The Rise and Fall of the Ninjas
The news of Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) attending any tournament from the beginning of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) until the summer of 2014 would strike fear into the hearts of their opponents. The Ninjas at that time consisted of superstars Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund, Patrick “f0rest” Lindberg, an in-game leader with a high fragging capacity in Richard “Xizt” Landstrom, the fearless entry fragger Adam “friberg” Friberg, and a very capable sniper in Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson. Their legendary streak of 87-0 in map wins which spanned from September of 2012 until April of 2013 is the perfect proof of dominance by this squad.
The Ninjas seemingly had the perfect combination of players in terms of roles and team play, and they all got along well. They also had the number 1 and 2 ranked individual players in the world of 2013 in GeT_RiGhT and f0rest who would dominate most matches they played. The Ninjas attended the first CS:GO major and the following two with Fifflaren. They were in the finals of the first two majors (Dreamhack Winter 2013 and EMS One Katowice 2014) but lost to their opposition in both finals. The third major – ESL One Cologne 2014, a time where it seemed like the Ninjas did not even deserve to go beyond the Quarter-finals, performed the then famous “NiP Magic” act in front of a sold-out crowd in Cologne and millions others watching at home and won their first and last major title.
This major performance was believed by many to have been the resurgence of the Ninjas. They were wrong. Fifflaren continued to dip in his individual level and became the focal point of criticism ever since the Ninjas began their fall from grace shortly after EMS One Katowice 2014. At ESWC 2014, it was the first of many group stage exits by the Ninjas. It was a defeat that took the CS:GO scene by storm, and one that pushed Fifflaren to retirement.
The Ninjas have tried their hands at a handful of replacements for Fifflaren. First up on the plate was Mikail “Maikelele” Bill, followed by Aleksi “allu” Jalli, Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi, and the most recent addition – William “draken” Sundin. Joakim “disco doplan” Gidetun was also rumored at one point to be NiP’s fifth following pyth’s hiatus due to an injury.
With each replacement, the Ninjas tend to show promise in the early days with their new fifth and show promising results every now and then but could never get to the level of dominance they once achieved in the earlier days of CS:GO. Many believe the Ninjas never gave their fifths enough time before replacing them, and as of late, that the problem lies within the 4 original Ninjas. The recent arrival of draken is proving to be a promising one – in that the young talent has been performing well relative to the performance of the other Ninjas. With this, will the Ninjas finally realize that the problem lies not within the fifth player anymore?