This is a complete nightmare for me. – GeT_RiGhT
The Ninjas in Pyjamas have departed from the ELEAGUE Major Qualifier with only participation medals to show for it. The NiP trophy case is vast and filled with accolades. However, the upcoming major will not add another one.
NiP floundered at the ELEAGUE Qualifier, losing to HellRaisers, OpTic Gaming, and Vega Squadron. Like a fish out of water, Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund is gasping for air, desperate for an answer, desperate for a solution, and desperate to win.
Despite their battle-scarred nature, or perhaps because of it, the current iteration of NiP feels unviable. If GeT_RiGhT wants to win another major, there must be radical transformation.
In the adolescence of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, NiP was as hot as anyone could have ever hoped for. NiP made the finals of the first five Valve Majors, from November 2013 to March 2015. Despite these shifting sands of time, NiP remained an immovable monolith.
They were arguably the greatest team of all time, and inarguably the most beloved team of all time. Many analysts consider GeT_RiGhT the greatest CS:GO player of all time, and Patrick “f0rest” Lindberg the greatest CS player of all time. They were the architects of the “87-0,” the longest offline map win streak in history. The Swedes didn’t lose a single map in their first 11 LAN tournaments. Despite close games, despite 16-14 nail-biters, and despite massive round deficits, they constructed the grandest monument known to CS:GO.
Even when out of form, they were consistently dangerous. As the saying goes, “Form is temporary, class is permanent.” Even when they seemed weak, they moved mountains. Even when they seemed scattered, they put the puzzle together. Even when the odds were against them, the NiP magic trumped all reason.
Ninjas in Decline
Unfortunately for NiP, the Reaper always wants his souls; some are simply lent a longer allowance. If NiP’s first five majors were its youthful prime, the next four were its midlife crisis. Over the years, Counter-Strike caught up. NiP was aging; its wrinkles were showing. Youthful players were coming to fruition and great empires were coming to power. NiP’s flame was still burning, but the fire never burns as bright as its kindling.
The growth of any empire must come at the cost of another. Such is the nature of warfare; this was no exception. Conquests from the likes of Fnatic, Team EnVyUs, or SK Gaming were feats to admire. Conquest, however, requires land to be conquered. That land was NiP’s.
NiP was no longer top dog, rather, they were middle of the pack. The French took two majors, Fnatic took the Swedish crown, and Na’Vi dealt the knockout blow to NiP in two majors. In this era, NiP could squeeze out a deep run, but they could just as easily get squeezed. They managed some late stage bracket placings, but also dropped to a top-eight finish at MLG Columbus and top-12 placing at Cologne 2016.
Statistically, the entire Swedish squad declined, and they never found the perfect “fifth man” for their roster. Just like any middle aged man, each player on the team was in denial. NiP was seldom a bad team, but they never reached their previous heights.
Death of the Ninja
The once king of the hill found himself on a downwards slope, ironically an uphill battle. The shining megastar of GeT_RiGhT had depleted much of its fuel, becoming just an average star. The great asset in Adam “friberg” Friberg had become a bleeding liability and Richard “Xizt” Landström quickly lost his competency with a rifle.
Whether it was the fault of the magician, or the keen eyes of the observer, the NiP magic faded. Meaningful wins went from a dime a dozen to the needle in the haystack.
The recent Major Qualifier was likely the final straw that broke the camel’s back. Until now, GeT_RiGhT had never failed to reach a major. Unfortunately, he made history, losing to Vega Squadron. Vega was a team with no top players, no significant wins, and no reasonable chance. Incredibly, NiP’s roster showed us one last magic trick: vanishing in broad daylight.
No player on NiP showed up to that match. No one even put up a fight. Vega crushed NiP 16-2 on Cache, thought to be a strong map for NiP. It was a match not won by Vega Squadron, but truly lost by NiP. You could see the anguish develop in GeT_RiGhT’s face. Every player on NiP, somehow, knew this match was over before it even started. With every round loss, GeT_RiGhT snapped more and more. It was 10 years worth of torture, condensed into 30 minutes of pain. To accompany each NiP death, there was a visible twinge. The world viciously mocked them in their time of agony. Fans howled and laughed at every Vega Squadron frag.
