Ninjas in Pyjamas signs Era-led Lajons

With a new year bringing new jerseys, one of Dota's most embattled players has found an opportunity to start anew

Illustration by Jason Reed

With a new year bringing new jerseys, one of Dota‘s most embattled players has found an opportunity to start anew.

Ninjas in Pyjamas officially signed three month-old Lajons, led by Adrian “Era” Kryeziu, on New Year’s Day. The team, formed in September, carried a combination of experience and young talent to China as they began their i-League campaign in the black and gold against LGD Gaming earlier today.

Lajons traces its roots back to 2011 when current member Jonas “jonassomfan” Lindholm joined recent Alliance DreamLeague stand-in Johan “Mynuts” Andersson and a young Gustav “S4” Magnusson on Heroes of Newerth squad Lions eSportklubb. It was there that Lindholm met fellow Ninja in Pyjamas Adrian “Era” Kryeziu, who came on to replace the departed Magnusson.

In March of 2012, Kryeziu made the migration to Dota 2 with four members of Fnatic‘s former Heroes of Newerth roster. Over their year-and-a-half as a unit, Kryeziu’s side earned two premier championships and seven silver medals, including a top eight finish at The International in 2013.

In June 2014, however, the cracks began to show. Fnatic deployed Steve “Xcalibur” Ye in lieu of Kryeziu in the month-long lead-up to Dota‘s multi-million dollar tournament. Despite playing with the team for 14 of the preceding 15 months, Kryeziu was nearly snubbed for Fnatic’s final International roster in July.

As Fnatic negotiated the decision with International administrators, a letter from the organization revealed that Kryeziu suffered from debilitating panic attacks that caused severe nausea whenever he traveled. Ultimately, Valve ruled in favor of Kryeziu, but the controversy and lack of preparation took their toll, resulting in a 14th place finish for the once potent lineup.

Kryeziu officially left Fnatic in August 2014, but continued to hone his skill despite his illness. In September, he joined former Heroes of Newerth teammate Lindholm on Lajons. In November, Lajons completed its lineup with former Team Coast and long-time Alliance stand-in Joel “Apemother” Larsson and newcomers Elias “Sealkid” Merta and Simon “Handsken” Haag.

If Kryeziu is hoping for some newfound stability under the new organization, he has reason to be nervous. New entrants to the Dota scene have a history for funding jerseys and plane tickets for promising sides just before The International. 

With seven months to go until the main event, however, it’s unlikely that the Lajons acquisition is a short-term investment. Ninjas in Pyjamas administrator Emil “Heaton” Christensen also stated in Aftonbladet that his organization is “in this for the long run.” All of this is good news for a player whose career has been anything but stable over the past several months.