Photo Credit: HLTV
It was a hard fought road for the Ninjas, widely considered at one point in their careers to be the best team in the world. People still remember the 87-0 streak the team went on in the early days of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but it’s been about one and a half year since this team has won a significant victory. First among their problems has been finding a fifth player ever since Fifflaren left the team. The team has tried other Swedish talents and even a Finnish player before finally settling on their current member, pyth. The move has seen immediate results as the team managed to achieve a stunning 16-2 record in ESL Pro League, despite the league containing all of the world’s top teams. Another improvement that NiP has done, was brought in a coach, THREAT. THREAT also performs the double role of being the in-game leader to take the pressure off of Xizt, allowing Xizt to focus more on his game rather than having to make good calls.
Semifinals for the Ninjas
Photo Credit: Dreamhack
NiP drew fellow Swedish team, GODSENT, for the semifinals. GODSENT is a new team that was created by ex-Fnatic player, pronax, and contains some of the rising talents and veterans of Sweden. The first map in the series was Cobblestone, NiP’s map pick. The first half ended indecisively with GODSENT just edging out NiP on the CT side to take the slightest of advantages going into the next half. However, Cobblestone is generally a more T sided map, so it’s possible to argue for the case that GODSENT were favored upon switching to the T side. NiP soon put matters to rest when Xizt pulled off a 1 vs 2 clutch round that gave NiP match point, which they did not hesitate to finish. Train started off strong for NiP who roared to a huge lead on the T side after picking up the first 6 rounds. GODSENT answered back by string together rounds of their own to take the half 8-7. NiP looked like they would be closing out the map after they won the second half pistol round and were ahead 13-8, but GODSENT pulled off a stunning comeback to send the map into overtime, which GODSENT closed out. The deciding map in the series would be Mirage, a map that both teams have found success on in the past. The first round featured an exciting clutch from GeT_RiGhT, picking up 4 kills total to start NiP off on the right foot in the match. GODSENT powered ahead to finish the CT half 9-6, but NiP presented an impenetrable wall on their own CT side, only allowing 1 round through for GODSENT to boost themselves into the grand finals.
NiP Magic at the Finals
Photo Credit: HLTV
A famous phrase coined by popular commentator, Anders, referring to NiP’s almost magical runs through tournaments in the past, is “NiP Magic”. No matter how bleak the odds looked for the team, they somehow managed to pull through, whether they needed a huge clutch round or a massive comeback. The grand finals was a showing of this aspect of the team as they pulled off magical-like rounds to win the series. The first map was Natus Vincere’s map choice of Dust 2. Na’Vi took the pistol round and the subsequent 2 rounds as a result, but NiP answered back with 4 rounds of their own. Na’Vi then proceeded to take the next 4 rounds before NiP would get another round. The half ended 9-6 for Na’Vi, a significant advantage, considering Dust 2 is one of the most Terrorist sided maps in the game. It looked like Na’Vi would be taking the game after a B-site play caught NiP by surprise and forced them to a full save round. Somehow, they managed to win the save round despite not even forcing up completely as teams are likely to do on second rounds after losing the pistol round. From there, NiP closed the score difference and took the lead at 11-10 before Na’Vi picked up their first gun round. NiP immediately reset Na’Vi’s economy by winning the next round and went on to take 3 match points after a surprising 2 vs 3 retake on A site. Na’Vi grabbed the next 2 rounds, but NiP won the match on the 30th round to give themselves a lead in the series.
The exciting pace of the first match carried over to the second with a very back and forth game to provide viewers with a thrilling map. NiP took the early lead by going up 6-1 after resetting Na’Vi’s economy after Na’Vi won the first gun round. Undaunted, Na’Vi picked up the next 7 of 8 rounds to end the half in their advantage 8-7. Na’Vi piled on their lead in the first few rounds on the second side to go ahead 13-7 and force NiP into an uncomfortable position. NiP decided to switch to the double AWP setup which payed immediate dividends as they were able to win 5 rounds before Guardian from Na’Vi won a 1 vs 1 duel. The Ninjas did not let the one round deter them as they shut down Na’Vi’s attack repeatedly to win the map 16-14, the same score as the previous map, to win Dreamhack Masters Malmö. Their victory required two comebacks and numerous clutch rounds to accomplish and contained the spirit of “NiP Magic”.