Steven R. February 24, 2019
Ninjas in Pyjamas are headed to the playoffs of a major once again.
Facing Vitality in the fifth round of the 2019 Katowice Major, the team earned a place in the Champions Stage playoffs with a 2-1 win. This is the organization’s first time in a major’s playoffs in three years.
NiP opened the series strong on Cache. Led by a monster performance by Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg, the team bullied Vitality from start to finish with the French side becoming visibly flustered during the game. Vitality managed to pick up occasional rounds, but never put together a streak to threaten NiP’s lead, leading to a lopsided 16-7 final score.
Though it felt like NiP was set to run away with the game, Vitality returned the favor on Overpass. While F0rest opened the series with a 26-10 scoreline, the second game saw him flounder to 10-19. Nobody from NiP stepped up to fill the gap and Vitality evened the series 16-8.
F0rest never returned to that first game’s form, but Dennis "dennis" Edman brought enough quality for everyone on the final map. Playing on Mirage, Dennis carried NiP to a 14-1 lead with a 22-kill first half. Though Vitality kept swinging until the end, NiP’s lead was just too much to recover from. NiP closed out the game 16-7 and the series 2-1.
The victory over Vitality allows NiP to advance to the Champions Stage with a 3-2 record, and sends the French team home.
Reaching the top eight is a massive accomplishment for the Swedish side. Despite being one of the original dynasties of CS:GO, NiP has fallen on hard times in recent years. Long buoyed by the same core of players, a tough 2017 saw the team part ways with Adam "friberg" Friberg and its rollercoaster 2018 included the departure of former captain Richard "Xizt" Landström.
The current lineup has gelled into a legitimate threat, but the team’s prospects were not strong heading into Katowice. Reaching the top eight of a major for the first time since the MLG Major in 2016 exceeds all expectations pinned on the team and guarantees a spot in the Legends Stage of the Berlin Major.
NiP’s path only gets more difficult from here, as the Swedish organization will face tournament favorite Astralis in the quarterfinals.