Ninjas in Pyjamas’s most recent victory at IEM Oakland was truly incredible. While they played well, it still feels as though NiP was able to steal away this victory. Although they did win the games they needed to, they won off of the back of some incredible circumstance and unpredictable play.
World’s Best Not In Attendance at IEM Oakland
There were a lot of good teams at this tournament. All but Heroic would be considered top fifteen teams. SK Gaming, Natus Vincere, and Cloud9 are all legitimate top-ten teams in the world and contenders to win.
While the level of talent at this tournament does seem very high, it must be said that Virtus.pro and Team Dignitas missed out on the tournament. The current consensus is that VP are the best team in the world. They were scheduled to attend IEM Oakland but pulled out due to a strenuous travel schedule.
DIG look like the second best team in the world after winning EPICENTER and dominating their group at ELEAGUE Season 2. Even at EPL Season 4, where DIG played poorly due to Emil “Magiskb0Y” Reif suffering from food poisoning, they still beat the Ninjas in Pajamas. While we can’t take credit away from NiP for beating the opposition that was put in front of them, we can acknowledge that the level of competition could have been higher.
Riding Cloud9 out of Groups
NiP were a bit shaky during the group stage. They beat the teams they were favored against, Heroic and Mousesports. NiP narrowly edged out Cloud9 with a 16-14 victory on Train. However, they lost to SK and were badly beaten by the new-look FaZe Clan.
Finishing with a 3-2 record, NiP were tied with SK for second place. Heroic had a 2-2 record going into their last game against C9. If they had won they would have forced a three way tie for second resulting in a tie breaker. Heroic jumped out to a 9-6 lead after the first half, but C9 battled back on their CT side and won the map. C9 were already out of contention and could not advance regardless of the win, but it did knock Heroic out allowing NiP to advance.
Back to Back Series
In the first round of the bracket stage, NiP made quick work of Immortals. They took the series 2-0 in a quite convincing fashion. Surprisingly, Adam “friberg” Friberg had a big series, leading NiP in kills and ADR.
NiP’s semifinal series against FaZe was much closer. Nuke was the first map, and both teams had massive T-sides, forcing an overtime that NiP would win 4-0. However, the Ninjas were blown out on the second map. Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg was the only player who looked effective as FaZe dominated NiP on train, 16-6. The third map was a close affair with both sides trading rounds. NiP emerged victorious, taking Overpass 16-13 and winning the series 2-1.
The finals were even closer between NiP and SK. NiP suffered a blowout loss on the first map, Train, losing 16-4. NiP won the next two maps, Cache and Cobblestone with 16-14 scorelines and claimed the series. They won off the back of some timely clutch play from f0rest who was crowned the tournament MVP. There was another massive overperformance from friberg on the third map. Even with his great stats in the third map, he was still the worst statistical player in the series in terms of both player rating and k/d ratio.
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Can the Magic Continue?
With the two best teams not in attendance, NiP just edged out the competition and stole away IEM Oakland. While f0rest stood out, NiP won despite an underperformance from Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund. They were able to make up the difference by having clutch high impact play from their other members. That is what defines NiP Magic: winning rounds and maps that they really shouldn’t. NiP Magic was able to win this tournament, but we will have to see if the magic can continue to carry them moving forward.