The international squad absorbed a pair of losses in its group, eliminating them from the tournament and handing them a last-place finish to share with group B’s first 0-2 team, Furia Esports. They were put into a do-or-die position after sustaining a loss to Geek Fam, and were last defeated by Team Spirit.
Spirit and NiP opened day two of the WePlay! Bukovel Minor with a fairly short series. Both games followed a similar pattern, with an even early game giving way to a mid game that looked to be breaking in NiP’s favor, followed by a rally by Team Spirit. Igor “iLTW” Filatov’s impressive carry skills in both games allowed Team Spirit to take over as the game progressed.
The early elimination from the event is undoubtedly a huge disappointment for an NiP squad that made last-minute roster changes in hopes of progressing further in the tournament.
Ninjas in Pyjamas wasn’t especially formidable in the 2018-2019 Dota Pro Circuit season, but Peter “ppd” Dager’s team still had a successful season. The team placed in the top six at two majors and won two minors, becoming one of the first teams to earn a direct invitation to The International 2019.
A disastrous outing at TI9 resulted in the team being almost completely disbanded, with ppd forming a new international team for NiP that included a number of veterans. The team qualified for the Dota Summit 11 minor in November, but stumbled badly at the event.
NiP qualifying for the WePlay! Bukovel Minor actually hinted at an improvement for the team, as it toppled J.Storm in the qualifiers fresh after their strong performance at the MDL Chengdu Major. Despite that, the team made the surprising decision to drop Oliver “Skiter” Lepko in favor of an unknown mid laner Jason “TANNER” Weedon.
TANNER performed reasonably well on the bigger stage, but this last-place finish shows that NiP’s problems run much deeper than they thought. After falling short of two majors now, there is a chance that NiP starts making changes to the team again.
The window for those changes won’t be an especially long one. The free agent pool is shallow at the moment, but will likely be refilled after the conclusion of the DreamLeague Season 13 major on January 26. The qualifiers for the next major, ESL One Los Angeles, follow shortly thereafter.
There’s a strong chance that the NiP that competes there will look quite different from the one that competed in Bukovel.