After a sixth and a fourth place finish in Seasons 8 and 9 respectively, the Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) roster led by Gustavo "Psycho" Rigal has missed the last two Pro League Finals. In fact, the team's last appearance in a Pro League Finals game was in the Season 6 Grand Finals, where the roster, which represented Black Dragons back then, lost against ENCE eSports by 2-0. This means that it has been almost two years since the roster’s last Pro League Finals game. This might end this season, as NiP firmly leads the standings with 17 points after winning six games and only drawing one.
However, despite the fact that NiP missed the last two Pro League Finals, this didn't stop them from playing the last two Majors under the Swedish organization, always qualifying through the online qualifiers. NiP had to beat in Immortals in the Final to play the Six Major Paris and, to qualify for the 2019 Six Invitational, the roster won against their former organization, Black Dragons. This year was not an exception. After, as stated before, missing out on the Milan Finals, the team played the Allied Esports Las Vegas Minor; however, although the team played a great Swiss -- finishing in third place after some strong appearances against teams such as LeStream Esports, Chaos and DarkZero Esports, team against which they won by 7-1 -- the Brazilian roster lost in the quarterfinals encounter against Chaos, failing to repeat a positive result.
After deciding to not take the chance to play in Valencia, NiP went all in with the LATAM qualifiers. The team reached the Winners' Finals without dropping a single map, and won against Team Liquid by 2-0. NiP was the favourite to get the LATAM spot but Team oNe won the first map against the Swedish organization (7-5 on Border). However, two very strong performances in Kafe (7-1) and Villa (7-3) terminated Team oNe's dream to qualify for a Major tournament. This, without any doubt, gives NiP the title of LATAM's online qualifiers gatekeepers.
As stated before, the Ninjas look in a very good shape, dominating LATAM and being on their way to play their first Pro League Finals under the NiP flag. Their history representing NiP in Major and Minor events is also positive, reaching the quarter finals in Paris and Las Vegas, however they finished in last place of their 2019 Six Invitational group. The team also played in the Brasileirão Finals two weeks ago, where they won against their former organization, but lost in the semi-finals against FaZe Clan after winning a very one sided map on Consulate (7-2) but losing the other two maps that ended with very tight results (5-7 and 6-8 on Border and Villa respectively).
Now, as Ninjas in Pyjamas approaches the Raleigh Major, their third Major in a row representing the Swedish organization, we spoke to Psycho to ask how they have been preparing for the event and what can we expect from them:
A few criticised your choice to bring in muzi last season at a critical juncture that saw you miss out on the Finals. Would you say it has paid off now?
As soon as Muzi arrived, we felt an immediate improvement in the team. This improvement intensified over time and we were able to achieve the results we wanted. I have no doubt it was worthy as I believe we are having the best performance we’ve ever had.
Your Season 10 has been going great, and your Allied Esports Minor performance was strong as well. What would you say has been the biggest factor?
I believe that from Muzi’s arrival till the end of Season 9 we only lost one game, and that was reflected in Season 10, in which we were able to play with Muzi since its beginning. After our defeat against Liquid in the final game, that had a spot for Milan at stake, we decided to go through a complete mindset reset and that helped us a lot.
You just lost to FaZe Clan in the BR6 Finals, what went wrong here?
We didn’t have much intel about them as they hadn’t played for a while. On the other hand, they had much intel about us as we had to play the major qualifiers and the first BR6 finals match due to the ladder format. They had the time they needed to analyse us and to counter us with new tactics. Besides that, nervousness and pressure have been an impactful factor in our games. In the Major we will improve that and try to be as cold as possible, inside and outside the game.
Which is one team you feel may be underestimated at the Major and why?
I believe that our team has been very underestimated, people think that we won’t even make it out of groups, but I think this is good as it takes pressure off us and leave us in a comfort zone because we aren’t deemed as favourites. In my point of view, we are in great shape and we can beat any team.
What is your ideal location for the next Six Major?
I would choose São Paulo, no doubts about that. No other city in the world would welcome the event so well, it would be magnificent.
How have you been preparing for the Major?
For this major specifically my focus is to help providing analysis and tactics to the team as well as taking time to improve my individual performance.
How has the addition of Ar7hur aided your team?
I believe that in terms of analysis he has been very important as he is taking a weight off our shoulders. He has also helped a lot in terms of organization and helped us to be a more statistical team that takes more logical decisions before and during the matches.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
I want to thank our loyal fans who have never stopped supporting us, even when we were in a pretty bad form. I would also like to ask people to root for us in the major, I believe we will have a good performance, thank you very much.
The Six Major Raleigh 2019 is taking place from the 12th of August until the 18th, where Ninjas in Pyjamas will try to surpass their result from the Paris Major. To do so they will have to survive in the already well known “Group of Death”, where they will face Giants Gaming (ex-LFO), Spacestation Gaming and Evil Geniuses, beginning with this last American team. For more content on the upcoming major check the other interviews here.