Twelve months ago the Ninjas were crowned champions of IEM Oakland and after a long road back to the Pacific coast are crowned champions once more. The journey back has seen several changes happen over the last year most notably with the addition of young blood Fredrik ‘REZ‘ Sterner and William ‘Draken‘ Sundin. The pair were picked up during the Summer of 2017 and have continued to grow into a formidable force within the lineup.
The championship played host to twelve teams, among them was the force of Brazilian team SK lead by Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo who most recently won the EPICENTER 2017 championship in Saint Petersburg, Russia which saw them ranked the #1 team in the World. Also at IEM was World number two and three teams Olofmeisters FaZe and Denmarks super team Astralis.
The Ninjas would see themselves in Group A up against two of the aforementioned teams along with Cloud9, EnVyUs and Mongolian team TheMongolz. Group B would play host to FaZe, OpTiC, Gambit, Renegades, G2 and Liquid. Three days of group games would provide viewers with a spectacle of games with the Ninjas winning 4 out of 5 games and advancing to the Semi Finals top of their group.
|Group A||Group B|
With the Quarter Finals seeing Major Champions; Gambit defeated by home favourites Cloud9 and OpTiC knocked out by World #1 team SK, the Ninjas would have to face the Brazilian team in their first big-stage game within the Oracle Arena. Ultimately taking the victory two maps to one the Ninjas saw themselves through to the Grand Final comfortably by taking the first map on Overpass 16-9, and the final map on Inferno 16-11 after conceding the second map on Cache 8-16.
The IEM Oakland 2017 Grand Final would play host to some of the most entertaining and beautiful CSGO of the event with the Ninjas up against European all-star lineup FaZe who sent home team Cloud9 packing their bags. The final delivered all maps in the best of five playing host to each players strengths from both teams. FaZe showed incredible resilience after conceding the first map on Cobblestone by taking the map two win on Inferno, almost completely shutting down the Ninjas attempts. Map three would see Richard ‘Xizt‘ Landström lead his men to victory on Train as REZ consistently displayed his abilities opening up the map.
What would follow, played out to be a crushing defeat on Overpass with FaZe showing their incredibly diverse playbook and being the first to win back to back maps. Shutting the Ninjas down at every play meant the players required all of their mental strength going into the final map on Cache having conceded the map earlier in the tournament to SK. The map was an absolute spectacle of desert eagle action with Rain and NiKo of FaZe showing why they’re two of the best players in the World. But perhaps the most unlikely rain of terror came from the Ninjas in-game leader Xizt, showing exactly why he’s playing at the top level. Repeatedly mustering the mental strength to win crucial rounds this man was certainly the influential difference winning multiple clutches and allowing his team to do what they do best. Pushing on towards a victory, Christopher ‘Get_RiGhT‘ Alesund brought home the 22nd round with an important triple kill and paving the final route towards victory. The fans cheers roared inside the Oracle Arena with the NiP chant echoing across Oakland and the Ninjas took the opportunity to capitalise on the weak economy of FaZe and ultimately taking the final map of the series 16-10 to win the championship.
Displaying why he’s the most hyped and discussed young star, Frerik ‘REZ’ Sterner took the events HLTV.org MVP Award. Racking up 54 opening kills throughout the event he’s not only displaying confidence and skill but proving he can perform in the most intense environment professional esports has to offer. you can view his MVP stats here.
His remarkable consistency throughout the competition and his team-leading performance in the semi-final series against SK ended up earning him the award over teammate Patrik ‘f0rest’ LindbergLuis Mira
Now elevated into the MVP hall of fame, both his teammates and fellow peers are in no doubt the young blood will contend to be the best player in the World. His reaction to the event, humble and short yet speaks a thousand words.
— Fredrik Sterner (@REZcsgo)
As we now move on to the BLAST Pro Series in Denmark, all of us at NiP including you our fans can’t wait to see what the future brings as we look forward with promise. Our fans in the Oracle Arena and online around the World are what drives all of us at NiP Gaming to work harder and harder. We thank all of you for standing by NiP.
Thank you for your great support – It means a lot to us!
— Ninjas in Pyjamas 🇸🇪 (@NiPGaming)