A look at the teams for ESL One Cologne: Part 14 – Ninjas in Pyjamas.
Part 1 – Cloud9
Part 2 – Immunity
Part 3 – mousesports
Part 4 – Virtus.pro
Part 5 – FlipSid3 Tactics
Part 6 – Kinguin
Part 7 – Luminosity Gaming
Part 8 – EnVyUs
Part 9 – Titan
Part 10 – Natus Vincere
Part 11 – eBettle
Part 12 – FNATIC
Part 13 – Renegades
Ninjas in Pyjamas are one of one of the most established CS:GO teams, and had a long and dominating hold of the title as the best team in the world, however, with more teams rising to the challenge they are no longer considered the best team, if you are unfamiliar with the history of Ninjas in Pyjamas I would suggest you read this to get a better understanding of the team. However, I will only focus on the team after allu joining. allu was not the only Finn that was signed as his former teammate natu was acquired as a coach for the team.
At ESL One: Katowice 2015 they blasted through their group beating Keyd Stars 16:9 (Inferno), and also flying through Counter Logic Gaming 16:7 (Mirage).
In the quarterfinal they beat Team SoloMid 16:8 (Dust), 4:16 (Inferno), 16:12 (Nuke), go to the match page and watch the highlight videos you will not be disappointed. In the semifinal they faced EnVyUs, who proved to be less of a challenge than Team SoloMid and fell 16:9 (Cache), 16:10 (Dust2). In the Grand final they faced their fellow countrymen from FNATIC, and while it was a close final it was FNATIC who edge out a win 16:14 (Dust2), 10:16 (Cache), 16:13 (Inferno).
GFINITY Spring Masters 1 was with a lot of lesser opponents as Orbit and Infused. In group A Ninjas in Pyjamas was paired with EnVyUs, Gamers2, Property who had JW as a standin. They first beat Gamers2 16:5 (Cobblestone), 16:8 (Nuke), lost 6:16 (Inferno), 9:16 (Dust2) to EnVyUs, and then barely edged out a win against Property 13:16 (Cache), 16:13 (Inferno), 16:10 (Mirage). In the semifinal they won against Virtus.pro 16:10 (Nuke), 7:16 (Mirage), 16:12 (Inferno), and in the Grand final they faced EnVyUs again, who got revenge from Katowice by beating the Ninjas 14:16 (Inferno), 16:5 (Cache), 16:11 (Dust2), 16:9 (Cobblestone).
The competition at StarLadder StarSeries XII was tougher with Titan, Virtus.pro, EnVyUs, Natus Vincere and Team SoloMid. They first faced Titan who they beat 25:22 (Cache), 16:11 (Dust2) thanks to an impressive performance from allu. They cruised through Virtus.pro 16:6 (Mirage), 16:6 (Inferno), but in the upper-bracket final they faced EnVyUs who like last time defeated the Ninjas 16:9 (Cache), 16:1 (Inferno). In the lower-bracket final it was Team SoloMid who was the opponent, but the Swedes prevailed 16:6 (Dust2), 16:13 (Nuke), and in the Grand final they faced EnVyUs again who again dealt the Ninjas a defeat 16:9 (Inferno), 16:2 (Mirage).
At CS:GO Championship Series Kick-off Season they had a chance to get revenge against EnVyUs, and they managed to do so 10:16 (Cache), 36:33 (Dust2), 16:11 (Mirage) with an utterly ridicules Dust2 brawl. For the victory they were reward with Team SoloMid who for the first time was able to beat the Ninjas with the score 16:12 (Inferno), 16:14 (Dust2), and in the lower-bracket final they faced FNATIC who blasted the Ninjas 16:6 (Mirage), 16:4 (Cobblestone).
FACEIT League 2015 Stage 1 Finals started with them stomping Immunity 16:3 (Dust2), 16:4 (Mirage), then losing to a well-playing FNATIC 7:16 (Mirage), 12:16 (Dust2), and then again beating Immunity 16:5 (Inferno), 16:14 (Dust2). In the semifinals they beat Virtus.pro 16:6 (Inferno), 5:16 (Overpass), 16:14 (Cache), and in the Grand final they almost won against Team SoloMid 1:16 (Inferno), 21:18 (Dust2), 16:12 (Cache).
The Ninjas were unable to make it out of the groups at GFINITY Masters Spring 2¸ as they after annihilated Liquid 16:2 (Dust2), 16:1 (Inferno), then played two close maps against FNATIC where each took one 16:14 (Dust2), 20:22 (Overpass). Then they played 1:1 again against Vox Eminor 13:16 (Train), 16:5 (Dust2), but then they ran into Natus Vincere who was on point and took both maps 16:12 (Dust2), 16:9 (Inferno).
At DreamHack Summer 2015 started out strong by winning against Dignitas 16:9 (Mirage), but then came up short against Natus Vincere 13:16 (Cobbelstone), and then they had the joy of beating Dignitas again 16:11 (Cache). In the semifinal they faced FNATIC who proved to be a too big challenge pushing the Ninjas out of the tournament 16:6 (Dust2), 16:14 (Train).
