At the beginning of September, Valve announced that the 2016 Fall/Winter major will be taking place this December in Boston. And just today, they’ve announced there will be eight invitations, and predictions are now available in the Fall Battle Pass in-game.

This is our take, without knowing their criteria, on which teams they’ll be inviting. Get to know our ideas, expectations, and stories behind the 8 invites we expect most.

The Guaranteed Invites

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Wings Gaming

Wings Gaming are the Chinese vindication. They are the response to 18 months of Western Dominance from Team Secret, Evil Geniuses, and OG.

An argument can be made for Wings having the greatest TI run of all time, being the greatest team of all time, and playing the best DOTA of all time. Among the avid fans championing Wings as legend, there are doubters and worriers as well.

Many are bracing themselves for the history that Wings made at TI6 to be just that – History; Wings are at a crossroads on their way to be coming legend – or legendary. Whether it’s through absorption in the no-anxiety impassivity of RPG’s, a path many great Chinese teams have gone down before, or the looming benign pain of a single elimination failure not unlike their Manila Major disappointment; people hope fear and wonder if Wings is here to stay.

Regardless of speculations, there is one certainty: Wings are coming to Boston.

Digital Chaos

The runners-up of TI6 are out for redemption.

Digital Chaos upgraded their ‘pubstars-turned-superstars’ roster to an apex. This roster will determine if DC is the new way-paver for the North American scene, or if they peaked at TI6.

DC is a team that epitomizes the need for momentum. They’ll desperately need good footing going into Boston’s single elimination best-of-three format where every game everything’s on the line.

The fans want to know if DC’s TI6 run was the birth of Misery’s masterpiece, or just an idealists dream of conditions at their most optimal, unlikely to ever repeat itself.

Evil Geniuses

Evil Geniuses have restructured their roster, with Fear moving to a leadership and coaching position within the team, and PPD moving to a managing director role within the EG and Twitch brands.

Evil Geniuses placed third at TI6, guaranteeing their invite to Boston, but it doesn’t hurt to add the Danish superstar position 4 player Cr1t-, one of the only six people to ever win two Valve tournaments, as well as bringing back one of the most popular players in DOTA history in Arteezy.

For this new Evil Geniuses roster it’s more of the same: Consistency, domination, and strong leadership. Cr1t- can be seen in Valve’s new ‘True Sight’ documentary on EG and Fnatic already disciplining the team and telling them how to approach and behave at MDL.

Winning MDL Autumn two weeks ago showed fantastic signs for the new EG. The same old story of loser’s bracket redemption took place. Following a 2-0 loss in the quarterfinals to Newbee, they met OG and outclassed them, then vanquished Newbee in a 3-1 grand finals series as if they had planned the whole thing.

If MDL is any indication, EG is coming to Boston with one thing in mind: First place. There is only one rule; no losers bracket means no losers bracket redemption story. To win the tournament, you can’t stop winning.

Fnatic

Fnatic have made a major roster change in which they replaced three players. Regardless of such a significant change, it’s still certain that they receive an invite to The Boston Major.

Fourth place at The International for Mushi and Ohaiyo is enough to warrant an invitation; the the addition of 7th-8th placers Raven, Demon, and eyyou, is enough to solidify it – especially considering that they eliminated TI6 favorites OG.

Fnatic recently played their first LAN with the new roster at MPGL in Malaysia, and unlike their ‘True Sight’ co-stars Evil Geniuses, the teams trajectory has gone in a total different direction. With a fourth place finish at a smaller Southeast Asian LAN, and $1,600 in winnings, the boys in orange cannot be proud.

It doesn’t help that in True Sight Mushi is seen arguing with Ohaiyo, accusing him of being lazy and stating he doesn’t want the foreigners on the team to have wasted their time flying ‘here’ (Malaysia) to not get any results. Inspiring doubt in the fans is one thing, but in True Sight it seemed very clear that Demon and company were starting to doubt themselves.

Our hope is that all internal conflicts are resolved by December, because arguments and emotions will absolutely destroy any chance of winning a single elimination tournament. MPGL failures aside, it’s still a guarantee that Fnatic are invited to Boston.

The uncertainty lies in whether or not the Fnatic that placed 5th-6th at Shanghai and Manila and 4th at TI6 will show up, or if the MPGL impostor shows up and exits the tournament in 16th place.

Team MVP.Phoenix

MVP is another team that doesn’t necessarily play too many LAN’s throughout the season, but shows up strong at each premier event they attend. A 5th-6th place at TI6 is enough to warrant them in our Guaranteed section, but the replacement of two of their key members and poor performance at MPGL is almost enough to drop them down.

The addition of Velo and Reisen doesn’t necessarily raise doubts, but the two have almost no experience. It’s up to good cop and bad cop, protagonist and antagonist; leader and captain Febby and QO to take these two players who have zero experience on the main stage and teach them how to place top 6 at a major repeatedly.

