At the end of 2017, 100 Thieves burst into the League of Legends Championship Series in style. The new “cool kids” of the LCS planted their flag in the newly-franchised league on day one. They had the sickest apparel, some of the coolest players in the league at the front of their brand and plenty of haters to boot.
Despite the org’s inexperience within the League of Legends space and low expectations set by fans and analysts alike, the Thieves made a statement in their freshman year as an LCS team. They took third place in the LCS 2018 spring regular season, made the finals against Team Liquid and attended the 2018 World Championship.
Maybe they only qualified based on championship points. Maybe they simply got lucky. Maybe they bought their success. Either way, the “how” or “why” of it all never tarnished what they accomplished back then.
Now, almost three full years later, history repeats itself. With Worlds qualification already on lock, 100 Thieves upset Cloud9 in the LCS 2021 Championship lower bracket finals 3-1 and will face Team Liquid in a poetic, grand finals rematch on Aug. 29.
Today, 100 Thieves’ players (and apparel lines) are better than they’ve ever been, yet the haters remain. Love ’em or hate ’em, the boys in red and white took the first bow after the final nexus exploded on Saturday. It’s time to put some respect on 100 Thieves’ name.
The more things change, the more they stay the same
Until 2021, 100 Thieves had only placed above the top five of the LCS twice in the org’s existence: once in 2018 summer and once in 2020 spring. It looked like it could remain those two seasons, too, since 100 Thieves entered into this year in a manner all-too-familiar to 100 Thieves fans: with a roster rebuild announcement. The Thieves would absorb the core from Golden Guardians’ historic 2020 playoff run consisting of bot laner Victor “FBI” Huang, mid laner Tanner “Damonte” Damonte, support Choi “huhi” Jae-hyun and jungler Can “Closer” Çelik.
Breaking down our 2021 League of Legends roster with @Papasmithy and @Zikzlol.— 100 Thieves (@100Thieves) November 20, 2020
This year, we focused on building a team with firepower and aggression while balancing team dynamic. pic.twitter.com/y6lwlyUOEn
However, even after Damonte’s swift replacement by 100 Thieves Academy mid laner Tommy “ry0ma” Le, 100 Thieves managed to secure fourth place in the 2021 spring post-season. And following the addition of former Schalke 04 Esports ace mid Felix “Abbedagge” Braun going into 2021 summer split, 100 Thieves remained within the top three of the LCS throughout the entire regular season. Now, they’re making a push to stake their claim as North America’s number one team, and they might just go all the way.
In Upcomer’s LCS 2021 Championship roundtable, 2021 LCS Proving Grounds champion Aidan “5fire” Reckamp expressed that this 100 Thieves lineup is more than meets the eye and has what it takes to meet TL in the finals.
“I think that grand finals is going to be a rematch of TL and 100T,” said 5fire. “I think they really showed what they can do as a team… with C9 struggling a little bit against TSM, I don’t know if they’re really in quite the same form this late into playoffs, so I think it’ll be 100 Thieves.”
In today’s series against Cloud9, 100 Thieves not only exhibited effective prep and an ability to execute on an established game plan, but they also showcased their strength and clutch factor as individual players. FBI’s ability to carry with the resources given to him was a big reason why 100 Thieves began the series up 2-0 against Cloud9 and were able to eventually close the whole thing out in four games. Closer, meanwhile, found the game-winning Lee Sin kick onto C9’s Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen in game 2 when 100 Thieves were down more than 5,000 gold. And it was Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho who found the series-winning flank on Camille to end it all.
Run it up and up and up
Of all the players currently on 100 Thieves, only Ssumday can recall that swift 0-3 loss against Team Liquid back in 2018. That’s because Ssumday is the only player on 100 Thieves who experienced the sweltering heat and roaring crowd of a packed Fillmore Theatre in Miami on that bright, spring day.
Ssumday alone remembers, but he won’t be alone in his quest for redemption against Team Liquid on championship Sunday. Now he has four of the best players in the LCS by his side working toward that common goal.
In a post-game interview after the match, FBI expressed his thoughts on the team’s second attempt at securing an LCS championship.
“I think Team Liquid has been getting a little bit too cocky,” FBI said. “They are a good team, and Alphari is a really good player, but it’s going to feel really nice to shut him up tomorrow.”
100 Thieves are a team capable of taking down the defending LCS champs when the odds were stacked against them. They’re a team that qualified for the 2021 World Championship as a top-two seed. And, sure, they’re a team that makes damn good hoodies. Witness them on Aug. 29 at 4 p.m. EST in the grand finals against Team Liquid.