Author: Grayson Neander

100 Thieves Secure VCT NA Stage 2 Challengers Spot

Fresh off of a massive rebuild, the 100 Thieves VALORANT squad has officially secured themselves a spot in the NA Stage 2 Challengers. Comically titled “Asuna Will bang Derrek and Stellar” by fans online, the new 100T lineup was built around star player Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk. While the original roster was constructed around former Team Liquid and Rogue CS:GO professional player Spencer “Hiko” Martin and underwent multiple rebuilds with him as the focus for nearly two years, an abysmal VCT Masters and NA LCQ run forced 100T Founder and CEO Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag to seriously consider the future of 100T VALORANT. After deciding that the 32-year-old CS:GO veteran was no longer the best focus of the organization for the coming years, 100 Thieves opted to rebuild around 18-year-old star player Asuna. Hiko officially retired from VALORANT on April 12th, and 100T signed him as a content creator/streamer. Now left with only two players on their roster, 100T made the tough decision to bench Ethan “Ethan” Arnold and sign players to accommodate Asuna. Taking advantage of their vacancies, 100T signed Sean “bang” Bezerra on a loan from TSM after he was benched and replaced. From the 100T bench, NRG was quick to sign Ethan, while 100T acquired community favorites Daniel “ddk” Kapadia and Sean “sgares” Gares as general manager and head coach respectively. Together, these two new signees carefully tried out and tested a multitude of players from different roles to supplement Asuna and bang. After a few short weeks, they signed on three new players that they felt would best facilitate 100T’s success. With their comedic group name aside, the roster was completed with the addition of William “Will” Cheng; Derrek “Derrek” Ha, and Brenden “stellar” McGrath.The complete 100 Thieves roster and their roles is/are as follows:Asuna (signed 10/02/2020) (Flex, transition from Duelist)Will (signed 04/12/2022) (Duelist)bang (loaned from TSM 02/21/2022) (Controller)Derrek (signed 04/12/2022) (Flex, bought out from the Rise roster that beat 100T in NA LCQ)stellar (signed 04/12/2022) (IGL [in-game leader]) Credit: 100 ThievesOpen Qualifier 1 ShortcomingsDespite having a roster carefully crafted for success and built around functioning components with no role overlap, 100 Thieves had very little time to prepare for the first open qualifier of the 2022 VCT NA Stage 2 Challengers. After just a few weeks of time to practice and develop chemistry, 100T debuted their new roster against TSM, one of the most prominent teams in eSports, who had, coincidentally, also rebuilt their roster just a few months earlier. As with most rebuilds, 100T fell short and lost their first match 2-1. Despite starting the matchup strong, and taking the opener 13-3 on Split, the Thieves fell short as TSM pulled off the come-from-behind victory. Now relegated to the losers’ bracket, 100 Thieves matched up against Gen.G. Once again winning Split, 100T beat Gen.G 2-1, picking up Ascent after losing it to TSM 11-13. Transitioning up the lower bracket, 100T 2-0’d Evil Geniuses in statement victory games on both Bind (13-6) and Split (13-8). Moving further along the bracket, 100T faced off against the Pittsburgh Knights, whom they narrowly beat 2-1 without playing Split. With one match to go to secure a spot in VCT NA Stage 2 Challengers, a familiar face emerged. After losing to FaZe Clan in their Upper Bracket Final, TSM fell to the lower bracket for a chance to redeem themselves and secure their ticket to the NA VCT. Unfortunately for the new 100T roster, they did just that. While 100T managed to win Split for the third time, they once again dropped the following two matches and were sent home to return in the second round of qualifiers.Read more about 100 Thieves’ road to the LCS Spring Grand Finals here.Open Qualifier 2 TriumphWith a few professional games under their belt, the new 100 Thieves roster had all they needed to succeed. Without TSM to stump them, the Thieves needed to win a minimum of three consecutive games in order to qualify for VCT NA Stage 2 Challengers. With fans having mixed reactions towards the new roster, their opening match against the Soniqs hushed any doubters. Silencing their opponent 13-4 and 13-3, 100T secured an easy 2-0 victory without playing Split. Their next matchup, however, completely changed the dynamic. Despite winning every Split match they played up until this point, 100T were stomped 5-13 by the New York Fury. While this might leave viewers with the impression of an 0-2 loss, the Thieves rebounded to dominantly win Icebox (13-4) and Breeze (13-5).With just one match to go, a 100T victory was well within sight. A loss, however, wouldn’t put them out of contention entirely: they would have a second shot at qualifying like TSM did by falling to the lower bracket to face off against Sentinels. While a luxury indeed, this backup plan wouldn’t matter as 100T slammed their opponents, Akrew, 2-0 with a 13-7 victory on Split and 13-1 on Breeze.With their new roster thoroughly tested, the future is bright for 100 Thieves. While a spot on the international stage will be no easy task, 100T are in the big leagues and two spots are available if they can overcome NA’s current powerhouses: Cloud9 Blue, OpTic Gaming, The Guard, and XSET. 

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Cloud9 Announces the Release of Summit, Isles, and Winsome

The LCS is no stranger to drastic offseason roster changes. Top orgs like Team Liquid, TSM, and Cloud9 have always pursued “winning” rosters by spending as much money as necessary to secure the top imports and LCS veterans from the free-agent market. This is evident in each team’s roster decisions this spring. Behind the scenes, rumors indicate that Team Liquid spent more money than any LCS team ever has for their spring roster. TSM alleges that they spent as much on their Spring acquisitions Keaiduo and Shenyi as they would’ve for NA veterans Jensen and Doublelift. And Cloud9 dished out serious buyout money in their acquisition of T1 Challengers star Berserker, as well as LCK prospects Winsome and Summit. With TL likely to maintain their current roster, and TSM continuing to try and bankroll young LPL talent going into the summer split, Cloud9 has been the focus of many fans’ ire after they announced on Twitter that they would be releasing Spring Split MVP Summit, as well as young supports Isles and Winsome.Is Cloud9 MVP Summit Gone Too Soon?While Summit was faulted heavily for faltering in the final weeks of the Spring Split, his performance in the playoffs drew the most negative attention. Despite being the seemingly unanimous MVP for the spring split, the announcement of said award after his underwhelming playoffs run brought attention to the seemingly inappropriate timing of the honor. His incredibly dominant play in the regular season earned him the MVP award; however, his playoff performance was so abysmal that serious outrage sparked among fans who felt that he was no longer deserving of the MVP award. This outrage was predominantly spurred up by naïve fans who were misled by the timing of the announcement rather than the timing of the award. The MVP award is designated to the best performing player in the regular season. This does not include playoffs, as the MVP can be someone who did not make playoffs but had a dramatic impact on their team. However, because the announcement is made on playoff finals weekend, many fans are left with the impression that playoff performances are accounted for.After Cloud9 announced it would be releasing Summit, presumably for his lackluster playoffs performance, many fans took up arms with the opposite perspective. Now citing his MVP award in support of him, prevalent community members and fans alike drew attention to just how ridiculous it is that the current LCS roster management process facilitates actions as outrageous as releasing the incumbent MVP into free agency. While the controversy surrounding Summit continues to dominate the conservation of C9’s midseason roster adjustments, their other releases drew similar criticisms. Namely, the release of Isles after just six games was a serious point of contention. The former C9 Academy player was promoted to a starting position on the main roster to replace Winsome for C9’s games against Golden Guardians and Evil Geniuses. After losing 3-0 to EG, and having a pro record of 3-3 for his LCS debut, C9 management opted to completely release Isles from their team and invest elsewhere to fill their empty support role. Fans believe that Cloud9’s decision not to return him to their academy roster or keep him in the starting lineup is incredibly egregious. This decision drew more negative attention when Isles announced on Twitter that his U.S. residency will be terminated by May 14th if he doesn’t find a new team.Winsome was put in a similar position. While he will most likely return to Korea and the LCK, his release from the team seems almost too soon. Because of the current system in place where top teams want to win every single split, teams like C9 refuse to pursue development rosters where young players gain league experience at the cost of, oftentimes, a losing split. Winsome, like Berserker, was a promising, young player from the LCK. However, because he failed to perform, unlike Berserker, he will not be given time or the opportunity to develop. C9’s heavy emphasis on instant success is a serious issue. While teams like 100 Thieves who made no roster changes in the offseason, and EG who invested in domestic talent, made it all the way through the bracket to reach the finals, C9 faltered. These two teams are evidence to the idea that development and stable rosters can facilitate victory, yet C9 continues to pursue instant success.Read more about the growth of the eSports market.The Return of Jensen/Zven to Support?While no official statements have been made, rumors and speculations heavily suggest the return of two key players to the LCS stage. First, and more likely, Zven is rumored to be transitioning to the Support role to fill the team’s vacancy. This is corroborated by recent changes in his match history, which indicate that he is playing a lot of support. Furthermore, Zven is currently part of Cloud9’s inactive roster. After it was announced that the only other unsigned LCS veteran support IgNar would be signing with Immortals, C9 will likely opt to promote someone internally, rather than investing in Academy support talent such as Eyla or Busio.On a more exciting but less probable note, rumors are swirling that Jensen will make a return to the LCS as C9’s new mid laner. While Fudge is currently their active mid laner, it is likely that he will roleswap back to top lane now that Summit is gone. As one of the best top laners in the league during Summer 2021, Fudge will definitely find success for C9 if he returns to form. With that transition, C9 will have an opening in mid lane that they will seek to fill with a veteran presence in the pursuit of instant success. During the spring split, there were three names circling around the free agent market as potential midseason mid lane signings: Jiizuke, Nisqy, and Jensen. Jiizuke announced recently that he will return to the ERL and sign with the Giants. Nisqy has not made any announcements; however, there is heavy speculation surrounding his return to the LEC with Mad Lions. Jensen, on the other hand, remains unsigned and has both an excellent domestic and international record. While there have been no official announcements from Cloud9 on who will fill the vacancies of Summit and Isles/Winsome, the rumored Summer 2022 roster is as follows:Top: Fudge (role-swapped from Mid)Jungle: Blaber (retained from Spring)Mid: Jensen (acquired through Free Agency)ADC: Berserker (retained from Spring)Support: Zven (role swapped from inactive roster ADC)

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Evil Geniuses Claim First Ever LCS Title in 11-1 Lower Bracket Run

The LCS is home to a new victor! In its first seventeen splits, the LCS only had four winners: Team SoloMid, Cloud9, Team Liquid, and Counter Logic Gaming. Last split, 100 Thieves became the fifth ever team to win and were eager to repeat this split. Unfortunately for them, Evil Geniuses had other plans.From Out of Nowhere?While their victory was not entirely unanticipated. Rumors swirled around the LCS throughout the season that EG was insane in scrims.C9 head coach Max Waldo was quoted in an interview with Travis Gafford, an independent League of Legends content creator and host of famous LoL podcast “Hotline League,” saying that EG was the best team in the league in scrimmages. Similar remarks were echoed by other head coaches earlier in the split; however, EG failed to replicate these performances on the big stage.With a split record of 9-9, Evil Geniuses was in a three-way tie with FlyQuest and Golden Guardians, narrowly qualifying for one of the remaining three spots behind Team Liquid, Cloud9, and 100 Thieves. At the end of the split, anyone who had seen EG perform could confidently say that they were a 4th place team at best.While they had a promising performance in the Lock-In Tournament, their 0-3 loss to Team Liquid in the finals seemed to completely change the team dynamic. Casters and analysts alike felt that the three teams above EG in the regular season standings were better by a significant margin, and that EG realistically had no chance at winning the split.With 100 Thieves on the rise, Team Liquid being a consistent 1st place team, and Cloud9 falling off after the 0-3 loss to 100T in the winner’s, there was talk of EG making it to the loser’s finals over Cloud9. However, their sudden rise to the top was, while not entirely unprecedented, certainly shocking.The 11-1 Miracle RunAfter winning two tiebreakers against both Golden Guardians and FlyQuest, Evil Geniuses secured the last spot in the winner’s bracket against Team Liquid. As the fourth seed in the tournament, via tiebreakers, EG was not considered a serious contender to Team Liquid.Many analysts felt that the matchup would be a 3-0 for TL, and that Evil Geniuses would be relegated to the losers bracket to face FlyQuest. While they were not entirely wrong, EG fell to the loser’s bracket, the matchup could have easily gone the other way. EG lost the opener, but forced TL to game five, nearly winning 2-3. Is what at this point that views and analysts started to put faith in the young roster.After their loss to TL, they were relegated to the loser’s bracket to face FlyQuest. Like in their tie breaker, EG handily won the matchup, but not after giving up their only loss of their finals run. They won 3-1, and their dominant winning streak started to snowball.In another shocking turn of events, 100 Thieves 3-0’d Cloud9 and set them up to face off against EG. This is where things started to get interesting.Although many viewers had lost hope for C9 after their abysmal playoffs performance and lackluster season ending, C9 was still the heavy favorite for the matchup. But the Evil Geniuses just played better. Cloud9, the 2nd ranked regular season team was handily defeated 3-0 by the young North American roster.While this win was massive for them, EG had not quite gathered a strong enough resume to be seriously considered to win. After 100T pulled off the reverse sweep and sent TL to the loser’s bracket, the rematch was set for one of the best games of the season.Despite going 2-3 in their first matchup, EG proved that they were a completely different team. After one of the most exciting highlight pentakills in LCS history, EG took the first match and rode that energy all the way to game three, where they closed out the series over the Spring Split favorites in a definitive 3-0 statement.It was at this point that Evil Geniuses won over the hearts of the LCS fans, a serious advantage moving into the finals against 100T.Just like in their matchup against TL, EG won the series 3-0. They sent the defending champions home packing and became the 6th ever team to win an LCS title. While the audience was heavily in favor of the young underdogs prior to the first match, their statement victory over 100T sent the live crowd into an eruption of cheers.For the first time in LCS history, a team with North American talent won a title, and a spot at MSI. While the status quo of the LCS has long been to import the best talent outside of the U.S, EG may have fostered a new success strategy: investing in domestic talent.

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100T Reverse Sweep Team Liquid to Secure Their Spot in LCS Spring Grand Finals

Following the dull and boring 3-0 and 3-1 score lines last week, the top four teams put on quite a show this weekend.With Cloud9 fighting to redeem their likely MVP Summit, EG breaking team barriers, and both 100T and TL competing for a guaranteed spot in the final, these four giants clashed in one of the most exciting series in LCS history. EG made organizational history by making their second ever Round 3 appearance since their inception in 2013.However, TL; C9; and 100T are no stranger to this territory, with at least one of them having appeared in Round 3 for the past eight splits. The power rankings for the Spring Finals going into this weekend were as follows:1. Team Liquid2. 100 Thieves3. Cloud94. Evil GeniusesWith TL and 100T at the top, their matchup in the Winners’ Bracket Finals was nothing short of incredible. Recognizing that the series would most likely go all five games, fans and analysts were in for quite the showing.Team Liquid Control the SeriesFor the second split in a row, 100T and TL faced off against one another in the winners’ bracket finals. Last time, 100T narrowly lost to TL in an electric 3-2 series.Relegated to the Loser’s Finals, 100T beat C9 3-1 to rematch TL in the Grand Finals. This time, the Thieves beat TL 3-0 and secured their first ever LCS title.This weekend, the defending champions were hungry for another title shot, and they went all the way. The first two rounds of the Winners’ Finals were incredibly disappointing for 100T fans. The opener was won within the first three minutes of the game after huhi and FBI played aggressively in hopes of securing level two advantage.This plan went awry when CoreJJ and Hans sama hit level two and dove onto huhi, securing first blood for Hans sama. With control of the lane and a gold lead in the most crucial part of the laning phase, the TL bot lane controlled the lower half of the map and the remainder of the game. TL won handily with a 14.3k gold lead and a 16-2 scoreline.In the second game, 100T secured the first blood, this time the reverse of the situation in bot lane. However, TL found multiple trades in the early game to prevent 100T domination.This was swiftly followed by an insane play by CoreJJ over the third drake where TL found three for nothing and accrued a nearly 5k gold lead.Although 100T almost found their way back into the game, TL retained a notable gold lead that allowed them to run over 100T in the final teamfight of the match and secure a 2-0 lead.The 100 Thieves Reverse SweepIt was at this point that most viewers turned off the stream and went to sleep, believing that TL would 3-0 sweep and find themselves in the Grand Finals; however, the defending champions had a different idea in mind. While the early game was heavily contested, 100T found an incredible dive onto the TL bot lane in mid, securing a 2.5k gold lead at 20 minutes.Their lead expanded more after slaying both CoreJJ and Bwipo for free at the Baron pit followed quickly by a three-for-none fight for baron. With a 7k gold deficit at 24 minutes, TL were unable to find a way back into the game and 100T won 18-3 with a nearly 12k gold lead at 30 minutes.Game four started very similarly. The early game was heavily contested; however, the scoreline was much closer, with less than ten deaths at the 30 minute mark. The momentum of the game swung heavily in 100T’s favor after they secured soul point and baron without losing any members.While they also found no kills in this endeavor, the buffs they acquired set them up for tremendous success in the bot lane. After ARAMing through bot lane with Baron buff and dragon soul, 100T found a four-for-none trade in TL’s base at 30 minutes, allowing them to win 9-5 just seconds after.Game five was far and away the most exciting matchup of the day. With the series tied 2-2, everything was on the line for both teams.Although a loss wouldn’t take them out of the tournament, it would force them into the Losers’ Finals where they would have to win another series in order to make it to the Grand Finals. TL found first blood onto FBI after huhi left him alone to roam top.This was left unanswered until 15 minutes where 100T dove Bwipo and found their first kill. Multiple skirmishes across the map left the game state at 2-5 in favor of TL who held a 2.8k gold lead.This completely turned around after Abbedagge and Ssumday were able to chain CC onto Bjergsen, winning a crucial fight over control of soul point. This resurgence was followed by a five-for-none teamfight over Baron where 100T slaughtered TL’s gold lead.Eager to end the series, the Thieves opt to try to end instead of taking the Baron. This was most likely due to the unfavorable scaling of their draft as opposed to Team Liquids.Unfortunately for 100T fans, they are unable to destroy the nexus before TL’s death timers end and they rally. Importantly, the nexus is left completely open, with no turrets or inhibitors left standing through mid. With a negligible gold lead, both teams are forced to fight over dragon soul.However, TL commits all members whereas 100T are left without Abbedagge. Realizing the opportunity, Abbedagge teleports into TL’s nexus with Twisted Fate ultimate and destroys it before anyone from TL can arrive to stop him.

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C9, EG Secure Spots in Round 2, Knock GG and FLY Out of Playoffs

In an unsurprising series of events, both Cloud9 and Evil Geniuses will be moving on to the LCS Spring Playoffs Round 2. After beating their opponents 3-0 and 3-1, respectively, the two higher-ranked teams have now secured a matchup against one another for the opportunity to make the finals against either 100 Thieves or Team Liquid.While most analysts predict a rematch between 100T and TL in the finals, both C9 and EG have proven they can compete against 100T and TL. C9 showed promise in the spring split, where they had 1-1 records with both 100T and TL. EG, on the other hand, had an otherwise underwhelming split performance, but went 3-2 with TL in the first round of the upper bracket. At the same time, rumors from numerous teams suggest EG is a terrifying team to play scrims against, indicating their stage performances are not a clear representation of the cumulative talent of the team.C9 vs. GGAlthough both matchups were pretty heavy stomps by both C9 and GG, there are some key takeaways from both performances. After getting trounced by 100T in round one of the upper bracket, C9 showed incredible resilience and adaptability in their subsequent matches against Golden Guardians. While 100T demonstrated a serious exploitation in C9’s playstyle by shutting down Spring Split MVP Summit in the top lane, GG simply didn’t have the talent to mimic that strategy. Critically, C9’s mid laner stepped up when they needed it the most. Renowned for exhibiting the “Fudge Factor” — the ability to perform and carry when needed — in his previous splits as a top laner, the 19-year-old prodigy proved his intrinsic “clutchness” is still alive and well. While Summit was forced to play outside of his realm of comfort with Gangplank, Fudge came up incredibly clutch with his insane Viktor and LeBlanc performances. With a 25/1/23 stat line for the weekend, Fudge received a well-deserved Player of the Series award after nearly going deathless as C9 tore apart GG. With C9 demonstrating they can play through mid, their series against EG next weekend will be even more interesting. Notably, Cloud9 hasn’t lost a spring split in two years. Is it time for a new champion? Will 100T continue their winning streak and start a dynasty? Will Team Liquid reignite their 2018-19 dynasty? Or will Evil Geniuses win their first-ever split title? Only time will tell.Learn more about the 2022 LCS Spring Playoffs.EG vs. FlyQuestUnfortunately, EG’s performance against FLY was nothing short of expected. Although they dropped a match to FLY in Game 2, there is not much to discuss regarding their ability. C9 was put under serious scrutiny following their complete dismantling at the hands of 100T in the first round of playoffs. They needed to prove they could play through lanes other than top in their match against GG. And they did just that. EG, on the other hand, had already demonstrated what many other teams and viewers had already speculated heavily about in their matchup against Team Liquid. After repeatedly being touted as one of the scariest teams to scrim against in the regular season, EG had little to show for it prior to their TL matchup. They held 0-2 records against the top three teams (100T, C9, and TL) and finished the split with a 0.500 (9-9) record. Before their performance against TL, Evil Geniuses were not even in the finals picture. However, after nearly beating the number one team in TL, EG have already proven themselves as a serious contender. Their series against FLY only reaffirmed that. Their loss in game two came off of a failed base race. After nearly winning the match three minutes prior and coming back from a 12,000 gold lead held by FlyQuest, FLY Kumo teleported into EG’s base and destroyed the nexus before any of EG’s carries could get back to stop him. The game could have easily gone in EG’s favor. Regardless, the top four teams in the spring split are all that remain in the playoffs. With both TL and 100T duking it out on Saturday, one of them is guaranteed to make a finals appearance. C9 and EG, on the other hand, will fight each other to remain in the playoffs. The winner will have to win another match to even make it to the finals, while the loser will go home empty-handed. Tune in next week for the most exciting matchups of the Spring season.

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