In Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVMs), the establishment of woody vegetation refers to flowering, fertilization, seed production, germination, and the growth of tree seedlings. It determines not only the population densities but also other important ecosystem structural variables. In current DGVMs, establishments of woody plant functional types (PFTs) are assumed to be either the same in the same grid cell, or largely stochastic. We investigated the uncertainties in the competition of establishment among coexisting woody PFTs from three aspects: the dependence of PFT establishments on vegetation states; background establishment; and relative establishment potentials of different PFTs. Sensitivity experiments showed that the dependence of establishment rate on the fractional coverage of a PFT favored the dominant PFT by increasing its share in establishment. While a small background establishment rate had little impact on equilibrium states of the ecosystem, it did change the timescale required for the establishment of alien species in pre-existing forest due to their disadvantage in seed competition during the early stage of invasion. Meanwhile, establishment purely from background (the scheme commonly used in current DGVMs) led to inconsistent behavior in response to the change in PFT specification (e.g., number of PFTs and their specification). Furthermore, the results also indicated that trade-off between individual growth and reproduction/colonization has significant influences on the competition of establishment. Hence, further development of establishment parameterization in DGVMs is essential in reducing the uncertainties in simulations of both ecosystem structures and successions.