ESPORTSREPORTER.COM / BENJAMIN LITVACK – STAFF WRITER / MAY 28TH, 2021 /
THE NINJAS IN PYJAMAS!!!!!
That’s right folks! Last year’s bridesmaids, runner-ups, first place losers are now you’re brand new World Champions! You can’t make up this kind of storyline. Before we talk about NiP and their fairytale run through the Invitational, a big shout out to this year’s runner-ups, Team Liquid. They battled their way through the lower bracket and forced the grand finals to go all the way, down to the very last map. A big round of applause to them, and while silver is never preferable over gold, they can leave this tournament with their heads held extremely high for their incredible performance against the best teams in the world. Now with those formalities out of the way, let’s recap NiP’s title winning run through this tournament of champions,
The Ninjas entered this year’s tournament with honestly a mixed bag of expectations. Everyone knew they were an incredibly talented and star studded team. This was the same roster that went to the grand finals at the last invitational for crying out loud. Yet they also have been struggling as of late. They were fifth in the regular season, then fourth in the Copa Elite Six back in April. Everyone was wondering which version of NiP will show up this year? The grand finalist competitors or the middle of the pack has beens? NiP were a part of Group B, which had unfortunately suffered the loss of two teams due to various Covid-19 complications.
On the first day of the Group stage, NiP started the competition off strong winning both of their games 7-4 over APAC representatives Giants Gaming and EU wildcard MKERS. Day 2 was not as forgiving though. NiP lost in overtime to divisional rivals MIBR and then lost again to the sole Canadian team of Parabellum. The Ninjas stopped the bleeding by taking down NAL powerhouse OXG 7-5. On the final day of the Groups NiP needed to win at least one of their two games to ensure they enter the upper bracket. They lost the first game against another NA favorite TSM, but in a twist of events that was nothing short of poetic, NiP beat the team that stole the championship from them last year. That’s right NiP got their revenge against SSG and entered the upper bracket of the SI Playoffs.
There’s a common belief that teams do well in the clutch, when the pressure is on, and everything is on the line. NiP just so happen to be one of those teams. In the playoffs, if you lose in the upper bracket you have to fight through the loser bracket. You lose in the lower bracket, you’re done. NiP though had no desire to repeat any part of last year’s tournament. They went on to beat BDS Esports, Faze Clan, and finally MIBR in the upper bracket finals to earn themselves a one map advantage in the grand finals.
A New Reign Begins
NiP entered with a one map advantage in a best of five. They were playing against region titan and eternal obstacle to greatness Team Liquid. Team Liquid were not about to give up after having fought their way all throughout the lower bracket. NiP on the other hand refused to have a repeat of last year. And like I said, it came down to map number five. Yet NiP were not to be denied again. They handily won the final map and lifted the coveted hammer. The 2020 Runner Ups were now the 2021 World Champions.
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