The Swedish team replaced Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson with sniper Mikail “Maikelele” Bill late last year. The early returns were positive, with Ninjas in Pyjamas emerging from a deep slump to finish as runners-up at both DreamHack Winter and Major League Gaming’s X Games Invitational.
But an uneven showing at Inferno Online Stockholm’s Pantamera event, which led to an early elimination, raised questions about the team’s immediate future. Earlier today, Bill announced that he would be standing in with fellow Swedish team Orbit during their play over the weekend, which only fueled the speculation.
Ninjas in Pyjamas social media director Joachim Rittfeldt Hofvenschiold then released an official statement from the team to Swedish website Aftonbladet clarifying the situation.
In the statement, Hofvenschiold confirmed that the team was looking to try out new players for its fifth position. Strangely, this doesn’t necessarily mean Bill will be removed from the team. Instead, he will maintain a tenuous position with the squad while new players are actively being tested.
It’s surely an awkward situation for Bill, who knows that the team doesn’t feel his performance has been up to par and must stand by while they actively, and now publicly, search for a better alternative.
The situation is even more strange considering that Bill has been among the team’s best players since joining the squad. He has had past issues with other teams, however, leading some some to wonder if his attitude was the source of the divide here. Bill took to Twitter to dispute that notion.
The official statement from Ninjas in Pyjamas specifically cites Bill’s lack of professional experience as reason for the move, praising his talent but also made clear that Bill “has been informed of his shortcomings and now has a chance to work on them.”
The team has not yet announced who’s trying out with the team, nor the timeframe for the tryouts. They’ll likely need to be completed in short order, as the year’s first major tournament at ESL Katowice is only one month away.
Image via Mikail Bill/Facebook