100 Thieves At Worlds - A Preview
League of Legends’ biggest tournament of the year is here and in just two days 16 teams will be competing for a chance to hoist the most prestigious trophy, the Summoner’s Cup.
Among those teams is North America’s 100 Thieves, a team that has been the quintessential description of zero to hero. From making it to their first LCS finals upon joining the league in 2018, to subsequently making it to their first-ever World Championship trip that same year. Since then they went through a lot of trials and tribulations, roster swaps, and inconsistencies but made the heist all worthwhile after, with key acquisitions in both the offseason and the midseason, finally taking the organisation’s first domestic title.
How 100 Thieves Qualified For Worlds
Lock In Tournament
Going into 2021, the Thieves had just come off of one of their worst years yet. A sixth place in the spring and an eighth place in the summer is all they had to show for. Add the fact that their roster left much to be desired, things were not looking good. Contrast this with Golden Guardians and their roster - mainly the core of four from bottom to the jungle - was on the up and up, this was of great benefit for 100 Thieves.
Once in 2021 things drastically changed for the Thieves. They were able to acquire the up and coming core of Golden Guardians and slide it into place alongside their long-time veteran top laner, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho. This was a recipe for success.
This recipe for success immediately began to bear fruit in the Lock In tournament. They took the league by storm with their aggressive dives - particularly in the bottom lane - conclusive and decisive early games, overall strong laning presence and supportive mid-lane picks. This led to a semifinals visit, in which they were reverse swept by eventual tournament runner ups, Cloud9.
2021 Spring Split
That same type of Lock In performance subsequently continued in the first few weeks of the regular season, but got worse. During the middle weeks of the split, the Thieves began to fall out of sports, add a mid-lane swap bringing in Tommy “Ryoma” Le in place of Tanner “Damonte” Damonte and all that came of it was a fourth-place finish.
2021 Summer Split
100 Thieves didn’t get complacent though, as they made the required midseason changes to put them over the hump. They first parted ways with head coach Anthony “Zikz” Gray, and brought on former Cloud9 head coach Bok “Reapered” Hang-gyu. Second, they acquired mid-laner Felix “Abbedagge” Braun from the League of Legends European Championship’s (LEC) FC Shalke 04. These two changes were the biggest and most crucial the organisation has ever made.
These changes immediately made themselves known as the Thieves quickly became one of the teams to beat, finishing off in second place during the regular season, giving themselves a bye. For all intents and purposes, they had arguably some of the best players in the league at every position.
Once in the playoffs, this team tilted heads. First, they took a close 3-2 series over an Evil Geniuses' team that, alongside 100 Thieves, were also looking like one of the teams to beat. Second, they went on and faced Team Liquid with the winner qualifying for the finals. Here they fell in a close 3-2 bout, forcing them to go through the losers’ bracket. In the losers’ bracket, they faced off a Cloud9 team that wasn’t all really there and quickly took care of them in a 3-1 fashion, gaining a rematch versus Team Liquid in the finals.
This team was a completely different beast come to their rematch versus Team Liquid. They swept them in almost record-breaking time - a record held by the very same team they went up against in the 2018 spring finals. This was 100 Thieves' first-ever LCS championship.
How Well Could 100 Thieves Do At Worlds
The Thieves were drawn into the same group as one of the tournament favourites, Edward Gaming and the Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok led T1. For both of these squads, they tend to run their games through their bot lane, meaning that the 100 Thieves bot lane needs to show up to at least contest the beasts that are EDG and T1. There’s also Japan’s DetonatioN FocusMe that, after a slow start in the play-in stage, swiftly turned it up a notch and aren’t pushovers themselves.
The bot lanes aren’t just the major threats from EDG and T1 either, all of their players are major threats and can carry the game on any given day. 100 Thieves needs to be firing from all cylinders from top to bottom. Key performances from Can “Closer” Celik will be required to go alongside the bottom lane standing their ground.