Aaron “B0i” Thao had hung up his mouse to pursue a VALORANT analyst role with 100 Thieves after his position as a player for Andbox ended in May of 2021. Lackluster performances at tournaments led to roster swaps, and B0i started co-streaming VALORANT with 100 Thieves player Nick “nitr0” Cannella soon after. There were initially rumors of B0i joining as a player himself, and while they were false then, things are different now.
On Sept. 27, 100 Thieves cut their in-game leader at the time, Josh “steel” Nissan. He was part of the inaugural team built around team captain Spencer “Hiko” Martin, but after falling short of victory (and qualifying for Champions at the end of the year), the team placed steel on the bench and asked B0i to take his place. It wasn’t technically what he had signed up for, but there was a North American Last Chance Qualifier to win. The team needed him.
Returning to live play
The NA LCQ was the first time B0i would have had the chance to play on LAN for VALORANT, as Andbox never got the chance to do so. However, the LCQ wasn’t the first time B0i had competed at any LAN tournament, though it had been quite some time.
In an interview on stream with Plat Chat after his win against Gen.G Esports, B0i revealed that he had not competed in a LAN tournament since Fragadelphia 12, circa August 2018, during his Counter-Strike days. On top of that, he hadn’t even competed in any kind of professional tournament since April 29. But despite the gaps, B0i fell right back into the swing of things during 100 Thieves’ first two games of the LCQ.
“It felt really good [to play again],” B0i said in his post-match interview with Plat Chat. “I had a lot of fun, actually. Obviously, it has been a while since I’ve played and I get to play my first match back in a LAN setting, so it’s been a lot of fun.
While it may have been several years since B0i had played on LAN, for 100 Thieves it felt like yesterday. The team, before moving B0i to the main roster, had just gotten back from a LAN tournament in Berlin, Germany for Masters 3. This was where the team came just short of qualifying for Champions, which ultimately led them to the LCQ.
Picking up where he left off
After stepping up from his analyst position, B0i resumed the role he had played on Andbox for 100 Thieves. The ability to flawlessly transition from one team to another is a key point that B0i talked about after their match against XSET.
“I actually thought it was a smooth transition,” B0i said to Upcomer. “I am playing a role that I previously played on my past team. In terms of roles, it was perfect and everyone on the team is gelling really well.”
This flexibility also enabled nitr0’s transition from playing smokes to now playing Jett, though this was a necessary shift. Before joining the team, B0i and nitr0 played similar roles for their respective teams. But now that B0i replaced steel, nitr0 could take more of an aggressive role with Jett and the Operator since B0i would now replace nitr0’s role as the anchor for the team.
“Op-ing just comes naturally to me,” nitr0 explained in a post-match interview on stream. “Jett is obviously the best op-ing agent in the game and IGL-ing is something that I had past experience on [Team] Liquid for three or four years. So the IGL part is definitely easier than adding a new agent.”
B0i becomes second in command
Prior to B0i joining the team in any capacity, Steel was the in-game leader for 100 Thieves With him gone, nitr0 stepped up and became the main voice of the team, leaving a gap for B0i to fill as second in command.
“Nitr0 is the main IGL, I’m kind of like his second-hand man, basically,” B0i explained on Plat Chat. “I’m trying to give as many information callouts, as much as possible. I’m also part of the strategy book. I’m helping them out with all the ideas. We’re just working back and forth.”
B0i said the initial switch from steel to nitr0 for leader was fairly simple. The team just needed to get used to hearing nitr0’s ideas and strategies from what they were used to hearing with steel.
“Starting off, it was mostly just listening to nitr0’s ideas first and then me implementing other things on top,” said B0i. “That way it stays with nitr0 being that main IGL and it’s not me trying to take over or anything like that.”
Overcoming the competition
B0i’s potential performance at the LCQ was unclear before games started, due to the time between now and the last time he had competed. And while the games against Gen.G Esports and XSET were close, the team was able to come together to reverse sweep both matches, 2-1. B0i went on to explain that they weren’t worried about losing either series.
“I feel like we were always in control of the entire series in both the Gen.G and XSET games,” B0i said. “Obviously I think that XSET had more time to look at us since we played first and then we got to watch them play after. XSET won their [map] pick, which was Split, so we’re not too worried about [losing] when it’s not our pick.”
Overall, B0i did well in both series by playing a mixture of Viper and Astra depending on the map. For Viper, B0i held strong with a 1.19 KD with 38 kills and 32 deaths across three games. While for Astra, B0i had a 0.58 KD which wasn’t as impressive but was still able to be impactful with 24 assists from the three games.
Now, B0i must only finish strong and prove that his team made the right decision in giving him a second chance to play professional VALORANT. If he can’t help the team find victory, the 100 Thieves roster could shift again. But if his team does reach Champions, after a long season with many close calls, B0i could end up having a permanent spot on the roster.
Danny Appleford is an esports journalist for Upcomer that started writing for Daily Esports in 2020. He now specializes in articles surrounding League of Legends, Call of Duty, VALORANT and Halo.