Aiming to build a new dynasty in ‘Siege’, Ninjas in Pyjamas’ dream faded away after an underwhelming group stage performance in Mexico. The highly-experienced roster went from being the favorites to win the event, to falling twice against the Korean debutants DWG KIA.
To make things worse, the team’s results throughout the third split did not live up to what the viewership expected from the world champions. After only one regulation win and two overtime victories, the Ninjas would have ended in ninth place if it was not for the region’s combined score system, where standings do not reset after the conclusion of each stage. In a few words, they would not be in Sweden if it was not for Brazil’s unique format.
“(We were) working on new things (and) improved our map-pool”, Dyjair “Mity” Soares said about his team’s performance throughout the third split in an interview with SiegeGG before NiP’s Copa Elite Six Stage 3 performance. If that is true, the team might have an ace up their sleeve.
In fact, the version shown in Brazil by the LATAM rosters in Sweden might be far from their real potential. Due to LATAM’s unique standings system, some teams had the chance to mathematically lock a Copa Elite Six spot within two weeks in the third stage.
Although stats do not always tell the full story, a quick look at NiP's gives us a slight idea of what might be the main reason behind their bland performances. Compared to their Stage 2 numbers, it is clear that there is a lack of firepower and entry kills. Gustavo “Psycho” Rigal might be the best example, with the 22-year-old finishing at 4-20 (-16) entry kills -- he finished the second split with a 13-6 (+7) record.
"Stats do not affect our team at all, everyone knows about each teammate potential and Psycho just had a few bad games but already managed to improve," said André "BOB" Cardoso in an interview with SiegeGG.
Considering their underwhelming numbers throughout the third split, many expected them to miss out on Sweden. However, a second-place finish in their Copa Elite Six group followed by a one-sided 2-0 victory over Team Liquid was enough to clinch a Major spot.
"Playing against Liquid is always a good matchup for us, we know exactly how they play and they did not changed their gamestyle even with 2 changes in their roster," said BOB.
Despite being far from their SI 2021 selves, NiP are determined to strike back on home soil. The Brazilians fly to Sweden and will be able to prepare for the Major from their organization’s main headquarters, which could make a pivotal difference.
"Feels great to play on our orgs home soil, NIP provided us the best bootcamp ever in their office and we are super greatfull to be here and represent them in Sweden. No pressure at all," said BOB.
Something that makes this roster different from the rest is its experience together as a team. Ninjas in Pyjamas’ last player movement dates back to October 2019, with the team having just made two changes since joining the scene in June 2018. This gives NiP a synergy that few have and a unique play style that no one else has in the competition.
It is also worth noting that the team has some of the most experienced players in Pyscho, Julio Giacomelli and João “Kamikaze” Gomes, as they have played more than 40 international major matches each.
Ninjas in Pyjamas have been drawn in the same group as BDS Esport, one of the hopes from Europe to put to an end the Brazilian ‘Siege’ dominance. However, the French squad is yet to beat Ninjas in Pyjamas after having faced them at the SI 2020 and the SI 2021.
"BDS has always been a great team, we had two super close games but we managed to win, so our boys are super confident going against them once again, no matter how much they improved we will play our own game once again," said Bob.
Both Invictus Gaming and the Susquehanna Soniqs complete the group, and will be NiP’s first two opponents in the competition. Regarding them, the Brazilian's manager said that "BO1's can always surprise a little bit, so we are going harder on the underdogs this time. We expect that they both get knocked out in the group stage."
The world champions group stage run will begin on Nov. 8, when the Brazilians take on the APAC South Stage 3 champions Invictus Gaming.