While 2021 LCS champion 100 Thieves managed to make it back to the finals in the spring of 2022, they were unable to defend their title. 100 Thieves were swept out of the finals of the 2022 LCS Spring Playoffs by Evil Geniuses, who won their first North American League of Legends esports title as an organization after coming into the series on an eight-game win-streak.
After 100 Thieves' loss in the finals of the 2022 LCS Spring Playoffs, support Choi "huhi" Jae-hyun spoke to Inven Global about the factors that led to his team's failure to defend their title and the bumpy ride that has been the early stages of this season alongside his AD carry Victor "FBI" Huang.
While 100 Thieves failed to win the championship, this was still quite an impressive season for your team upon reflection. Are you proud of what you and your teammates accomplished despite falling short at the last hurdle?
For me, it's kind of both yes and no. I'm pretty disappointed and sad about our performance being wobbly and inconsistent after having a strong split last year and a decent showing at Worlds 2021. I think we lost a lot of our skills and fundamentals as a team, so in that aspect, I'm not really proud of our team or myself because we dropped what we learned.
Through the middle of the split, I am proud of my team for being strong enough in the 'mental war' and being able to accept what we were bad, along with the fact that we were not in the best form. I'm proud of us for trying to take it step by step, but I think all of us — me included — came into this split with some egos early on and underperformed relative to what we needed. We managed to bounce back and make it back to finals.
We were confident going into today, but I think EG was just a better team today.
Do you think coming into a split as the defending champion affected your ability to identify your weaknesses as a team? There have been a lot of changes to League of Legends since you lasted lifted the LCS trophy.
Honestly, I don't think we have any excuses. I think that we just purely underperformed. We didn't show up at all in the beginning. I don't think anything about the patches matters because that should affect other teams as well. We didn't adapt as well as others, and in my opinion, the game didn't change too much. If we kept our skills from the previous split and Worlds 2021, I think we would have been pretty unbeatable.
I think the way T1 did really well so far this season is that they took a lot from their Worlds 2021 trip and they managed to maintain and keep the momentum going. We completely failed in that regard as a team.
You've been transparent about your feelings towards the slump of you and FBI this year as a duo, but you looked much better in the post-season. What skills did you regain from your 2021 championship run and do you think that the things you are still missing from then could have helped you win today?
I think there is a pretty huge difference this time around. Last split, when we were heading into the playoffs, I just knew there was no team that could take us down. I just knew that regardless of if someone made a mistake in any lane, someone else would carry and we would play as a unit.
Going into this final, I felt like all of us had to perform well to win. I feel like EG was in our shoes in terms of how I felt last time, because even though they were making mistakes, it didn't really matter. They functioned as a unit and punished us as a team while we were kind of making our own separate plays at different times. I think we sometimes play the 5v5 game, but EG was always as five, and we were sometimes playing as two, three, or four in terms of being on the same page.
We also saw EG struggle with inconsistency during the Spring Split. Do you think the amount of games they played in the post-season helped them hit their stride at the right time and gain the momentum to rapidly develop as a team, or do you think there were certain strategic things they were able to get the best of you in a head-to-head matchup?
I think it's a bit of both. They made way better decisions as a team and also executed them better than us. Meanwhile, we were having a hard time agreeing to a play as a team. At that point, it's really hard to set it up in the moment because we have to kind of react to what they're doing instead of being proactive ourselves. I think EG just punished us really well.
You've mentioned before that Ssumday and Closer were able to carry the team harder than last year in lieu of the bot lane slump. Do you think this has made the team more versatile going forward after putting a primary focus on both side lanes in the last two respective splits?
No. I would say yes to that question if FBI and I were stepping up and playing to a similar or better level than last split. I think we were kind of underperforming while Ssumday was basically performing like a god. As a team, we gave him a lot more resources, but it's back to our turn for me and FBI to step it up. If we're able to do that while Ssumday keeps up his performance, I think we will be a really strong team.
What are your thoughts on NA's regional strength relative to the rest of the world, and how do you think Evil Geniuses' playstyle will fare against other regions at the 2022 Mid-Season Invitational?
I think it's going to be about how they execute in the early game. I think that if they get out of the early game without being too far behind or making a mistake, they actually have a pretty good chance. I do think that if EG makes the mistakes they made today against us and is sloppy in the early game, the other major region teams will not give them the slack that we allowed.
I appreciate all of your insights, especially after a tough loss. Is there anything you want to say to the 100 Thieves fans ahead of the 2022 LCS Summer Split?
We're as disappointed as you are in our performance. We're just sorry about it. However, we're not going to let this be our last journey. We're going to do our best for the next split. All we can do is take everything we learned and make sure we keep momentum in the next split and when looking towards Worlds 2022. That's our goal. Keep cheering for us, we will make you guys proud again.