In the first part I unfolded the story of NiP's early dominance in CS:GO, winning title after title and going practically unmatched, in the level and consistency of their performance, for the better part of a year. In this, the second part, the story continues through the second half of 2013 and up to the present day. NiP have less titles to win, but many more battles to be fought and new opponents to defeat. In the end, the greatest team of all time secures the vital victory that completes their story as the best to ever play the game.
Part 1: Sovereigns of CS:GOPart 2: Impossible consistency and an impossible victory
Another meeting with the kingslayers
While NiP had been beaten twice, without response, by Virtus.pro at StarSeries V, those losses had come within the context of some truly great CS:GO, with NiP playing at a very high level and simply falling to a team elevated to a similar plan of performance. NiP's struggle through Dreamhack Summer had been another story entirely, from the thrashing on nuke at the hands of Western Wolves through to relying on a miraculous 1v3 win by Xizt to prevent going out in the group stage. NiP's aura of invincibility seemed to have been shattered somewhat and other teams out there knew that it was not only possible to beat the Ninjas, but possibly even prevent them from securing a top placing.
Less than two weeks after Dreamhack it was time for the ESL Major Series One Summer finals. After easily dispatching with the Western Wolves team, getting revenge on nuke along the way, NiP found themselves drawn against Virtus.pro in the semi-final for the second straight tournament. In Sweden, the Ninjas had won fairly comfortably on mirage and dust2, gaining their revenge for StarSeries.
This time around, NiP won a much closer 16:11 mirage opening map, but then fell 11:16 on dust2. The decider was nuke and would bring back memories of the StarSeries finals, with matters going down to the final round of regulation and NiP falling there to again cement Virtus as the NiP slayers. Virtus' most recent addition, Slovakian AWPer GuardiaN, was a crucial component in the win, with his lightning quick firing speed opening up the game for his side.
That result, coming in the semi-final this time, would mark the first time in CS:GO history that NiP had been unable to reach the final of an offline tournament they had attended. NiP would leave a tournament without the first place cheque for only the second time in their history in CS:GO. With the next event on the horizon the next offline finals of StarSeries, Season VI in this case, it seemed as if there was a potential sea change brewing whereby NiP might finally be replaced at the top spot in the world.
The Ninjas strike back
On the 4th of July, StarSeries VI offline finals began. NiP were drawn against Na`Vi in the opening round, a team they had never lost a map to offline, boasting a 3:0 record over the Ukrainians. Na`Vi immediately altered that record, taking the opening map of the series, mirage, 16:13. NiP blasted their way back into the series with a 16:2 stomp on train, where they had wrecked Na`Vi two times previously in their match-up history, then secured a solid dust2 win to take the series.
In the upper final it would be the fourth offline Bo3 meeting between NiP and Virtus.pro, back on the soil they had first been slain on, no less. With Virtus winning the opening mirage, a map NiP had won in their last two meetings, one might have been forgiven for feeling it was a bad omen for f0rest and friends. NiP took the second map and forced a decider. Yet again in the history of the two teams, a map would go down to the wire. This time, for the first in the history of this rivalry, it would be NiP would emerge victorious out of the other side of an overtime game, winning 19:17 on nuke.
Those hoping to see another series between the Ninjas and Virtus would be disappointed, as it was Na`Vi who came through the lower bracket to reach the final. In fact, the Ukrainians would prove themselves entirely capable of threatening NiP for the title. Na`Vi took the first two maps of the series, including train, before losing on inferno to take the Bo5 (with an upper bracket advantage of one map for NiP) to the deciding final map. Due to the format of the tournament, that map would be nuke, one that Na`Vi famously never played and always banned. What had been a legitimately competitive series turned into a whitewash as NiP put on a nuke clinic for the beginners and rammed home a 16:2 win to take their first StarSeries title.
