1. European DOTA is closer than ever before, and the Usurpers of Team Liquid and Na`Vi are coming. Both teams under-performed at the most important event of the year, and their downfall led back to a dull edge and broken spirits. Revitalization comes in all forms, but a simple vacation and no decisive changes in the Na`Vi roster leaves plenteous doubt and plentiful doubters. Na`Vi have little to show in online matches following

Team Liquid chose another path when it came to revitalization, and spirits were high in the Liquid fandom after superstar record-maker Miracle- was announced to join the team. Despite the assurance of potential in Liquid’s roster, Dreamleague Season 6 has shown distressing symptoms of poor farm allocation and ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ syndrome. Bulba looks worse than Kuroky on position 5, Kuroky looks worse than former player Jerax on position 4, and Miracle- and MinD_ContRoL look like shells of their former selves.

The Boston Major Qualifier in Europe should prove rightfully terrifying for Team Liquid and Na`Vi. The rapaciousness of dark horses like Ad Finem and Virtus.Pro, the grit and resolve of up and comers like Escape Gaming, the ferocity of star-studded Team Secret all lend themselves to the plausible idea that Na`Vi and Liquid will be usurped in the European Qualifier.

2. What is the true face of Team Faceless? The greatest intrigue around this team lies in wondering what the extent of their potential really is. This is a team that qualified for The Summit 6 in decisive fashion, defeating both Fnatic and MVP. With a major spot on the line, they already look to be somewhere in the top of SEA based on online games, clobbering teams like Power Gaming and decisively winning against Execration and Fnatic.

iceiceice has rightfully been lauded as one of the greatest off-laners and most versatile players and he’s assembled a ragtag team of Southeast Asian players and one American in Black^ – whose career looked to be spent as he moved to an analytical role at events like The International 2016. There’s no way we can know what his criteria was for assembling this team, but it’s very interesting to note how each of these players appear to fit in their roles extremely well. Faceless has capacity for success based on the stylistic foundation they’ve already built.

If Faceless can qualify over Fnatic or Mineski, they have a legitimate ability to make a deep run in the single elimination bracket of The Boston Major. They are potentially a dark horse team with a very stable composition of people who seem to fit in their roles intuitively.

3. No more excuses for Vici Gaming. Vici Gaming, formerly Vici Gaming Reborn, looked fairly good going into The International 2016. I ranked them #10 in my world rankings predicated on placements between The Manila Major and The International 2016, and I still believe they have the potential to be top 10.

Headed into The International 2016, practically everything went wrong for this team. Initially their mid player Nono had ‘personal issues’ and dropped out, replaced by Yang. Yang was an obvious upgrade in skill from Nono, but pundits and fans alike knew there was going to be chemistry and synergy lost from this switch. Then, Yang’s Visa fails to pass and Yang isn’t allowed to go to the event, so they bring back Nono as a last second swap. They lose out on the player they practiced with, and awkwardly bring back Nono. The worst part of these shenanigans is they put their coach, Mikasa, in Nono’s old role and Nono in yang’s mid role.

A litany of excuses can pardon VG.R for their poor run at TI6, but with Yang on his natural role and Ghost replacing Nono/Mikasa; there are no excuses left for a failure in this qualifier.

4. It’s do or die for compLexity Gaming. Following TI6 the CoL DOTA roster disbanded, leaving only siblings Swindlezz and Zfreek left in the roster. Gathering a sordid roster of Digital Chaos’s former star offlaner Moo and two unproven players, they headed into the post-TI6 Summit 6 America’s qualifier where NP won dominantly.

CoL’s place in the top 5 American teams is pretty much a mystery, having played one Bo2 against FDL and losing a Bo5 and Bo3 vs Team NP. At this point for compLexity, not qualifying for an event is something they don’t want to relive after their tragic Wildcards loss at TI6.

Having 5 good NA teams, two of which are invited to The Boston Major directly, is not something compLexity or NA fans are used to. The competition is fierce and it’s do or die for CoL – They will have to stop the momentum of two rising teams.

5. Can Escape Gaming escape mediocrity? Escape Gaming are coming for the title of top team in Europe, and they are coming quickly. Despite making it through the wildcards at TI6 and qualifying for the main event, they were indubitably the worst team there. They still had decent success considering they mostly all relative newcomers and young players, and they decided to maintain the same roster.

When you keep the same roster, it’s because you believe there is still a vision for your team in which you can improve and rise in the ranks. I’m certain this is true for Escape Gaming. They can definitely rise from 16th best team in the world, and they’ve already risen substantially. While other teams like Na`Vi and Liquid have fallen off disastrously, Escape has already been proving their time to step up is now. Escape is leading with Alliance in the Dreamleague Season 6 League Play, crushing teams like Liquid, Vega, and Virtus.Pro 2-0.

The question for Escape is whether or not they can qualify over a reinvigorated Alliance, a talent-filled Team Secret, an unfulfilled Virtus.Pro, and a desperate Ad Finem; and if they qualify, can they do better this time than last place?

6. LGD’s ‘Maybe’ Masterpiece. LGD’s superstar Maybe is on the most expensive contract in the DOTA scene, most likely ever, and he’s built a roster around himself.

It’s almost unprecedented that a superstar, and one of the best players in the world, will handpick his own team’s players and absorb them into his organization and make them function under his premise of how a team should work. He’s chosen four youth players that he can hopefully integrate into a system that allows him to reach peak potential and gives the rest of his team stylistic synergy in their natural roles akin to Team Facless.

Without playing a LAN yet, we can only look at their online results and draw an outline of how they’re looking with a skeptical overlook. LGD’s new roster has gone 1-1 against Wings, the world’s best team, and 2-0 against EHOME and Newbee in the ACE Provisional online league. Ehome and Newbee are both top teams that were invited to play in Boston, so this is indicative of fairly good potential.

We can only assume Maybe knows what’s best for him, Chinese DOTA politics aside, and has created a framework that will allow him to succeed. This Maybe masterpiece has some unveiling to do on October 29th.