Ninjas in Pyjamas have secured their spot in the main stage of the IEM Katowice Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament with a convincing 2-0 win over Team Spirit on Wednesday.
The Swedish esports franchise became the first team to qualify for the group stage, defeating their Russian counterparts on Nuke (16-7) and then wrapping things up on their map pick, Mirage (16-8). Due to the loss, Spirit will make their way to the lower bracket of the play-in stage for an opportunity to continue their campaign in the $1 million tournament.
The opening map of the match was Nuke, selected by Spirit. From the outset, NiP demonstrated their dominance on the map. They started strong by winning the first two rounds with multi-kills from Fredik “REZ” Sterner.
However, Spirit quickly regained control by securing four consecutive rounds to establish a lead on the T-side. But NiP managed to bounce back thanks to Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen’s double-kill hold on the A site in the eighth round. The half ended with NiP maintaining a three-round advantage, and with Aleksib standing out with a 21-13 K-D and 1.45 rating.
During the second half, Ninjas in Pyjamas started with a successful swift attack on the A bombsite, which provided them with an economic edge. They only lost one more round, securing their win on the map with a score of 16-7. The success was largely attributed to their smart map strategies and a standout performance by Aleksib.
The second map of the match was Mirage, chosen by NiP, and they maintained their winning streak in pistol rounds by securing their such round of the series. NiP established a commanding 6-0 lead on the T-side, with REZ spearheading their efforts. However, Spirit managed to make a comeback after two missteps from Aleksib, closing the half with NiP leading 8-7.
The second half of the game began with an outstanding defense of the A bombsite by REZ, resulting in a quadruple kill. This allowed NiP to convert their pistol round win and increase their lead to 10-7. Throughout the rest of the map, NiP kept their momentum and dominated the game, ultimately securing a 16-8 victory. Every player on the NiP roster ended the map with a rating above 1.00, highlighting a strong team performance.
This victory was a significant milestone for NiP as they strive to assert themselves in the tournament. Despite limited preparation time with only half-a-day’s worth of training, Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke still managed to elevate his game, posting a 1.04 rating over the two maps, compared to his less impressive 0.88 rating in the team’s opening match against MIBR.
Meanwhile, Spirit appeared to be out of their element during the entire series. The entire roster ended the two maps with an average rating below 1.00, with Igor “w0nderful” Zhdanov, who is usually a reliable player, facing difficulties and ending the series with a 0.66 rating.
Spirit now only have one opportunity to advance to the top 16 of IEM Katowice. On Friday they will face Sprout, who defeated Evil Geniuses in the first round of the lower bracket on Thursday.