After five years of competing in Dota 2, Ninjas in Pyjamas officially shut down its Dota division today as it restructures and looks for new ways to approach the scene in the future.
NiP went through three massive roster changes in 2020, starting with some smaller moves at the start of the year before the entire roster folded following the retirement of captain Peter “ppd” Dager.
After losing the Dota legend, the organization worked to find a new group of players to build around, eventually signing Chicken Fighters and bringing in veterans like Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev and former-NiP player Adrian “Era” Kryeziu. That roster didn’t see much success and eventually parted ways with SoNNeikO in July before playing with stand-ins while they looked for a suitable replacement.
After dropping SoNNeikO and playing a few events with Team Spirit’s Mikhail “Misha” Agatov as a substitute, the team improved slightly and earned some top-three placements at the BTS Pro Series season three and, most recently, Dota Summit 13 Online. But the improvement wasn’t big enough to justify the organization staying in the scene because of the well-known lack of financial stability within competitive Dota.
The organization is stepping away from Dota for now because the “unstable ecosystem” means trying to become a competitive team in Europe right now takes a much higher toll while the returns are small, according to NiP COO Jonas Gundersen.
“With the indefinite postponement of the DPC and The International, we find ourselves on an increasingly unclear path to financial stability within the game,” Gundersen said. “We’re seeing a high concentration of talent in the EU region, meaning that the cost of keeping up is markedly higher while revenues are dwindling. Ninjas in Pyjamas is one of the most iconic teams in the world – competing for the biggest trophies is a core part of our DNA, and the road to that through EU is simply not viable at this point.”
The organization does plan on re-entering competitive Dota again in the future. But for now, the cost of operations is just too high for how the EU competition has shaped up during the COVID-19 pandemic moving everything online.
“I am excited for what lies ahead,” Gundersen said. “It’s rare that you get to rethink the whole infrastructure around a particular game. It opens a world of possibilities, and I am confident that we’ll re-enter the game at the highest level, once we find the right opportunity.”
All four of the players who were under contract with the team—Charlie “CharlieDota” Arat, Ondřej “Supream^” Štarha, Jonáš “SabeRLight-” Volek, and Era—have been released to free agency and are free to sign with other teams.
Valve has confirmed that the 2021 DPC will begin on Jan. 28 barring any massive changes, but the details for the relaunch haven’t been specified yet.