More than a month later, NiP headed out to Dallas for the Season 14 finals of ESEA, looking to defend their title. In the upper final, they would meet a Curse.NA team which had now taken in former Dynamic players AZK and adreN and would later be better known as the core of iBUYPOWER. In line with what the previous Curse line-up had done, Curse map the first map close, with NiP escaping 16:14 on dust2, but then the Ninjas rolled the second map hard to take the series nevertheless. In the final, it was a new look compLexity side (n0thing, semphis, hiko, sgares, swag) facing the Swedes, including former members of the Quantic team who played them in the previous ESEA final. The series was reasonably close, with coL even scoring a 16:13 win on nuke in the second map, but NiP still prevailed to defend their ESEA title.
Battling new threats at Dreamhack
In similar fashion to NiP's performance following the StarSeries V upset, the Ninjas had bounced back from their EMS Summer defeat to win the next two offline titles and reassert themselves as the dominant force in CS:GO. The next event was Dreamhack Bucharest, almost a month later. In the group stage, NiP would meet a new look FNATIC side which was four of the Epsilon members they'd played in the finals of the Swedish championship and Dreamhack Summer, along with MODDII, a talented but difficult to play with character that the 1.6 players knew from their time in that game. FNATIC would upset NiP on train, winning an overtime game on the map NiP had only lost on twice before.
NiP having lost in the group, emerging out in second place, would earn them a quarter-final draw against VeryGames, their original CS:GO rivals. Interesting to note was that the context of this series was that VeryGames had changed players since their last battle with NiP, removing star AWPer kennyS and bringing in versatile star player shox.
When NiP had fallen to Virtus.pro in the semi-final of EMS One Summer, it had been to VeryGames' advantage, as they'd defeated the Eastern European team and claimed their first ever title at an event featuring NiP. Now, VeryGames would need to prove themselves directly in competition with their old rivals, who they had never beaten in any of their six series against each other and who they had never even taken an offline map from.
The series was another chapter of disappointment in the story of the rivalry, with VeryGames managing to get some rounds on the first map but losing and then being decimated on inferno, the second map, by 16:2. The shox era of VeryGames seemed as if it would still not change anything in this specific match-up. For NiP, the victory here meant a semi-final date with Astana Dragons. This was a brand new CIS super-team, featuring three of the Virtus.pro men (Dosia, ANGE1 and the reunited AdreN) along with former Na`Vi stars markeloff and Edward. With both of those teams able to boast multiple map wins over NiP, fans wondered if this particular constellation of talent wouldn't continue the tradition of beating NiP.
The series would go to three maps, with Astana prevailing on mirage in the second, but NiP took the semi-final and ensured they would not be put out of a second tournament before the final. The finalists were a surprise, as so many of the strong teams had been on NiP's side of the bracket, meaning that the Lemondogs team (pita, Delpan, twist, cype, xelos) who appeared opposite NiP could have been seen as a potentially easier match-up than those they had already faced. For NiP, they knew that their Swedish compatriots still posed a threat, as four of those five players had been in the team which had beaten them in overtime on train at the Svecup tournament. This time around, NiP were not to be tested in such fashion, closing out a comfortable two map series and securing the crown.
With NiP on a fresh new streak of title-taking, having won three in a row, the news, announced on September 15th, the final day of Dreamhack Bucharest, that that November's Dreamhack Winter event would feature a prize pool of $250,000, with $100,000 going to the winners, seemed a glorious day for the Ninjas. There would be a number of tournaments in the run-up to what would be CS:GO's first major and true world championship and NiP seemed like strong favourites to be leaving with that six figure first place prize.
VeryGames break through
NiP's dominance offline in CS:GO had not been possible to replicate online, with other teams being able to secure maps or series wins much more often, but NiP had still always managed to qualify for offline finals and ensure they got to play for titles in the environment in which they reigned supreme. A crucial instance in which that proved not to be the case would come less than two weeks after the Dreamhack Bucharest event. In the European qualifier for MSi Beat IT, NiP met VeryGames in the semi-final and would fall in a fairly convincing 2:0 beating at the hands of shox and his team. With the match taking place online, fans could simply ignore it and imagine the offline rivalry would continue as beforehand, but in fact that marked the turning of the tide.
