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image: StarLadder

The StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor is our next stop in the Dota 2 Pro Circuit schedule for 2019 and will come to us from Kiev, Ukraine next week. The event features eight teams from around the world all fighting for their share of a $300,000 prize pool, 500 DPC points and most importantly, a chance to make it to the Major if they are able to obtain victory in Kiev.

As we countdown the days until the event, we can take a look at some of the teams who are very likely to take the top spoils – or at least give a good challenge, especially after many of them recently competed in ESL One Katowice 2019 or MDL Macau 2019 in the past week. The following teams are my predictions for the Minor but upsets always happen and with DPC points on the line, everyone will be throwing their best foot forward.

image: ESL

The Obvious Choice

Ever since their victory at The International 2018, OG have seemed to suffer that well-known curse that befalls all winners of the coveted Aegis of Champions. The team have yet to appear at a Major in the new season and this will be only their second Minor appearance – coming in a poor 5th/6th at The Bucharest Minor. However, at the recent event in Katowice we saw a completely different OG, a team playing with gusto once more.

OG’s 3rd place finish at ESL One Katowice was a great stepping-stone for the team to get back to their TI form, even without their star Anathan ‘ana’ Pham. OG’s brilliant use of Ember Spirit as well as a masterful understanding of the current meta seems to have gone a long way for the squad – who eliminated Vici Gaming, Fnatic and Team Aster in Katowice. And it wasn’t just all-Ember either from the team as they showed the depth of their players with picks like Mirana, Nature’s Prophet, Tidehunter and many other heroes that were unexpected from them.

From my point of view, it would seem that the team are finally starting to come into their own with Igor ‘iLTW’ Filatov and he is definitely starting to adapt to his current squad. While ESL One Katowice was almost a testing ground for many teams, OG certainly proved that they were coming back to show the “TI-Curse” is a fallacy – although they have one big issue in the form of a 5-man CIS squad named Gambit Esports.

image: ESL

The OG Killers

What is there left to say about Gambit that the heading doesn’t give away? Well, tons actually.

The CIS squad captained by Artiom ‘fng’ Barshack and featuring many well-known Dota 2 players has been making a name for themselves constantly in this season of the DPC. The squad started the season off as ferzee, but just prior to the Kuala Lumpur Major they would move forward as Gambit Esports. It was just after this that their OG-domination begun – WePlay! Dota 2 Winter Madness which brought us into 2019.

Nobody expected the dismantling of OG to come as easily as it has to Gambit – who currently hold a 9-0-win streak over the TI winners. The team have some great hero choices, but mainly they’ve seen a ton of success with Ursa and Razor alongside many different support picks including Keeper of the Light. While Team Secret obliterated them in the upper bracket and grand finals, Gambit still have a magnificent chance of taking the Minor title.

Unfortunately for Gambit, they announced today that they will be playing with a standin meaning that things may get a lot tougher for them and the pressure will be on to see if they can take the StarLadder ImbaTV Dota 2 Minor.

image: ESL

The EE Factor

Jacky ‘EternalEnvy’ Mao may very well be one of the biggest enigmas (not the hero) in the Dota 2 world known for his outrageous plays that can completely turn any game on its head. Since leaving compLexity Gaming last year, EE has taken Jingjun ‘Sneyking’ Wu with him on a journey to create Flying Penguins, an interesting squad filled with some big names. While the Penguins may not have had much chance to shine lately, they did take down coL, TEAM TEAM and wut the frog as they marched into the Minors.

While EE’s squad may not have the biggest shot at claiming the Minor, they are definitely one of the teams to look out for.

image: Beyond the Summit

China’s Hero’s

Vici Gaming and Royal Never Give Up have not shown much positivity lately in any tournaments – except a podium spot at last year’s DreamLeague Minor for RNG. But, recently in MDL Macau 2019, both teams showed some admirable performances even though not making it past the second round of the Lower Bracket. Macau saw a host of Chinese teams actually show up with great performances – even Newbee finally seemed to come alive. One factor to look out for from these teams in my opinion is RNG’s fantastic use of Warlock and VG utilizing Riki to backstab opponents.

But with opponents such as OG, Gambit and Flying Penguins, this will the perfect time to see if the Chinese teams can withstand the Minor competition.

I’ve only mentioned 5 teams out of 8 here but all teams have a chance to cause some upsets at the Minor. All-in-all I’m sure we’re all just looking forward to some amazing Dota 2 action and maybe some new heroes being picked up from all the teams.

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