NiP defend IEM Oakland title against FaZe Clan
After a grueling five-game series, the defending champions of IEM Oakland defended their title.
Ninjas in Pyjamas beat out tournament favorites FaZe Clan in the grand finals to earn their first major Counter-Strike: Global Offensive victory in 2017. The battle was certainly emphatic on the part of the Swedes, who won the deciding map on Cache immediately after being destroyed in the fourth match on Overpass.
The series began on Cobblestone, however, where the Swedes orchestrated an impressive comeback in the opening half. While accruing a pistol round victory, FaZe answered back and started to pull away from the defending champions—winning six rounds in a row. NiP answered back on the 10th round, as a one-vs-two engagement by Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund stopped FaZe dead in their tracks.
Following the 10th round, the Swedes consistently set up a strong defense on the B bomb site, shutting FaZe down entirely—to such a degree that NiP overtook them and won the first half by a score of 9-6.
Despite winning the second pistol round of the map, NiP were briefly deterred after a successful forcebuy out of FaZe. Both teams showed their ability with solely pistols, and just as quickly as FaZe seemed to be back in the game, Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg showcased how deadly he was with the Desert Eagle in the following round.
F0rest was definitely one of the individual highlights of the entire series, but paired alongside newcomer Fredrik "REZ" Sterner, the two couldn't seem to do any wrong. REZ's constant ability to wreak havoc on the B bomb site on Cobble proved to be one of FaZe's biggest issues in the opening game. The duo catapulted NiP's lead, and the Swedes left Cobblestone with a 16-10 victory and a lead in the series.
On FaZe's first map-pick, Inferno, NiP struggled to look as impressive. Although the team had individual rounds where REZ once again stepped up, FaZe looked far more like the terrifying force that has dominated the circuit for the past three months.
Håvard "rain" Nygaard set the tone for the game in the opening pistol round by scoring four separate kills. The European squad proceeded to breeze past the first half, despite NiP's best efforts to defend against them with impressive grenade usage.
The first half concluded with a seven-round lead for FaZe, as both rain and Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács kept the Swedes pinned down for the majority of the half.
Picking up the second pistol round of the map as well, things looked exceedingly bleak for NiP. But there were signs of hope, such as another exquisite performance by f0rest on the 19th round—but ultimately FaZe claimed Inferno in a convincing 16-7 victory.
The second of NiP's map-picks, Train, once again saw the Swedes return to the driving seat. While the duo of Rain and GuardiaN proved once again to be a thorn in the side of NiP in the first half of the map, f0rest and REZ continued to challenge FaZe in the opening half.
In the second half, FaZe looked as if they had exhausted most of their options, as another pistol round victory for NiP saw them pull farther and farther ahead. Despite a strong showing on the 22nd round by FaZe superstar Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, NiP were in a comfortable lead—putting them ahead once again in the series.
FaZe appeared undeterred by NiP's lead, however. Entering their second pick, Overpass, FaZe absolutely obliterated NiP in the opening half, winning both the opening and the seven following rounds, with little to no issues whatsoever.
NiP grabbed the ninth round, but the team's joy was brief. Former Fnatic star Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer time and time again found advantageous positions on NiP's side of the map, setting himself up for perfect ambushes against his countrymen. The playstyle of olofmeister on the opening half could best be compared to that of SK Gaming entry-fragger Fernando "fer" Alvarenga in yesterday's semifinal, only that olofmeister's efficiency never dropped off.
After ending the first half with a 13-2 scoreline, the remaining rounds seemed more like a formality—and with a 16-7 victory, FaZe had tied NiP and sent the series into a final, decisive map.
Having previously been undefeated on the final map, Cache, FaZe looked to set the tone of the decider by winning the pistol round. But as had been shown all throughout the match, the deadliness of force-buys couldn't be underestimated, as both teams began exchanging early game rounds with one-another.
After a chaotic series of rounds, NiP finally began to find their footing. But in contrast to the first maps of the series, this time, in-game leader Rikard "Xizt" Landström proved to be the most crucial part to NiP's puzzle—as the veteran single-handedly held off FaZe from the A bomb site.
FaZe weren't far behind at the start of the second half, and with yet another pistol round victory came close to equalizing the score. But with additional clutch victories and impactful plays by REZ, NiP looked destined to end the evening as the defending champions.
One final last-ditch effort by FaZe saw in-game leader Finn "karrigan" Andersen pick up four kills in his most impressive round of the entire evening.
But with what appeared to be destiny on their side, NiP shut FaZe down, and earned their first significant trophy of the entire year.
Having entered the tournament with low expectations, NiP left IEM Oakland with one of the most significant upsets of the year under their belts.