One of the masterminds in the LCS scene is back! Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu has returned to the scene, this time in 100 Thieves. Over the years, Reapered had been quite successful after he moved to NA. Ever since he joined Cloud9 back in 2016, the team had always been near the top. In 2018, Reapered led Cloud9 to the semifinals at the World Championship.
Many people had been surprised when the team announced that Reapered was leaving, but he thought it was time to take a new challenge. After a half-year break, Reapered is back and as ambitious as ever. With less than a week to go for the LCS Summer Season, Reapered joined Inven Global to talk about his plans for the rest of the year with 100 Thieves.
What were you up to during your time off?
After I left Cloud9, I got several good offers, so I thought about how I would be moving forward — in which region, which team… But there weren’t any offers that I thought really was the one. So I decided to take a break for a season. During the break, I’ve been streaming and investing. I had some quality free time, and after all, came back to the scene and joined a team.
Did you watch the MSI? How did you think it was?
I thought RNG and DWG KIA would make it to the finals and one of those teams would win. The MSI itself was really fun. The event is a competition where teams build up between seasons — the name’s literally Mid-Season Invitational. All the teams aren’t fully developed to their best and they’re all in the process of improving. So MSI is a competition that those teams could see where they are.
Overall, I think the MSI was a good experience for all of those teams. Some games went as expected and some games were upsets. There were many interesting games for sure and they were all very satisfying. Just the controversy with the schedule wasn’t good and besides that, the whole event was good.
What do you think about C9’s results?
C9 was eliminated in the Rumble Stage. I thought they would have done better, but maybe it was their limit. They probably could have done better, but maybe their pieces didn’t fit just right. I did cheer for them a lot. I got up early in the morning and watched their games. They just lost games they could have won and had a lot of games that they did well but lost. One thing for sure is that they’re one of the teams that made this MSI really interesting [Laughs]. That’s much better than showing up and doing nothing.
Last year’s MSI was canceled due to the pandemic, when your Cloud9 had a historical season. You would have had mixed feelings watching MSI 2021.
Yeah, that was really unfortunate. Last year, I thought if MSI didn’t happen, we would feel something missing for sure. We feel that and as much as we finished the spring season with an unmatched record, there wasn’t much competition in the NA. The MSI would have been a good motivation, and that was gone. I think that affected our summer season.
Looking back, if there was MSI 2020, I thought that many things would have been different. It’s not important winning the championship there — the biggest point is that we could compete with other regions’ champions. We missed out on that chance and that was just unfortunate.
After your long tenure at Cloud9, you signed with 100 Thieves. How did it happen?
After the spring playoffs were over, multiple teams contacted me. I talked to a decent number of teams and when I was negotiating with the teams, 100 Thieves also contacted me. I was close with PapaSmithy from before, so we just met up and talked about their offer. The support 100 Thieves gave the LoL team was more detailed than I thought, and he showed me many different roadmaps for the team.
As I was thinking the offer was pretty good, I ended up buying a house in the States. [Laughs] Since I bought a house, I thought it would be best to stay in the US than going elsewhere, so I decided to stay here. I don’t usually plan what to do, so it all happened to work out. [Laughs]
Now, you’ll be heading into a new season. What kind of team is Reapered’s 100 Thieves?
For the 100 Thieves, I want to make a team where players could shine individually. Whenever I talk to players in NA, I feel that a lot of the players here are forced to make plays for the team. It feels that they’re somewhat “shackled”. All people are different, so all players are different as well. There are calm players, and there are wild players. But all of them are kind of forced to make one play — they’re too tied up. That’s how they learn the game.
For MY 100 Thieves, I want to make a place where the players or coaching staff could do their best safely. You don’t often think ‘I worked really hard with all my passion’ in a lifetime. Sometimes, doing your best with all your passion is prevented by other people around you, pointing fingers or there could be other things as well. My goal as the head coach of 100 Thieves is to make an environment and workplace where they all can do their best safely and teach them to show their full capabilities.
Is there a specific player that comes to your mind that improved by “unleashing” them?
Closer changed a lot in that regard. It’s been only a week since we started to practice together — rather than saying that he improved much, his playstyle changed completely. I wouldn’t say that he improved. He was already capable of doing so. He used to be like a wild horse being tamed. Now that he’s back in the wild, he’s going back to his original self. I’m a bit worried because he has a lot of ambition, but he fights well, has great mechanics, and is very smart. I believe he could do really well this season.
