Counter-Strike is a unique game. At the most microscopic level, a good player clicks on the head of other players more than it happens to them. In that sense, it is one of the only games that has such a simple metric for failure or success. Professional players have to walk that tightrope for their entire professional careers. Some players are naturally better at it and thrive off of their talent, while others work as hard as possible to keep up. Eventually, no amount of work will prop up a team full of those players among the best. Eventually, that same talent and work ethic just doesn’t cut it. Ninjas in Pyjamas, your time has come.
NiP’s recent run of poor form goes beyond a slump, and the CS:GO community is calling for the core of this team — Christopher “Get_RiGhT” Alesund, Adam “Friberg” Friberg, Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg and Richard “Xizt” Landström — to disband. They have made changes but only to the fifth player, with Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi, Maikel “Maikelele” Bill and now William “draken” Sundin getting a shot.
But since NiP’s win at IEM Oakland in November, the results have been desolate. NiP failed to qualify for January’s ELEAGUE Major, and it’s only gone further downhill from there. The team failed to qualify for the European Minor for the upcoming PGL Major, which might be rock bottom.
The original NiP team was known for being the most dominant in CS:GO history. Players all over the world legitimately feared playing them. They were just that good. As Nathan “NBK” explained in a “Reflections” interview with Duncan “Thorin” Shields: “They played with your mind and made you question what you were doing. Twice.”
That fear factor was a huge advantage. The moment opponents entered the server, NiP immediately had an advantage. The sheer presence of Get_RiGhT on that team terrified people, but that feeling doesn’t last forever. Over time, the dominant stalwarts faded into the pack and eventually were overtaken by their Swedish counterparts in Fnatic.
And just as Fnatic found out after its string of dominance from 2015 and early 2016 came to an end: The game of Counter-Strike doesn’t give a fuck. It doesn’t care that you won 87 offline maps in a row. It doesn’t care that you won a Major. You can have some of the best Swedish players to ever live and even then, the game will leave your team behind. It’s a harsh realization, but that’s the way it goes.
There is nothing wrong with that. The best teams in history eventually succumb to the game. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The stubbornness can be admired. No one wants to believe the game has passed them by, but that’s not up to them. That’s up to the game.
It doesn’t mean some of the individual players on NiP can’t coexist among the best in the world. They can, but not as a unit. Not this unit. Not anymore. In a perfect world, every team would stick it out like Virtus.Pro and never get rid of its core, but that’s just not viable. VP is the exception to the rule.
The past successes of NiP should be enjoyed and celebrated. This steep fall from grace shouldn’t be mocked because it can happen to anyone. This same fate will happen to many others. There isn’t a team that is immune to the game of Counter-Strike. It will tear you down just as fast as it raises you up.