Predictions are generally based on recent memory with the Shanghai Major placements eclipsing over everything else. In this Blog I will provide who I would invite if I was for some reason IceFrog, and explain my reasoning for the invites. Even if people disagree with me, at the very least I want to refresh our minds on what has really happened post TI5.
Alright here’s my list in order of priority:
Reigning champions of the previous major, runner up for the Frankfurt Major, team Secret got owned by Vega at ESL NY 2016 then won MLG New Orleans and Nanyang Cup. Since Frankfurt they have gotten second last place or last place in every non Major Lan they participated in incuding WCA, Starladder, MDL, and the recent ESL Manilla. They also had a roster change replacing two players (Misery and W33 for BabyRage and Bulbo’s Assassin).
Despite the poor placements (including the recent ESL Manilla where we got soul crushed by Empire TWICE) they are still the reigning champions of Shanghai. When it comes to tournament placements overall Secret is definitely an invite, the only issue is the recent roster change post Shanghai Major. Perhaps there would be more debate if the recent additions were rookies but Arteezy and Universe have placed top 3 on EG in every event they have participated in post TI5 including both majors.
Alright that took way too long to write, for the top of the list I’m just going to list important things and move on till it gets more interesting.
Same roster post TI5, two players known for placing highly in tournaments for the last 2 years (Fata, Kuroky), Runner up of Shanghai Major, Runner up on the recent ESL Manilla.
3. Evil Geniuses
4 of 5 players that won TI5, 3 of 5 players placed top 3 in every event they participated in since TI5 (and it was a fair amount of events). Second place at the recent DotA Pit, 3rd place in both Majors. Two player roster change post Shanghai Major. The two new players have not accomplished anything since TI5 but Aui has accomplished a lot not too long ago and Bulbo is Sam.
4. MVP Phoenix
Same roster since post Frankfurt Major. 4th Place in Shanghai Major placing first in their group, first place in the recent DotA Pit over Evil Geniuses.
Alright time to start explaining the rest of the list.
5. Wings 6. Vici R (Vici Gaming now I think)
Wings won the most recent Lan ESL Manilla. Winning a LAN event with teams from all over the world including the top two Seeds on the list Secret and Liquid should secure them an invite.
Vici also won Starladder-Ileague recently another LAN event. They also have FY who accomplished a lot over the last two years (2nd place TI4, 4th TI5, multiple first and second placings between TI4-TI5, Post ti5 part of the best Chinese team till Frankfurt Major where they got 5th place).
The reason to why I put Wings on a higher seed is because Vici Gaming used a standin (Mikasa) at starladder ileague. The teams at Starladder-Ileague based on recent accomplishments are weaker than the teams at ESL-Manilla. Perhaps only 1-3 (VG, Alliance?, Og?) teams will be invited to the next Major from that tournament versus the 3-4 potential invites from ESL manila (Secret, Liquid, Wings, Fnatic?).
Wings have won every online match post Shanghai Major. Although they only played the ESL Manilla qualifier, they won 3-0 against VG R in the finals.
Alright time for the Controversial teams
OG, coL, Fnatic, Alliance, and Newbee
A lot of people believe that OG does not deserve to be invited and will end up playing in the qualifiers, putting both coL and Fnatic above them. This is because both coL and Fnatic placed higher than OG in the Shanghai Major.
Taking a closer look at the three teams in contention, OG placed 7th-8th at the shanghai Major where as Fnatic and coL placed 5th-6th. Basically one placement higher.
OG has kept the same roster since TI5, the same roster that won the Frankfurt Major. They have placed top 4 in nearly every LAN they participated in with the exception of DotA Pit. In DotA Pit they lost in a single elimination format to MVP the champions of the tournament and were the only team to take a game off them in the first round. They finished 4th place in the recent starladder-ileague S2 where they lost 2-1 to both NaVi and VG.R in extremely close games where both VG.R and NaVi placed top 2 in the tournament. Post Frankfurt Major they got first place at DreamLeague, second place to Liquid in Defense, and 3rd place at MDL to EG.
With all these achievements, and fielding the same roster that accomplished it all, for me its quite clear that they deserve an invite.
This one’s probably the most controversial of them all. I’m sure a lot of people would put Fnatic over Alliance here but I will explain my reasoning soon. I will explain the accomplishments of every other team in contention before reasoning why Alliance on paper has more to offer.
First lets start with Complexity. A lot of people would put them and Fnatic over OG/Alliance for invites. However I feel using the Shanghai Major as the only metric for invites to be wrong. coL has played in four LANs besides the Shanghai Major with their current roster. In each of them, they’ve placed in the lowest or second-lowest possible position (technically this includes DotaPit because it was a single-elimination tournament- they only one one bo3 series, against VP just before they disbanded).
From results coL is the 2nd best team right now in NA but that does not necessarily translate to top 8 teams in the world (which means an invite). I believe that the idea of the Major is to have the best teams in the world compete, not necessarily the best teams of each region compete.
Newbee is currently the best team in China atm, well at least Online. Newbee currently has 3 TI winners (Hao, Mu, Chuan). They have won 2 qualifiers to LANs, but its too bad both LANs will be after the invites. The only logic for Newbee to be invited would be that China right now is the strongest region (winning two recent LANs back to back) and Newbee is stronger than VG.R (online, they haven’t played against Wings). However, from history Valve has always put a huge emphasis on LANs over Online matches so most likely Newbee will not be invited.
