100 Thieves bolster their roster in the middle of the season.
In the wake of a League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) lacklustre spring 2021 finish, 100 Thieves have made two key changes to their roster moving forward into the summer. The Thieves are dead set on leaving their cycle of strong starts that end with disappointing season finishes behind with these moves, and with it, a push for more than just a top-four finish.
Back in 2018, 100 Thieves had one the best starts to an organisation in LCS history; in just their first season, the Thieves made their first Spring Split finals. Although they suffered a devastating 0-3 loss to the LCS history-making dynasty of Team Liquid, they still pushed on into the Summer Split. They were then justly rewarded with their first-ever Worlds trip. This is the quintessential start to any LCS organisation, one that should prevent any from asking for a better start.
Ever since that statement-making season, the Thieves haven’t been able to take big heists again, as they failed to reach the LCS finals and Worlds in both the 2019 and 2020 seasons. After an impressive 2018, they dipped below expectations in 2019, failing to make playoffs in both splits.
Once in 2020, 100 Thieves were able to better that disappointing season by making it to the playoffs both splits, only to have a Losers’ Bracket Round 1 exit.
Fast-forward to 2021, where 100 Thieves had a strong start to the season starting with the LCS Lock In tournament and subsequently the first few weeks of the regular season, off of the backs of a new roster — 2020 Golden Guardians’ core plus mainstay top laner, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho. A struggle through the first weeks, a disappearance of identity in the middle weeks, and a mid-lane swap bringing in Tommy “Ryoma” Le in place of Tanner “Damonte” Damonte landed them in just fourth place - leaving them yearning for more.
Instead of stumbling through the summer, the Thieves decided to make changes. First, they parted ways with head coach Anthony “Zikz” Gray, bringing in former Cloud9 head coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu. Secondly, they acquired mid-laner, Felix “Abbedagge” Braun from the League of Legends European Championship’s (LEC) FC Schalke 04. With a stable bottom lane and Ssumday acquiring his green card — making him a North American resident under the LCS rules — and a strong jungler in Can “Closer” Celik, one could argue that these were some of the most-needed changes, and they did it.
Reapered brings on a plethora of experience, from his days as a top laner in the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) back in 2011 through to 2014, to his days as a coach, coaching teams such as the League of Legends Pro League's (LPL) Edward Gaming for half a year, as well as four solid years of coaching for Cloud9. This experience allows for him to have a more demanding voice over not just 100 Thieves, but any team he could coach — something that the Thieves have lacked since its inception.
Abbedagge is no slouch himself. Nearly five years of pro League of Legends play, almost two of them with FC Schalke 04, he’s been around the block. This may be the standard strong mid-laner that they need; a carry, something that Damonte and Ryoma couldn’t provide. With the current meta demanding more control mages over the utility and roaming mid-lanes — a 100 Thieves staple towards the start of the season — Abbedagge can slot in nicely.
100 Thieves have a proven stable bottom lane in AD Carry Victor “FBI” Huang and support Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun. They have a jungler that can hold his own in Closer, and they also have a top laner in Ssumday who’s been a carry in the past. The mid-lane has never been this team’s strong suit, and this is their chance. In a league that saw the three teams above them all have stable and strong mid-laners such as Cloud9 with Luka “Perkz” Perkovic, Team Liquid with Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, and Team SoloMid with Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, 100 Thieves' acquisition might just help them into that upper echelon.
If this team wants to get over their cycle of strong starts and poor finishes, get past just a top-four finish and finally make it to Worlds again, they have to be more than their past. Being more than their past requires mid-season decisions like these, something that they haven’t been foreign to. Although this isn’t their first time making mid-season, or mid-split decisions, this is more than likely the biggest one of them all. Bringing in such a commanding voice in Reapered, plus adding a strong mid-laner — one of the better ones the team has had — in Abbedagge, this is their chance.
Images via Riot Games