In a must-win series against fellow Group B bottom-dwellers Royal Never Give Up (RNG), Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) couldn’t pull it together and suffered two devastating losses that puts them dangerously close to elimination at the end of the Group Stage.

RNG opened game one with Alchemist for Du “Monet” Peng, while NiP countered by putting Adrian “Fata” Trinks on Outworld Devourer and Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard on Slark.

While both teams were relatively even early as they waited for their respective cores to come online, NiP held the lead heading into the midgame as Alchemist needed time before he’s ready to fight. However, they would later lose that advantage as RNG repeatedly picked them off and steamrolled them in fights.

With Monet’s stacked Alchemist leading the way, RNG became too much for NiP to handle and eventually claimed the first game of the series.

NiP picked up the Alchemist for Ace themselves in Game 2, with Fata on Shadow Fiend to dish out damage alongside him. Seeing the lack of stuns and crowd control abilities in NiP’s lineup, RNG fielded the highly-mobile Ember Spirit for Gao “Setsu” Zhenxiong and put Monet on Leshrac.

NiP were able to have a good enough early game to ensure that they have a fighting chance in the midgame even with Alchemist. But once the fights did start to happen, it was apparent that NiP could do little to keep Setsu in check.

While NiP managed to slowly claw their way back into the game, a questionable decision by Fata to not pick up a Scythe of Vyse to help lock down RNG’s Ember Spirit kept his team on the backfoot. With Setsu still free to run rampant over their opponents, RNG eventually won the decisive clash and secure the sweep against NiP.

RNG improve to 3-7 overall with their win, but are still bound for the Lower Bracket in the Main Event. They are, however, safe from elimination after the Group Stage. Meanwhile, NiP become the ones most likely heading home early with an abysmal 1-9 record — a disappointing outcome considering their captain, The International 2015 champion Peter “ppd” Dager.

Be sure to check out our coverage of The International 2019 Group Stage for more TI9 action.