Young Ninjas: Serious Business
Our Young Ninjas are crushing it. They’re climbing the rankings weekly, posting upset after upset against much more experienced teams so often that soon they’re not going to be underdogs anymore. Behind the scenes, the NIP organization has been scaling YN’s resources to keep up with their growth — they now operate with an infrastructure similar to what the big boys have with Fredrik “slap” Junbrant on daily coaching duty while CS legend JAEGARN has taken a wider role within the esports scene and at NIP, spearheading the Youth Development and scouting efforts for NIP, while continuing to build up grassroots Swedish esports.
What’s more, thus far two YN players — ztr and LNZ — have rotated onto the main roster and performed admirably on the big stage. Besides earning the young guns incredibly valuable experience, the success of these rotations instils in the organization and the main roster a confidence that things won’t fall apart should somebody suffer illness or injury (knock on wood).
This isn’t the first time an academy team has shown incredible promise, of course. Our latest VALORANT addition ec1s was once part of Fnatic Academy, as was former NIP standin and through-and-through good guy Maikil “Golden” Selim. However, it used to be lonely at the academy team top. The economics of keeping a whole second roster on board depended on the project yielding at least one star player per year, meaning individual success was more important than growth as five. Few teams had the resources to support such a gamble and so academy teams have tended to come and go.
Finally, those days are behind us.
NIP, along with seven other top tier organizations, got together with the veteran TO WePlay to create the WePlay Academy League. All eight organizations have committed to running a top tier academy roster, and WePlay has committed to providing a stable arena for the teams to duke it out and get ever better at popping heads. With a $100,000 prize pool, this isn’t just another tournament — it’s the birth of a living, thriving academy ecosystem.