The year of CS:GO eSports has been rounded off by the offline qualifiers for the forthcoming coming ELeague major in January 2017, proving to be an opportunity for one final tournament upset. On this occasion, it was the Swedish organisation, Ninjas in Pyjamas on the receiving end of one of the biggest upsets in the history of the game.
After being knocked out in the group stages of ESL One Cologne back in July, Ninjas in Pyjamas were left to fight their way through the ELeague Major Qualifier in search of qualification. Having lost to both Hellraisers and OpTic Gaming in the two previous best of one’s in the qualifier, the Swedish team were matched against Vega Squadron in the 4th round.
What should’ve theoretically been an easy victory for NiP quickly transcended into a living nightmare for the Swedes as they went on to lose 16-2 to the Russians, crashing them out of the qualifier in what marked the first time that the core of the team (Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund, Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg, Adam “friberg” Friberg and Richard “Xizt” Landström) will not be competing in a CS:GO major.
For NiP, the defeat is a notable disaster, not simply because they failed to qualify for the major, but because it draws a gloomy end to a year in which their fortunes had seemed to turn a corner, with notable victories at Dreamhack Malmo and IEM Oakland. With Malmo being the team’s first victory at a big tournament since 2014, things were seemingly improving after a comparatively mediocre year in 2015.
Few teams have taken as many knocks as NiP has in recent years. The departure of Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson led to them Mikail “Maikelele” Bill filling his place initially and then after the departure of Aleksi “allu” Jalli, the team recruited Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi to become the team’s new in-game leader. Having emerged as victors in Malmo in April, people were wondering if the “NiP Magic” had returned.
So whilst NiP’s elimination from the ELeague Major qualifiers is devastating for the Swedish team, it doesn’t necessarily reflect on what has otherwise been a promising year for the organisation. The team have shown many signs of improvements and will be hoping to continue their good form through to 2017, even if they are missing the first major of the new year.
The Ninjas in Pyjamas are a resilient bunch and it speaks highly of their perseverance to make things work out that they have kept the core of their team for as long as they have.