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100 Thieves dominated Team Liquid in a 3-0 series, in large part thanks to Can “Closer” Çelik’s performance in the jungle, to bring home their first League of Legends Championship Series title.
For 100 Thieves, not only does winning the 2021 Summer Split mean bringing home a championship to their organization, but it also means redeeming their inaugural season as a team in the LCS. After finishing second during the regular season in 2018, Team Liquid swept 100 Thieves in one of the fastest grand finals ever. Now, three years later, 100 Thieves have risen to the challenge and brought Team Liquid down in a series that was over almost as fast as the one before.
While Team Liquid and 100 Thieves look very different from when they originally battled in the spring of 2018, one constant still remains — Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho. Ssumday joined 100 Thieves alongside mid-laner Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook as the team’s two staple players. Some of the best North American talents supported them, including William “Meteos” Hartman, Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black and Cody “Cody Sun” Sun. Those other four players have moved on to different opportunities in the LCS, but Ssumday remains in the top lane for 100 Thieves as their franchise player.
“I’m really happy that I can get the trophy finally,” Ssumday said in the post-match interview. “Thanks to everyone, all my teammates and all the coaches. I’m really happy. I know there are fans and haters, but the haters are just haters. The fans have always been behind me and I am really thankful for everyone that has been behind me.”
Ssumday added that the finals three years ago against Team Liquid was not close, but that this time, he played his best and showed what he was capable of.
Closer stakes a second claim
Outside of Ssumday finally bringing an LCS title to 100 Thieves, Closer has achieved his own success kind of success. After winning today, Closer became the first Turkish player to win a title in multiple regions. Before coming to NA, Closer won the Turkish Championship League Summer 2019 Major on Royal Youth, which qualified them for Worlds that same year.
“From the first day I came, to be honest, I was coming to a pretty bad team,” said Closer during a press conference after winning an LCS title. “But, I just needed some pieces to work with and then I saw FBI (Victor Huang) play and I was like ‘this guy is crazy good.’ Then luckily Jay (Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun) was in the same team. We ended up creating the pieces and I think we knew we were going to win the LCS.”
Others have earned this accolade before, such as players who originated in the League of Legends Champions Korea or the League of Legends European Championship, but this is the first time a smaller region like Turkey can claim such a feat and rally behind a player like Closer. And to drive that point home, across the three games and two champions, Closer earned 19 kills, 21 assists and only two deaths from the second match against Team Liquid. He carried his team to the first LCS title and showed the entire LCS community he should have earned the 2021 Summer Split MVP title.
First a king, now a champion. 👑
— LCS (@LCSOfficial) August 29, 2021
100 Thieves cement themselves in the LCS
Since 2018, when 100 Thieves made it to the grand finals against Team Liquid, the team has bounced between being one of the best and worst teams in the league. After finishing 12th at Worlds in 2018, 100 Thieves brought over former world champion bot laner Bae “Bang” Jun-sik, but he couldn’t save the team from a 10th place finish the next spring. The following Summer the Thieves continued to struggle and only finished ninth.
While 2020 was better for 100 Thieves, they still fell short in both spring and summer during the playoffs and finished in the bottom six. It wasn’t until they brought on the former Golden Guardians roster that things began to change for 100 Thieves.
In Spring of 2021, they finished fourth — which was close, but not close enough. They needed bigger guns if they wanted to bring home an LCS title to their organization. That missing piece turned out to be Felix “Abbedagge” Braun, who could join from the LEC after Ssumday gained residency and opened another import slot.
This doesn’t feel real. A moment that I’ll never forget. People don’t understand how difficult it is to win in Esports so for us to win in such a dominating fashion, I just feel incredibly grateful.
Thank you to our players, coaches, staff and fans. This one is for you. https://t.co/7MIHaITbxT
— 100T Nadeshot (@Nadeshot) August 29, 2021
While the players expressed their joy on stage, 100 Thieves CEO Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag shared his feelings on Twitter after the win.
“This doesn’t feel real,” he said. “A moment that I’ll never forget. People don’t understand how difficult it is to win in esports, so for us to win in such a dominating fashion, I just feel incredibly grateful. Thank you to our players, coaches, staff and fans. This one is for you.”
In the history of the North American League of Legends, only four teams had lifted the trophy before today: Cloud9, CLG, TSM and Team Liquid. But with 100 Thieves’ victory over Team Liquid, they have broken the cycle and added another team to the short list of domestic victors.
Now that they have won, 100 Thieves will take their dominance to Worlds for the second time in the organization’s history. They will be joined by Cloud9 and Team Liquid, two teams accustomed to attending the World Championship, but often in a higher seed.
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.