2019 was supposed to be a big year for 100 Thieves. With names like Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho and Bae “Bang” Jun-sik on the roster many predicted them to be near the top of the league come season end. As the season progressed, it became extremely clear that it takes more than big names on a roster to make a good team, and 100T hadn’t found the right combination. It took them until the second half of the Summer Split, but after months of making changes and trying new lineups, they finally seemed to find one that worked. With Aaron “FakeGod” Lee replacing Ssumday in the Top Lane and Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook sliding into Mid, they started to fight their way back. They went 3-1 in the first two weeks with that lineup, and continued winning as many as they lost for the rest of the season. Though this big upswing wasn’t enough to take them to the postseason, it caught everyone’s attention as they finally saw a glimpse of the team they had been waiting for all year.
With the team coming into their own right before the offseason, they can go one of two ways. The vacation can break their momentum and leave them back where they were at the start of the Spring Split, or they can use the time to continue their upward trajectory and come into 2020 ready to take on the league. Many teams might fall back into a rut, running out of steam after failing to make the playoffs. This team, though, is much more likely to use the time to their advantage.
Good Things Take Time
The main reason that this offseason will only benefit them is that it seemed that time was what they needed in the first place. Their season was not rough all year. They clearly showed an improvement as they found the formula that worked for them. Now that they have that, this roster can put in the time to really make things flow. The success they found came from switching their starting lineup midway through the split, which is incredibly difficult to do at this level of play. If they can succeed jumping right in like this, they will only get better with months of working with and learning about each other.
With the lineup that they finally settled on, 100 Thieves brings in firsthand experience from top regions throughout the world. Aphromoo is one of the most famous and longest performing players in North America, and was the first Support player to win LCS MVP. They have players with experience from multiple regions in Amazing and Ryu and specifically from the LCK in Bang (and Ryu from long ago). Though currently not starting, Ssumday also brings an abundance of knowledge. Having not only these years of experience, but the fact that it comes from a multitude of regions brings a variety of strategies that can make them more adaptable than most.
Papa’s in the House
The latest news coming from the 100 Thieves camp is that they now have legendary LCK Caster Christopher “PapaSmithy” Smith as the General Manager for the team. As one of the most famous casters in the world, his knowledge of the game and scene is clear. Along with what he brings to the team, his arrival is also a good sign for the team as a whole. Making such a drastic move from a prominent career would likely only happen for a good spot with a great team. A team that shows promise and has a realistic plan for success. If PapaSmithy has enough faith in 100Thieves to make this huge change, it likely means that they are set up for success in even more ways than it seems to the public.
Their Time to Shine Again
After a strong start upon entering the league, this team has declined quicker than most. However, the changes they made this season began a new trajectory that brought them back into the mix. With the talent they have both on their roster and in the office, there is little doubt that they will use the off-season to smooth out the wrinkles and come back next year stronger than ever.