Image via Ubisoft
For those who don’t know, there’s a long, intense storyline between TSM and NiP. Both rosters have met at least once in every Six Invitational since 2020 when the North Americans sent the eventual finalists to the lower bracket.
Well, this year’s match followed a very similar script. Again, 2-0 – except that, this time, the series was incredibly one-sided. TSM absolutely smashed last year’s Six Invitational champions with two speedy victories on Kafe (7-1) and Coastline (7-5).
TSM’s title credentials have passed with flying colors in this initial test.
Ninjas in Pyjamas were all over the place in Kafe. Defenders dominating in Kafe is the map’s daily bread, but this performance was something different. TSM looked really well organized, rock-solid, and coordinated while stopping the Brazilians.
TSM showed their real potential. An amusing control of their aggression, knowing when and how to push NiP to its limits. They knew exactly when to peak when to press their opponents. All of that and the team’s coordination left NiP with no time to make proper pushes to TSM’s defenses, putting them 5-1 ahead.
An example of that was seen on round four when Brady “Chala” Davenport opened the ceiling just so Matthew “Achieved” Solomon could take down the Sledge of Gabriel “pino” Fernandes. No Sledge, no soft destruction to Freezer. The round was over.
It is also worth noting the Kitchen defenses, which showed a very weak NiP on attack unable to clear the defender gadgets. Jason “Beaulo” Doty and Bryan “Merc” Wrzek’s partnership to protect the Main Entrance and the Main Lobby was also pivotal in stopping NiP, who once again had many complications while clearing defender utility.
It was a matter of time for TSM to kill the first map, as the superiority over the Brazilians was plausible even on attack. Although this is not seen in the numbers, part of this TSM sudden change against Ninjas in Pyjamas could be found in a change in the team’s IGL.
The team transferred IGL duties to Merc just before the SI 2022 North American Closed Qualifier, and so far the decision has worked pretty well for the roster.
“I think Achieved has always wanted more to focus on his game-play and Merc was willing to do it and he has been doing a great job doing it, the benefits of it is having a new pair of eyes, a new fresh look at things, and how you know you can change attacks or defenses or whatever it may be, so it is kinda like switching little things up here and there to make TSM a bit more unpredictable. A new look on it can spice things up,” said Beaulo in a post-match press conference.
TSM’s dominance was spread to Coastline, as the North Americans put themselves 6-1 up. It seemed all done and dusted, but NiP almost pulled off what could have been the comeback of the day. However, it would end with a 7-5 victory for TSM.
The reason behind TSM’s apparent falling on Coastline isn’t a complicated one, as the map is well-known for being more attacking-sided. “Coastline is just an attacker-sided map, it’s a fragfest, if you are coordinated on attack you will just demolish defenders,” Beaulo explained.
With this victory, TSM has now sent Ninjas in Pyjamas to the lower bracket. The same happened in 2020, when the North Americans would beat the Brazilians. Eventually, it was them who made it further in the bracket, as they won the loser bracket after getting redemption over the North Americans just before losing in the Grand Finals over Spacestation Gaming.
“For the most part people don’t really think we have a crazy chance of winning, I think people have us in the running for you know top four or something like that. We are here to show that even though we had a bad year, we still want it like everybody else, we are here to show that we can win it,” he concluded.