Ninjas in Pyjamas announced the departure of Saahil "Universe" Arora, who is set to leave the roster due to coronavirus concerns, which will heavily affect the competitive schedule of the Swedish esports organisation.
The announcement of Universe's departure surfaced on Tuesday, when Ninjas in Pyjamas made a Twitter post, revealing upcoming roster changes, which were ushered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Due to the situation with COVID-19 and the consequent move to regional competition, we are forced to restructure our line-up in Dota2 to ensure continued practise and competition," read the announcement.
In their blog post, Ninjas in Pyjamas revealed further details about the roster change, stating that one of their core strategies is "to build towards a core of players that can last way beyond the short term TI cycles," and while NiP noted that they're getting close to achieving that goal, there are still some small changes that needed to be made.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has made assembling a stable team a tedious task, as all esports tournaments opted to switch over to online tournaments, meaning most of esports events will be played regionally, as to avoid any latency issues a global online event would cause.
"The prevailing situation in competitive DotA forces us all to re-evaluate how to run a team and requires a more regionalized approach for the foreseeable future," added Ninjas in Pyjamas.
It appears that Universe's departure from the team is in no way related to his performances, but instead to the changed schedule of Dota Pro Circuit (DPC).
The 30-year-old Dota2 veteran began his career as an esports athlete in August 2011 with Online Kingdom, where he played with some of the most storied players in the scene, including Ninjas in Pyjamas coach Per Anders Olsson "Pajkatt" Lille, Dominik "Lacoste" Stipić and Clinton "Fear" Loomis. After Online Kingdom disbanded in November 2011, the quarter went their separate ways, however, Universe reunited with Fear in May 2012, when he joined Evil Geniuses, who at the time were rebuilding their roster after a period of instability.
Unfortunately, Unverse's stay at Evil Genuises was short lived, as he and his teammate Kanishka 'Sam' "BuLba" Sosale decided to leave the team two weeks after finishing ninth-12th at The International 2012, due to personal problems with some of the other team members. Shortly after his departure, Universe teamed up with Quantic Gaming and in January 2013 joined Team Dignitas, where he secured another top-12th place finish at The International and in September 2019 announced his return to Evil Geniuses.
In February 2014, Evil Geniuses signed Peter "ppd" Dager, with whom Universe went on to create a strong bond which was held together with both friendship between the two players, as well as dominant performances throughout DPC season. In 2014, Evil Geniuses made some serious noise in the Dota2 competitive scene. Led by ppd, EG won The Summit, MLG T.K.O. America, HyperX D2L Western Challenge, DreamLeague Season 2, StarLadder StarSeries Season 10, pocketed silver at ESL One New York 2014 and ESL One Frankfurt 2014, as well finished TI4 at third place.
Throughout 2015, Evil Geniuses switched into a higher gear and produced a plethora of impressive results, which included a third-place finish at Dota 2 League Season 5 and The Frankfurt Major 2015, silver medals from MLG World Finals, ESL One Frankfurt 2015, The Summit 3 and joinDOTA MLG Pro League Season 1, as well as gold medals from Dota 2 Asia Championships 2015, The Summit 4, Dota Pit League Season 3 and The International 2014.
Universe extended his stay with Evil Geniuses throughout 2016 and 2017 and although he failed to lift the Ageis of Champions for the second time, EG managed to stand on the podium once more in 2016. Unfortunately, EG's strong run came to an end shortly after TI6, when pdd announced his departure from the roster, which was a massive blow for the team, who finished TI7 ninth-12th, which marked the first time in three years that Evil Geniuses failed to reach TI podium.
Universe left the team in December 2017 and teamed up with Fnatic, where he remained up until September 2018 when Fnatic rebuilt their roster and released Universe from the team. Since then, Universe played for Quincy Crew, Forward Gaming and in September 2019 teamed up with Ninjas in Pyjamas, where he reunited with his old friend pdd.
Throughout his time with Ninjas in Pyjamas, Universe proved to be stable second support next to pdd. Although Universe failed to establish himself as the best player in the team, the wealth of experience he gained throughout his career played a pivotal role in NiP's success.
Despite playing a crucial role in the team, Universe did not join NiP in their venture through ESL One Los Angeles Online, because he resides in the United States, while the rest of the team is based out of Europe. This ushered NiP to bring in stand-in players in Evgeniy “Blizzy” Ree and Milan "MiLAN" Kotomara who replaced Universe and Rodrigo “Lelis” Santos, who was also unable to attend the event.
Given that Universe got removed from the team due to his inability to join NiP in Europe, it's safe to speculate Lelis might follow suit, as he resides in Brazil and will be unable to help NiP in their competitions, which will be played from Europe.
It remains to be seen which player will replace the 30-year-old veteran at Ninjas in Pyjamas, but there are some speculations suggesting the current stand-in MiLAN could become a permanent replacement for Universe, as he is a free agent since March 2020, when he left Chicken Fighters. Bizzy, on the other side, is a potential replacement for Lelis, given that he is currently a benched member of Natus Vincere.