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Photo Credit: HLTV

When the dust settled in the explosive match between hometown favorites, Natus Vincere, and their challengers from Poland,, only one team emerged victorious. Despite having everything against them, the crowd, the venue, the head-to-head matchup, managed to overcome the odds and were crowned the Starladder i-League Invitational champions. Along with the trophy that they took home, the Poles also received a nice cash purse of $50,000 to sweeten their victory.


Photo Credit: HLTV

It seems like a common story in the group stages of any major tournament are the high number of upsets, and Starladder was no different. The first few matches saw one of the possible contenders for the title, SK Gaming, fall prey to another hometown favorites, Worst Players. Add on to the fact that Worst Players were the lowest rated team in the tournament makes the 2-0 upset even more surprising. However, the surprises of the day did not end there. Na’vi are current ranked as the 2nd best team in the world, dropped a close series to Dobry&Gaming, the 2nd best Polish team. To sum up how big of an upset it was, most predictions had Dobry&Gaming at less than 10% chances of winning the game, especially since it was a best-of-three.

The rest of the matches saw and Dobry&Gaming, the two Polish teams, going into the winner’s finals with Na’Vi, GODSENT, Worst Players, and HellRaisers sent to the lower bracket. proved superior in the winner’s match, taking down their fellow countrymen, 2-0, to send Dobry&Gaming into the loser’s bracket also.

Loser’s Bracket

Photo Credit: HLTV

Na’Vi had a long road ahead of them as they needed to beat three teams to make it out of the loser’s bracket to get to the grand finals. Their first match against HellRaisers was close on Mirage, but they won it 2-0 nonetheless. Their second match against GODSENT (who beat Worst Players) was an even closer affair as GODSENT took 12 and 14 rounds in the series, but again Na’Vi with some help from the crowd triumphed. Their final match in the loser’s bracket was against Dobry&Gaming, who had just come off a loss against The previous match had been a close fight with D&G winning in the group stages. This time, the Russian/Ukranian/Slovakian team powered through their opponents 2-0, allowing D&G to only grab 9 and 12 rounds.

Grand Finals

Photo Credit: HLTV

Although many people could not have predicted exactly how the bracket would pan out, most people would say that Na’Vi and would be their two picks to make the finals. Interestingly enough, were not given any advantages in the grand finals despite coming from the winner’s bracket and remaining undefeated up to that point. The maps for the finals were Inferno, Train, and Cobblestone with Na’Vi picking Inferno, picking Train, and the decider being Cobblestone. Inferno began with shutting down their opponents’ offense, only allowing a total of 3 rounds for Na’Vi’s terrorist side. Na’Vi could not put up a similar defense of their own and the map went the way of the Poles, 16-11. Train was almost the exact flip of Inferno. This time, Na’Vi were the ones to storm ahead to a 12-3 lead on their CT side leaving to try and scrape together a strong defense to win the map. It was starting to look possible when rattled off a string of rounds off of pashaBiceps winning a 1 vs 3 clutch in the 17th round of the game, but Zeus from Na’Vi answered with a 1 vs 3 of his own to push Na’Vi over the top and take the map 16-8. Cobblestone began with a quick 3-0 for Na’Vi, but powered ahead to a 9-6 lead at halftime on their T side. The second pistol round also went the way of Na’Vi as they equalized the score at 9-9 off of that round win. However, a strong defense from the Poles allowed them to take seven out of the next eight rounds to win the map 16-10 and take home the prize of $50,000.

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