For me Fnatic and Alliance comparison is the hardest one. But I would personally still put Alliance over Fnatic. Fnatic is currently demolishing the Sea region. But honestly, this is no different from what the same group of players have been doing for the last 2 years. The only reason to why its such a big deal right now is because MVP got first at DotAPit and 4th at Shanghai Major, and also because Fnatic got 5th-6th at the Major. The sea region is definitely much stronger than before, and Fnatic right now is their king.
However, once again, LAN events have always been taken much more seriously than online matches. Although Fnatic owning the Sea region is much more impressive than coL owning the NA region and Fnatic has been beating MVP multiple times, Valve would still put MVP far above Fnatic in the invite list.
Fnatic has placed last or one placement higher in every LAN tournament they have ever participated in except for Shanghai Major where they got 6th out of 16 teams and the recent ESL Manilla where they got 3rd-4th out of 8 teams.
I also feel like their recent accomplishments deserve an invite. However, their roster issues I feel tip the balance. Since most of Post Shanghai Major, Fnatic has been using a standin in 343, with Mushi coaching the team due to health issues (just want to note that the Shanghai Major booth that irritated my eyes during our match against OG probably triggered Mushi’s Asthma problems). Their dominance and top 3-4 placement at ESL Manilla post major has all been done with a standin. Had Mushi played instead and the same results followed I’m sure they would be locked for an invite, but as things stand, I’m not so sure anymore.
Let’s compare the two teams Alliance and Fnatic during, post, and pre Major.
During Major: (Fnatic Ontop slightly)
Alliance Places 7th-8th, Fnatic places 5th-6th. Fnatic places one round higher.
Alliance and Fnatic in same group. Alliance wins 2-0 over Fnatic Placing first in their group and Fnatic places 2nd in group.
Of course a higher placement is a higher placement, so Fnatic definitely wins when it comes to the Major, but I would argue that it was much closer than people believe.
I feel like OG and Alliance have been shunned upon due to expectations and on the other spectrum Fnatic has been praised for placing higher than expected. In reality their placement is more similar than the public reactions.
Post Major: (Fnatic ontop)
Alliance placed 5th-6th at starladder Ileague s2 (no online matches)
Fnatic: Subs 343 for Mushi, King of the Sea Scene (Online), 3rd-4th ESL Manilla (more competitive tournament on paper than starladder-ileague s2)
Pre Major: (Alliance by far)
Since Frankfurt Major Fnatic has placed last place or one round higher in the two LANs they attended (SL-Ileague, WCA).
Alliance won both of these lans that Fnatic attended.
Potential of Alliance versus Fnatic:
One thing Valve considers and we all do is “potential.” If for example two teams had the same accomplishments, say both teams beat the same teams, and both teams have players that haven’t even played competitively for half a year. However one team has Xiao8 in it and the other team had no one known. Then Xiao8’s team will at least be in the Chinese qualifier where as the other team will be in the opens. Whether you like it or not, this same thing happens even with invites. It played a part when Alliance got invited over Liquid for Shanghai Major and it has played a part in most Valve events in general. It is the same reason to why Newbee got invited to TI5 even though they have done very poorly since WCA 1.
Using this principal Alliance has by far more “potential” than Fnatic. Alliance is fielding the same roster they used during TI2-TI4 where they won every LAN they attended post TI2 and even between TI3-TI4 they were getting top placements, first places and 2nd places. Most people forget that Alliance was still a top team till TI4 just like how people have forgotten that OG/Alliance were top teams up to Shanghai Major.
On the other hand Fnatic has Mushi who placed 3rd at TI3 and 4th at TI4. Ohaiyo also placed 3rd at TI3 but no other member has done anything spectacular except for the shanghai major’s 6th place.
Personally even without this potential thing. If you asked me whether I would be more proud getting 5th-6th place at a Major, or getting 7th-8th place at the same Major, but I win two big Championships instead of last place, then I would take the later option any day.
The last factor we didn’t talk directly about is time. The more recent a LAN is, the more important it is. Although the Shanghai Major is more recent than the WCA and SL-Ileague. I believe that anything after the FrankFurt Major will be counted heavily on.
It is my assumption that Winning the most recent LANs are more important than getting 5th-6th place at Shanghai Major. Personally I would feel much more satisfied getting first place at ESL Manilla than getting 5th-6th at the Major but if Valve thinks otherwise than perhaps coL/Fnatic are both invited and much higher seed.
These are my hyonest thoughts regarding who I believe should be invited to the Major. These invites are a very important matter. I hope that people look at the invites more deeply and objectively. Right now I feel like people are looking at it more emotionally. I feel like the public have been band wagoning, being too harsh on OG/Allliance for betraying expectations and not getting top placements. Where as for coL and Fnatic, they are the ones rising up, and people are just cheering for the under dogs. Right now there are no real guidelines on who is to be invited, but personally I don’t mind it being that way if Valve is careful. We wouldn’t want another Kaipi/Potm Bottom incident xD.
One more thing about Qualifiers:
Recently there have been players moving from one region to another in order to play an easier qualifier. Personally I think you should be able to sign up and play any qualifier you like. The Majors/International should be about fielding the top 16 teams in the world, if all those players are from one region than so be it. So what if a team of Russians sign up for NA qualifier and win it all. Are the NA teams gonna be like "its Unfair you beat us with 200 more ping! You are better than us in every way but we deserve it because of where I was born!" The same applies if you move over to their countries.
Shoutout to the fans of the Phillipines, you guys made me feel better when I was down :D. Shoutout to Nahaz for helping me edit