The Boston Major is drawing near, with the group stages only a couple of days away. Being a major, it’s generally considered to be one of the largest tournaments of the year,and it will undoubtedly be an exciting event to wrap up 2016, with 16 of the best teams in the world competing for a prizepool of 3 million dollars. And while anything can happen and any team can emerge victorious, this article would like to focus on a select few who have proven their superiority recently, therefore having the highest chance of winning the title.
Evil Geniuses: The Dynamic Duo
It was true a year ago, and it is still true now: Artour ‘Arteezy’ Babaev and Sumail ‘SumaiL’ Hassan are two of the most talented players in their respective roles. Arteezy’s efficient farming patterns – especially on heroes that can flash farm like Anti-Mage or Morphling – always give him a huge lead over his adversary. SumaiL, on the other hand, excels in laning and almost never loses in a 1v1 matchup – he can easily crush an opponent while playing Outworld Devourer and snowball out of control from that lead. However, finding the farm balance between these two item-hungry core players has always been a difficult problem that even the strategically gifted Peter ‘ppd’ Dager struggled with. While the American captain did have some success with the old squad (winning The Summit 4), he didn’t have a chance to stabilize it as Arteezy left Evil Geniuses for Team Secret shortly after. This time, it’s up to Andreas ‘Cr1t-’ Nielsen to figure things out, and he seems to be doing a good job of it.
Evil Geniuses is a heavy contender
Arteezy is well known for his ability to grind out games on hard carries like Sven and Anti-Mage to secure the late game, while sumaiL is famous for crushing his lane and becomes active on tempo controllers like Storm Spirit or Queen of Pain. However, there seems to be a shift in EG’s playstyle in recent matches, as Artour and sumaiL tend to compliment each other’s strength to find synergy instead of competing for farm. When the draft is active and focused on early pressure, they pick heroes such as Venomancer, Drow Ranger, Ursa or Templar Assassin to close out the game as soon as possible. On the other hand, EG also has a selection of defensive picks which scales into the late game should the opponent wants to be aggressive like Morphling, Anti-Mage, Alchemist or Sven. However, their biggest strengths lie in middle-of-the-road heroes that can fit both fast and slow tempo games like Outworld Devourer, Timbersaw, Mirana or Invoker. In fact, a majority of SumaiL’s games in The Summit 6 fall into this category, which suggests EG heading towards a more flexible drafting style that can throw off the opponents as well as keeping their options open for Arteezy. As a result, the Canadian star got his hands on 9 different heroes out of 13 matches, some of which worked out miraculously against mighty opponents like Wings Gaming. While Cr1t- still seems to be experimenting with things (the dubious Faceless Void pick didn’t work out so well against OG), he can be satisfied with the results so far. With Ludwig ‘Zai’ Walhberg and Saahil ‘Universe’ Arora retaining top form, they can expect a high placing in this Major.
Wings Gaming: The Search for consistency
A lot of TI winners in the past quickly run out of steam after their ultimate victory, but Wings Gaming is definitely not one of them. Prior to Boston Major, they have gathered two more LAN wins under their belts: The Nanyang Cruise Cup #1 and Northern Arena BEAT Invitational. They continued to dominate until Evil Geniuses managed to take them down at The Summit 6 for a still respectable 4th place. This team never seems to run out of drafting ideas – they picked a total of 36 different heroes throughout 10 matches in TS6. It is virtually impossible to target ban against Wings Gaming, as they always have something up their sleeves. Even out of meta heroes like Treant Protector or Jakiro can be picked up by them with great success against other top tier teams. When it comes to versatility and unpredictability, Wings remain to be one step ahead at all times, and there’s little that other teams can do about that.
Will Wings continue to be dominant?
However, they are not invincible, and EG as well as Virtus.Pro managed to prove that in The Summit 6. Even considerably weaker teams such as NP were also able to give the TI champions a hard time. Consistency is a very difficult attribute to keep up for a lot of teams, and Wings are no exception. While excellent players themselves, Chu ‘Shadow’ Zeyu and Zhang ‘Faith_bian’ Ruida did have some disappointing performances where they fed away too many kills to the opponents and put the team at an unrecoverable disadvantage. Wings also tend to be incredibly vulnerable to Batrider – one of Virtus.Pro’s favorites. Given that most pro teams can and will run Batrider, they need to figure out how to deal with his popular menace, as well as giving their cores better coverage in general. If they can prevent being run-down by aggressive lineups and take things slowly into the mid-late game (their most comfortable window), it is very likely that Wings will continue to dominate at the Boston Major.
Virtus.Pro: The CIS Special
Virtus Pro are no strangers to Valve’s LAN events, and they have always been a team to look out for every time. However, this year VP seems like a serious contender as they are arguably the strongest European team at the moment. Their victory at The Summit 6 is a testament to their strengths, and their playstyle has a unique flavor that the CIS region had taken pride in for the longest time: Non-stop aggression. When playing against Virtus Pro; you have not a moment’s rest, for they are always on the hunt, looking for kills while enlarging their advantage from a smooth laning phase. According to a lot of players who had gone up against him, Vladimir ‘Noone’ Minenko always wins his middle lane without fail – regardless of enemy’s support rotation. On the other hand Ilya ‘lil’ Ilyuk consistently serves as VP’s pesky wild card that can become a fourth core if need be on unconventional supports like Mirana, Enchantress or Weaver. VP’s relentless playstyle always aims to completely shut down the enemy’s game plan, and throughout The Summit 6 they always wrapped things up at around the 35 minute mark.
Virtus Pro’s strength is undeniable
While hyper-aggression strategies have been around since the dawn of competitive DotA, Virtus Pro added a tweak to make it even harder to deal with – survivability. They are one of the few teams who run the mighty Centaur Warrunner, and it pays off big time for the Russian squad as his tankiness allows VP to outlive the opponents at every skirmishes. Some other heroes that they picked also follow the same vein like Ogre Magi, Lifestealer, Dragon Knight, Slardar and Wisp. This puts an enormous boost to their aggressive play style which enables them to jump in, deal damage while tanking through enemies and come out on top. Will the Boston teams be able to withstand VP’s relentless assaults?
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