Table of Contents
Check out StarLadder on Liquipedia
StarLadder S5 Preview
Starladder is upon us once again, bringing together the top teams throughout the CIS Dota 2 scene. This amazing event will run over a two month period, and we will be blessed in the process with countless games of Dota 2. The reigning champions and runner-up from last season, Na`Vi and Team Empire respectively, will both be participating again, making this an event you simply do not want to miss. If there's anything better than a good game of Dota 2, it's a game between two rivals, right?
In this Starladder update we have Kipsate giving us a preview of what we can expect in terms of teams this season. We also have a great feature article on Fnatic.EU, courtesy of kupon3ss. In it, he takes a close look at the team, and showcases their climb to the top. Lastly, we have an interview with the man behind it all, v1lat.
We hope you enjoy our content and join us even as the games begin in just a few hours!
StarLadder Season 5 Preview
The CIS Scene is one of the largest scenes throughout the DotA community, and is home to some of the best(and worst) players in the history of DotA. At the heart of CIS is Starladder, a tournament now running in its fifth season, which will try and bring to you the best that European DotA has to offer.
The CIS Tri-Force
Virtus.pro, Natus Vincere, Team Empire
Eastern Europe is home to three of the strongest teams in Starladder this season. These teams are Na`Vi, Team Empire and Virtus.pro. In the last season of Starladder they were all present at the LAN finals in Kiev. Na'Vi took first place, while Team Empire grabbed second and Virtus.pro took fourth. Na'Vi occasionally has some problems in offline play. However, they always deliver when it comes to Starladder. After five seasons Na'Vi still remain the reigning champions, showing that they are strong competitors when it comes to this tournament. Empire is a team that by now everyone is quite familiar with, featuring players like Scandal, and Funn1k. These two players provide us with some of the most flashy and dominating play coming out of the CIS corner. Everyone fears the Funn1k Clinkz as it is one of the hallmarks of Empire's play. Meanwhile the team that is on the rise is Virtus.pro, having defeated Empire in the Defense and Na'Vi in D2L. They have been performing well in recent times. Virtus.pro is definitely looking to contest Team Empire for the #2 spot in the CIS scene, and you can bet your bottom dollar that we'll be watching them closely as they do!
The Pride of Western Europe
Fnatic.EU, mousesports, No Tidehunter
Fnatic.EU have come a long way in the past few months. After posting mediocre results,Trixi rejoined his former HoN teammates in September of 2012, and now the ''HoN Trash'' are doing the thrashing. They placed third in Starladder season 4 and achieved a perfect 7-0 group stage standing in the Defense and a 5-2 record in the Raidcall D2L. Fnatic.EU is one of the strongest contenders to deal with in this tournament. The next team, mousesports, have been the unsung heroes of recent times, as they too have achieved a 7-0 group stage standing in The Defense, going on a 10 game win streak that was finally ended by Fnatic.EU. Lead by veteran all-star, Kuroky, this all German team has the potential to do quite well. NTH is always a strong contender as well. Currently they are in round 2 of the winner's bracket in The Defense, after a 5-2 record in group stage. NTH loves their gyrocopter as they play it at any position under the sun. From first to the fourth, Loda to Akke, you will see it everywhere.
The Middle of the pack
3DMAX, DD.Dota, Absolute Legends, 4 Friends + Chrillee
3DMAX has been on the rise for quite a while. Although they have gotten far in The Defense, even beating Na'Vi down to the lower bracket, the team has still had its troubles. Their lineup seems unable to compete with stronger teams on a constant basis, losing to Fnatic.EU, No Tidehunter, Liquid and going 0-6 in the Raidcall D2L. When they are at their peak they can take games off of some of the strongest teams in the game, and yet when they are not at their peak they look lost. Expect a volatile result from this team. Next up we have Ryze, miGGel, Miracle and Mania. These are all known names to people in the Dota 2 scene, and together with Unicorn they form the new Absolute Legends . The team has potential but names do not make a team. We will have to see how they perform and if they have what it takes to compete with the stronger European teams. DD.Dota is the team of solid carry player, Link, and 3 ex-mtw players along with the newest addition, Cr1t-. Expect the team to do reasonably well as they are currently in round 2 of the loser's bracket in The Defense. 4FC too is a team of reasonable strength but is not quite there yet. They advanced to the playoffs of The Defense but were subsequently destroyed by Fnatic.EU. Time will tell what happens to these teams, but they do have the potential to go far in either direction.
The Unproven Ones
Lions Pride, Power Rangers,3D!Clan, RoX.KIS, TCM-Gaming, Freedom of the action
Each league has the lesser known and even unknown teams. Starladder hopes to bring attention to a few more of them this time around. Three very noticeable teams in this group are RoX.KIS, Lions Pride, and 3D!Clan. Lions Pride can be described best as Vigoss+4, while RoX.KIS contains some of the older M5 players, such as Sedoy and Stallinar. After PGG and Moscow Five parted ways it was this team that made a strong run in Starladder season 3, where they went to the LAN finals. This team is quite young but does have the potential to battle it out with the middle of the pack. However, whether they have the potential to battle it out with the best remains to be seen. They were not the only ex-M5 members to find a new team, as the new 3D!Clan is made up of the old Dread and Nexus, and when considering the strength of M5 seen during Starladder Season 3, both these teams will be something to look forward to. TCM-Gaming, previously Svenhunters, achieved a below average 2-5 standing in The Defense, and they are one of the weaker teams at Starladder this season. It is up to them to show us differently. And finally, the other 3 teams are relatively unknown. Regardless of what happens, Starladder will be valuable experience for these 3 teams.
