Banner image: (Photo: Ubisoft/Kirill B.)
The idiom “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” perfectly defines Ninjas in Pyjamas in the Mexico Major so far.
After finishing in second place at SI 2020, winning SI 2021, and dominating the LATAM scene for the past year, the shinobis were the favorites to win in Mexico City.
Looking at the SiegeGG predictions, the expectations of the Latin American roster were immense: out of 39 casters and analysts, 34 expected Ninjas in Pyjamas to finish at the top of Group A. Not just that, but 21 of them expected the Brazilians to play at the Grand Final, while 9 had the Brazilians as their favorite roster to lift the title. Nothing further from the truth.
Two days have passed since the beginning of the group stage and the reality is completely different. NiP currently sits at the bottom of its group after one overtime win, two overtime losses, and a regulation loss. To put it plainly: NiP’s dreams of building a new dynasty could turn out to be just a dream come the end of today.
The Brazilian side started things off right in Mexico after an intense performance against DarkZero Esports (8-7), which saw Murilo “Muzi” Moscatelli clutching three different rounds. That also put to an end DZ’s streak of six consecutive overtime games won.
However, that great start to the Major was about to be cut short. G2 Esports, now with none of its players from its two-year dynasty, crossed paths with NiP. But no one expected NiP to crumble as it did, with the Europeans taking a rather comfortable 7-4 win.
“Their attacks caught us off guard, for example they splitted (sic) their attacks into Bakery. On defence, they were aggressive and knew how to make us waste time and when to go back”, explained the Ninjas in Pyjamas players in a Ubisoft-organized press conference.
The following day, the unthinkable happened: the SI 2021 champions fell in overtime twice against the Korean debutants of DWG KIA.
“We threw a lot in the first match”, explained Julio “Julio” Giacomelli. The Brazilian squad mentioned that its mentality caused it to struggle in the first game against DWG KIA, which it classified as “one of the worst matches [it has] ever played.”
The LATAM roster suffered a lot due to the Koreans; aggressive play style, a way to play the game that seems to fit in the current meta.
These upsets have left the shinobis with just four points in the bag after four matches. Furthermore, the team has played three overtimes, winning just one. Considering that the Brazilians will face G2 Esports and DarkZero Esports today, we could be talking of the first Six Invitational reigning champion to ever fall in the group stage of the Major.
Ninjas in Pyjamas do not want to see that happening, and in order to avoid a first-round exit, the players stated that they “must accept the lessons that these defeats taught [them] so [they] can win both matches.”
With just two matches left, it’s absolutely do-or-die for the Brazilians. The reigning Six Invitational 2021 champions will have their first test today at 02:30 PM CDT (UTC-5) against G2 Esports, which will be followed by their last group stage game versus DarkZero Esports.