When it comes to speculation, there’s no better time than the off-season. And since everyone is making bold predictions, here’s ours: the newly promoted 100 Thieves lineup is going to finish the NA LCS Spring Split in the top-3.
Or, well, they should unless they completely botch the AD carry pickup.
Let's take a look at why.
Four horsemen of Summoner’s Rift
So far, it’s fair to say that 100 Thieves made all the right calls with their new roster.
Their first players came to light on November 22 when the team announced that it’s signed Ssumday for the top lane, Meteos for the jungle, and Ryu for the mid lane. Naturally, this 3-man core became the point of contention in the League of Legends community.
While Ssumday made a name for himself as one of the best (if not the best) top laners in the league, he couldn’t quite carry Team Dignitas in the playoffs. Of course, a good player can be stuck on a bad team. In fact, LirA (Team EnVyUs) and Froggen (Echo Fox) are living proof of that statement. That being said, few people actually doubt Ssumday, and for all intents and purposes, he is still a top lane juggernaut, capable of putting on a clinic on tanks and carries alike.
But what about Meteos and Ryu? Didn’t they underperform on Phoenix1? It’s certainly hard to argue against that.
In Meteos’s case, he made no secret of the fact that he wasn’t playing LoL as much as he could, and Ryu even stepped down from the roster "to combat burnout and improve his mental health." But both of these players proved their worth in the past.
In his prime, Meteos was the best jungler in the West and one of the few players that could go toe-to-toe with Koreans. Of course, times have changed, and the jungle meta shifted away from Meteos’s preferred playstyle. But during his time on Phoenix1, Meteos showed that he’s an LCS-level jungler even when he’s not playing at his best, so imagine what would happen if Meteos actually tried.
As for Ryu, he was the glue that held the volatile H2K squad together. With experience playing in South Korea, Europe, and North America, he took charge of the team’s shot calling and led H2k to several top-4 finishes. But Ryu’s real strength was teamfighting. There, he always seemed to find those clutch plays to turn the tables and keep his team afloat. Even so, Ryu was so vocal that it negatively affected his mechanics. And the player that once challenged Faker struggled to keep up with the competition because he had to shot call for the entire team.
Which brings us to 100T’s next recruit, Aphromoo.
On paper, they couldn’t have signed a better support. For one, Aphromoo is a well-known in-game leader, which should take the burden of shot calling off Ryu. And considering how much time he spent in the scene, he should have no trouble building synergy with other members of the team. But we’re not putting all our eggs in the Aphromoo basket.
Enter coach Pr0lly
Even though their players are great, 100 Thieves’ greatest asset is their head coach, Pr0lly. During his time in the EU LCS, he won three Coach of the Split awards and brought H2K all the way to the Worlds Semifinals. His players speak highly of his game knowledge, although Pr0lly had issues making them execute his strategies in-game. With Aphromoo being there, Pr0lly finally has a strong shot caller to turn his ideas into reality.
Another thing to consider is that Pr0lly had carte blanche when building this roster. Everyone on the team got there because the head coach wanted them in, and he even vouched for Meteos and Ryu in an interview with Travis Gafford Esports. So is it really that surprising that this roster makes so much sense on paper?
Analyzing the competition
Of course, even the strongest lineup would have a hard time against the best teams of the previous season. Fortunately for 100 Thieves, there are none left! The introduction of franchising resulted in many roster shuffles. And while TSM and Team Liquid came out on top, other playoffs contenders—CLG and C9—find themselves in a worse spot.
In the first case, Counter Logic Gaming had to let Aphromoo go to… well, 100 Thieves. And while they signed a strong mechanical support in Biofrost, it will take time before they can fill the void left by losing their captain. They also brought in Reignover in place of OmarGod, which could be considered an upgrade. But the Korean jungler has his Team Liquid past haunting him, and he has to prove he can perform without Huni before he can be considered a top-tier player again.
As for Cloud9, they’ve bizarrely parted ways with Contractz right when he reached his prime. More importantly, they had to let go of Impact. The fact that they’ve signed Svenskeren and Licorice in their stead leaves us even less optimistic about this team.
Of course, C9 are no strangers to roster moves, especially in the jungle position. But Impact was such a vital part of their lineup that every time Ray subbed in, they looked like a completely different team. With that in mind, it’s clear that Cloud9 will have to reinvent they playstyle. And that’s a very slow and painful process.
So there you have it! 100 Thieves put the right person in charge, built a strong lineup, and—the icing on the metaphorical cake—both of their direct competitors made roster downgrades. Of course, beating TSM and Team Liquid might still be a tall order, but if that’s not enough for them to finish top-3, then we don’t know what is.
What do you think about 100 Thieves in the 2018 NA LCS season? Share your opinion in the comments below!