On the 3rd of October, it was announced that NiP would be participating in a documentary for TV6, a Swedish TV channel. The documentary crew would follow NiP in their run towards the Dreamhack Winter championship, hoping to capture a dominant team heading towards the first ever CS:GO World Championship crown. With their history of overwhelming success, there seemed no better team to star in such a venture and fans looked forward to seeing the behind-the-scenes footage of their favourite players.
On the 10th of October, StarSeries Season VII LAN finals began. NiP faced the FNATIC team who had upset them in the group stage in Bucharest and handled the upstarts over two maps, including a win on the very same train which had been their downfall previously. In the upper final, it was an eight offline Bo3 meeting with VeryGames. The first map went the full 30 rounds and for the first time in history, VeryGames would come through in a key moment against NiP and win their first map in 15. That win was followed up with a monster 16:6 mirage game, to see the French-Belgian side score their first offline Bo3 victory over NiP and send NiP down to the lower bracket of StarSeries.
Facing Astana there, in a rematch of the Dreamhack Bucharest semi-final, NiP would again play a three map series, but this time Astana would make good on the promise of their Virtus heritage, winning a tight 22:20 overtime decider on dust2 to deny NiP a finals match for the second time in their history. With VeryGames defeating Astana in the final, it marked another moment in history when a team was primed to potentially displace NiP as the world number ones.
Just over a week later, it was the ESL One Fall finals. Easily reaching the play-off portion, NiP met Copenhagen Wolves in a Bo3 for the third time in an offline competition that year. The Danish line-up had changed a little, bringing in Friis and Pimp, but they were able to repeat their feat from Dreamhack Summer, taking the opening map 16:14, this time on dust2. NiP were only too happy to continue the pattern, convincingly winning the next two and the series, sending the Wolves and their potential back home early. That win put NiP into a final against VeryGames, an opponent they had not met in the final since the previous December's ESH AMD Sapphire Invitational. With the StarSeries VII loss fresh in their memories, NiP would be looking to get back on the winning track against VG.
NiP won an impressive opener, dominating nuke 16:5, and came close to taking the series in two, but VeryGames prevailed in a nail-biting 16:14 game on cache.
The decider would be on inferno and this time VeryGames would showcase a much more powerful performance than on that map in Kiev, blasting a 16:6 win home to take a second straight offline series from NiP, on their way to a second straight offline title and a third at events also featuring NiP. For the first time in history, NiP had both lost two offline events in a row and were now also potentially no longer the world's best team, with VeryGames having a very solid stake to that claim.
A few days later it was off to ESWC, with the tournament circuit jam-packed over this time period. In the quarter-final, NiP would get a chance to convincingly stamp out the coL side who had given them a little trouble in the ESEA final. That set-up a semi-final date with VeryGames, with the French-Belgians on a two series winning streak over the Ninjas and up 4:1 in the last five maps. This would be the closest of the three series between the two, yet ultimately yield a 2:0 win for VeryGames. The first map was a narrow 16:13 win on cache and then Ex6TenZ's men secured their first ever win on nuke, taking an overtime game and the series.
VeryGames would go on to be upset in the final, losing to fellow French side Clan-Mystik, but the damage had been done, the rivalry with NiP had been entirely turned on its head and VeryGames were now undeniably the best team in CS:GO, NiP losing another series to Astana, in the third place decider, certainly doing them no favours.
That victory for VeryGames had come at the worst time for NiP in a number of senses. NiP were still filming their documentary back in Sweden, meaning they were forced to publicly process their losses and justify them, while Dreamhack Winter that $100,000 first place was less than a month away and suddenly looking as if the cheque might need NiP's name erasing from it. The team who had been the best in the world every single month of CS:GO's life-span found themselves slipping from that spot less than a month out from the biggest tournament in the game's history.
