Nov 20, 2018 Written by: Kimberly_Koenig

Young blood, old guard: how new players are pushing NiP's CS:GO game forward

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From foundation, to dissolution, to reformation, Ninjas in Pyjamas has been through some big changes in its lifetime. But perhaps the most recent and dramatic ones have been to their roster. This isn’t an organization that takes those kinds of shakeups lightly, but when evolution is baked into your ethos, change is sometimes necessary.

In the last year, three new players have joined NiP’s CS:GO ranks alongside veterans GeT_RiGhT and f0rest. With their similarities and differences, it’s this unique mixture of young blood and old guard that keeps pushing NiP forward, almost two decades after inception. 

Someone old, someone new

nip-players-small-1GeT_RiGhT and f0rest are CS:GO legends, but they’re also down-to-earth and welcoming to new players.

In esports, there’s a misconception that veteran players look down on new recruits. That couldn’t be farther from the truth on NiP. GeT_RiGhT and f0rest may be CS:GO gods, but they’re also incredibly humble. They remember their roots; all players start somewhere.

For NiP’s grizzled war dogs, saying goodbye to former teammates is difficult, but new players are still a welcome change. GeT_RiGhT says having new recruits can be pretty refreshing. “It’s beautiful to have those two new youngsters, as we like to call them,” he says with a laugh. “They help us get even better.” He also likes seeing how hungry new players are for victory. They bring a fresh and unique perspective to the team, and their energy motivates the entire group. 

nip-players-small-3GeT_RiGhT says that new players help bring up the whole team’s energy. Photo via NiP 

Thanks to this outlook, new players also find it’s easy to quickly assimilate with NiP. Lekr0 never felt he totally meshed on his old team, but it was an instant click with NiP that went beyond his already knowing Dennis. “I really like how everyone treats each other,” he says. “They’re good friends, good people. I just fit really well with them.” While Dennis was a long-time NiP rival from GODSENT and Fnatic, he was welcomed with open arms and loves his new team: “It feels damn good to have joined NiP.” 

Letting go of the spotlight

New players create another interesting dynamic. As NiP’s stars, GeT_RiGhT and f0rest are very familiar with the spotlight. But after spending over half their lives playing CS:GO professionally, they don’t crave notoriety in the same way they once did. As ambitious, younger players join their ranks, NiP’s veterans have found ways to help the team that are group-oriented rather than self-oriented.

Videographer Perra Andersen says he notices how eager the younger players are to create content and be in the spotlight. These players become the team’s new face as the older players step to the sideline, giving the newbies a chance to shine. “It feels like they want to make the youngsters more in the spotlight now,” is Andersen’s observation.

nip-players-small-8New, ambitious players on the team give the older players a chance to step out of the spotlight and focus on the group.

GeT_RiGhT feels this creates a good team balance. The youngsters push hard to be the best and distinguish themselves individually, while the older players are focused on the group dynamic “instead of having our own achievements.” The vets support the newbies, whose energy in turn encourages the veterans in a positive feedback loop. “It’s nice to know that they’re pushing themselves to the limit,” says GeT_RiGhT. And when he and f0rest see their efforts, “we’re motivated to also push ourselves to the limit and know that we’re not done yet.”

Always something to learn

nip-players-small-6Lekr0 says he’s learning a lot about multitasking as NiP’s new in-game leader. Photo via NiP / Petter Nilsson.

New recruits are often the first to admit their growth areas. But mixing in fresh talent also creates an interesting give-and-take between NiP’s younger and older players. On one hand, simply playing alongside gaming greats like GeT_RiGhT and f0rest means NiP’s newest players see their in-game IQ and intuition improve by leaps and bounds. But seasoned players aren’t without their own lessons to learn. 

In fact, NiP’s newbies have also taught a few things to their founding fathers. When 20-year old REZ joined NiP, he brought along a fast, loose, and aggressive playing style that was very different from NiP’s at the time. But, rather than rejecting REZ’s methods as wrong, NiP found ways to incorporate REZ’s approach into their own.

nip-players-small-2REZ’s aggressive and loose playstyle was new to NiP’s veterans. When NiP’s veterans saw the benefits, they found ways to merge his style with theirs. Photo via NiP / Petter Nilsson.

The old NiP style evolved, integrating this different approach in a way that worked for them, in the process creating something different and unique, a fusion of old and new styles. And it continues to evolve whenever new players join. Each addition pushes the team to stretch and be more dynamic. Jens Hofer and Pita, the team’s mental and team coaches, also encourage these approaches. When Lekr0 joined later, he even noticed the difference. Where NiP once seemed very structured, he now saw them taking calculated risks, mixing randomness and unpredictability into their tactics.

Carrying the legacy

nip-players-small-4New and old players alike are carrying forward the NiP legacy. Photo via NiP / Petter Nilsson.

Old and new players may have different play styles or approaches to fame, but one place where they find commonality is the seriousness with which they regard NiP’s legacy. For GeT_RiGhT, f0rest, and HeatoN, this is a treasured history—a shared heritage they created from the ground up. 

“We built it from basically nothing,” GeT_RiGhT recalls. “We were just five people with a dream of doing what we really love.” For f0rest, this is why NiP feels like home. “I've been a part of it for such a long time, and I've helped build the brand to where it is today,” he says.  “It’s always gonna feel like home.” And HeatoN never takes for granted where he came from or feels burdened by his role as the brand’s face. The team is such a big part of who he is today that “it’s an honor,” he says. “It’s only fun and it’s a big honor.”

New players didn’t build this legacy, but they’re inheriting it and feel the weight of that responsibility. After all, Dennis, Lekr0, and REZ all grew up cheering for NiP. Going from watching their gaming heroes to playing alongside them can feel a bit surreal. This was certainly the case for REZ. “I went from being pretty much nobody to really coming into this huge organization with all these legendary players,” he says. He was definitely nervous at first. Anyone would be when joining such a huge lineup, especially when replacing one of NiP’s long-time core members, Adam "friberg" Friberg. But it quickly became clear that there’s no stratification between players on NiP. Right from the beginning he was welcomed. “I've grown into it,” he says. “I feel like I'm one of the family now.”

nip-players-small-7REZ was nervous about joining NiP, but soon discovered that new and old players are treated equally. Photo via NiP / Petter Nilsson.

With NiP’s careful recruiting, new players are always ones who respect that legacy; people who proudly represent the brand, not ones who want to use its prestige to launch their careers. That’s one reason why Lekr0 made the cut. NiP was always his first choice, but not for the name recognition. “They don’t want to change players unless they have to,” he says. “You just feel they are good guys.” For him, NiP’s reputation as a genuinely great organization with stable rosters far outweighs any star power. And the respect that new players have for the NiP legacy feeds back into the team’s positive energy, pushing everyone to be the best possible brand representatives they can be. 

Regaining their groove

nip-players-small-5NiP is still searching for their old stride, but the same old NiP magic is there. Photo via NiP / Petter Nilsson.

At one time, NiP was indomitable: a team with the longest undefeated CS:GO map streak in history. These last few years have brought some tough times and mixed results, but they’re weathering the storm and looking to brighter days ahead. In the end, they know these difficulties will make them stronger. 

Through these changing times, the signature NiP magic remains a constant. Everyone on the team feels it: adoring fans who stick with them, a great team culture, a humble perspective, and an epic legacy that’s carried forward by players both old and new. As the legendary team strives to regain their groove, they’re finding balance with new recruits who infuse new energy and fresh ideas, all while respecting and carrying forward NiP’s long-standing legacy.

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