Ninjas in Pyjamas are going into the European Minor tomorrow with a new leader, Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson. With Lekr0 at the helm, the team will be vying for a spot in the final Valve Major cycle of 2018—but some fans think he’s not up to the task. The team’s previous in-game leader, Dennis Edman, told Dot Esports that he’s confident in Lekr0’s abilities.
With OpTic Gaming, ENCE Esports, Team Kinguin, Red Reserve, and Sprout Esports among the top names in attendance, NiP will attempt to qualify for the FACEIT London Major over the course of this upcoming week. Only two regional spots are available at the event, and if NiP want to qualify for the next Major, they’ll need to pull off the seemingly impossible in such a tough pool of teams. Their opening group consists of RR, Kinguin, and Sprout.
The veteran NiP duo of Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund and Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg haven’t qualified for a Major since ESL One Cologne in July 2016, while Fredrik “REZ” Sterner has yet to reach a Major in his career. Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson last attended a Major this January at ELEAGUE Boston, while Dennis Edman’s last Major was at PGL Krakow last July. Both Lekr0 and Dennis’ most recent Majors attendances were with Fnatic at separate times though, so this is their first time teaming together.
Dot Esports briefly spoke with Dennis prior to the team’s initial EU Minor match vs. Red Reserve tomorrow at 9:45am CT. He discussed the qualification process for the Major, the team’s structure, and their progress in recent months.
When asked about the team and the pressure of qualifying, Dennis assured that NiP isn’t “really feeling any pressure at all.” In fact, it’s because they’ve shifted the in-game leading role from Dennis to Lekr0. For a youngster like Lekr0, who’s been at the top of Swedish CS:GO ever since 2016, it must be a huge change in scenery when competing at the upper echelons of Counter-Strike.
“It’s more like we want to qualify a lot, but still there’s no pressure,” Dennis said. “We’ve changed quite a lot since [ESL One] Cologne, actually. I’m no longer in-game leader. That’s Lekr0 nowadays. So that’s our biggest change. I’m going to go back to what I was doing before—just fragging, doing plays.”
This is surprising news considering qualification would be a huge feat for many of the players. Ever since Dennis replaced Xizt on the active NiP lineup in February, the Swedish star was calling strategies. Now the NiP IGL mantle belongs to Lekr0, weeks after he joined the team following William “draken” Sundin’s departure in June. Dennis didn’t give a timeline for when the recent IGL switch went down, but confirmed that Lekr0 is leading the charge at the EU Minor.
Dennis went on to praise Lekr0 as the designated strat-caller. He commended him for his progress and the team’s adaptation to his leading. But at the same time, NiP is still “trying to find [itself],” according to Dennis. So it might be a while until the Swedish stars really find their footing as a team and establish themselves as top contenders.
“We’ve been adapting pretty well,” Dennis continued. “[Lekr0’s] also pretty new to this. He’s been calling a lot mid-[round] before, but right now he’s leading from the start. He’s doing a really good job, and everyone is listening really well. We’ve been playing pretty good.
“We’re trying to make our own style because we have so many new players in the team. We haven’t really found our playstyle yet. That’s all that we’re trying to do right now. It’s still step-by-step. We’ve been evolving all the time, so we’re in the right direction.”
Whether NiP qualifies for the Major by placing top two in the EU Minor, the team intends to play “more CS:GO than [they’ve] ever done before” during the upcoming August player break.