest to date and with most of the team coming from American soil we can expect them to be well rested and unaffected by the time zone changes other teams will have to fight.

Team Secret enter the tournament with a 6/4 price to win outright which still seems like an unfavorable price in a fairly tough competition.

Natus Vincere: The Ukrainian team are the third favorites of the tournament and the bookies have given a fairly generous 6/1 on them to win it all. Considering some of their more recent results, we absolutely expect Na’Vi to put up a good show in the USA with the distance they must travel being their biggest obstacle.

Na’Vi play Fnatic in the first match and likely facing off against EG if they win that one, making their road to the finals difficult but with some luck, they are certainly the team to surprise at this one.


The Outsiders

F.R.I.E.N.D.S: Made up of the Russo/Ukrainian members of Virtus Pro, the brand new Dota 2 team will be making their first participation in a major tournament. While they are yet to make any results and the bookies price them at 50/1, we can expect F.R.I.E.N.D.S. to be eager to show they still got it and actually make a good run at it. They start the tournament off against Digital Chaos and we expect this match to set the tone for their tournament. At 50/1 placing a small bet on them to win it outright will make for good fun watching and may actually be a valuable bet in the long run.

CDEC Youth: With few real results to speak of, the Chinese crew enter this tournament as, in my opinion, the biggest underdogs. Priced at just 25/1, betting them would be quite the insanity as the team has not even participated in too many big tournaments, but it will be fun to see if they can win any matches or make any upsets.


Conclusion: Domestic Teams To Dominate

With the competition being much softer than you would expect in a tournament this size and several of the currently strongest teams absent, you can expect the American based teams to dominate. Evil Geniuses and Team Secret are the two biggest favorites, but in my opinion the two value bets are 6/1 on Natus Vincere and 50/1 on F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

For the more cautious ones out there, Evil Geniuses at 6/5 or Team Secret at 6/4 are the safest bets you can make.

The tournament starts soon, so good luck to all the teams and let us enjoy this final tournament before the big spectacle that is now just two weeks away.


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