Once upon a time, Ninjas in Pyjamas weren't just a good CS:GO team — they were an unstoppable juggernaut. Where the team is now barely a contender, they were once the undisputed best team in the world. Seriously, they were literally unbeatable, winning 87 straight maps on LAN without dropping a single one.
It's a record that has never been replicated in CS:GO, and remains one of the most impressive esports records of all time. On the surface though, it seems impossible. Think about it, we've had several best teams in the world across dozens of esports and traditional sports, but when was the last time you saw a team go undefeated across such a significant period of time?
Remember, they didn't lose a single map. Not just games, maps. It's like if the Yankees didn't just win five World Series in the '40s and '50s, they did it without giving up a single game in any of their series. It's insane. It doesn't seem real. If you told me NiP went 87-0 today, I'd laugh and probably call someone to escort you to a hospital. And it's not just that NiP isn't as good these days, it's that no one could possibly win 87 maps in a row without losing a single one.
But NiP did.
There are a couple factors as to how this happened. As esports journalist Duncan "Thorin" Shields points out in a video he made about the subject, NiP had a lot going for them at the time. The streak started in August 2012 and lasted all the way to April 2013, which meant that NiP dominated the very beginning of competitive CS:GO. They were the first legendary team in the game's history, but part of that was because the best Counter-Strike 1.6 teams in the world had yet to switch over to CS:GO.
Fnatic didn't come to CS:GO until November. Natus Vincere came to CS:GO even later and while ESC came to CS:GO between the two, the Polish roster refused to make the necessary roster changes needed to become the dominant force they would later become as Vritus.pro. Similarly, Fnatic and Na`Vi needed time to learn CS:GO, time they didn't have when NiP was dunking on them every other week.
The only team that held a candle to NiP was VeryGames, which went on to become Team Titan. VeryGames were good, but somehow, they couldn't ever beat NiP. The problem was partially player performance, but it was also map based. Back then, CS:GO only had five competitive maps, and NiP were amazing at all of them. You couldn't ban them out, while VeryGames chose to focus on four maps and ban Infenro. NiP was never fighting from behind, something they could only really do with such a small map pool.
With VeryGames always beating other teams too, there was barely a chance for anyone else to come and upset NiP. They knew how to beat VeryGames every time, and if VeryGames beat everyone else, they never really had to worry about the X-Factor of another team.
NiP's reign came to an end when Virtus.pro defeated them 2-0 at StarLadder StarSeries V in April, though this was an all-CIS VP roster that featured players like Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow and Mikhail "Dosia" Stolyarov. But the memory of their streak lives on, if only because it still seems insane, even with all that explanation.
Somewhere, VeryGames had to have been able to take a map. Sometime, someone could have figured out the maps better. Somehow some team could have noticed a crack in their armor. But no one could stop NiP. 87-0 isn't a record, it's madness. It lives on as the craziest CS:GO record of all time, and even if NiP can't quite live up to that these days, you have to respect the team built on the foundation of the once-undisputed best team in the world.
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twtter.