As the StarSeries LAN Finals were coming to a finish, two games were yet to be completed, one of which being the Grand Final.
However to make it to the Grand Final, NiP would first have to face off with TSM , the Danes who have fought hard to get their second chance at progressing to the Final. The maps were decided to be Dust 2, Nuke and Cache if needed.
The first map, Dust 2, was off to a good start with Friberg picking up a double kill and bomb defuse to win the pistol round. However, TSM hit back with three rounds of their own and suddenly NiP were on the back foot. This did not last for too long as the team went on to regain control of the half with only two more rounds dropped and take it 10-5 CT side. The second half was off to a worse start, with the pistol round being lost without even a bomb plant, as dupreeh picked up a double. This time though, it was our turn to hit back, winning the resulting eco round and taking the momentum on to win out the game 16-6.
The second map, Nuke, is a map which brought what I consider to be one of the best shows at Katowice, and it was not quick to disappoint in Kiev.
An incredibly important Terrorist side pistol round was secured by the Ninjas with f0rest and Xizt coming in with a double kill each. This good start allowed the team to pick up 3 rounds before the CT’s could get their first on the board, and turned out to be the only Terrorist rounds picked up. On Nuke though, every single Terrorist round is so massively important that having 3 at the half is not a done deal.
Going into the second half 12-3 in TSM’s favour, NiP had a mountain to climb, and they gave themselves the ability to take the Ski lift half way up by winning a hugely important pistol round. From here, another incredible comeback was mounted by the team, shutting down all but one terrorist attack to take the map 16-13, and the match 2-0. The fight and the desire to once again make a LAN final was too much for the Danish side to handle and once again, the Ninjas in pyjamas were to be one of the last 2 teams alive.
The Grand Final was yet another in the long list of matches against EnVyUs, a match up that recently the French side have been coming out of on top. This match again heavily favoured the opposition as, due to beating us in the Upper Bracket Final, they had a one map advantage in the best of 5, meaning only two maps were needed to win.
The first map was decided to be Inferno, which was not the ideal start for the Ninjas as this is a real home map for the Frenchmen. It seemed to be off to a good start however with the CT side pistol being taken by NiP, the team who are never on an eco, EnVy, took the next two rounds though. Despite picking up 9 of the first 15 rounds, it was not a commanding display by the team who felt on the back foot.
This trend continued into a poor second half in which 0 rounds were picked up by NiP, never able to build up steam, losing the game 16-9. An improvement on the last time, however still not the standard usually attributed to NiP.
This left the whole tie on sudden death going into the second map, Mirage, and any mistakes from here would crown EnVyUs the champions of StarSeries.
From the beginning, this mistake was already in motion. Starting T side Mirage, the first round was lost, and the first half was a slaughter. Being two maps down, and defeated earlier in the tournament was too much for even the ninjas to overcome this time. 13-2 the French team lead after their CT side, a scoreline too great to even begin to mount a comeback this time, and the map was lost 16-2, and the final lost 3-0 (with two maps actually being played).
NiP have time and time again shown their ability to consistently reach final after final, however of late the ability to close out the final has been missing. This particular enemy is becoming something of a bogey team for us, and it is time to return to the drawing board, iron out our floors and come back stronger ever time.
It is a notable achievement to reach so many finals, to get so many second places, but NiP will not rest and will not be satisfied until they are winning these finals. For themselves, for each other, for the fans.