They were unable to qualify for ESL ESEA Pro League, and one could argue that the level of the tournament would have been higher if it hadn’t been 4 spots for Europe and 4 spots for North America, as I would put Keyd Stars, Luminosity Gaming and Counter Logic Gaming in the murky waters of rank 10-20. Also during the time they tried having GeT_RiGhTas an ingame leader.
At GFINITY Summer Masters 1 they narrowly won against the SK Gaming, who had just replaced their ingame leader HUNDEN with BERRY, with the score 22:19 (Cobblestone), 16:12 (Cache), and the only reason they won Cobblestone was due to allu acing not once, but twice. They won against Dignitas 16:4 (Cache), 9:16 (Mirage), 16:9 (Inferno), and also won against mousesports 16:13 (Train), 16:2 (Dust2). In the Grand final they met EnVyUs, but again they were unable to win against the French squad losing 10:16 (Dust2), 4:16 (Inferno), 9:16 (Cache).
They got one of the easiest groups at ESWC 2015, as they destroyed QeeYou 16:4 (Mirage), smashed Liquid 16:2 (Mirage), and it was only LDLC White who put up some fight ending the match 16:8 (Cache).
In the quarterfinal they faced FlipSid3 with Hiko, but they lost quite surprisingly to FlipSid3 despite winning the first map 16-1 ending the match 16:1 (Inferno), 10:16 (Mirage), 12:16 (Overpass).
At FACEIT 2015 Stage 2 Finals at DreamHack Valencia they got a tough group with both Team SoloMid and FNATIC. They first battled the Danes, but lost 13:16 (Mirage), but beat Liquid 16:6 (Dust2), 16:10 (Cache). In the group decider match they faced FNATIC who only managed to win due to olofmeister almost dropping 40 kills on Train, and the match ended 16:14 (Train), 16:14 (Mirage) to FNATIC.
While the Ninjas haven’t won a big tournament for quite some time they have for the most part reached the finals, and if they were unable to do so it was mainly due to meeting one of the strongest opponents before the finals. As their opponents grew stronger, and Ninjas in Pyjamas didn’t adapt to their opponents, the style that worked so well-before when the opposition was weaker, but also when f0rest and friberg were boasting more kills, is no longer enough if you want to compete with the best. Gone are the days where you simply could point f0rest in the direct of your enemy and he would drop them like flies, and when they first brought in natu as a coach I thought that it would help them develop their lackluster tactical side, but so far they haven’t really changed much as they still rely heavily on winning their aimduels. This is also reflected in the matchups against EnVyUs who aim wise was superior to the Ninjas, and in the majority of the encounters that proved to be the winning ingredient as there was no change in the Ninjas approach. They are still a top team, but they are no longer among the four best teams, as while the other teams have adapted, changed and overtaken the Ninjas they have only changed a player, and while allu is doing a good job he cannot fix their core problem, which from my point of view is that they are extremely limited in their gameplay as they usually have a default for a map, and if it works great they can win the map, but if it doesn’t work they will keep doing it until they lose the match.
In terms of map pool I would say that their strong maps would be: Dust2, Train, and their decent maps being: Cache, Inferno and Mirage. This leaves Cobblestone and Overpass as their weakest maps, and Overpass being their absolute worst. The problem for their map pool is my opinion that against EnVyUs, FNATIC and Team SoloMid there isn’t a map I would say ‘They are most likely going to win this’, as all 3 are strong on Cache, Inferno, Dust2, and with how the map system works at this major where the last map is randomly selected they stand in a situation where they can either ban their opponents strongest map and in that case they can end with Cobblestone and Overpass, or they can ban one of those and maybe end up with one anyway due to the randomized pick. However, if every member of the team is at their peak they can win almost any map, but the likelihood of that it that is going to happen is close to none-existing.
I don’t think that we will see a Ninjas in Pyjamas in the final, as the field is too strong for them to have a chance with the performance they have put in over the past couple of months, and that they pretty consistently been beaten by EnVyUs, FNATIC, Natus Vincere and Team SoloMid, then I think that they should be happy with a 3-4 placing, but with mousesports, Cloud9 and Kinguin attending as well they might have to be contend with a 5-8th spot.
Unless the Ninjas have been putting a lot of effort into their tactical game approach, which they should as why else would you get a coach in, I don’t think they can aim their way through Cologne. However, with the amount of time that natu have been with them I haven’t seen much of a change, and I cannot recall against who they played, but they played a Mirage game where their execute was de-synchronized with a couple of seconds, as there were no-one to capitalize on the molotov they threw to clear a position, and the flash from their flashbang effect had worn of when the first man entered the site. It might have been an anomaly, but when playing against teams who have the same rawr aim, or even higher than you, then the only way to give yourself an advantage is to push coordinated as a unit. I do look forward to watching them play, and maybe be surprised by their gameplay, however, I still don’t think they got reasonable chance of getting into the final.
Links taken from HLTV.org and Liquipedia.