NiP CEO on Why NiP Returned to League of Legends With LPL Roster
The landscape of esports is constantly changing – now, NiP is moving into China’s LPL for League of Legends. We recently had a chance to speak to the CEO of NiP, Hicham Chahine about this very same thing. We spent some time talking about the past of Ninjas in Pyjamas, and what they can bring to the LPL. It is the most competitive, intense part of the League of Legends community across the entire planet. If NiP can bring their tried-and-true method of creating winners, it could be a really fascinating next couple of seasons in the League of Legends’ LPL.
Why NiP Is Back in LoL
Jason: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! NiP moving into China’s League of Legends scene for the LPL is a huge deal. What inspired this major shift as opposed to staying with the LEC?
Hicham: We have the ambition to create the world’s biggest and most global esports organization, and to accomplish that we need to have a presence in the global top regions. We have our Rainbow Six team in Brazil, our CSGO team in the EU etcetera. China is the biggest gaming market in the world, and LPL is the biggest league for LoL. Also, as we are entering a new space in mobile gaming, we wanted to do everything in the same place. The Chinese market happens to be one of the fastest-growing markets for mobile esports, which made eStar with its KPL slot (amongst other titles) and mobile experience an attractive prospectus.
Jason: NiP had a long and storied run in the LEC. Are there any lessons when it comes to coaching and recruiting that the org has learned to bring with them to the LPL?
Hicham: NIP as an organization has grown a lot since our latest LoL session. Back then, we were still a Counter-Strike team primarily, and LoL maybe didn’t get as much attention as it should have — as needed for a title of its size. With the resources we have today and our new partners from ESV5, we are ready to treat LoL as a primary focus title. Overall, we have an established infrastructure and much better conditions entering a new tier 1 title and the market today than just two years ago.
Jason: What inspired the return to competitive League of Legends?
Hicham: Aside from what’s been said earlier, about our goal in becoming the biggest and most global esports brand, we were simply just tired of watching Worlds from the sidelines.
Jason: The LPL may just be the most competitive and intense League of Legends pro scene in the world. What does your org bring to the region?
Hicham: Mainly the NIP legacy of winning, but also the expertise in several areas such as scouting and performance. Then we have the brand Ninjas in Pyjamas, deeply rooted and linked with esports for over 20 years. We are looking forward to entering the region as a brand, and to have an impact in the LPL; on and off the rift…
Jason: Admittedly, Victory Five’s last run in the LPL was a pretty rough one. What can you bring to the team to turn the ship around?
Hicham: Over the last years, we have developed a more structured way and expertise developing and working with esports players. We are extremely excited to bring our knowledge and system into such a young organization in China, and we believe there are good opportunities in amplifying the existing Victory Five structure to create winning teams over the long term. This merger has been a work in progress for almost a year and we expected the dip in the performance last season as this merger was on the horizon.
Jason: In your announcement for the NiP LPL team, you also briefly mentioned League of Legends: Wild Rift. Will we see an announcement for a Wild Rift roster soon?
Jason: New teams and new regions typically mean new names and faces. Are there any players your coaches have their eyes on to recruit?
Hicham: We are still in the process, its early stages, so I’ll leave that to speculation.
Jason: On that note, what is your ultimate goal for your time in the LPL? Are you interested in developing new talent, or can we expect a “superteam” in the near future?
Hicham: We have our NIP model that we believe in. A good indication is our efforts within CSGO with the scouting program and Young Ninjas, ultimately focused on finding and nurturing future pros. Our ambition will always be to find talents willing to work hard to go from zero to hero, in this case with a clear goal to compete at Worlds.
Jason: Each region has its own approach when it comes to training and growth in esports. What appeals to you the most about the Eastern esports philosophy?
Hicham: The large talent pool, fierce competition, and the overall level of the league. But also that the scene in China presents a tremendous opportunity for NIP to expand and manifest itself as a truly global brand. It will be a learning curve for us, for sure, but we are excited and humble in taking on that challenge.
Jason: One of the harder parts of growth is cultivating new fans. Do you have any engagements planned to bring the eyes of the LPL fans onto Ninjas in Pyjamas?
Hicham: The obvious answer here is: We want the western fans to start watching the LPL and the LPL fans to start watching our other titles. We are already working hard, planning and developing our fan experience tailored to China; including engaging content, epic merchandise and apparel, and exciting fan activations at our two home courts in Shenzhen and Wuhan amongst a wide variety of things.
Jason: What is the future in the LPL as you see it for the NiP?
Hicham: The first year will be a tremendous learning experience, but we have the ambition to build a team that consistently goes to Worlds over the long term. It will take time but we are fully committed to take on that challenge together with our new partners.