100 Thieves Academy Support William "Stunt" Chen is returning for the 2019 Spring Split. The journeyman veteran has spent the five years of his career on a plethora of teams, and has picked up a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way.
100A is sporting a new Head Coach in Kelsey Moser, and signed an entirely new roster to play around Stunt from Team Mountain in the 2018 NA Scouting Grounds. The four talented rookies will have a chance to learn from Stunt, who will be trying his hand as the leading voice of the squad.
Stunt has spent plenty of time developing himself, and now, he's ready to define his style of play and lead a talented band of rookies. With all sights set on growth, Stunt sat down with me a week before the start of the 2019 NA Academy League Spring Split to discuss his new upcoming challenge, reflect on his past, and look towards his future.
Stunt, last time we saw you in LCS, you were splitting time in the starting Support role for FlyQuest with JayJ in the spring. How was your summer with 100 Thieves Academy?
From any situation, there is always a lesson you can pull from it. On 100 Thieves Academy, we had a team of five veterans, so I learned a lot.
Prior to joining 100 Thieves Academy, I'd say my play style was more consistent. I focused on methodically winning lane and playing the game slowly, but I didn't really have a surprise factor. I tried to work on my playmaking a lot more last summer and focused on looking for more creative angles in which to approach the game. Levi helped a lot with that, and watching Aphromoo play was also helpful.
Looking back, every single team I've been on, I've learned something different about Bot Lane. When I was on Team Liquid Academy way back in the day with Piglet, my laning phase was really weak. But Piglet has this effect on his Supports where he makes them god-tier laners because of how highly he prioritizes the laning phase. I think he's had the same affect on Vulcan that he had on me as far as growing into a better laning Support.
When I played with Arrow on Phoenix1, I learned a lot more about team play. Arrow likes to use his free time in the game to impact the map positively for his teammates by controlling the river or helping secure vision control.
On Immortals, Olleh taught me how to play the game aggressively from the Support position. Before I was a substitute on Immortals, I had only learned how to properly enable my AD Carry to carry the lane for me. Olleh carries lane by himself with a very aggressive playstyle. He likes to use his flash and ignite early, and that unrelenting lane pressure was the missing piece for me as a player. It also helped me climb in solo queue!
On FlyQuest, I played with WILDTURTLE, who is also really lane dominant, but taught me how to peel VERY well for my AD Carry. Last night, were playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and I told him, "You play Super Smash the same way you play League." He's aggressive and all-ins me 24/7; if I'm off the stage, he's going for the spike every time! *laughs*
I think WILDTURTLE is actually really underrated. He's had a really good track record in his career before FlyQuest, and his aggression is also a lot smarter than people see. He's really smart about reset timers and other small things I didn't think about.
People say players from TSM have really good fundamentals, and I think that's been proven true. Every time I talk to current or former players from that team, they always have a very solid idea on what to do in the game. WILDTURTLE is no exception.
On 100 Thieves Academy, I learned mostly about making my own playstyle. Before that, my playstyle has always been shaped by more experienced players than me, but I guess I'm finally at that level of experience as even my most established teammates.
After four or five years, I have experience now, and now I'm trying to figure myself out. Now, I can play all the different playstyles that I can play before and adapt to any situation at any given time.
Regarding our current team on 100 Thieves Academy, Prismal is the weakest AD Carry I've played with thus far, but that's to be expected. I've played with so many good AD Carries, and my goal is to develop Prismal into that type of player. It feels like things have come full circle. All of my past AD Carries have taught me and shaped me, and now I'm on the opposite side of the relationship with a rookie AD Carry.
This entire "1 veteran, 4 rookies" dynamic has been an adjustment for me. I feel like everything that's been obvious to me and my teammates in the past now has to be explained. I think my teammates have really good instincts, but aren't too well-versed in the concept itself. Kelsey and I are working over time on getting everyone up to par on the nuances of competitive play.
I feel like the skillcap on our team is pretty high. My solo laners' mechanics are insane. Fragas was kind of a meme when I first knew him. He was all-chatting his twitter and memeing in all-chat and had funny usernames, so I didn't have a ton of expectations leading up to meeting him.
Fragas is actually a pretty good communicator, and it's good to have someone who is passionate and demanding. The rest of our team is pretty mellow and don't voice their frustrations too much, so it's good to have someone who has a spark of frustration. If someone isn't willing to speak their mind if the team isn't executing on their vision, there's not going to be much improvement.
You're now in the position of being THE veteran on the team. Are you able to focus on growing yourself as a leader?
100 Thieves asked what our goals were for the split, and mine was trying to learn how to be a leader for our team. This is probably the best opportunity for me to do so becausee everyone else on the team is a rookie and take my words to heart, both in and out of game. If I make a call, it's usually respected moreso than other situations in my career.