MPGL led us to believe that Execration was miles ahead of MVP, but little is known about the practice circumstances leading up to the event. We can give Execration great credit for stomping MVP in a 30 minute best of 3, while giving MVP the benefit of the doubt in their first official LAN and matches with this roster.

The question for MVP is simply whether or not our dynamic duo Febby and QO can reinvigorate the roster and situate themselves back as the gate keepers of elite Dota 2.

The Probable Invites

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OG

All things better or worse, OG is still the only team to have ever won two Valve events. A third place finish at MDL with ana, who is brand new to the western DOTA scene and S4, who is fresh to the offlane role is inconclusive, but hints to a lot of potential.

The question going into inviting OG is whether or not Valve is still weighing pre-TI6 results as significant factors for choosing who they invite to The Boston Major. The other factor that comes into play is how much they ‘take away’ from a stellar team like OG when three of their core members exit the roster.

OG’s story is a little tricky, because we can’t possibly know how good they are right now. We can only assume that they rank somewhere in the top 10, predicated on their star names and litany of experience in S4, Fly, and N0tail.

OG are invited to The Summit 2016 which give fans another chance to interpret the teams’ level. The fans of Fly and N0tail will continue to dream green, but will it be a lucid dream or a aspiratory one?

Team Liquid

Team Liquid’s 7th-8th place run at TI6 was a disappointment to fans and pundits alike who all put them at the top with Wings, Newbee, and OG.

6 months of consistent top 2 finishes at premier events like The Shanghai Major, The Manila Major, Epicenter, and ESL One Manila cannot be undone by one lackluster performance at the biggest event in DOTA event in history.

The addition of Miracle didn’t surprise many, but his exit from OG did. Miracle is a phenomenal superstar mid laner that many argue to be the current best, as well as one of the only six players to win two Valve tournaments. Miracle’s phenomenal run under OG can only benefit Team Liquid when it comes to consideration for an invite to Boston.

Team Liquid have looked fairly shaky online in Dreamhack’s Dreamleague thus far, but online DOTA is hardly relevant to international LAN success. It’s probable that the team is just experimenting with a new mid laner and changing their style to allocate more resources to Miracle’s success, something they chose stylistically not to do with their previous mid laner FATA-.

Newbee

The new Newbee roster seems to be gunning for the same principle as Digital Chaos; surround the old guard with incredibly talented pub players.

Newbee has built an entire new lineup around Sccc, the 9000 mmr player, formerly from Newbee.Young, and uuu9 – the position 1 player from Tongfu. These two youth players have virtually zero international experience, and were brought in due to stellar performances in the lesser leagues.

The experience of Kaka and Kpii from their previous roster is likely to aid in reshaping this team, and they’ve already shown quite a strong performance at MDL Autumn two weeks ago against Evil Geniuses and Team Secret.

When it comes to contention for invites, Newbee still faces the same problem that OG and Liquid face, does replacing 3 of your players make Valve stop weighing the performances you had with the past lineup seriously? It’s impossible to know from Valve, but that combined with a 9th-12th place at The International 2016 is enough to warrant their placement in our probable invites as opposed to being guaranteed.

The Possible Invite

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EHOME

Garder of the infamous one hit wonder CDEC team that placed second in TI5 and Sylar who has three top 3 placings at The International have both joined EHOME’s new roster.

The potential for great success and the long list of star names is there, but EHOME’s new lineup has already failed in four qualifiers and online events since its conception. Online matches are never weighed too significantly, but it can still inspire doubt about the teams’ potential when it repeatedly fails online.

EHOME placed top 6 at TI6 and it’s very possible Valve considers that enough to warrant an invitation to The Boston Major, but we’re still placing them as a possible team instead of a probable team because throughout the year they’ve shown us nothing significant except for at TI, whereas teams like Newbee and Liquid and OG had excellent international performances that EHOME just doesn’t stack up to.

The Wildcard

Team Execration

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At the 2015 Fall Major, Valve invited Vega Squadron, a failed TI5 wildcard team, due to their incredible stampede through EG, Team Secret, and Invictus Gaming at ESL One New York 2015 post-TI5.

A failed Wildcard team of TI6 may accomplish the same feat. Execration has recently won MPGL against teams like Fnatic and MVP, 4th and 5th-6th at TI6. Execration also contains DJ, a former member of Fnatic, who must carry over some leverage from his 4th place at TI6 as well.

While this may not be the equivalent of Secret and Evil Geniuses in 2015, it’s an accomplishment that Valve are certainly paying attention to. The team is currently in the qualifier for The Summit 6, which is to take place in November. Ideally, if they do very well at the Summit, I can see Execration being the 8th invite to The Boston Major.

There are two factors to be considered: If Execration can qualify for The Summit 6 and place very highly, and the invites aren’t actually sent out before the tournament, then I can very well see them receiving an invite over one of our possible teams.

Photos courtesy of sandisk and Valve