In yet another roster shake up, Ninjas in Pyjamas signed former Counter-Strike professional Saif “Sayf” Jibreel to their active VALORANT roster today. The organization also benched Damien “Hyp” Souville and Enzo “Fearoth” Mestari, who they signed in mid-July.
Sayf has competed in VALORANT professionally since July. He played for Bonk, the team who notably defeated NiP at the LVL Clash Two tournament in August before losing in the finals to G2 esports.
“Sayf is one of the most versatile players in the scene,” Emil “eMIL” Sandgren, NiP’s VALORANT head coach, said. “He got my attention during our time together in Bonk, and I can say with confidence that he is a future star. In my mind he is one of the best VALORANT players already and I’m happy to have him onboard.”
Sayf will be replacing Fearoth and Hyp on the starting roster. Before joining NiP, Fearoth and Hyp competed together alongside Charles “CREA” Beauvois on the VALORANT team HypHypHyp in several early VALORANT competitions. When NiP signed them, the three teammates were expected to become the backbone of their VALORANT team. But things didn’t go quite as well as expected.
Over the past two months, NiP have struggled to find success, even at B-Tier events. Most recently the team lost both of their matches at the BLAST Twitch Invitational against G2 Esports and Team Liquid.
“The competitive scene has progressed rapidly over the past months and we have to conclude that we’ve fallen further behind,” Jonas Gunderson, Chief Operating Officer at NiP, said. “Becoming a top tier contender on the global scene remains a priority for NiP and we’ve had to evaluate our position. Sometimes a group of five just doesn’t come together to bring out the best of each other, and even though time played together can be a factor, we decided to continue in a different direction without HyP and Fearoth. Adding Emil as a coach – and Sayf into the lineup – provides us with fresh eyes and new opportunities, combined with raw firepower.”
Although Fearoth acknowledged that the team’s performances have been poor in recent months, the player expressed his discontentment with the process and manner by which NiP made the decision to bench him.
“During these 2 months, I have always received praise from NiP and the coach since his arrival for my work and the added value I brought to the team,” Fearoth explained in a Twitlonger. “You can’t imagine the frustration and the feeling of injustice I feel when the entire professional environment in which you work leads you to believe that everything is going well, congratulates you on your work and then, overnight, you are dismissed because a choice had to be made. I’m just disappointed that there was no dialogue between the players and NiP’s coaching staff / management to explore the options and for the future of the team.”
Hyp also expressed his disappointment with the team’s decision on Twitter and promised to make further comments on the situation in some upcoming interviews.
This roster transition is the second major roster revision NiP has undertaken since first entering the VALORANT scene earlier this year. In April, the organization signed their own former Paladins team to serve as their inaugural VALORANT roster. That team won the Paladins World Championship in 2019, so they showed some real promise coming into the VALORANT scene. That roster did not achieve the results NiP was looking for, however, leading to the release of the entire team in June.
It is unclear when Sayf will debut with NiP, since the team has no upcoming matches scheduled. NiP will also need to fill their final active roster slot, since they currently have only four players on their active roster after benching Hyp and Fearoth.