Ninjas in Pyjamas will be forced to play their first match of the most lucrative tournament in Counter-Strike history without their fifth member. Jacob “Pyth” Mourujärvi will miss out on the first day of the MLG Columbus major after running into issues with U.S. immigration.
Pyth will arrive in time for the second day, but is still subject to clearance from Valve and MLG to play out the rest of the tournament, which boasts a $1 million prize pool.
Current coach Björn “Threat” Pers will be the starting player for the Swedish side, with Pyth rejoining the team and starting games other than the first of the tournament against Flipsid3. MLG’s current rulebook does not allow for teams to change their starting roster while the tournament is running, so it is unlikely Pyth can feature unless they make an exception.
On Reddit, some fans have discussed the possibility of NiP playing with just four members in their opening game, which is within the rules of the tournament, so that Pyth could still play on the second day. This would be a very risky strategy for the side as they would be forced to battle through the lower bracket.
On an HLTV forum post, North American player Alex “LeX” Daily alleged that Pyth purposely answered questions incorrectly when trying to enter the U.S. to play for Winterfox last year. LeX suggested that Pyth didn’t want to continue playing for the North American side, and so purposely failed his interview to enter the country.
Pyth has denied these allegations, though NiP founder Emil “Heaton” Christensen mentioned in a tweet that the problem arose because of an issue that occurred the last time Pyth tried to enter the U.S. The tweet has since been deleted.
NiP must now wait on an official decision from Valve and MLG as to whether they can replace Threat after the first game. Either way, it’s a blow to the team’s chances, and unfortunately comes at a time where the stakes couldn’t be any higher.