Swedish esports organization Ninjas in Pyjamas is planning to return to League of Legends Championship Series for the first time in four years, sources told ESPN.
Ninjas in Pyjamas organization is in the process of finalizing a deal to purchase the European LCS spot recently obtained by Fnatic Academy for about $500,000, sources said. However, if the deal falls through, sources said NiP will look at purchasing Origen's EU Challenger Series spot.
The deal must be finalized by Riot Games' deadline of Tuesday. Contracts have yet to be signed, and sources say there could be an extension on the deadline.
When contacted by ESPN, Ninjas in Pyjamas CEO Hicham Chahine denied NiP is buying the Fnatic Academy slot. "Unfortunately the information regarding Ninjas in Pyjamas purchasing the Fnatic Academy League of Legends slot is incorrect. If we are to enter League of Legends in the future, I will be happy to confirm your information at that point," Chahine said.
It's uncertain if the Ninjas in Pyjamas organization will obtain the player and coach contracts currently held by Fnatic if the purchase goes through or whether it will field a new squad.
One of the team's players, AD carry Rasmus "MrRalleZ" Skinneholm, is currently filling in at a South Korean bootcamp for the main Fnatic team as its AD carry Martin "Rekkles" Larsson takes a temporary leave of absence.
Fnatic Academy mid laner Yasin "Nisqy" Dinçer was recently transferred to North American Team EnVyUs, meaning the team will need to find a new mid laner before the player roster deadline on May 23.
Ninjas in Pyjamas was among several potential buyers on the short list that was approved by Riot Games for entry into the League Championship Series on Sunday. Following the approval, Fnatic and Ninjas in Pyjamas began to close the deal.
The $500,000 price tag is significantly lower than the most recent League Championship Series buy-ins in the past two years since the esports investment boom in 2015. Multiple sources attribute this to both the lack of interest at a higher selling point and a shorter timeframe to finalize a deal while completing a roster before the start of the summer split on June 2.
The Fnatic Academy team qualified for the League Championship Series on April 14, in the summer promotion tournament with a sweeping victory over Giants Gaming. Fnatic, alongside the likes of Misfits and their secondary team, are forced to sell due to League Championship Series rules that prohibit a single company from owning more than one team in the league.
Ninjas in Pyjamas is one of the more veteran teams in Counter-Strike leagues. In the past year, the team has moved into Overwatch and Dota 2. It previously fielded a League of Legends roster in 2013-14.