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Of all the teams in 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour North America Stage 1 Challengers, 100 Thieves have had one of the most puzzling trajectories. They qualified for the tournament automatically due to the circuit points they accrued in 2021, saving them from having to go through the open qualifiers that most of the other Challengers teams had to undergo in order to make it to the main stage.

But as the Challengers group stage continues, it’s become increasingly clear that 100 Thieves maybe should have gone through the ringer like all the other teams – if only to get their reps in before the tournament began. They floundered against Cloud9 and The Guard in the first two weeks, and even though both of those teams have been on the up and up, 100 Thieves quickly took drastic measures. On Feb. 21, just one day after the team suffered their second group stage loss against The Guard, 100 Thieves announced that they had released Hunter “BabyJ” Schline and Adam “ec1s” Eccles, both of whom had joined the team just one month prior.

The two vacancies were filled by Sean “bang” Bezerra and Noah “jcStani” Smith, who were on loan from other teams that did not make it to Challengers. The two loaners played their first game with 100 Thieves on Sunday, against Luminosity Gaming.

Luminosity have also been somewhat struggling; though they were 1-1 heading into their match against 100 Thieves, that one win was against Evil Geniuses, who are winless so far in VCT NA with three matches played. This would be 100 Thieves’ best chance so far to finally snag a win in VCT.

Unfortunately, the win eluded them once again. Bang was a standout player despite being so new to the roster and Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk’s Jett impressed as always on Breeze, but Luminosity’s solidity and preparedness as a team meant that they had an edge, no matter how many good individual plays 100 Thieves pulled off. Speaking after the match, Luminosity’s Will “dazzLe” Loafman said that they didn’t think the match would be easy, but based on the player turnover, Luminosity expected that 100 Thieves would play much more fast and loose.

“We just viewed it as an advantage and focused on ourselves even harder than we normally do,” dazzLe said.

Luminosity are now 2-1 in the group stage and 100 Thieves have dropped to 0-3. Given that the top four teams will qualify to playoffs and there are only two matches left in the season, it’s seeming unlikely that 100 Thieves will make it to playoffs, something that many would not have expected before the tournament began.

What can 100 Thieves do now? It may be too late to make up for lost time at this point, especially since two of the team’s five players are ostensibly temporary. VCT Stage 1 Challengers playoffs and certainly Masters 1 seem like they may be out of reach for 100 Thieves at this point. But that may also be a blessing in disguise; it will give them ample time to build up a new roster. Hopefully, this time it’ll stick.

Disclosure: Luminosity Gaming is a subsidiary of Enthusiast Gaming, which owns and operates Upcomer.

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