Ninjas in Pyjamas CEO Hicham Chahine says the organization will do whatever it takes for its Counter-Strike team to succeed — even if that means eventually departing from any of its core group of players.
Speaking to Slingshot (via Mike Stubbsy) at a press event last week for the Esports Championship Series, Chahine talked about the recent addition of William “draken” Sundin and addressed the notion that the other four players — Adam “Friberg” Friberg, Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund, Patrick “f0rest” Lindberg and Richard “Xizt” Landström — control their own future with the organization.
“For us the brand goes first,” Chahine said. “The players know that, management know that. NiP is an organization of rank comes first, not the player first. So if it needs to be a change — I hear a lot of people screaming Friberg, but it can be Get_RighT and F0rest — okay. So if there’s something that’s not working, no player is at peace at NiP at any point. Just so the fans are clear of that. Even Get_RiGhT and f0rest and Xizt can go.”
That sentiment contradicts recent history, as Ninjas in Pyjamas has cycled through four players — draken, Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi, Aleksi “allu“ Jalli and Maikel “Maikelele” Bill — in the last year and a half while keeping the rest of the team intact.
After a brief breakthrough toward the end of last year, in which Ninjas in Pyjamas reached the ELEAGUE Season 2 playoffs and won IEM Oakland, the team has struggled. NiP failed to qualify for the ELEAGUE Major in January and after a quarterfinal exit, failed to make the playoffs at IEM Katowice and last weekend’s StarLadder i-League Season 3 Finals.
Chahine said draken is a talented up-and-coming player and the move was about placing the rest of the players in more comfortable roles. “We didn’t have this dedicated AWPer (who) let f0rest play his riffles, Get_RighT do his lurking. It put Xizt really in a bad spot in-game leading, because he didn’t have the team comfortable in their roles because they were forced onto position.”
In a bit of a surprise, Ninjas in Pyjamas will attend the Counter-Strike Summit next week. GeT_RiGhT seemed to confirm in February his team would sit out the Summit, well before the field was announced. But NiP was announced as the eighth and final team late last month, and Chahine said the team’s roster change played a part in the decision to attend.
“We just did the roster change and we picked up a fairly young player, an up and coming talent, which doesn’t have the same long experience,” Chahine said. “So it was more of an event to get him more into LAN events, playing offline, getting used to matching this level offline. So it was more for the training, especially that we’re going into very heavy period in June and July with the major qualifiers.
“And other events that we’re doing, you have the ECS finals, you have the ESL Pro League finals in Dallas, so they wanted to make sure that before we have a very calm May, where we’re going to prepare and practice, they wanted to get more long hours under his belt. That was the entire reasoning for going to the Summit. And it’s a pretty cool event. They do amazing stuff in Dota so for us it is, if the event wasn’t good, we wouldn’t go.”