In Week 4 of the League Championship Series Summer Split, 100 Thieves made two roster adjustments, adding Juan "Contractz" Garcia and Philippe "Poome" Lavoie-Giguere to the main squad from the Academy team, replacing William "Meteos" Hartman and William "Stunt" Chen respectively.
100 Thieves has had an incredibly rough start, just now finding their second win, leaving them in 8th place at 2-6. Contractz and Poome's addition has added some aggression to their play, but they've got a lot of work to do before they start contending with teams like FlyQuest, Evil Geniuses, and Team Liquid, not to mention the goliath that is Cloud9. Luckily, 8th place is the cutoff for Playoffs this Summer, but if they're to make it to Worlds, they will have to be strong enough to surpass some of those other teams by then.
LCS players that spend time in Academy often times talk about how they learn different things there that improve their play in LCS. Last time I spoke with you, you specifically mentioned the lower pressure there, as well as your intention to work more on leadership in the game. How did that go for you, what all did you learn?
Well in my first split in Academy, I had a lot of self-reflection. I kind of asked myself, "Why am I here if I'm not going to put in all my effort." I think my first split I was definitely too complacent. I didn't respect people as much as I should've, so coming into the off-season and this Split in Academy, I wanted to take a step back and kind of work on myself and grind it out, and work as hard as I could to get back to where I want to be.
I think this Split, and even a little towards the end of last Split, I worked on my leadership a lot when it comes to in game communication. That was one of my biggest weaknesses. So the best thing I've taken from Academy is to work hard and communicate a lot and effectively. Those were my biggest takeaways: Grind out to get to where I need to be and communicate as well as possible.
Okay so what does that communication look like for you and the team then? Back in the day, we always heard about a singular shotcaller, but now it seems more like everyone has specific jobs in communication. So what specifically have you done to improve on it, how are you better now?
Yeah it definitely varies team to team, but for me, I like to say what I'm going to do early game and get everyone on the same page with what my plan is. I'm always updating my teammates on what I'm going to be doing on the map. Whether it's, "I'm going to play for Dragon, I'm going to play for Rift, I want to invade, I think we can gank here..." Just being able to constantly update my teammates and make sure that we're on the same page is what I think effective communication looks like for a Jungler.
And for overall shotcalling, I feel like everyone kind of gives and takes. If I see a play, I'll call for it. If a teammate sees a play, he'll call for it. Basically whatever I see on the map I try and update my teammates and see if they like my idea as well.
How much are you involving the laners in your decisions in how you do your jungle path?
Before the game I always ask if my laners get priority in their matchup and then I plan my path around that for the most part. Sometimes, I'll ask a laner if they have prio and if they don't then I'll try and go there first to secure some prio. So it's a bit of give and take.
I ask my teammates to give me the information, and then I make my plan around that information. Unless I think we can force it even if we don't have priority. So yeah, it always depends, but there's usually a bit of give and take between the laners and myself.
Back when you first started a few years ago, you were very exciting and aggressive - a Robert "Blaber" Huang type. And a lot of people were calling out that this is a good meta for you for that reason. Do you agree? How much are you still that player, how much have you grown, and what's your ideal way to play Jungle right now?
You definitely have to play fast as a Jungler right now. You have to play aggressive, you have to have good objective control. Personally, I like to be in the enemy Jungler's face all the time. Whether that's invading, fighting, ganking, mid skirmishes 2v2 and 3v3. Stuff like that. I want to always be looking for things to do. Well most of the time.
But I just want to play very aggressive and make sure we're getting the most out of that aggression. So making sure we are actually going for the right play. I think something that my playstyle has been better at is playing smarter. I know it sounds kind of silly when I say I want to play aggressive, but I also want to play smart as well.
I have a lot fewer int deaths for sure. I know I had some this weekend, and definitely some I can work on, but I think overall, for the most part, I am pretty good at playing aggressive while also playing smart. I don't have a lot of stupid random deaths anymore, for the most part. So that's something I've improved a lot.
