Ninjas in Pyjamas return to the EU LCS has been met with raised pitchforks rather than open arms. The controversy surrounding the organisations’ decision to sever the contracts of every member of the former Fnatic Academy, has resulted in a public relations disaster. Yet as part of the team’s official roster announcement, NiP were keen to provide their own version of events in answer to the backlash.
The Ninjas in Pyjamas eSports organisation secured the former Fnatic Academy spot after emerging victorious from a bidding war against several other interested parties, notably Overwatch organisation Laser Kittenz. Having obtained promotion from the Challenger Series, the former FNC roster were unable to compete in the league alongside their parent roster and were therefore forced to hand over their hard-earned LCS spot.
The initial assumption was that the Fnatic Academy players and coaching staff would instead compete under the Ninjas in Pyjamas banner, but in an unexpected move, each of the five members who earned promotion to the EU LCS for Fnatic Academy will now be looking for new employers ahead of the Summer Split.
Ninjas in Pyjamas will field SK Telecom T1 top laner Kim “Profit” Jun-hyung, former Team Vitality jungler Ilyas “Shook” Hartsema, former KT Rolster mid laner Kim “Nagne” Sang-moon, Giants Gaming AD carry Martin “HeaQ” Kordmaa and former Paris Saint-Germain support Hampus “sprattel” Mikael Abrahamsson as their starting roster.
The roster overhaul was met with widespread outrage on social media, with members of FNA vocally expressing their disgust at the decision:
Extremely disappointed. Hope the community will see it similarly, and I can imagine there to be quite the backlash with the upcoming news.
— Maurice (@FnaticAmazing) 22 May 2017
— Party Princess (@Klajbajk) 22 May 2017
— Kublai Barlas (@Kubz91) 22 May 2017
It was later disclosed that, contrary to the League of Legends community’s understanding, Ninjas in Pyjamas had in fact approached members of the squad to discuss re-signing them for the Summer Split. Each of the individuals approached turned down the organisation’s offer, requesting that the roster be signed as a unit, a move that ultimately backfired:
“Coming into this split we wanted to build a team that would not only be able to put up a fight, but also grow along with the organization and establish themselves while representing NiP.
“We were in touch with some of the players of FNA, but since they would only go as a full package and our goal from the beginning was to create a new team, it was unfortunately not meant to be.”
Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgård, Ninjas in Pyjamas Head Coach
The revelation has provided some much-needed clarity on the Ninjas in Pyjamas roster decision. After the NiP counter-argument surfaced, former FNA support Johan “Klaj” Olsson sought to end the campaign against the EU LCS newcomers.
The hate towards @NiPGaming is not justified since they reached out to 3 of us but we declined because we tried to get everyone on board.
— Party Princess (@Klajbajk) 22 May 2017
The new information has provided a new perspective from which to view the Ninjas in Pyjamas debate. In their attempts to keep the roster together and compete within the EU LCS, the Fnatic Academy squad appear to have approached the negotiating table with an all-or-nothing proposition. The gamble has backfired dramatically.
There are a number of hypothetical scenarios in which NiP’s decision is entirely justified. For example: it is fair to assume that in order to have secured the talents of former SK Telecom T1 top lane talent Profit, Ninjas in Pyjamas may have been negotiating contract terms before even finalising the purchase of the Fnatic Academy slot. Faced with the FNA roster’s all-or-nothing gambit, and with player(s) already locked in for the Summer Split, the proposal is only ever going to be met with one outcome.
Whilst valuing loyalty over a competitive contract may be considered an admirable move, it may be a decision that the three approached members of the Fnatic Academy squad may end up regretting. It is disappointing to see Ninjas in Pyjamas enter the EU LCS without a single player who earned them the league spot, but equally that outcome can be pinned on the the now-free agents, for being inflexible at the negotiating table.