Nick J. March 17, 2020
Ninjas in Pyjamas shocked an international audience on the opening day of ESL Pro League, defeating Astralis by a combined score of 32-14 over two maps. The match also drew a massive crowd,
That no one saw this one coming is an understatement, especially considering the way the map veto went.
Ninjas and Astralis removed their respective permabans in Dust 2 and Mirage before NiP went on the offensive, picking Vertigo as their first map. Prior to tonight’s loss, the team was 10-3 on the Counter-Strike’s newest competitive map.
Astralis picked Overpass in return, targeting a NiP team that has gone even over four games on the map since the departure of Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg.
Vertigo is quickly becoming a NiP special, and teams should immediately brush up on the NiP's tendencies or ban it away from a team that made Astralis look pedestrian in a 16-4 stomping.
How much of NiP's play on the map was NiP Coach Björn "THREAT" Pers' planning and how much was Fredrik “REZ” Sterner and prodigy Nicolas “Plopski” Gonzalez Zamora going nuclear was unclear, but if both can replicate these performances, NiP fans can finally relax.
With twelve attacking rounds under their belt, NiP hopped over to the defense and, despite giving up the pistol round and the ensuing two ecos, won the following four gun rounds to end the map 16-6.
Astralis used to call Overpass home while under Finn “karrigan” Andersen, but it certainly isn’t home anymore. NiP smothered Astralis after the Danes picked up the first three rounds, rattling off eight in a row plus three more to end the half. Astralis planted the bomb only three times on the attacking side.
It didn’t go much better for the Danish squad on the defense. Even though Astralis picked up both pistol rounds on Overpass, they lost to the Ninjas in Pyjamas 16-8.
ESL Pro League’s online format bolstered NiP in Astralis stomp
Fans often forget that REZ has been on Ninjas in Pyjamas since 2017, logging 542 maps under the watchful eye of NiP’s legends. Here, he put on a show using what he’d learned. Over the two maps, REZ put up a server leading performance: 45 total kills, 105.5 ADR, and nine of his team’s 30 opening duels.
The matchup between these two simply didn’t go the way it was supposed to, but then again, online Counter-Strike often doesn’t. With EPL splitting into two online regions due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is a very real possibility that fans see two underdog teams take home trophies this year.
Top teams have an advantage in a LAN setting even if the crowd is against them, and especially against a team that isn’t accustomed to having an audience. At home, the likelihood of an upset increases dramatically. Bettors should take that into account this season when picking out match winners for ESL Pro League's Season 11.
Astralis’ performances today shouldn’t cause mass panic, but when combined with the ease with which Natus Vincere dispatched them at IEM Katowice there are concerning signs. A similar slump occurred last year as fans watched Astralis slump and allow a streaky Team Liquid to win the IEM Grand Slam in just 56 days.
Astralis is currently in sixth place out of the ESL Pro League’s group A’s six teams as decided by round differential (-18).
Everyone on Astralis played poorly. No one on the roster managing a positive K/D or a rating over 1.0. That said, Peter “Dupreeh” Rossman played especially poorly, going 19/7/39 over the two maps. Despite the stats, Astralis’ KAST rating shows what really happened. As a team, the Danes had a combined KAST of 61.6% to NiP’s 80%. We say all the time that Counter-Strike is about trading, and tonight NiP traded Astralis’ pride for a dominant win.
ESL Pro League's online format leaves room for upsets
ESL Pro League’s Group A continues Wednesday, March 18 with a matchup between the 1-0 teams NiP and Team Spirit. If fans only have time for one game to catch up on, it has to be Spirit’s win over ENCE on Inferno. The team’s 16-2 map win showed two things: exactly what Spirit is capable of and exactly what ENCE is missing.
Astralis will try to take back some of its dignity Wednesday after today’s walloping when they face a GODSENT team that has shown both potential and room for improvement since the organization's return last November.
Finally, Team Vitality can see if they can keep their form from today’s win against GODSENT 2-0 when they take on ENCE on Wednesday evening.