Is that something you worked on a lot in Academy? Or do you think you would've made those adjustments in the LCS just as easily?
Honestly, I think improving my communication kind of helped with those random deaths because I'm talking about what I'm going to do and I'm reading the map. I can kind of tell nowadays when I'm making a bad play and when if I go somewhere, I'd just be running it down. I'm pretty good at realizing when I'm going to feed most of the time. I think definitely understanding where to go on the map and where to be in a macro sense is something I've gotten a lot better at.
What was the discussion like when 100 approached you to play in the LCS? What is their belief that starting you gives them a better chance long term over Meteos?
The main thing it seemed like was that they wanted a lot more aggression and they saw the work that Poome and I were putting in for Academy. They liked how we communicate and how aggressive we are in game. So they thought that it would just be a good fit to try and get some new energy onto the team as well. Like some very aggressive energy. Poome and I like to play fast and we like to fight a lot, so I think we're a good match for sure.
And he was not even playing pro just like 6 months ago. He had an incredibly quick jump into LCS when so many players get stuck in Academy for forever. How did he get up this quickly, what are his strengths, how is he here?
Honestly it's just crazy. When I was playing my Rookie Split on C9 in 2017, he wasn't even playing the game at all yet. Isn't that crazy to think about? Honestly, he's so good for being such a new, inexperienced player. He definitely has a lot of clear strengths. He's a very good playmaker and he knows very good aggressive angles. He knows when to be aggressive, he knows when to be passive. He is very good at finding timings to play up or play back basically.
I think one of his biggest strengths is matching the enemy support. He's very good at realizing when he can move, when he can't move, when the enemy can move... He's very good at keeping track of the enemy, and he definitely has "the trigger," you know? He's very quick to make a decision. He's decisive and never hesitant, which is a really good trait.
Is there any communication around itemization? Like you went for the solo-queue style Olaf in this game as opposed to Cinderhulk tanky. Do you talk about that during draft/before the game? Is there ever a time when teammates would tell you you need one over the other?
No not necessarily, I think the only time we ever really talk about items is in game when we're hitting our spikes. Like Sun "Cody" "Cody Sun" Li-Yu will say, "I have Muramana, Tri-Force. This is a really good time for me to fight. I'm really strong now." So basically whatever core items have been completed, we'll just communicate that we're reaching a good break point where we can be aggressive and that it's a good time to fight.
Is there not ever really a conversation around situations where, maybe Poome is playing Thresh, and he could go Locket, he could go Redemption, he could go something else. Is there not team discussion around what is needed? Is it all on the individual for that?
Yeah sometimes we ask, like if Poome is on Thresh and we're against an Ashe and he asks if he needs Michael's, even though we might have Cleanse. Sometimes there's stuff like that. It's very situational on comp.
What does the path forward look like for 100 Thieves? You just need 8th for Playoffs, so reaching that is very reasonable. But what's the path to Worlds for the team so that you know that come Playoffs, you're ready to climb in those Best of 5s?
Haha yeah 8th is never really the goal, but definitely looking to make Playoffs for sure. Honestly, we're kind of just taking it day by day and game by game, making sure we practice well and are focusing on good habits. Focusing on the things we need to in game, whether it's lane assignments, objective control, early game, things like that.
We're taking it day by day and hoping we improve on those strategies and after that we can start thinking about Playoffs and stuff. It's not really just going with the flow, but focusing on each game, not looking too far out. That's at least what I'm thinking of anyway.
I don't want to focus too much on the future and be thinking about Worlds already. Our organization has a Worlds mindset, but I think being able to focus on our progress and to just keep on grinding is the best way to focus on our situation right now since we're a pretty new team. We just really have to focus on the basics and grind and improve on our strategies.
Anything to say to people excited to see you back?
I'm just excited to play LCS again, I hope that my team and I can keep on improving and make it to Playoffs and do well.
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