Showdown at the first major
In the group stage of Dreamhack Winter, NiP faced an early scare as they barely overcame kennyS' Recursive team 16:13 on inferno. Bodyslamming Universal Soldiers (NEO, TaZ, pasha, byali and Snax), a new Polish line-up featuring three of the former ESC players, put NiP through to the play-offs. In the quarter-final NiP had seemingly drawn one of the easiest opponents, facing the fellow Swedes in LGB (KRiMZ, olofm, eksem, SKYTTEN and dennis), but the domestic rivalry would prove to be more tricky than expected, as is frequently the case. LGB edged a 16:14 dust2 opener, but NiP regained their composure and secured the next two maps without near as much trouble, booking a trip to the semi-final.
For the eighth time in 2013, NiP would face VeryGames in an offline Bo3, with this being the sixth occasion on which they had been forced to meet prior to the final. With VeryGames having won the last three, as well as a number of the events in the run-up to Dreamhack, some were finally favouring them to take this series.
What was certain for all observers, was that this match was set to be the "true" final of the tournament, with the winner set to be a massive favourite over anyone they faced in the final. The series began with NiP able to escape a dust2 thriller with a 16:13 won to go up a map. VeryGames came right back and blistered them with a 16:6 pasting on inferno, setting up the third map all spectators wanted to see.
That third map would be nuke, a map the two teams were the best in the world on. NiP won the first half 11:4 as CT, the dominant side of the map. Getting the early lead on the harder T side, NiP were able to get up to 14:4 and seemed so close to reaching the final. VeryGames won a gun round and were in position to potentially run off their own streak, but NiP were able to get the key entry and break the game entirely in their favour. Taking the map 16:5 they moved into the Dreamhack Winter final. Having defeated VeryGames for the first time in four offline series over the last few months, NiP seemed to have overcame the last major hurdle and were on their way to the first CS:GO World Championship.
The opponents in the final were a FNATIC side who had seemed to walk a blessed path to the final. Defeating Recursive in the quarter-final, one of the easier opponents, had seen them amazing meeting compLexity in the semi-final, with coL having upset Astana Dragons in the quarters. Easily beating coL, FNATIC had not really been tested and had come to the final without any wins of real significance. Everything seemed to favour NiP for the final, the map pool, the stage and the cheque all seemed headed their way. FNATIC would snatch the opener on dust2, as Flusha won an unlikely situation in B on dust2 to send the map their way. NiP came back with a monster inferno game to push the affair to a third map.
With train as the final map, NiP seemed destined to take the title, but FNATIC got everything their way, with schneider even winning a key 1v1 against GeT_RiGhT, the master of the clutch round situation. FNATIC had completed their miraculous upset over NiP and forced the best CS:GO team of all time to second for second place at the first major event.
Slumping like a champion
To close out 2013, NiP had the Svecup Grand Finals to play. Beating both SK Gaming and LGB, each in three map series and each with key close games, showed the level of competition within Sweden's border, but NiP still emerged to take the title. At so many points in 2013, NiP had overcome minor adversities to remain firmly the world's best CS:GO team, but the year had ended with a streak of four international events without a victory.
The first event of the new year was the four team Dreamhack CS:GO Invitational. The one day tournament was held in a studio in Stockholm and featured a single map double elimination format. The opening match for friberg's men was against Titan, the new name for the VeryGames side.
A real thriller, it went to overtime before Titan stole the win. In the lower bracket, NiP handled Dignitas (the new name for Copenhagen Wolves) and FNATIC, the team who had upset them at Dreamhack, to reach the final. There, and after many hours of delays due to DDOS attacks, NiP would fall a second time on nuke and see Titan take the crown and maintain their status as the world number ones.
The second CS:GO major was held in mid March in Poland, as Esl Major Series One Katowice played host to it. NiP cruised through their group and into the play-offs. coL would shock them in the opening game of their quarter-final series, taking dust2, but NiP stomped nuke and then stayed in control of a third map train game to continue their streak of always finishing top four in offline tournaments. The semi-final was a breeze, with NiP blowing past a Dignitas team which had looked to be in strong form prior to that point. NiP's finals opponents would be the new Virtus.pro, the same Polish side which had lost to NiP at Dreamhack Winter under the name of Universal Soliders. The hype around VP was enormous, with teams claiming they had been the strongest team in online practice.
