Both Ninjas in Pyjamas and Alliance had a lot on the line. The Dota 2 teams both aimed to earn a series win while dealing with multiple last-minute stand-ins. But ppd’s consistent drafting helped NiP get a leg up as they clutched out a big win at the ESL One Los Angeles Online.
Alliance looked lost at times under the new leadership of s4, who rejoined the team earlier this week, while NiP only lost a few steps as they pushed on behind Jason “TANNER” Weedon and Nikita “Daxak” Kuzmin.
Game one was an absolute mess from the draft on. S4 picked a bizarre lineup that included a position five Snapfire and a Mirana facing down ppd’s Keeper of the Light, TANNER’s Templar Assassin, and a surprisingly effective Axe in the hands of Evgeniy “Blizzy” Ree. Blizzy, who was standing in for NiP’s original stand-in RAMZES666, played his usual aggressive style and helped shutdown Alliance’s core game.
S4’s roster never stood a chance. They only managed three total kills and were forced to call GG the moment NiP moved to the high ground after losing out on Roshan and being wiped out multiple times in the closing minutes.
Game two started much better for Alliance. They focused on making sure their team was ready to combat TANNER and contain Daxak, while also trying to limit the effectiveness of ppd on Grimmstroke. Limmp and Nikolay “Nikobaby” Nikolov played their parts perfectly, dealing massive damage while also playing slippery.
It also helped that Andreas Per “Xibbe” Ragnemalm finally stepped in, as the team was forced to play with a substitute, that being Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk, in game one.
In what appeared to be s4 calling some plays from the classic Alliance playbook, his team took it slow and made sure that they were launching a multi-pronged attack instead of a predictable, focused-down plan like last game. Their Void Spirit and Spectre quickly became the main focus of NiP’s offense, but Simon “Handsken” Haag’s Phoenix was perfect for neutralizing TANNER’s Monkey King.
The zoning battle eventually went to Alliance and they took a massive teamfight at the 32-minute mark, pulling in full control of the game before reverting to some solid, safe plays to close out the game over the next 15 minutes.
Game three was all about the farm. Both sides only racked up four kills each in the first 13 minutes and focused on building up their heroes for some massive fights. This would also give Alliance the early edge with Limmp’s Kunkka primed to set up some big plays while Nikobaby farmed his Juggernaut.
That security wouldn’t last as some missed timings and failed ganks led to NiP getting the upper hand and Milan “MiLAN” Kozomara having a standout performance on Rubick. Blizzy tanked everything and controlled the map with his Centaur Warrunner while the fully built Phantom Lancer rushed down all on in his path.
Despite TANNER not having his usual kill-heavy performance, he was able to stay alive as Dragon Knight and deal massive amounts of damage. Alliance slowly started to crumble after losing a big teamfight in the Rosh-pit, resulting in a full team wipe that they never recovered from.
This win puts NiP in a three-way tie for second in Group B with Chicken Fighters and Natus Vincere, with a matchup against the group-leading Team Secret set for 1pm CT on April 7.