Another Strong Start For 100 Thieves - Is It Different This Time Around?
During the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) Lock In tournament, 100 Thieves took the LCS by storm with their new roster; aggressive dives — particularly in the bottom lane —, conclusive and decisive early games as well as an overall strong laning presence coupled with supportive mid lane picks. But it all came to an end once they faced Cloud9 in the semifinals, getting reverse swept.
Even though they felt the crushing defeat of a reverse sweep, they still had a strong showing for them to open up the 2021 season. This is a terrific start for any organisation in the LCS, a solid foundation that began to take shape at the start of the LCS Lock In was to be used going into the Spring Split and beyond. The idea of taking an already top of the line top laner in North America in Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho while also adding an already synergized four members of the former slowly improving and positive ending Golden Guardians from last year was bound to be a good way to start the season. But it wasn’t planned, or so 100 Thieves General Manager, Christopher “PapaSmithy” Smith said in an opening statement in a press conference.
“We went hard to work, and we ended up with the roster that a lot of people have come to enjoy so far in 2021. Definitely, the endpoint for Golden Guardians players and Ssumday was not the original mission statement, PapaSmithy explained. “We were very clear about what we were looking for in terms of players when it came to players with real carry potential, players that would draw enemy resources both at the top and the bottom of the map and the jungle and the mid lane — wherever possible. And a right balance to make that happen and the endpoint was the roster you see in front of it.”
This left many to wonder: Was this solid 100 Thieves Lock In start a fluke? In years’ past, 100 Thieves had many strong starts but fizzled and slowed down come the middle to the late section of whichever split they were currently playing. 100 Thieves’ best season was their inaugural season, without question. But this time around, it all feels different, it feels as this Thieves lineup is strong, cohesive and is here to stay.
“Coming into the Lock In tournament we had really positive results in practice. So the first question was ‘Okay, was does this team look like on stage?’. You have that inkling from 2020 but the confirmation of some really positive results on stage definitely gave us a lot of confidence,” PapaSmithy said. “But probably the biggest win I’ve seen as a GM is that we obviously, came in strong with aggressive dives and were able to take down some really conclusive early games but from there, teams caught onto our strategy. They were over preparing and preparing for the strategy we showed, and I love the fact that come Week 2 of the regular season we’re already showing that we’re not a one node team.”
The Thieves were quickly able to continue the momentum they had been on prior to being stopped going into the LCS 2021 Spring Split. Although shaky, 100 Thieves were still able to start with a spotless 3-0 record for Week 1.
But the way they went about their wins was backwards to their normal early game dominant style they had portrayed during the LCS Lock In. These games were not as decisive as their wins during the Lock In, but they were wins nonetheless. Come Week 2, this trend diminished; although a single loss on their record so far — by the hands of the team who reverse swept them a few weeks ago and currently tied for first place, Cloud9 — the team still looks to forge head-on.
It’s very much not about scraping Worlds for this roster, it is about keeping ourselves accountable to be a frontrunner rather than just a contender.
100 Thieves had got so close so early in their LCS career after they fell 3-0 to a Team Liquid who was on a run of a lifetime for the region back in NA LCS 2018 Spring Playoffs. Once PapaSmithy came in as General Manager, he and 100 Thieves’ CEO, Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, both explained their want to win an LCS championship — a mission so to speak. A goal that still hasn’t changed, but looks to go beyond just that, PapaSmithy told us.
“So I think that goal doesn’t change a lot, the pathway can definitely change a lot. When we were first doing that opening video we were still in the process of building our 2020 roster. We entered the 2020 season with very few players still under contract from the previous year that we were looking to return with. So, it was very much ‘let’s build a starting point, we know what the end goal is’ and I think all teams even if their short-term plans are less likely to be contending, are still building to eventually contend.”
“With where we ended up, we’re super confident that we have a team that [can] contend for titles. It’s very much not about scraping Worlds for this roster, it is about keeping ourselves accountable to be a frontrunner rather than just a contender,” PapaSmithy said. “Not a lot has changed since the initial mission statement but the confidence now having one year, understanding what it is to be on the team side, to develop myself as a General Manager — I was far from the finished article a year and a half ago, and I still have a lot of learnings to do. But, I think given the bigger staff we have, given the team that we have, it feels like right now we’re in position to strike, and we’ll only know in hindsight where it goes. But definitely just as confident in the content of that pitch a year and a half ago now as I ever have been.”
Images via Riot Games