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Thieves never prosper: The fall and fall of 100 Thieves

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Expert
11th March, 2019
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What a difference a split makes.

Just a few months ago – though it feels like a lifetime in many ways – 100 Thieves qualified for Worlds at the first attempt. A stellar debut season saw them top the table at the end of Spring Split 2018, which was enough to qualify the new team for Worlds, despite a fourth-place finish in Summer.

Fast forward to the current day and the Thieves are tied for bottom place in the LCS with just a handful of matches left to play. With a whopping ten loses in 14 games, the team’s split is all but over and the players’ performances seems to reflect it at times.

What happened? How did 100 Thieves go from being one of the best teams in their region to being arguably the worst? After all, to have such an incredible debut season is almost unheard of.

But even that wasn’t without teething problems. The organisation drew a lot of ire over its handling of fan favourite jungler Meteos. Back in July of last year he appeared to have been transferred to Flyquest without his consent. Worse still, he would go from a starting role on 100 Thieves (after a 2-0 week, no less) to the academy team of Flyquest.

The specifics of the situation turned out to be a little more complicated than that, but it wasn’t a great look for the new team and fans sided with the veteran jungler.

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You might expect and forgive some such issues for a new organisation. Chalk it up to experience and avoid similar mistakes in future, eh, lads?

Alternatively, you could bench your star AD Carry with no explanation just days before the biggest tournament of your team’s life. Whoops!

There was a lot of speculation about the reason for Cody Sun’s last-minute removal from the team, mostly centred on him being difficult to work with. The truth never really came out, though, so speculation was all we had.

What we do know is that the whole thing ended poorly for everyone concerned. Cody is currently playing for the Clutch Gaming Academy, who are struggling along at the foot of the Academy league with a dismal 3-13 record. 100 Thieves, as mentioned earlier, are also glued to the bottom of their own league, looking like a shadow of the team that qualified for Worlds last year.

Oh, and as for that Worlds showing itself, the less said the better. They beat the worst team in the tournament twice and looked out of their depth against Fnatic and Invictus Gaming. To be fair, those two teams were the eventual grand finalists, but the games were not remotely close.

Fan response to the team’s current form has taken an interesting turn, however. There was a lot of anger and disappointment surrounding the Worlds and Cody Sun fiasco, but it has morphed into something like patronising sympathy now. Aphromoo has become the focus of a lot of this, starting with an infamous interview in which he appeared completely burnt out.

The crowd cheers as Maryville University wins the championship in the League of Legends College Championship at the NA LCS Studio at Riot Games Arena on May 28, 2017 in Santa Monica, California.

League of Legends fans (Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

More recently, he made a couple of unusual mistakes which drew a lot of attention, first with a bizarre, unnecessary death against TSM and then the following day with, well, just click this link. It’s difficult to describe the second clip beyond ‘Aphromoo does nothing’.

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It’s clear that things simply aren’t right in the 100T camp. Aphromoo looks like a different player to the happy, smiling guy we knew on CLG once upon a time. Whatever happened with Cody Sun behind closed doors is still having a knock-on effect on the team. After all, players of this calibre don’t simply go bad over the winter break: it has to be psychology and team chemistry going down the toilet.

The TSM game featured in that first clip was where I gave up this team altogether. It’s time to rip the whole thing up and start over. The game was in the palm of their hands and a win over TSM could have papered over a lot of the very obvious cracks in 100 Thieves’ confidence. They even survived a baron steal, picked up their own and paired it with an elder drake which led to them taking down an inhibitor.

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Do you know what the win percentage is for taking down first inhibitor? In Soloqueue it’s 91 per cent. 100 Thieves took down two, almost three, and still lost. Obviously TSM are somewhat sterner opponents than you face in your average ranked game, but that’s still a pretty big yikes.

The last ten minutes of the TSM game was painful to watch, but that’s been 100 Thieves to a tee since the end of last split. Coordination and cohesion are at an all-time low, and turning around such a difficult situation is even more unlikely than turning around a two-inhibitor deficit.