Despite many considering Astralis the favorite in its BLAST Premier Spring group matchup against Ninjas in Pyjamas, NiP stunned fans and defied the odds by putting Astralis away in two maps. They did so while fending off a furious assault by Peter “dupreeh” Rausmussen who tore through the NiP lineup and finished the match with 48 kills. He also posted the server’s highest average damage-per-round, most opening kills, and highest rating.
But Astralis couldn’t do the same against NiP’s rifler Tim “nawwk” Jonasson. After a 16-13 win on Overpass and another 16-13 on Inferno, nawwk finished the Ninjas in Pyjamas opening match at BLAST Premier involved in a fantastic 82.9% of the team’s kills. But as the dust settled, the real star of the show was a new addition to the Ninjas in Pyjamas roster.
Ninjas in Pyjamas elevated up Erik “ztr” Gustafsso from its academy team as a replacement for the benched Simon “twist” Eliasson who was benched earlier this month. In comments about the change and before ztr’s addition, Ninjas in Pyjamas chief operating officer Jonas Gundersen spoke about what it was looking for in a fifth player.
“We’ve been unable to release the massive potential and energy in our team…. New, positive, and fresh energy is needed,” Gendersen said.
The Ninjas in Pyjamas seem to have found it in ztr.
The 17-year-old held his own against the top-ranked team in the world. He finished third-highest on the team and posted a solid scoreline that included a +6 kill-to-death differential and a 1.02 rating. When asked about ztr’s performance against Astralis in a post-match interview, NiP vet Fredrik “REZ” Sterner had nothing but positive things to say about his new teammate.
“[ztr is] calm and collected. He doesn’t have experience, but it feels like he does. I don’t need to do that much when he’s popping off,” REZ said, laughing.
REZ also revealed that NiP’s newest player had only practiced with the team for just three days before the Astralis match.
On the flip side of Ninja’s impressive opening match was Astralis’ disappointing one. While dupreeh dominated the charts, Astralis looked unprepared for Ninjas in Pyjamas’ new player. It seems to have been a case of the Danes underestimating both ztr and NiP as a whole, especially when it came to the map veto.
In a head-scratching decision, Astralis chose Inferno as the veto progressed. It’s been a shaky map for the Danes, who lost to Evil Geniuses and Natus Vincere since the beginning of January. It’s also Ninjas in Pyjamas best map. According to REZ, the Ninjas’ had expected Astralis to ban it.
“We didn’t even prepare for Inferno…we prepared Dust 2”, REZ said.
Astralis looked like they played themselves in BLAST’s opening matchup. They now move to the lower bracket to play the loser of February 4th’s match between BIG and OG while Ninjas in Pyjamas will play the winner. Both are scheduled to take place tomorrow, Friday, February 6.