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Peter “ppd” Dager is a master tactician when it comes to any and all things Dota 2, which includes deciding when his team needs a shake-up in both roster formation and the region they play in.
After spending just one set of Major qualifiers in his old stomping grounds of North America, Ninjas in Pyjamas returned to Europe and claimed the third spot for the ESL One Los Angeles Major today.
It wasn’t an easy run considering Europe has the deepest roster of talented teams, but NiP managed to put up a good fight against the returning International champions, OG, and had a positive record against Team Liquid and Alliance. Overall, the team went 5-3, claiming the second seed in Group B behind OG and eventually taking the third Major spot for the region.
NiP had a rough opening match against an OG team that was already warmed up after sweeping Alliance in two strong games. But that didn’t stop them from being competitive.
Game one was close until about the 15-minute mark when OG got six big kills and started building up a lead over NiP. Both Nikita “Daxak” Kuzmin and Rodrigo “Lelis” Santos had middling tournament debuts and the team went on to lose the opening game.
Game two had some big swings, but NiP actually held several significant leads throughout the match and looked like the Shadow Fiend, Puck, and Riki lineup was going to nab them a big win. Instead, there were two big instances where OG showed that their teamfight was superior, once at 33-minutes and then again to close out the match.
A big kill on Jason “TANNER” Weedon’s Shadow Fiend left NiP weak in their highground defense and OG ended up winning their longest match of the event 26-25 at 43 minutes.
NiP rebounded well from the sweep, splitting their series against Liquid and then sweeping both Alliance and Team Singularity on day two. This led to a best-of-one tiebreaker against Liquid to see which team was going to make the playoffs and gain a strong chance at heading to the Major.
Despite struggling with some of Liquid’s lineups in their first matchup, ppd and his team had the tiebreaker in hand almost the entire game with TANNER and Daxak not dying once and the team slowly making up for a slow start. In fact, after the 21-minute mark, ppd was the only NiP player to die until they closed out the game at 41 minutes.
The playoffs were another mixed bag for NiP, getting swept by Secret to start things off in a messy series. But they remained composed and handled business against Aggressive Mode, earning their own sweep and the third spot at ESL One Los Angeles.
Ppd and his team deserve a lot of credit for this accomplishment. They made their first Major of the season while successfully implementing Daxak and Lelis into the roster right before the qualifiers began. Now they have a little over a month to practice before the ESL One Los Angeles Major begins on March 15.