Ninjas in Pyjamas claimed the Paladins World Championship over the Pittsburgh Knights in a near reverse sweep. After the finals, NiP player and Paladins champion Leander ‘isbittenner’ Aspestrand spoke to Melissa ‘TheBestTaco’ Posada and Dexerto on the Ninjas’ emotional win, and how they bounced back from a mid-season slump and two-game deficit in the finals.
Before the SMITE finals, the two best teams in Paladins squared off on Championship Sunday at Hi-Rez Expo. A dominant contender in Ninjas in Pyjamas met an underdog Pittsburgh Knights squad that had taken the long road through the lower bracket of the PWC qualifier.
But despite grabbing a 2-0 lead, the Knights couldn’t hold on as their adversaries borrowed some NiP magic from their CSGO division to win fourth straight games to raise the championship trophy.
Following the raising of the trophy, the young NiP damage star from Norway, isbittenner, could barely keep his emotions in check, telling TheBestTaco and Dexerto that he “would just go up in tears” when he’d try and think back on the hard-fought series.
NiP were forced to climb out of a 2-0 hole in the grand finals, but isbittener said that the roster was no stranger to having to reverse their fortunes themselves. They had a very strong Phase 1 of Paladins Premier League, but started off slow in Phase 2 with a collection of tough losses.
Isbittenner said he was really happy that the team was able to pull themselves out of that slump, and make their way to the championship finals. One of those tough losses during the PPL season was to Pittsburgh Knights, who they would meet in the grand finals.
When asked if they expected to meet the Knights again in the championship series, he responded,
“If you asked me two months ago? Never. But now? For sure, they’ve become a lot better.” He also said later in the interview that he expects the Knights roster to improve even more.
The NiP star praised the Knights’ ability to outdraft them, but credited the words of his coach and the energy of the crowd as being instrumental to gaining back momentum.
As the secondary drafter, isbittener said his leadership strength emerges pre-game, but his ability to be a playmaker during matches was instrumental to the Ninjas’ success as well.
As for the champion, he says that the immediate plan is for the team to go get “a nice dinner” and then go out and have fun to celebrate the title. As for next season, he says that NiP will take their time to “relax and re-group” after the long campaign, and come back strong for next season.