More questions than answers for the Swedish top teams
Tobias Lundgren: ”Ninjas in Pyjamas and Fnatic are at a crossroads”
KÖLN. This year's CS:GO season is only a couple of tournaments away from being concluded, and the Swedish top teams are at a crossroads.
When the sun rises over Cologne and ESL One thursday morning, the Ninjas in Pyjamas and Fnatic will go into battle with more questions than answers in their backpacks.
2014 will in the future be viewed as the year when reality, and the other teams, caught up with former all but dominating team Ninjas in Pyjamas. Technically, the opponents found kinks in their armor during the last quarter of 2013 but the last couple of months has seen the level of competitive CS:GO play rise to a point where, on a good day, basically every top team out there can win a major tournament. Also, NiP have on numerous occasions shown that they are only human after all.
That said, most of the critique aimed at the team; that they no longer should be counted as a top contender because of their form as of late, has zero basis in reality. The truth is that they up until the unfortunate Gfinity tournament always had a spot on the podium and more often than not even played in the finals.
But the London debacle was a new low for the team and their fifth place is the worst they've placed in competitive play – ever. So even though the players are seemingly calm sitting in their boat, they're gonna have a hard time not getting swept away by the storm whipped up by fans and the community as a whole if ESL One would see them eliminated early again.
In Cologne, the ninjas will have the best possible start. Facing indian team Wolf who are totally unproven under these circumstances. On paper, it should be an easy win for the Swedes and a nice and calm way to kick off the tourney.
But then they have to beat either Epsilon or Hellraisers, two teams that won't go quietly into the night. And in a Best of 1-format, anything can happen.
The biggest question to be answered by NiP. Was the result at Gfinity only caused by the teams vacation as several members of the team has said in interviews leading up to this weekend?
If there's some other underlying cause then both the team and their fans will have a rude awakening in the days to come.
For Fnatic, the biggest question is: How good is the team really?
Since their lineup change where Jonathan ”Devilwalk” Lundberg and Andreas ”Schneider” Lindberg bowed out after winning the Swedish Championships, the team put up a great display at Gfinity where they ended in 3/4th place. For them, the task tomorrow is almost the complete opposite from what NiP is facing. Fnatic has nothing to prove at this tournament, except for themselves. With a lineup this fresh, no one is expecting anything grand and they can just calmly focus on their playing.
But they're gonna be put to the test right off the bat, when Ibuypower will stand on the other side in the first round. The ESEA winners are eager to prove to the audience here that North Americans can play Counterstrike too.
If Fnatic walks away with a victory there, it could very well make them snowball very far in this tournament.
And speaking of eager. Olof ”Olofm” Kajbjer and Freddy ”Krimz” Johansson are entering a major event for the first time in their new team. Krimz has led the team with his plays ever since he joined, and could be the player to take them out of the group.
Tomorrow night, we'll know the current state of Swedish CS:GO. Will the teams' responses to the questions posed be positive ones, or perhaps the glory days have passed?