Year 4 was undoubtedly a bitter one for the Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP).
Not only had they been unable to send a full-strength team to the ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals, losing two players to visa issues, they had gone to the Six Invitational 2020... and come back with heartbreak in the Grand Final.
The Pro League Season 11 Finals, too, were robbed from NiP. Finishing second in the LATAM region, they were favourites to win, but the event -- set to be on home turf in São Paulo -- was cancelled thanks to the sweeping COVID-19 pandemic.
Still, the Ninjas were undeterred.
They won the Brazilian August Major with ease, trouncing FaZe Clan 3-0 in the Grand Final and then finished the regular BR6 season in second place by a mere one point.
While NiP were 'just' third in the November Major and 'just' joint-third at the BR6 2020 Finals, the quality was more than visible in the squad.
Even though 2021 started off slow, with the Ninjas a distant fifth place in Stage 1 of the BR6 and only fourth at the Copa Elite Six, they capped off Year 5 with an absolute bang.
A dicey Group Stage at the Six Invitational 2021 meant that NiP would finish in third in Group B, just two points ahead of last-placed Giants Gaming, but they certainly turned on the style in the playoffs.
Title-favourites BDS Esport were dispatched in a tight battle, before FaZe Clan was denied even one map in the Upper Bracket Semi-Final as the Ninjas marched on.
An incredible game on the Upper Bracket Final then followed, with fellow Brazilian team MIBR nearly taking down the eventual champions. However, NiP hung on against the odds, proceeding to the Grand Final -- this time through the Upper Bracket and with the one-map advantage.
There, they started strong, taking the first map dominantly. And even though Team Liquid leveled the score, taking the next two maps, NiP enjoyed being the team with the advantage and slammed the door shut in Team Liquid's face with another 7-2 on the final map.
Finally, they were the champions and, with their achievements over the past year and a half, they are deservedly the best team in Year 5.
The following is the second award in our Year 5 Awards series. Click here to view all of the awards, the announcement schedule, and their winners. Check back in each day for new awards to be announced!