NIP are finding their stride without dev1ce — but their silence is bizarre

João Ferreira/Dexerto

NIP seem to be doing just fine without star CS:GO player Nicolai ‘dev1ce’ Reedtz, who remains sidelined due to mental health issues. But the organization’s silence about his situation is hard to understand and has done more harm than good.

As dev1ce faced the camera, his arms crossed around his back, wearing a jersey different from the one in which he had won four Majors and risen to the top of the world, there was shock and disbelief, but at the same time a sense of inevitability.

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It was the end of an era, a reminder that all good things must come to an end, even eras like Astralis’s. Comparisons with transfers of LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo were made as the magnitude of the moment wasn’t lost on anyone, not even dev1ce himself, who set lofty goals for his new team: “I think we have the possibility to dominate a lot of teams and be the best in the world.”

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Those comments have not aged well. Twelve months on, NIP are still nowhere closer to being a dominant team than they were when they splashed a reported $700,000 fee to sign dev1ce. It was one of the biggest transfer deals in all of esports, but for a player like Mr. Consistent, who could solve one of NIP’s biggest problems inside the server, it seemed like a risk worth taking.

On Saturday, April 23, NIP qualified for PGL Major Antwerp with a 2-0 victory over SINNERS in the fourth round of the EU RMR B tournament. That day was also the first anniversary of his signing by NIP, but the moment came and went unnoticed by the Swedish organization.

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dev1ce wasn’t in Bucharest with the rest of the team to celebrate. He was over 1,000 kilometers away, in Copenhagen, continuing his recovery from the health issues that have prevented him from playing a single game since December 5.

NIP have done a terrible job in terms of not letting the team linger on questions of when dev1ce will return. Their latest interaction with — or mention of — dev1ce on Twitter was in January, when the Danish player said that he was “working towards a safe return”.

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In a celebratory post on Twitter after the team qualified for the Antwerp Major, NIP COO Jonas Gundersen tagged the five players in the starting lineup in Bucharest as well as head coach Daniel ‘djL’ Narancic and technical director Björn ‘THREAT’ Pers. dev1ce didn’t get so much as a shoutout despite being listed as a substitute for the event (and potentially for the Major as well).

Keeping fans in the dark

In what has become a ritual before every tournament, fans will check dev1ce’s recent activity on FACEIT, looking for clues as to when he might be coming back. Earlier this week, the most recent rumor suggested that he would return at IEM Dallas, simply because he was listed on the team’s roster on the event’s Liquipedia page. (Contacted by Dexerto, NIP said that’s not the case, and his nickname has since been removed from the starting lineup by Liquipedia)

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It’s quite possible that NIP still have no timetable for dev1ce’s return to the lineup. But they owe it to their fans to at least keep them in the loop as much as possible, even if only to say that they will be finishing out the season with the current roster to ensure stability and tranquillity. But instead, they’ve let his absence hang over the team for months on end, putting the players in a tenuous situation, even though they have been able to rise to the occasion on the server.

Luc Bouchon/PGL
NIP have secured a Legends spot in Antwerp

In another statement of their ambitions, NIP spent a reported €600,000 ($633,000) fee to sign Ludvig ‘⁠Brollan⁠’ Brolin from Fnatic, leaving fans wondering how high the ceiling of the team is once all the pieces are in place.

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In Bucharest, Patrick ‘es3tag’ Hansen did most of the work with the AWP, but the tournament did not provide an accurate measure of their level. NIP qualified for the Major almost by default, beating Endpoint (No.46 in the world), Bad News Eagles (43) and Sinners (42), though the victory against No-6 ranked ENCE — one of the most-in-form teams at the moment — in the battle for the Legends spot did raise some eyebrows.

The recent departure of academy player Love ‘phzy’ Smidebrant, who had been filling the AWP-shaped hole in dev1ce’s absence, indicates that they will try to make it work with the current lineup until dev1ce returns, whenever that may be. But those who watched es3tag’s ill-fated Cloud9 spell will remember his limitations with the AWP, and the decision to play without a dedicated AWPer could come back to bite them if it ends up costing them an important game at the Major.

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Even if dev1ce does feel ready to return for the Major, it’s questionable whether he should be thrust into the starting lineup immediately, not least of all because — regardless of his talent — he would be coming in cold with very little time to shake off the rust. NIP would also come under fierce criticism, as Astralis did when they left Lucas ‘Bubzkji’ Andersen out of their PGL Major Stockholm lineup to make way for the returning Lukas ‘⁠gla1ve⁠’ Rossander. It would be nothing short of cruel to deny any one of the five players who earned qualification their shot at Major glory to accomodate a dev1ce return.

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Almost five months since his last game for NIP, dev1ce continues to cast a long shadow over the team — a natural consequence of his status as one of the game’s greatest players. But NIP knew exactly the kind of attention that a high-profile player like him would generate when they opened their coffers and made him the new face of the organization — which is why the decision to avoid the topic altogether is hard to fathom.

dev1ce’s return date seems to be anyone’s guess at the moment. Some still continue to believe that dev1ce will miraculously rise from the smoke and make some sort of grand entrance on stage, ready to lead the team to the promised land, but that appears nothing more than wishful thinking.

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