THREAT: "I will be looking into making some changes to the team"
The new NIP General Manager's immediate priority is addressing the "role clashes" and "lack of leadership" in the main roster.
Björn "THREAT" Pers, a few days after returning for a third stint at Ninjas in Pyjamas, has revealed that changes are inbound as the organization enters Counter-Strike 2. He was speaking on the "Pyjama Party" in-house broadcast in a forty-minute interview, and spoke at length about his role.
A key part of his remit is roster moves, and it appears that he is not wasting any time rebuilding a roster that has struggled in 2023. "I inherited this lineup," began THREAT. "It's been a tough road, the last six-twelve months.
"There's been a very clear role clash within the team. Everyone on the team needs to be comfortable. It’s not about everyone having to have the perfect role. That sometimes can be an excuse from some players, not having perfect positions on every map, but it needs to be better."
Riflers Ludvig "Brollan" Brolin, Fredrik "REZ" Sterner,Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke and even in-game leader Hampus "hampus" Poser have all shuffled roles in this iteration of the roster, all four being players that prefer to be active and in star rotate positions on CT side.
"When I joined I communicated immediately to the players that [the role clash] needs to be addressed," he added at the end of the show. "Nobody benefits from playing in a team where the roles don't work. Regardless of if you're cut or in the team, [changes] will be better for you."
Confirmation also came that prospective changes do not mean a return to a Swedish lineup, at least right now. Speaking on the lack of a tier-one side entirely from the region, THREAT said that "we shouldn't be too harsh on ourselves that we didn’t manage to have a tier-one full Swedish lineup at this point.
"We can look at France, the same thing happened there. Finland, with ENCE going fully international." The Danish and Russian-speaking scenes are "outliers," with a strong "pyramid" of infrastructure in Denmark and a huge pool of players in Eastern Europe.
The goal for Sweden, according to THREAT, should not be a tier one lineup but "tier one players." He went on to highlight the few individual Swedes who have found success in international lineups, saying "we're already seeing nawwk and isak in Major playoffs. We have those players, we just need more.
"It's so important now to have roles that fit. You can write down five Swedish players on paper that can work in tier one. But do they match? Can you actually get them? That’s also a question."
The shifting tides are also affecting the Young Ninjas project, which will join the main roster in looking for talent from all nationalities. THREAT pointed to players like Lotan "Spinx" Giladi and Shahar "flameZ" Shushan as examples of this shift, the type of international player that has really benefitted from the game moving to an Anglophone, culturally diverse, team-building meta in the top 30.
On a more day-to-day basis, THREAT made it clear that he will not be infringing on Daniel "djL" Narancic's power as head coach. "The coach has to be the one that owns the team. They have their own brand on the lineup."
But, he also professed a preference for "flat hierarchies," continuing: "I'm not just a guy in the background doing admin stuff. I will be able to do nitty-gritty stuff if they need me. I'm both a resource and their boss."
That includes utilizing his analyst background if required, but what he will not do is step on the coach's toes. "That is holy to me," he said.
THREAT's return is part of a larger structural shuffle at Ninjas in Pyjamas that saw Erik Wendel appointed Director of Esports and Jonas Gundersen forgo some of his duties to focus more on the commercial aspect of his role as COO.
Going into CS2, a game Ninjas in Pyjamas switched their focus to when THREAT arrived a few weeks ago, there is optimism. "Nobody knows who is going to be the best team in the world in three months," he said. "The variance of results will be super high."
Amid that variance, Ninjas in Pyjamas have an opportunity to move on from the turbulence of the last twelve months. The current iteration has few of the advantages the storied Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund and Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg lineup had in 2012 as we entered the Global Offensive era, but it is a different ball game for Ninjas in Pyjamas in 2023.
THREAT's arrival signals a good prospect of improvement. He is a Counter-Strike man, involved in one way or another since 1999. He has laid clear good intentions, promising to solve the role clashes that have plagued the current roster and to show greater transparency to the fans. They might not go 87-0 this time around, but NIP and THREAT are still hoping that a new Counter-Strike game is just the spark they need.