Virtus had been destroying opponents on mirage all tournament long, with an overtime loss to LGB in the semi-finals being the only exception. With NiP being the team with the widest map pool in the world, many expected them to simply ban mirage and try their hand at train. Instead, NiP inexplicably allowed mirage through, later claiming they expected they would have a surprise advantage on it. VP looked dominant in the mirage opener, winning 16:9 and barely giving NiP any chance at all to get into the game. The second map was inferno, another strong map for the Poles but NiP's choice. The score-line was closer, with NiP getting 10 rounds, but the Swedes fell to give the second major title away to another team. Of particular note was NiP in-game leader Fifflaren's woefully poor 9:44 score-line for the two maps, leaving many feeling as if NiP had been playing 4v5 for the series.
Copenhagen Games seemed to be following a similar script to Katowice, with NiP looking very strong early and reaching a semi-final match-up with Dignitas. This time Dignitas really brought the game to NiP, but as always NiP was able to defeat the former Copenhagen Wolves side in the series, this time winning 2:0 but with an overtime first game on inferno. The final would be a chance for immediate revenge for Katowice, facing Virtus.pro. If Virtus took the title, they could take the top spot in the world, while Titan's fall in Poland and in the quarter-final of this tournament meant that NiP could also lay claim to the top spot with a finals win.
This time around NiP banned mirage and so the opener was on train. A really bizarre game in which both teams turned the CT-dominated map into a T sided map yielded a Virtus win, with a key GeT_RiGhT 1v1 loss due to a failed knife costing NiP a chance to take the opener. The second map was the same as at EMS: inferno. NiP dominated 16:6 and went into a decider on dust2. A close game went in favour of NiP, giving them the series and their first international title in seven months. With Titan falling away and Virtus.pro not following up on their EMS success, NiP were back to the top spot in the CS:GO world.
the StarSeries IX finals came two weeks or so after Copenhagen Games. The teams attending would have been NiP, Virtus.pro, Titan and FNATIC, but the Dreamhack Winter champions had dropped out, leaving Na`Vi to replace them. This Na`Vi was the team that had previously lost markeloff and Edward to Astana Dragons, but since reacquired Edward. After failing at the first CS:GO major, Na`Vi had brought in NiP bane GuardiaN, but a similarly poor performance at the second major far from the radar of top teams. In the opening series, they would shock NiP entirely, thrashing them 16:3 on dust2. The second game was an overtime affair, but Na`Vi took that too, sending NiP to the lower bracket at the earliest point in any of their StarSeries adventures.
Facing a third series with Virtus.pro in the lower bracket, NiP again prevailed on inferno, lost on train and won a decider on dust2. With this victory they had seemingly put their Katowice problems with Virtus behind them. In the lower final, f0rest and the family met a Titan side which had seen star player shox depart and their former AWP star kennyS return. NiP won the opening map, dust2, only to lose the second on nuke. The decider was a massive stomp for the Ninjas, giving them the edge again in the team's recent rivalry. In the final, NiP would get to face the Na`Vi team who had shocked both them and Titan to take the upper bracket. A close loss on dust2 led into a comfortable defeat on inferno and NiP had given up the title to an in-form Na`Vi side.
A month and a half or so later, NiP would attempt to do the double against at Dreamhack Summer. After getting out of the group stage in the main tournament, they would play out the ESPORTSM Swedish only tournament. Maikelele's SK Gaming had shocked FNATIC in the main Dreamhack tournament, defeating them twice on inferno to knock them out, and they would also take that map in the opener against NiP in their Bo3.
NiP came back with strong wins on dust2 and train to reach the final against the aforementioned FNATIC. Played in the early hours of the morning, NiP lost 14:16 on train and then 7:16 on dust2, giving up the first truly domestic title of their careers.
