Update - 7:17 AM PST: Additional statements from NiP Managing DIrector Gustav M. 'flabbert' Karto and Alfonso 'mithy' Aguirre Rodriguez have now been included.
After parting ways with their League of Legends team late last week, Ninjas in Pyjamas officials have confirmed to onGamers that contracts are now finalized. Late last night the transfer of Tri Tin 'k0u' Lam from Cloud 9 to NiP was completed, and the roster set in place.
The biggest move comes from the signing of former Gambit Gaming Captain Alexey 'Alex Ich' Ichetovkin, who recently left the star Russian team. Ichetovkin and Lam will be joined by NiP veterans Aleš 'Freeze' Kněžínek, Alfonso 'mithy' Aguirre Rodriguez and Erlend 'Nukeduck' Våtevik Holm.
'I'm really satisfied with the team. Everyone is dedicated and we want to be the best," Ichetovkin says in a new interview with onGamers Senior Content Creator Duncan 'Thorin' Shields, detailing the mindset and reasons in the move from Gambit to NiP. "One of the factors is that I really wanted to play Challenger Series so I could fix my health, not travel as much and be with my family, that is the truth. But there are other goals - the players we have on the team are really, really good and at a LCS level."
"I think overall, even if people don't think I'm trying hard, they're wrong. I'm playing a lot, even with a family - I'm dedicated to this."
Watch the interview (13:30m) below.
The new roster has been put together by Våtevik Holm and Aguirre Rodriguez, who stayed in NiP's gaming house for the duration of the transfer season after the Coke series finished. NiP management stayed in the house with both players to keep being up-to-date with their thought process, but had no input on the final composition of the team.
"After the team disbanded, we allowed any of the players that needed a place to stay, to remain at the gaming house while they considered their options", Gustav M. 'flabbert' Karto, Managing Director of Ninjas in Pyjamas told onGamers. "This gave mithy and NukeDuck the opportunity they needed to build up a new squad, a building process we followed with interest."
"When we saw the full line up being finalized we realized that this line up had real potential. So today we are very happy to announce the return of Mithy, Freeze and NukeDuck to Ninjas in Pyjamas, while we also welcome two new faces, Alexey Ichetovkin and Tri Tin Lam. We are very excited about this new chapter and what the future holds for them, and hope that fans are too!"
Aguirre Rodriguez hopes Ichetovkin's experience and aggressive play will bring a new style to the team. He believes the team's passive play of the past is a big part of the reason they fell behind in the Season 3 Summer Split.
"We have more people willing to shot call and be less afraid to make something happen," he said. "Alex brings experience to the team and he really tries hard to adapt to the meta. If Alex learns his match-ups he can do very well. I personally feel he just needs time. He is very dedicated and toplane is easier to play than midlane anyways."
Karto says the addition of Ichetovkin in the mix is what got the attention of Ninjas in Pyjamas to take things further.
"Alex Ich expressed an interest in change of scenery, so mithy and nuke spoke to him, and he was very interested in their project," says Karto. "This is when we took an interest in this new team, we see that it has real potential, and we have the resources and ability to help the team with whatever they need to become successful."
NiP will assist in Ichetovkin moving to Sweden, with his family to live in an apartment near the team's gaming house in Stockholm. The rest of the players will move directly into the gaming house.
"NiP will help me with moving to Sweden with my whole family, so I'll get an apt near the gaming house," says Ichetovkin. "I really want to win all of the Challenger Series tournaments that there will be. I think those tournaments are very good practice if you really take it seriously. We all have good LAN experience already. If we can win these events, we should qualify into LCS, and then we'll aim for Worlds next year."
Manager Karto believes Ichetovkin will bring experience and stability to the team, that he felt was lacking beforehand. Not only will Ichetovkin help in this area, but NiP will be bringing in a coach to look over the team.
"We are bringing in a new coach and analyst to give the team better feedback before, during and after practices and matches," says Karto. "His responsibility will be to be the head coach of the team, he will decide what they need to work on to improve, give them feedback, and generally make sure the team performs well. We have no ETA on him joining as of yet, but we have someone in mind and it is being actively worked on."
An in-depth 'Reflections' interview hosted by Shields with Ichetovkin will be released soon.