Heading into the LCS 2019 Spring Split, 100 Thieves had one of the best rosters on paper.
Following South Korea’s worst performance in the international stage at the 2018 World Championship, the North American organization took advantage of South Korean players who were looking for a fresh start in other regions. To that end, they signed two-time World Champion, Bae “Bang” Jun-sik, in what was one of the highlight signings of the season, as well as Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun.
Unfortunately, however, their signings have not paid of.
Instead of contesting for a spot in the playoffs, 100 Thieves were left in last place with a 4-14 record and with a lot more uncertainty than ever before.
What Is 100 Thieves’ Identity as a Team?
With Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho in the top lane, Andy “AnDa” Hoang in the jungle, Huhi in the mid lane, and Bang and Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black in the bottom lane, here’s how the team should look like in the current meta: Ssumday should be on a champion that can be either or both a side lane threat or a team fighting menace— he has never been particularly known for his laning prowess, and his late game decision making is something that has gained attention time and time again, as he has single handedly prevented games from ending before.
Huhi should be on a roaming mid laner with the safest laning phase possible, like Lissandra, Galio, or his trademark Aurelion Sol. This means that AnDa’s duty should be to enable Huhi as much as he can, and for both of them to roam and transfer leads to a side lane as a duo. AnDa should be the tempo setter for the team, both by starving out the enemy jungler and by securing relevant objectives.
Bang has always been a rather safer bottom laner, never losing lane by a wide margin even when on an unfavorable matchup.
By looking at their ideal game plans and based on the situation of the current meta, 100 Thieves appeared to be in contention to be one of the top teams in the league. Arguably they were the ones who benefitted the most from having stable mid laners like Lissandra, Urgot, Sion, and Zoe at the forefront of the mid lane champion pool. Even Orianna is not too bad in this meta.
Where Did It All Go Wrong?
Neil “pr0lly” Hammad is usually known for rather shrewd drafting and easily reading what the opposing team wanted to draft. Although their drafts are good on paper, they don’t really match well with the players and their tendencies.
For example, Ssumday has not been the type of top laner to be an immense lane bully. However, due to the emphasis for top lane carries for this season, and because of the difficulty of executing drafts with split pushers, the team seems to have opted into saving counter picks for him.
Huhi has been the subject of much criticism, and some of these are warranted. In the current state of League of Legends, there are so many things decided by the laning phase. Because in this season minions are not the only things teams are fighting for in the lanes, Huhi appears to be massively behind as he loses both turret plates and minions.
At the same time, Bang has not been given a lot of tools to succeed. He’s mostly been on Ezreal. Even if his Ezreal is among the best in the world, the champion isn’t the type that’s picked to carry the game. Instead, it’s picked to help give enough space for supports to roam.
Finally, Aphromoo being on Braum so much doesn’t do him justice. His playstyle, which is more proactive than reactive, fit other champions a lot better.
Overall Synergy and Team Play
Drafting and talent can only take you so far if your team doesn’t have chemistry and communications.
For a team as talented as 100 Thieves’ roster at the 2019 LCS Spring Split, you’d expect the team to take off right from the get go. After all, they did retain three of their players from last year’s squad. Not to mention, Huhi has had history playing with Aphromoo. Finally, the lone newcomer, Bang, has shown that his English has improved a lot in recent years.
It’s only natural for a new team to take some time to mesh. A full split later, and 100 Thieves still don’t look like they have it all together. The team just can’t seem to secure advantages when they should, and their map play is lackluster at best. More often than not, they look like a team that’s in disarray, and late into the season, it looked as if the team’s synergy was actually getting worse.
As a result, 100 Thieves made some changes. They replaced Huhi with their Academy mid laner, Max “Soligo” Soong. This was a solid move as Soligo is a rather serviceable laner that has a lot of potential. But, even then, the same problems existed everywhere else, and his potential is wasted. In the last week of the split, they subbed in the rest of their Academy roster except for bottom laner. This did not offer much difference in terms of results, but it did show that building something from their academy team could also be a worthwhile effort.
Having a rather underwhelming spring does not spell the end for the organization— 100 Thieves could surge back in the summer and still make a run to make it back to the World Championship. However, they will need to work a little harder as their spring performance means that they will not have championship points yet. If they can address their problems soon enough, then we might just see this squad fulfill their potential.
If not, then we can expect even more changes to the roster going forward. Sometimes it does work that way: certain rosters just don’t work, and usually it is not just one player’s problem.
What do you think 100 Thieves biggest problem was during the LCS 2019 Spring Split? Do you think that the team can turn things around come summer time? If so, what kind of changes do you expect to see from the team? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.