On 100 Thieves Academy last summer, we had a lot of veteran players, but surprisingly, there wasn't a huge voice on the team. I was trying to be that voice for the team, but I wasn't there yet. I've been working on it, and this split presents a new opportunity to continue to work on that.
Kelsey Moser is a very structural coach. Has she been helping empower you to be a leader on 100 Thieves Academy?
When we're doing VoD review, she definitely gives me more speaking time. I would say a majority of the review portion of practice is me just trying to lecture my teammates *laughs* I think Kelsey also values my opinion a lot when it comes to draft phase and those type of things.
Outside of that, we haven't gotten to do much else yet. Kelsey's a very open-minded coach; if you have something you want to talk about with her she will take the time to speak with you. I think that
I, or any of my teammates, could talk to her aside in a 1-on-1 setting if necessary. I don't feel limited in any way as a leader because of how open Kelsey is as a coach.
You mentioned earlier you learned a ton from Olleh. Have you been able to learn anything from Aphromoo in a similar context?
Last summer, 100 Thieves and 100 Thieves Academy did not interact very much. Coming into this split, this was one of my concerns. I voiced it out to the management and they've been working really hard to make sure the main team and the academy team interact a lot more. We're already doing a lot more in-house scrims and team dinners, so I think this is going to be a split where I can learn a lot from him.
I'm a lot happier with how 100 Thieves Academy is being operated now compared to last year. Last year, it was an entirely new organization that had a lot of bigger concerns to address. Now that things have settled down, 100 Thieves is looking to improve across all fronts, and I'm really looking forward to this split.
You possess the perspective to know how important it is for rookies to interact with veterans because of your personal experience.
Yeah, our main team has a wealth of experience, especially with HuHi and Bang joining now, too.
If I'm keeping count correctly, this is your...fourth team/org with AnDa?
Yeah, at this point Andy and I are best friends. We call our career paths "duo queue". HuHi and Aphromoo are kind of similar, as are Ssumday and Ryu.
Upon joining 100 Thieves Academy last summer, were you familiar with anyone else in the organization?
I had played a couple of stage matches and many scrims with Ssumday on Dignitas. I've played with almost everyone on the main 100 Thieves roster. AnDa I've played with on Immortals and FlyQuest, I played with Ryu on Phoenix1, and Cody Sun on Immortals as well. I had a lot of familiarity within the organization upon joining.
We were having a conversation at a team dinner recently, and Bang introduced himself with his Korean name. He didn't believe that I could say the Korean names of everyone else on the team [Ryu, Ssumday, HuHi], but I've been used to calling people their first names in game. My teammates were shocked because none of them expected me to remember.
I learned that from Weldon. Before he went to TSM, he was the Head Coach of Team Ember in the NA Challenger Series for a brief period. That was my first taste of sports psychology. Weldon was really good at it then, and he's probably evolved a lot since then as well. I always speak highly of Weldon.
Last summer, Svenskeren was able to re-invent himself as a Jungler and a leader on Cloud9 Academy. Do you think that the NA Academy League can benefit veterans, and have you spoken to any of them about their experiences?
Since the stakes are lower, you can take more chances to try new things. For example, if I want to try a certain risky call, I'll just go for it. We don't have a lot to lose, and we have so much to gain from it in terms of knowledge and experience.
In the off-season, there were talks of a full veteran super team forming in NA Academy for 2019. I was really close to joining one of those, but I thought about it, and I feel it's a lot more limiting to join a team like that. You're going to join a team where everyone is not going to take Academy as seriously and every person's only goal is to go to the LCS.
Obviously everyone has their sights set on LCS, but if you're only focused on qualifying, sometimes you forget to keep improving. Playing with rookies is really refreshing. Their eyes aren't even on LCS
yet in my opinion; it's all growth. Obviously my eyes are still on LCS, but when I play with these people who are so hungry to learn, it makes me want to learn more as well.
What Prismal does a lot of the time is find these micro mechanics I overlook. He'll tell me, "Wow, did you know I can triple headshot on Caitlyn?" and I'll think, "Realistically, I don't know if that will ever matter in a real game, but it's cool that you looked it up and now know it!"
We're fully into the era of franchising, and a sustainable career as a professional League of Legends player is more realistic than ever. What about League of Legends as a game lends itself to such longevity?
The game has so many aspects to it and it is constantly evolving makes experience in the game matter. It allows veteran players to keep coming back. There is so much strategy within the game and every single game is different.
League of Legends is probably the best game to have a career in. To be honest, what keeps me coming back is the desire to win something. I've gotten so close so many times — 2nd place; back to back game 5 losses to miss NALCS qualifications — the fact that I've been "almost there" and couldn't quite achieve my goal so many times is what keeps me coming back.