All in all, Starladder season 5 will have the best teams that Europe has to offer and we are all looking forward to it very much!
Left to Right, H4nn1, Fly, N0tail, Era, Trixi
Perhaps no other team in Dota 2 has received the sheer amount of flak and vitriol as Fnatic, and no other team has shown such a marked improvement and resilience in the face of adversity. The transition from HoN is a far bigger one than the one from the original DotA, a gap made ever more precipitous by the constant jeers of viewers.
A drastic shift, wouldn't you say?
Having been the kings of a marked faster-paced game, Fnatic has eventually adapted their own style to Dota 2, rarely using the standard 4-1 lineups that had been the norm of the game, and instead relying on lineups involving multiple midgame cores. Heavily reliant on micro and tending to play recklessly, Fnatic's games are often frought with constant action midgame, leading into some of the most absurd lategame situations.
Another strength of the team is their level of teamwork and cohesion. The fact that they've played as a team together in a competitive setting longer than almost any western team allows them to shine in chaotic teamfights. The cores of Era, Trixi, and Fly have all played across 1-3 positions, which allows the team a high level of adaptability and flexibility in their constantly aggressive lineups. Notail is an extremely talented player who had played mid in HoN before transitioning to one of the best supports in Europe alongside the ever dependable Fly.
Their recent form, though on and off, has been steadily improving. Over the last 3 months, Fnatic has managed to become one of the top teams in the European scene, finishing third at Dreamhack winter, winning Thor Open, and most recently only narrowly losing to Na'Vi in the first EMS cup 2-1 despite playing with a standin, even including a dominating performance in the first game as they utterly crushed Na'Vi to the ground after a pair of absolutely beautiful teamfights.
Just as they had with each previous defeat, Fnatic persevered and grew. The Defense would be their stage of revenge, playing an oh-so-fnatic style of multiple semi-carries spreading out the map, Fnatic would utilize constant skirmishes, aggression, and split-pushes to eventually overwhelm Na'Vi in the final game of the best of three.
Having knocked out the favourites, perhaps it is their turn to become the banner-bearer of the West. Maybe this Starladder will see the end of both the CIS Domination of the West and the unwarranted distance to one of the most talented, dedicated, and longstanding teams in the scene.
[courtesy of Dota2.Starladder.tv]
The man behind Starladder
Please tell us a bit about yourself, this can be how you got in contact with eSports, where you lived.
Hey, hey! My name is Vitalii. I am 26 years old, and I have lived in Kiev for the last 11 years. I was born in a small city in the Western part of Ukriane, Novovolynsk, and lived there till I was 16 years old. The city was really small, and there were like 10-15 PC’s in the whole town in 2000, so it was hard to play games or use the Internet. But I liked playing games on a 16-bit SEGA or PlayStation 1, so I knew that right after that I would get my first PC and I would start playing 24hrs/day. I got my first PC only in 2004, and I started playing a lot. FIFA, Warcraft 3, SC:BW, it was only a matter of time before I got addicted to eSports.
Esports in Ukraine is popular enough to have something like the Cybersport Arena built. How did Esports get so big? What do you think made it so popular?
Of course, when you have such a great venue in your country it is much easier to organize different eSport events. It’s like soccer – if you have stadiums, you can host everything you want. Also, the Ukraine is a really good country to host a tournament. The cost of living is cheap, no visa requirements (a visa is needed only for Aussies, sorry Toby) and it is easy to get here from any part of Europe and even Asia. So yes, I think the Cyberarena helped eSports growth in Ukraine a lot!
Starladder is now in its 5th season. How did Starladder come to be? How was it built up?
The first Dota tournament that was organized by me at Cyberarena was Intel Challenge Season 6. After that we had more seasons, and Season 9 with a LAN- finals. It was a huge success here in Kiev. We had a lot of visitors and set few records via online-stream, so we decided that we need something more serious. That’s how Starladder was born last January. For now the main goal is to became stable, and I hope in 2013 Starladder will became a more and more awesome event.
Dota is very popular among the CIS community, and we see that at some big matches where CIS teams play(such as Empire vs Na`Vi) local audiences almost outdo the entire western audience. Why do you think Dota is so popular among the CIS community?
It is easy. DotA is and was FREE. A normal salary in Ukraine and Russia is 200-250 Euro/month. People here can’t buy games. It is hard to play for example WoW if you live in CIS, cause you need to pay a lot of money for that, That’s why DotA was always dominant game here in CIS. Now everybody here plays or Dota2 or World Of Tanks, cause it is free.
