After weeks of anticipation and endless hours stressing over the Predictions section of the Fall Battle Pass Compendium, Valve has finally announced the eight teams that received a direct invite to the Boston Major. The announcement was made through the Dota 2 client, and the list of teams is as follows:
- Wings Gaming
- Digital Chaos
- Evil Geniuses
- MVP Phoenix
Of course, picking out direct invites for Dota 2 events (or any other tournament) is an inexact science and inevitably leads to frustration from teams and fans alike as selections are compared and contrasted in vain. Still, it's worth taking a look over the list, deciphering the logic hidden therein and asking one simple question: Did they get it right?
With that in mind, it's worth taking an in-depth look at who was (and who wasn't) invited, in an effort to answer that question.
What Was the Rationale for Invitations?
While predicting the Boston Major invites, there were basically three questions to ask. First, how did they perform at The International 2016? Second, did their TI6 rosters stay intact? Third, how has each team done since TI6? Finally, do they have a strong resume from before TI6?
Very, very few teams are home runs in all four of those categories, and that made it incredibly difficult to pick just eight teams. Even seemingly obvious choices had something working against them.
Digital Chaos, for example, put on an amazing performance at TI6 and made just one roster change, but the team hasn't competed as a complete squad since. Others, like Newbee, struggled at TI6 and went through serious upheavals in their lineup but have a championship pedigree and have looked formidable of late. The list goes on like that, with many teams having a good, but not great, claim to a place in the tournament.
Over a dozen teams had some factors working in their favor and others working against them. Ultimately, looking at the list, it seems like invitations were chosen primarily on those first two questions; what did they do at TI6, and have their rosters stayed intact since?
Five of the top six teams from TI6—Wings, DC, EG, EHOME and MVP Phoenix—received direct invites. All of them have at least three of five players returning for the Boston Major. Probably not coincidentally, TI6 fourth-place finisher Fnatic only retained two members of its roster and will be forced to work its way through the qualifiers.
Execration and Newbee are likely booking flights to Boston due to their potency since TI6. OG, meanwhile, is the sole team that seems to have gotten in on its overall success in the last 12 months, given its first-place finishes at the Manila Major, Frankfurt Major, ESL One Frankfurt and DreamLeague seasons 4 and 5.
That, at the very least, seems to have been the logic. But do the choices shake out, given those credentials?
While the direct-invite process can be tricky and often has too much room for nuance for its own good, there were two clean-cut, slam-dunk, no-question teams that deserved a direct invite to the Boston Major; Wings Gaming and Evil Geniuses.
Wings, of course, ran through the field at TI6 with an all-time great performance. While their hoisting of the Aegis of Champions likely would have earned them a direct invite regardless, they haven't slowed down since. After cleanly navigating the roster-change period untouched, Wings finished first place at the Nanyang Cruise Cup and own a 3-1 record in the DPL.
By every possible metric, Wings deserved an invite, and frankly, the Boston Major wouldn't feel the same without them.
EG, more or less, were in the same boat. The TI5 champions had a fairly tumultuous 2016 but finished the season strong by placing third at TI6. While they shook up the roster shortly thereafter, new additions Andreas "Cr1t-" Nielsen and Artour "Arteezy" Babaev are both elite-level players.
While a strong lineup on paper doesn't necessarily guarantee success, the Boys in Blue took first place at the MDL 2016 Autumn tournament. That, at least for now, makes them one of the strongest squads in Dota 2, and made them one of the most deserving of a slot in the Boston Major.
The only other team that was all but guaranteed an invite was Digital Chaos. The team's performance at TI6 warrants an invite to any tournament of its choosing for the immediate future. As stated, it hasn't competed as a team since, but it's also worth remembering that it was less than three months ago that it nearly won The International!
The Second Tier
After those three, China's EHOME and Newbee are clearly the next in line.
EHOME is, quite frankly, the most underappreciated team in Dota 2. The fact that there was even a question about whether or not they should be invited is ludicrous, looking over the stats.
Its top-six finish at TI6 has been followed by high finishes in a number of online tournaments, most recently taking first place in the Chinese qualifiers for The Summit 6. While it hasn't dominated the field, it has still consistently found success despite remarkably stiff competition at every event.
On top of that, it has a remarkably strong roster. While it lost two of its members after TI6—including its biggest name, Daryl Koh "iceiceice" Pei Xiang—it has added highly accomplished carry player Liu "Sylar" Jiajun and longtime CDEC anchor Liu "Garder" Xinzhou.
Suffice it to say, EHOME is a very, very good team and has the resume for a direct invite.
Newbee has a similarly strong claim, albeit for different reasons. TI6 was disastrous for the Chinese powerhouse. It washed out early and immediately had its roster scattered to the wind.
To say it has rebounded well would be a profound understatement. It cobbled a roster around its surviving members, Damien "kpii" Chok and Hu "Kaka" Liangzhi, immediately reasserted itself as an elite team at the MDL 2016 Autumn tournament and hasn't slowed down since. It has competed in four events since TI6 and has taken first or second in four of them.
The Bottom Three and Snubbed Teams
The first five listed teams, as stated, were all fairly obvious choices. Past that, however, was a deep, competitive pool of teams that easily could have made it in place of OG, Execration or MVP Phoenix.
The teams that should feel most offended by being excluded are Fnatic and Team Liquid.
As stated, Fnatic looked generally excellent at TI6 and managed to secure a fourth-place finish. While their team suffered greatly during the roster-change period, it secured three players from fellow TI6 overachievers TnC Gaming (who, worth noting, finished in the top eight). Despite less-than-great showings since TI6, they have an exceptional lineup on paper.
Liquid, much like OG, get a bit of a mulligan for an underwhelming showing at TI6 due to their success at basically every other tournament throughout the year. Second-place finishes at the Frankfurt Major and Manila Major, alongside a first-place finish at EPICENTER, were the highlights of a year that saw Kuro "KuroKy" Takhasomi bring one of esports' biggest organizations to the forefront of the Dota 2 scene.
The difference-maker, by all accounts, is one simple fact: OG, Execration and MVP Phoenix have all placed highly in a notable LAN tournament. Fnatic and Liquid have not. OG's third-place run at MDL 2016 Autumn and the success of MVP Phoenix and Execration at the MPGL SEA Championship were almost certainly the key to earning their direct invites. Two of the game's better-known coaches pointed this out specifically:
Of course, Liquid and Fnatic will both have a chance to earn their way into the Boston Major through the regional qualifiers, where they will compete in the European and Southeast Asian regions, respectively.
That, unfortunately, is no easy task.