In the main Dreamhack tournament, NiP faced Titan as early as the quarter-final. Another three map series followed, but again NiP prevailed and moved on in the tournament. The semi-final was a match-up against HellRaisers, the new name for Astana Dragons. The core of that team had been able to beat and play NiP close for their entire histories, going back into Virtus.pro, and this match would prove to continue that theme, with HR taking a map but losing in three. In the final the theme of revenge matches continued, as NiP faced the Na`Vi side they had lost twice to in Kiev. This time around, NiP won the first map comfortably and then survived a late revival from the Eastern Europeans, taking the second map in overtime and the DHS crown. Dreamhack Summer and Copenhagen Games would stand as the two event titles NiP had been able to defend and those wins, along with always finishing top two in 2014, ensured NiP were now firmly the world's best CS:GO team again.
Flying out to the ESEA S16 finals, NiP would look to continue their undefeated Bo3 streak in the USA. In the opening series, they were paired with coL, a team they had beaten in series over three previous tournaments (ESEA S15, ESWC and EMS One Katowice). coL won the opener 16:13 on inferno, but NiP came back with a 16:7 cache performance. The decider was dust2, the map the North Americans had won in Katowice and they were able to repeat the feat, taking the first Bo3 series of their careers against NiP offline. Down in the lower bracket, the killing blow for NiP would come at the hands of Virtus.pro, their enemies from the Katowice final. While NiP had prevailed in three map series the last two times they had played, Virtus this time took a decider on cache to eliminate NiP.
It may have taken fans a moment to realise, but NiP had not only been eliminated, but outside of the top four for the first time in 32 offline tournaments. Rather than a minor blip on the radar of their careers, this moment would prove to be a significance sign of things to come. Staying in the USA, NiP finished up their trip by attending the small IronGaming LAN. The only match of significance was the final, which provided a chance to defeat Na`Vi 2:0.
At early August's Gfinity 3, NiP would arrive in the worst form of their careers, almost unrecognisable from the side that had won two events this year. They began the tournament with two straight 14:16 losses, falling to shox's Epsilon and the new look FNATIC side (KRiMZ, olofm, jw, Flusha and pronax), both on dust2. They would go 2:1 over their last three games, beating the weakest teams and losing to North America's iBUYPOWER on inferno. Only a round difference tie-breaker got NiP into the play-offs, over the Epsilon team who had beaten them.
In the quarter-final, a match against Dignitas should have been the pick-me-up NiP needed, having always prevailed over the Danes and forced them to crumble. This time around, though, Dignitas were a team possessed and NiP were not in the game at all. Dignitas blitzed the Ninjas 16:4 on cache and then closed them out 16:11 on inferno, earning their first Bo3 series win over the world's best team. For the second straight tournament, NiP had been eliminated outside of the top four. This streak of bad form could not have come at a worse time, as the next event would be the third major of CS:GO history, at ESL One Cologne.
An impossible victory
Where NiP had come into the previous majors as one of the favourites and been bitterly disappointed with a second place finish each time, NiP came into this major with questions over their heads that they even could win the tournament. The event would have an unusual context, in that it had been announced only a month or so prior that the map pool would both feature a random component and two new maps: cbblestone and overpass. Few teams had gotten much practice in on the new maps and certainly none had been able to play them in offline competitive matches before.
In the group stage, NiP would end up playing both of the new maps. On cbblestone, they would suffer another group stage defeat to Epsilon, but escape the group after a 16:11 win over HellRaisers on overpass. That set-up a quarter-final match-up with Cloud9 (the new name for compLexity), a series which had played out numerous times over the past year. This time around, C9 had one line-up changing, bringing in Shroud for the now departed swag. C9 were in blistering form, having defeated both Titan and Dignitas in their group. NiP were pounded in the opening nuke and narrowly snuck a 16:14 dust2 to reach a decider.
The third map would be cbblestone and NiP would face one of the most difficult maps of their careers. Constantly having to battle for rounds, often without full buys, and being pushed again and against by the North Americans, NiP managed to survive the fight and win 16:14. NiP's victory had come from unlikely round wins, making something out of nothing on half-buys again and again. C9 had flagged a little, but the map had also clearly played a role in the win, with both teams struggling to know how to play it out and NiP benefiting from the large amount of angles and long distance allowing GeT_RiGhT free reign to maximise his lurking role.
