The second half of 2021 went quite well for Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu as he returned from his break to lead 100 Thieves, which, under his guidance, won the LCS championship for the first time in organization history. And even though their Worlds campaign ended in the group stage, they still managed to take down to-be world champions EDward Gaming in a fiery farewell to Iceland.
But the end of 2021 was just another beginning for Reapered. Moving forward with nearly the same roster, the battle-scarred coach is still hungry for more.
How was last year for you?
I had a lot of worries when I joined the team in the Summer, but things went better than I thought and we won the championship. What didn’t work out for us was Worlds. Our results weren’t as good as I expected. There were some issues such as visa problems or not being able to schedule scrims, etc.
Since Worlds is the last competition of the year, I wanted to wrap up the year with satisfying results. Being eliminated in groups wasn’t ideal, but it ended up alright since we beat EDward Gaming. That win helped us motivate ourselves for 2022. In that regard, I think 2021 was a year that I got pretty lucky and a year that ended up alright.
How far did you expect to reach at Worlds?
I thought we were good enough to get past the group stage. However, we weren’t able to practice properly at all before we got to Iceland because of visa issues. By the time we got there, we were already so behind and it was harder to catch up with the meta. Since the players played only solo queue, they gained some solo queue habits as well. Although it was difficult, I still had a bit of hope, but it didn’t work out that perfectly. [Laughs] Worlds 2021 was really eventful and full of ups and downs for me. Come to think of it, Worlds is almost like that every year.
As you said, defeating EDG was a great way to conclude the year. What did you think of heading into the stove league?
There aren’t any clear upgrades from last year in our roster. Our roster was one that won the Summer championship, and it was structurally impossible to make any changes, since Ssumday, huhi, and FBI were local players joined by Clozer and Abbedagge.
All these players hit the peaks of their careers here by winning that championship. Huhi did win a championship before, but it was his first as a support player. If we had made any changes on the roster without talking to the players, I thought it would backfire, so we decided to try and break our limits with minimum changes for next year.
Tenacity is a rookie, who has been standing out in the Academy team. We took him with us to Worlds. He has an awesome attitude and great eye for the game. We thought if we called him up and had him learn aside Ssumday, he could become a great card for this year.
I heard that 100 Thieves had a bootcamp in Korea. How was it?
[Laughs] The bootcamp was also full of difficult situations. A player got COVID, so he wasn’t able to come. We tried to bring in a substitute, but he had to quarantine because of the changed social distancing policy. There were so many issues that came up, the bootcamp went nothing as I thought.
At first, I wanted to show the players that there are these kinds of teams and players in the world. I wanted to have them challenge the teams and think together about how we could defeat them and break our limits.
There are several players on our roster that haven’t bootcamped in Korea yet. We scheduled about a month, but there were issues regarding COVID-19 for more than two weeks, so we weren’t able to have proper practice. The practice in the later two weeks was alright, but things were still not quite organized.
Were there any positive effects?
The situations were messy and there was COVID-19, of course, but that’s no one’s fault. Things were messy, but we tried to find positive things in the hectic situation. The players learned how to deal with certain situations, what kind of mindsets they should have, and how they could overcome them. We all went through that process together, and we became closer as a team. It wasn’t the challenge I had in mind, [laughs] but at least it’s positive that we got through all that.
Unlike 100 Thieves, there are big changes in the LCS. What do you think about the changes in other teams?
When I first came to the LCS, TSM were a superstar team. Doublelift, Bjergsen, Hauntzer, Svesnkeren, and Biofrost. And then, there was Team Liquid, as Doublelift moved there. I think the changes this time are the most interesting since then.
In fans’ eyes, they would be excited to see LS finally serving a team as the head coach, and what’s more, their roster is very experimental. Summit may be a proven card, but they have complete rookies from academies and a role swap as well. Team Liquid made a European team as they unretired Bjergsen.
There are so many interesting attempts this time. TSM’s changes were big too. Since there were so many changes, I think the whole LCS will be more interesting to watch.
What was the most surprising offseason news?
The whole Cloud9 team was a surprise for me, including the coaches. As you know, nothing about how the 2022 roster was formed was predictable. I think it’ll be either really great or a bust. Cloud9 were the most interesting team for sure in the offseason.
Which teams look strong going into 2022?
I believe EG and TL have strong rosters going into 2022. C9 or TSM have rookies from abroad, so they have to deal with adapting and language issues. EG have rookies too, but their rookies are from NA, and they have players with much experience, so it should be alright. As for TL, they brought in clearly strong players in every position. I think those two look the strongest.
If EG’s bet is kind of guaranteed, TSM are going for a big gamble. They’re debuting two rookies from the LDL in the LCS. You could say that C9 are attempting something big, but it goes the same for TSM. I think TSM might be the dark horse this year. I heard a lot of rumors about their roster, but I never thought that it would go this way. I don’t think it’s a bad choice, though, but the players from abroad will still need to adapt.
The results LCS had at Worlds 2021 weren’t that bad. There weren’t any 0-6 or 1-5 teams this time. How do you think the LCS will do in the future?
Frankly, I don’t know. This year’s LCS rosters are the most experimental ones of the past years. TSM are playing two Chinese rookies, C9 are playing Korean rookies, and EG are playing NA rookies. Meanwhile, TL are superstars. Although I don’t know how LCS would fare at the next Worlds, I am looking forward to it. Whoever reaches Worlds, if these teams manage to work things out by then, they’ll have high expectations for sure.
In the past, the LCS would send the same teams and players to Worlds. 100 Thieves were the only exception last year. There are interesting new players in the top-tier teams, and several experimental rosters, so I’m looking forward to that part.
What do you think the LCS needs to improve more in the future?
The LCS is trying hard to fix its fundamental problems. In my opinion, the number of solo queue players is the biggest problem, but there’s no possible solution to it unless they combine the servers. They did make an improvement with the ping issue through the super server for the players in LA, but we still need to keep an eye on that. Maybe, someday, the internet speed gets faster than the speed of light and they make a whole big server for everyone in the world… [Laughs]
Any last comments to share?
I’ll be working as the head coach of 100 Thieves for another year. We’re going to try again with a similar roster, and I’ll do my best so that I could deliver good results to all the fans that cheer for us. Thank you.
Striving for perfection to achieve excellence in esports