The Young Ninjas journey continues. Since the convincing second place at the LAN playoffs of WePlay Academy League in august, the guys have been grinding online tournaments with promising results — currently placed third in the Swedish Elitserien with a 5-1 record, and let’s not forget the quintuple overtime win versus Galaxy Racer in Elisa Invitational Fall last week.
You’ve all probably noticed the absence of Linus “nilo” Bergman, and that Tim “Mann3n” Isak has been stepping in with style over the last month. Chief Operating Officer Jonas Gundersen:
“Nilo hasn’t been on the active roster for a while — simply because he can’t commit fully to the project. This is obviously something we have to take into consideration, since we’re dealing with very young and talented players, but we also have to respect the rest of the team’s ambitions and time spent on the server, and thus have chosen to release him from contract. When we first entered the academy scene we aimed for a very young team, focusing on competing on a Swedish grassroots level, such as in Elitserien, whilst not sacrificing too much outside of the game too early in life. But with the academy scene growing, and with Weplay hosting the very first international Academy league, our Young Ninjas project grew rapidly both in scope and in ambition.”
Ahead of the second season of WePlay Academy League, Mann3n will yet again take a step back from the active roster, giving him the opportunity to look for new opportunities. Gundersen continues:
“Tim has been great, coming in on a very short notice as a substitute ahead of Kyiv and continued contribution to the team in september. We’re thankful for what he’s done, but have decided to part ways altogether, and give him the option to find a new home. He’s an incredibly skilled player mechanically as many people have seen, and I’m sure he’ll find a good home.”
Completing the Young Ninjas roster for the upcoming block is Oliver “Debo” Hallel, who joins on trial from the Swedish Elitserien team 9ne. Oliver is a hard working player with a good understanding of the game. He’s calm, solid and rarely makes mistakes — a player type we have been missing lately. He’s familiar with parts of the team already, given that he went to the same esports high school as phzy and LNZ.
“Debo coming in as trial on short notice is great, and something we really appreciate. We're on a mission to build a young and powerful team — potentially with more than five players — that can compete for titles and develop into future professionals. Things are moving fast here, sometimes faster than we expected, so while we keep hunting for future major winners, it's great to have options like this to help us keep moving,” says Gundersen.
Last but not least — we’re very happy to announce that Anton “Sapec'' Palmgren has signed a two-year contract with Young Ninjas. Jonas Gundersen concludes:
“Sapec signing for another two years shows that we are in this for the long run, and that we’re rethinking what the right age is for playing on an academy level. Rather than having a set cut-off, we realized, the way forward is to give these guys a solid home while they are still in their late teens — one that will serve them well regardless whether their path leads them into the main team, or somewhere else. Anton has been great from day one, and I look forward to seeing him develop for many more years.”