After a disappointing World Championship performance, 100 Thieves wasted no time reloading for 2019. SK Telecom T1 AD Carry and former World Champion Bae "Bang" Jun-sik was signed to the Bot Lane. Counter Logic Gaming Mid Laner Choi "HuHi" Jae-hyun also joined as Yoo "Ryu" Sang-wook moved into a coaching role. Roster depth was added with an innovative rebuild of 100 Thieves Academy. 100 Thieves also raised series A funding and secured some high-profile co-owners.
The cornerstones of the roster in Top Laner Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho and Support Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black were retained, as was Jungler Andy "AnDa" Hoang. After joining the team in the middle of the 2018 NA LCS Summer Split, AnDa performed acceptably, but never fully found his footing in his new environment.
In a supercharged roster full of decorated veterans, AnDa will get his first chance at a full split with 100 Thieves and establish himself as a top Jungler in the 2019 LCS.
I'm here with AnDa from 100 Thieves. How has the start of the year been for you so far?
I was back at the gaming house on the 2nd of January. That was the first day we practiced together as a team, whereas a lot of other teams had already started practicing a decent amount or had a bootcamp in December. Everyone's been getting along pretty well; we've been hanging out a decent amount and having team dinner's and what not. As always with new teams, the atmosphere has been really good.
Now that you've been playing with HuHi and Bang for a few weeks, what are your first impressions of them as teammates?
I played with HuHi a bit in Duo Queue in December, as well as in some of our in-houses that were going on at the time. It feels pretty good to work with him; I've noticed he's pretty similar to both of my last Mid Laners in Ryu and Fly. It's kind of crazy, because they are all Korean, and they all focus on the roaming style.HuHi is pretty vocal, and that's pretty helpful for me because I am not the most vocal person. We try to duo as much as we can.
When I first met Bang, I was pretty surprised by how good his English was. He has a pretty good vocabulary, which was really surprising. I didn't know what to expect from Bang as a teammate, because he's had so much success in his career. At the beginning, it was a bit more intimidating to someone like me who doesn't have as much as experience as him, but he's been really friendly to me.
What does it mean for you to have maintained your starting position on 100 Thieves? Do you feel extra pressure to perform given the wealth of experience and talent in your teammates?
Kind of, but not really. Half of the players are the same players I've played with before, and as I explained with our new players, it's relatively similar to our last team. I'd say I kind of proved myself at Worlds, but not really enough since we didn't win enough games to get out of groups. We didn't do very well in the Summer Split, and got 4th place in playoffs, so I want to prove to everyone in 2019 that I can be the best Jungler in NA and have the results to back it up.
You joined 100 Thieves under relatively unusual circumstances as far as having time to gel with your teammates. Did you ever truly find your footing last year?
To be honest, I don't think I ever really got where I wanted to be as far as synergy with the team. Our team had a lot of problems, and went through some roster changes even after I joined. It was pretty tricky going into the World Championship. I want to try and stay on a team for a longer period of time, because I was only on FlyQuest and Immortals for about half a year each. That's something I look forward to in 2019 and hopefully beyond, too.
Is the amount of familiarity you have with the organization a reason why you want to stay on 100 Thieves in the long-term?
Yes, and also, how well they've treated me. This is probably the best team I've been on thus far, so there wouldn't really be a reason to leave. The familiarity was helpful when I first joined. Cody Sun was on the team, so I already had a friend on the roster.
You attended the 2017 World Championship as the official substitute for Immortals. How did that experience compare to your first time starting with 100 Thieves at the most recent Worlds?
Going to Worlds with Immortals was a pretty good experience. When I signed with Immortals ahead of the 2017 NA LCS Summer Split, they weren't doing the best, so I wasn't expecting too much. Then we got 2nd place that summer and got to go to the World Championship. I got to experience the bootcamps; the best scrims in the world; all of it. I also got to play a lot of Korean Solo Queue and got to a pretty high rank. My personal highlight for the Immortals experience was going on stage with the rest of the team for the opening ceremony.
This past year, I got to go to Worlds again, as a starter on 100 Thieves. It was a pretty similar experience through and through, but I came into the tournament pretty confident and without nerves. Our first game was a bit nerve-wracking because we were pretty rusty and hadn't played on stage for a while.
Overall, my biggest takeaway from the 2018 World Championship was that I don't feel like I deserved it. I just joined the team in summer, we got 4th place, and then qualified for Worlds. I don't really feel like I earned it, but hopefully we can do well this year, and I can earn my spot and go to Worlds once again.
Were there any players in South Korea at Worlds that really impressed you?
The obvious one would be Ning, since he was in our group. I was impressed by how aggressive he was and how many plays he would make every game.
I also remember talking to Tarzan on the Korean Solo Queue server, and he was telling me how sad he was that Griffin didn't make it to Worlds. I felt really bad for him, and I hope that we can both go to Worlds this year. That was one player I was really looking forward to facing last year, so I want to make that goal a reality this year.
What is the main difference between domestic and international play?
It's kind of hard to say, because the Worlds meta and the Summer Split meta were pretty different last year. I guess it's just that international teams make a lot more plays and their teamwork is a lot better when it comes to being more active on the map. They're more likely to win losing matchups when they're not supposed to, and they will execute on their strategy on a much higher level.
In the 2018 NA LCS Summer Split, I could just full-clear my jungle every game. Then, when we got to Worlds, we would just die everywhere at level 2 or level 3. I learned a lot from last year's experience at Worlds.
100 Thieves has made a ton of great off-season moves, and you mentioned you're looking to be the best Jungler in NA. Is 100 Thieves the best team in North America right now?
It's hard to judge off of just roster alone, since we haven't seen anyone play, but yeah, I think we're up there. I hope so.
Do you have any personal goals for this upcoming season?
I want to be the 1st string Jungler on the LCS All-Pro Team. Preferably, I'd like to go to the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational and make it out of groups, as well.
Thanks so much for the interview, AnDa. Is there anything you'd like to say to the 100 Thieves fanbase before the start of the split?
I don't have much to say, but I want to prove that I can be the right Jungler for 100 Thieves. I think we're doing really well, and I hope that they keep cheering us on.