Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) certainly seems like one of the better teams in the world currently, and may well be, in fact, but a closer examination of their records tells a slightly different story. Since signing with the Swedish organisation, the team has never really kicked on at an international event. The results include a quarter-final finish at DreamHack Valencia 2018, the Six Major Paris, the Allied Esports Minor, and the Season 10 Finals (although not without extraneous circumstances), and winless exits at the Six Invitational 2019 and Six Major Raleigh -- the most recent Major events.
Domestically, though, NiP has taken its time to warm up. In Season 1 of the OGA PIT league, the team finished joint-last, then only barely avoided relegation in Season 8 after finishing sixth. Nevertheless, the team did secure second-place in Season 2 of OGA PIT, but then once again failed to qualify to the Pro League Finals after finishing fourth in Season 9. Even in the BR6 2019, the team could only manage a third place finish behind Team Liquid and FaZe Clan. Finally, though Season 10 saw domestic success as the roster made it back to the Pro League Finals after four seasons, topping the domestic league, but was then crippled by visa issues.
So far in Season 11, however, NiP seems to be well on track to get to the Pro League Finals again. The team finds itself atop the league with 13 points from four wins, one draw, and two losses, but with sixth place just four points behind, much can still change. The team’s true test will come this week, as it heads to Montreal to play in the Six Invitational 2020.
Put in a group with Team Liquid and MIBR, the current Pro League leaders might be marginally favoured, but Team Liquid is certainly not going easy in a Best-of-Three despite a Best-of-One Pro League victory for NiP against Liquid two weeks ago. What’s more, NiP in fact lost to MIBR in the Pro League by the same margin with which it won against Liquid, meaning that little can be gleaned about the teams’ relative strengths against each other. And with the APAC champions of Giants Gaming in the mix, ready to cause an upset, NiP will need to be wary.
To know more about his team’s preparation, SiegeGG spoke to the NiP captain, Gustavo “Psycho” Rigal:
With two of three opponents in your group from LATAM, do you think you have a particular advantage or disadvantage?
I believe that is an advantage for us, us three teams know each other very well, but I think we can have the most variable style which is gonna be harder for the other teams to deal with.
Much has been said about the seeding process for the groups. Does your team have any gripes with it? Should there have been a cap on the number of teams from one region?
Of course, there should be a limit on teamsthe teams per region in the same group.
Only Giants Gaming is not from your region in this group. How are you preparing for their play style, if it comes to it?
We were watching a lot of their games while the Pro League was still on, and then we are going to make some counter-strategies at our bootcamp in Montreal.
How do you think that the double-elimination playoffs will change the dynamic of the event, and what is your opinion of the one-map advantage in the grand final?
I think this format can increase competitiveness, and this is probably going to be the most difficult Invitational ever. It’s completely fair, the one map advantage at the grand final.
Your team was rather neutered in Japan. How eager is it to showcase its true strength here at the Invitational?
This is by far the most hyped tournament in the Siege scene. We got damaged at the Japan Finals… actually we did not count it at all because it wasn’t our full roster. Now we have got even more experience, with a nice mindset to play loose and without the pressure, so we know we can beat all the teams.
What is the goal for your team at this event?
Our only goal is to win the tournament.
Do you believe that Latin America is equal in strength to the EU and NA regions?
The LATAM teams still have a lot to prove besides the great performance from Liquid, as all the Majors were pretty sad.
Do you have anything else to say to your fans?
I would like to thank all the Brazilian fans (they are definitely the best fans ever), and also all fans from other countries that still support us. THANKS A LOT!
Ninjas in Pyjamas plays Team Liquid as the opening match, with matches against either Giants Gaming or MIBR scheduled afterwards. Check back here at SiegeGG for more Invitational Insights and full coverage of the event as it comes.