For the semi-final, NiP faced another former second tier team who were on a hot streak in the form of LDLC (Happy, apEX, KQLY, Maniac and Uzzzii). Happy's French side had swept Gfinity champions Virtus.pro in the quarter-final, so many were predicting that if NiP turned up for the semi-final in the kind of shaped they'd displayed in the quarters, then they'd be heading home after that match. The French team took a convincing win on inferno in the opening game. NiP would finally secure a win on their long-time home of nuke, ensuring the series would go into a third map. Amazingly, it would be cbblestone again that would decide NiP's fate. Yet again the game would go all thirty rounds and yet again NiP would manage to escape with the win. NiP's weren't playing great CS:GO, but they were seemingly swept up on the wings of some mad destiny.
In the final, NiP would face the new FNATIC line-up. This team had finished top four at Gfinity and with wins over Na`Vi and Dignitas in this tournament, looked to be in imposing form. This time around, cbblestone would be the first map and NiP were able to win the map for a third series in a row. FNATIC rocked the Ninjas 16:8 on cache and the decider for the series and the title would be inferno. The story-book ending was completed as NiP again found themselves with their backs to the wall, constantly on the brink of FNATIC running away with the trophy, but battled and scrapped and slid their way into the later rounds. Finally, the game broke in the last round and NiP secured that vital 16th round.
Of all of their three major campaigns, this run had been the least likely, the team repeatedly finding themselves incapable of matching the level of their opponents but battling with veteran smarts to grind out improbable rounds. Eventually, in spite of all of their problems, which would surely need to be addressed at some later date, the Ninjas had made good on their status as the greatest CS:GO team of all time, adding the major trophy that their packed cabinet sorely lacked. For all their problems, on that day NiP captured the title that mattered the most.
Hitting rock bottom
Those who hoped that the ESL victory could spark a revival of NiP's winning ways as one of the very best teams in the world, or at least return them to a track of consistency, would find themselves sorely disappointed. NiP's form online and offline would drop considerably, to the point that it seemed as if any top team could defeat them and at any time.
A month after ESL, NiP withdrew from the online portion of ESEA Season 17, having won only two out of their six games. On the 25th of September, they came into their home town Dreamhack Stockholm only to fail to reach the play-offs for the third time in their careers, being crushed flat by the new LDLC and losing a heart-breaker to a new Titan side. Five days later, they were eliminated in the online portion of StarSeries XI, meaning they would miss the LAN finals.
On October 10th, their FACEIT League EU Season 2 campaign closed with them at a 7:7 record and missing the LAN finals of another event. That trend would continue for a fourth online competition, as on the 14th NiP fell in three maps to FNATIC online and barely missed a spot at the Fragbite Masters S2 LAN finals. The month would end with the nightmare of ESWC, going up two wins only to lose the last three games and be eliminated from the competition in the group stage. That NiP's time together finished with a loss to Titan, featuring some of the core players who had been their first rivals and who they had constantly beaten up on in phase one of their careers, really spelled the bitter and disappointing nature of their end.
On November 3rd, days after ESWC, Fifflaren announced his retirement and departure from NiP as an active player. The five man line-up which had experienced an inconceivable bounty of success was no more, with the other four players to go on with a new team-mate. NiP's run as that five man unit had ended with numbers the likes of which will never be seen again or equalled. They were a team for the ages, they were trailblazers that forced the rest of the world to raise their level and they were true champions that CS:GO as a competitive community could proudly compare against any of the great champions from other games.
Ninjas in Pyjamas (August 10th 2012 - November 3rd 2014)Christopher 'GeT_RiGhT' AlesundPatrik 'f0rest' LindbergAdam 'friberg' FribergRichard 'Xizt' LandströmRobin 'Fifflaren' Johansson
Time together: 27 monthsTitles won: 22Finals reached: 29Top four finishes: 33Offline tournaments played: 37Longest offline win-streak (Bo3 series): 24Longest offline win-streak (maps): 87 mapsPrize money won: More than $532,000
Photo credit: Dreamhack, ESL, ESEA
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