After a winning weekend, 100 Thieves traded jungler William “Meteos” Hartman for Andy “AnDa” Hoang. Surprised, the League community questioned the reasoning behind the trade. Meteos performed on stage, and 100 Thieves is currently at the top of the standings along with Team SoloMid, Team Liquid and Echo Fox. However, as more information came to light, it became clear that this trade may be unfortunate for Meteos, but 100 Thieves made a viable call.
The Initial Reaction
Since his debut in 2012, Meteos cultivated a fanbase due to his play style and fun personality. Fans first heard of the trade through Meteo’s tweet, now deleted at the request of FlyQuest. Fans heavily criticized the trade. Even other professional players like Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes tweeted “Is that even allowed?” A trade during the middle of the season felt strange. Not only is Meteos being traded to Flyquest, a team lower in the standings, but Meteos is not guaranteed a starting position.
A sizable percentage of the community blame this change on franchising. Players seem to have no agency. According to a Tweet from Meteos, the trade was completed on the Friday before, but he did not hear of its confirmation until Sunday. Fans started calling for the NALCS Player Association to do something. While most of it was said in a joking manner, the general consensus is that players need more protection.
100 Thieves Statement and Analysis
After the backlash, 100 Thieves posted a statement the day after. According to the statement, Meteos gave permission to talk to other teams about trades. While 100 Thieves performed on stage, problems within the team made a change necessary. In the 100 Thieves YouTube series, The Heist, Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black talked about internal issues within the team. Meteos knew that 100 Thieves were looking to trade him. While he did not know the specifics, Meteos could not say that it was a complete surprise. Some of the community backlash was undeserved.
Mark “MarkZ” Zimmerman posted a video on his channel identifying the issues with the initial community response. He began his video explaining the difference between getting kicked off of a team and being traded. If one is kicked off the team, like former TSM player Yiliang “Peter” “Doublelift” Peng, they have all the prospects, but no salary. In contrast, 100 Thieves traded Meteos, meaning that Meteos cannot choose which team he ends up on, but continues to have his salary.
The timing of the trade seems unfortunate, but 100 Thieves made the right call of when to tell Meteos of his new team. While the agreement was made on Friday, telling Meteos prior to the games could have caused unneeded stress that would inhibit Meteos from playing well on stage.
The Relationship Between Teams and Community
The League community gets its information directly from the players. Usually, this leads to criticism of the teams. With the recent Cloud9 roster switch, fans already blamed the franchising system implemented this year. News about trades in the middle of the season are unwelcome. Teams need to consider their public relations with fans. This is particularly important in North America where fans tend to follow players rather than teams.
Players also have to consider their own role within the NA LCS. The public outcry is tied to players tweeting out their immediate reactions to their new standings in teams. This instant communication between player and fan base is extremely dangerous when trying to build a brand. For example, Meteos could have handled the trade a lot better, leading to a smoother exit for all parties involved. 100 Thieves could have had a much better stance for the public. As League of Legends becomes more like a traditional sport, it is important for actions like trades to be facilitated better in order to continue pioneering the esports category.
Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr.