Right before the coronavirus lockdown, Sun "Cody" "Cody Sun" Li-Yu spoke with Parkes Ousley of Inven Global about his decision to rejoin 100 Thieves and how the year has gone so far. Cody explains that even with three members of his former team returning, Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho, William "Meteos" Hartman, and himself, the overall dynamic is much different.
Cody Sun was on 100 Thieves' first ever LCS roster, placing 1st in their debut regular season, and 2nd in the playoffs behind Team Liquid. Cody found himself benched by the Summer Playoffs though, and despite him being intergral to the team's qualification for Worlds 2018, he never took the stage. After a split in Academy and then his return to LCS helping catapult Clutch Gaming from 9th place to 2019 Worlds, he rejoined 100 Thieves and is confident to have a better year end than before.
As we head into Week 9, Cody Sun and 100 Thieves are tied for 5th at 8-8. With a few teams at their heels, they'll need strong performances against TSM and CLG next weekend to secure Playoffs.
Parkes Ousley here with Cody Sun, the bot laner for 100 Thieves. You were on this team before a couple years ago and then left, but you rejoined this year with a lot of the same members as 2018 and a few new ones. What is it like being back on this team? What is the biggest change for you?
I definitely think the biggest change being back now is that I feel like the team atmosphere and environment is a lot different than back in the day. I think back in the day when we were really successful in Spring, it felt like individually, we were at the top of our game. And we were able to find leads by ourselves instead of playing more like a team. And we understood that once it came to mid game, once it was stalled out that we were going to be able to win. Whether it's teamfights or our NARAM macro was really good. So those were the things we were really confident in.
But I think right now, the environment is a lot more free flowing, and we never really hide anything anymore, we're a lot more open with our teammates. So if we do have bad games, whether it's in scrims or LCS, we just do our reviews, everyone talks about what they were thinking in the game and we just have discussions that are positive.
I think our biggest strength right now is our mental. Our mental is pretty good overall even when we're losing and behind, even in practice. So I'm glad that I came back on the team. And everything is a lot different. It's a lot more fun to play on 100 Thieves this year.
As far as the whole atmosphere, since you have most of the same core - and even William "Stunt" Chen was there on Academy before too - is it mostly that players have changed their mindsets and grown a bit since then? Is it more that the top down is different, like Chris "PapaSmithy" Smith and coaching staff? Or is it just that because there are a couple new faces, everyone functions a bit differently?
I actually believe it's all those different factors combined, because with the newer players - Tommy "Ryoma" Le and Stunt - we're more willing to play to improve and get them accustomed to playing competitive with the LCS. And then PapaSmithy, he's the GM. He's very understanding and he likes to talk with everyone and get as much of an understanding of the situation as he can week by week.
And as far as Tony "Zikz" Gray, he has a lot of experience on winning teams, he knows the formula for TSM and CLG and he's really confident in his process and improving. So for us, we don't think too much about the results week to week. You know, "we went 1-1, that's okay." When we go 0-2 it sucks a lot, but we're just focused on improving and going as far as we can day by day, week by week. So I think that helps the environment a ton.
Going back to 2018 when you were last on 100 Thieves, what would've been the most helpful thing then for your situation? I know it didn't end well then, but the fact that you came back meant you had faith that things would be fine. So what were the things that led you to believe it would be a good decision to return?
I think most of my faith came from talking with PapaSmithy. Chris has a really good reputation around his career. And just from talking to him and having long discussions... It wasn't an easy choice to make to come back to 100 Thieves, but it was definitely a choice that I was more open to try because of my talks with PapaSmithy and how things would be a lot different this time around.
It was more about the fact that we'd really care a lot about the process of improving, being open with each other, and not being closed off on what we felt like problems were on the team. It was even something that we did struggle with in the beginning. I feel like for every team, when you're starting out after the honeymoon phase ends, your team kinda gets into that storming stage where you want to solve problems but it's really awkward because you don't really know your teammates that well yet.
But I think we were able to keep our heads strong and understood that we weren't a great team from the beginning, but we're definitely seeing change and progress being made. And we're more focused on, "How can we improve at a faster rate, what other mistakes need to be fixed, and how do we confront them?"
Thanks for answering. I'm glad there's been a positive shift for you there on 100 Thieves. And what about playing with Stunt? You've been on the same org as him multiple times, what's it like playing with him?
I think his time in Academy made him a lot more confident in his read on the game as well as his ideas for draft. I definitely think he's grown a lot more in communication and leadership skills, but it was kind of awkward in the beginning. I'm really close friends with him outside of the game, and I didn't want to hurt our friendship because of anything that happens in scrims or LCS, so I ended up talking to him about it and we ended up sort of agreeing that we know we're still going to be friends even if we have issues with each other in the game.
And we just want to be the best bot lane that we can be. So if we have problems with each other, we still need to confront each other about it and talk about it openly. Even if it hurts, or makes him annoyed, or if he annoys me, we're in this together and were just trying to do the best that we can. It's nothing personal at all.
So I'm glad that we're able to improve from that point where it was awkward to being able to talk about things we can work on. And now we're kind of in a space where after each game we just point out what we could've done better for the lane or fights. So it's always going to be awkward in the beginning, and it's just up to people to talk sh** out.
I'm glad y'all got that worked out, I know it's important. So, you came on to Clutch (LCS) last Summer when they had just finished a 9th place split and things looked pretty rough for them. But then you guys went all the way to Worlds! Is there any situation after that that would be too dire that you don't think is overcomable? Do you feel more confident after having gone through that?
Yeah absolutely, I think for confidence, it's definitely something you have to earn. It's not something you can just make up. You can't fake your confidence. One example is Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon - he's a super confident guy. Yeah he was confident in his abilities since the beginning when he was on Fnatic, but to go undefeated, be at the top of his game, go to SKT, make World Finals, etc., those are the things that make him who he is today.
And for me it's like... Yeah I ended up going to two LCS Finals and wasn't able to win. But I still made it there! And I had splits where I was in first place on Immortals and 100 Thieves. I did choke at Worlds with the Tristana play, I did get benched on 100 Thieves, but I think overcoming those experiences, and going from 9th place to Worlds on Clutch Gaming, with those experiences that's how we're able to gain confidence.
But it is important to understand that even though you might be confident in your abilities because of those experiences, that you don't get overconfident. Because League is a game that's definitely not even close to being figured out yet, and especially when there's an excessive amount of patches that come out, there's always stuff to learn and improve on. So yeah I think it's important to enjoy the moment and have fun with what you're doing, right? Because if you're not even having fun, I don't think you can ever say you put in your best efforts to have the best results.
So for those on CLG right? Yeah, it sucks a lot to be on the 10th place team, there has to be a team to be last place, just like there's always a team on top. And I think there are valuable experiences for the teams at the bottom just like the top. And I think it's up to each person and their own perspective to get the most out of their experience. And yeah CLG did a great job bringing in Eugene "Pobelter" Park, he has a great mental and was on championship teams. He's a likable guy, a sociable guy. So yeah, you should talk to Pobelter!
Hahaha maybe I will! Thanks for the interview Cody, best of luck securing Playoffs.