Viewers witnessed the end of an era. It was the demise of this roster’s meaningful life. If NiP was an aging man, this was the moment that finally crippled him. Certainly, this was the lowest point of GeT_RiGhT’s career.
Torture will force even the strongest of men to break. A choking man, desperate for air, will do anything to breathe. A starving man, emaciated and dying, will do anything for food. A beaten man, bruised and battered, will do anything for peace. GeT_RiGhT is this man. Despite his stubbornness, and despite his force of will, he will do anything to get well. He’ll do anything to win.
The obvious remedy is a roster shuffle. For years, this core roster has been on a slow decline. Anyone, besides GeT_RiGhT and Patrick “f0rest’ Lindberg, is expendable. Unfortunately, the organization has repeatedly declined to oust friberg and Xist.
Worse yet, they continually make bizarre decision regarding their “fifth man,” who has never truly clicked. Famously, NiP has been a team looking for the final piece of the puzzle. Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson, Maikel “maikelele” Bill, and Jacob “Pyth” Mourujärvi were never meant to be the completing pieces; they were band-aids.
They say “You never break apart a winning roster until you know its time is over.” NiP’s hesitancy to break up a historic roster is understandable, but “historic” feels incredibly apt; the team is a shadow of its former self and its golden age is but a folktale from another time. If they stay on this track, they’ll be much like the Shinobi of Japan: found only in history books.
There are all-time great Swedish players knocking on GeT_RiGhT’s door, begging to play with him. Jesper “JW” Wecksell famously once tried to leave his previous team, Fnatic, to play for NiP. Right now, it appears as if the rest of the Swedish scene would do the same. The Fnatic-GODSENT roster shuffle was a setback for Swedish CS:GO and each team is less than the sum of its parts. It’s heartbreaking to watch players like Dennis “dennis” Edman, Robin “flusha” Rönnquist, and Olof “Olofmeister” Kajbjer wasting away in low-tier teams; how could they turn down an offer to play in NiP now?
The NiP brand wields enough gravity to pull in nearly anyone it wants. Sweden’s current ecosystem is perfect for NiP to buy the pick of the litter. There never was a better time to steal a Swedish star. Nevertheless, NiP’s stars could pack their bags and run. This disillusioned duo of GeT_RiGhT and f0rest could do the unthinkable. They could leave NiP.
To “Shinobi” or not to be
Disarray in the Swedish scene makes it possible for NiP to steal players, however, NiP cannot claim immunity. The veteran Swedes on Fnatic or GODSENT could potentially lure GeT_RiGhT and f0rest away from NiP.
The move, however unlikely it may be, would be the conception of a true Swedish super team. There are enough Swedish players to formulate a world championship team, but it requires the proper proportions. Current Fnatic and GODSENT are testimony; you can’t just throw five Swedes together and win a major.
GeT_RiGhT is contemplating his options and leaving is a conceivable choice. Massive and unprecedented change seems to be on the horizon. “I have no idea what to say to be honest. I’ll have some thinking to do,” GeT_RiGhT said.
“From the Ashes”
Morihei Ueshiba, the historic Japanese martial artist, once said, “Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.” If GeT_RiGhT never failed, he’d be a less compelling story. No great novel is without hardships, and GeT_RiGhT’s tale is no different.
GeT_RiGhT has an incredible, yet perilous opportunity. In this moment he can reach for new heights or he can fall while trying. There are so many choices for these players. Unfortunately, stagnation is one of them. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, NiP can be born again. Now is GeT_RiGhT’s lowest moment, his worst failure. Yet, greatness is within his grasp. This is his responsibility, and only he can change his fate.
The world awaits your recovery, GeT_RiGhT. The medicine is at your bed stand, you’ve just got to stomach it. Take your time and rest. Surely, you’ll come back better than ever. Get well, GeT_RiGhT.
What do you think of GeT_RiGhT’s situation? Let us know on Twitter @GAMURScom or in the comments.
Written by Nathan “@Naitdawgg” Butcher.
Image via HLTV