Do you see the Dota 2 scene growing bigger and if so what will you want to do when that happens?
I think the Dota 2 scene will grow much bigger than it is now. After the game is ready and announced, millions of gamers will start to play Dota2. In terms of eSports I am sure we will have huge prize-funds and normal TV-leagues with all teams on LAN. That’s what I personally want for Dota2.
The Dota 2 scene is more international then ever before. In the future, do you think it is possible for teams from Asia to come to Kiev and play on Na`Vi's homeground?
I hope so. We were planning to invite them to a tournament here in Kiev, but not everything went well. Asians need to visit Kiev, cause seems like only they are able to defeat Na`Vi here in the Cyberarena. :D
As a tournament organizer, what is the biggest problem you come across?
The biggest problem for now is scheduling. For example, a lot of teams refuse to play on Friday evening. I understand that they want to have some personal time because they have girlfriends and families, but it is hard to imagine that any sports team will refuse to play at Friday prime-time. We need more really professional teams, and when that happens, everything else will be good.
Recently we saw The Defense employ something called pro-rating - having certain rules that effect teams that use too many standins, show up too late or are bad mannered in-game. What do you think about this? Do you see it being used in Starladder?
The Defense's system is cool. But for now we prefer our punishments. You can’t be late, and if you are late – you lose bonus-time. If you are late by more than 15 minutes, the other team is awarded a by walkover. But Joindota’s pro-rating is really cool. It's something like the Fair Play Rating in soccer.
As a caster, what do you think are the most fun heroes to cast and what are the most boring heroes to cast?
That’s an interesting question. Definitely the most boring and random hero is Lone Druid. You can't even imagine how much I hate him! (Hello, AdmiralBulldog!) The most fun heroes are of course super-imba gankers like Lina and Lion! Moar action plz!
Na`Vi have won Starladder every single time. Despite them not performing well online at times, they always seem to deliver in Kiev. What do you think the reason is for this?
The CyberArena stage feels like a home to Na`Vi, and the crowd support is really awesome here. And as I previously stated, it seems like we need some Chinese teams to come here to defeat them.
Na`Vi is undoubtedly one of the strongest teams, yet they have had some troubles, and XBOCT stated that they should to go to China to train, as the teams in the West are not as strong. What do you think about this?
He is 100% right. I think Na`Vi, Empire, and EG have a 0% chance to win TI3 if they don't go to China for at least 2 months. For now I think LGD.Int is the best example. Come to China, train a lot, and kick asses like a boss.
New teams arise all the time, currently the CIS scene has 3 strong teams in Virtus.pro, Na`Vi and Empire. Are there any upcoming teams or players in the CIS scene that you feel like we should look forward to outside of these?
I hope the new ROX team will show good results, and of course fan favorites – 3D with Dreadisback as the main star. They just need to keep their rosters stable, and in few months I am sure a lot of European teams will have problems with 3D and ROX.
What are the most fun teams to cast for you? What are the most fun players(outside of Na`Vi) that you really like to cast?
I really liked to cast the Skane/Pulse team with Mini, Reesion and others. They always showed action-packed games to us. Also the Fnatic.EU guys always play fun and interesting games.
There are quite a few people who tune in to your casts even though they don’t understand a word of Russian. This is due to your passion of the game. Could you teach us some common Russian phrases and words that you use for casting?(Davai davai, shiteri or whatever, I don’t know exactly what you say)
Hehe. Every European player knows a few Russian “bad words”, and you can see this in streams quite often. Davai, davai – just means GO-GO-GO! my favourite Russian word of Pajcat is “APARATA” – that’s what I call Ancient Apparation. And you know – OI-OI-OI-OI – doesn’t need to be translated :D
On a daily basis there are a lot of complaints from people about Russians not communicating well. Could you teach us some basic Russian so that we can communicate with them a bit?
From now on everytime when some Russian messages you in Dota 2 – answer him with 3 words, you can even copy-paste it – “Иди в жопу”.
Outside of DotA, are there any other eSports that you follow?(Counterstrike,LoL, Starcraft). Have you met WhiteRa?Are you good friends with him?
I follow almost all eSports, especially Starcraft 2. I have a lot of friends from the CS community. And btw, 2 years ago I was a manager of a CS1.6 team named DTS, so there are a lot of CS-players in my phonebook. Of course, we are good friends with White-Ra, I always support him in all tournaments, I can even say that I am a big fan of Papa-toss.
Have there been any funny stories during the Starladder LAN finals aftermath/parties?
Every Starladder afterparty has a super-story. You can ask anyone. But Starladder is ike Vegas. Everything that happens in Kiev – stays in Kiev…
Russia is notoriously popular for its Vodka! What is your favorite type of Vodka? Also, how much do you think you are able to drink before you have had too much?
Only a Ukrainian vodka named Nemiroff Black. And if I am drinking with good company, a normal Ukrainian or Russian guy like me can drink maybe no more than 0.7 litres. But I prefer beer for afterparties :D
Any final words/shoutouts/comments?
Thanks everybody for watching me, and see you in the Starladder Starseries Season 5 Matches.
Thanks for the interview!