When Closer first came to NA, people expected him to show his “wild” style, but he’s become too gentle. Now that set him wild again, he’s doing well, probably thinking, ‘Is this really alright to play this way?’ [Laughs] I don’t want to say that he improved. He’s a player that was already good. It’s just that he was rather suppressed — he’s just back to doing what he’s capable of.
How about signing Abbedagge? Was he your No.1 pick?
Yes. There were about three options for mid lane, and Abbedagge was my No.1 pick. As much as we’re going from spring to summer, there weren’t that many options to choose from in the first place. Even if it was the proper stove league, Abbedagge would have been somewhere near the top of the list, so I’m very satisfied with signing him.
How is it being back to coaching? It’s been more than half a year.
It feels right and comfortable. [Laughs] Unlike Cloud9, 100 Thieves work in a compound. There are so many advantages to working in a big office. The biggest thing would be that being at home and at work is separate. When I’m at work, everything is in one area and all the staff members are there too. It’s really convenient to work.
I was always trying to watch all the games even while I was on my break, so there wasn’t any trouble in coming back to coaching. It is important to know about the game and the meta, but I think I’m extremely good at that stuff. [Laughs] Rather than the in-game stuff, I need to understand each player individually. So I had meetings with them — 1 on 1 or team meetings — and I’m adapting well, smoothly.
Were there any players that were impressive during those meetings?
Huhi was quite impressive. As you know, he transitioned from mid laner to support and started to perform really well with his bot laner FBI in Golden Guardians. Now, the two are evaluated as a top-tier bot duo in the LCS. What was impressive about him was that he has a lot of questions about the game. When I have VOD reviews with huhi, the reviews often get longer, sometimes hours. I felt that he’s really into the game and really wants to win. He’s passionate and active during reviews. Although his in-game plays are often pointed out, he has the highest LP and works really hard.
The LCS is completely different from what you left. You’ll be heading into the summer season in extension from 100 Thieves’ spring season record. What do you think about that?
Honestly, I haven’t yet really felt how the system is since I wasn’t here during spring. For now, I’m satisfied — since 100 Thieves ended 4th in the spring. [Laughs] I’m off to a good start already and we’re only 2 wins away from 1st place. I’m good with that, but I haven’t given much thought to the system. At first, I was rather dumbfounded.
It was a completely new system. I think NA is developing systems a lot, maybe in a direction that the scene hasn’t seen yet. I’m not sure if it’s positive or negative yet. Even for the playoffs, 8 teams out of 10 will make it. It’s a league that keeps on changing. The new system is quite exceptional as well since there are no circuit points or regional qualifiers — just the top three teams go straight to Worlds.
Also, the top two teams head straight to the second round of the playoffs. This means that winning only one series in that round secures a spot at Worlds. I think they transitioned it this way and added more motivation for spring by keeping the records through the year.
One of 100 Thieves’ problems was that they don’t do that well in Best-ofs. You would be trying to fix that now.
Frankly, I’m not yet thinking that far. As I said earlier, the top two teams during the regular season get a huge advantage in the playoffs. I have more of a short-term goal of finishing the season within 2nd place.
As for Best-ofs, I would need to prepare for that when we prepare for the playoffs. Until then, the NA system is Best-of-1s. We need to work on that. I think it’s too early to worry about that. The advantage for the top two teams is too big — just needing to win one series to get to Worlds.
My goal and the team’s goal would be coming within 2nd place during the regular season and getting to Worlds. As for the players, rather than the results for the season or getting trophies, I want to make them All LCS First Team players. I’ve been giving the impression that I want to make them competitive enough to challenge the world at Worlds.
If we could get through the first week well, I believe the season would go well. Our first week is quite tough — we meet Cloud9, who’s back from the MSI, Dignitas and Immortals, both teams who started practicing about three weeks earlier than we did. If we can get through that well, the rest would go well.
We also wanted to start earlier. We started as fast as we could, as soon as Abbedagge got his visa, but we were able to start only last week. It’s a bit late.
How are your resolutions for the season?
I’m on a new team with new players for the season. When they signed me, obviously, they wanted me to get the team to Worlds. I want to fulfill their expectations. 100 Thieves is a very popular team with many fans. I want to support the players so that they can shine brighter.