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Fans and analysts of the League Championship Series always knew he would win a trophy some day, but with a reinvigorated Team Liquid across the stage in the 2021 LCS Championship, not many expected that day to be today.
It’s been five, long years since arriving in North America, and Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho has waited all that time to finally claim an LCS title. With tears in his eyes as he spoke with LCS host and interviewer Gabriella “LeTigress” Devia-Allen, he thanked his fans, shrugged off his haters and took a bow to commemorate his moment of triumph.
Ssumday has been to six finals throughout his career: four in Korea and now two in NA. He won his second finals appearance in Korea by taking down Samsung Blue in 2014, but his victory there was bittersweet, as his team failed to make it to Worlds despite the win. He failed to win every other finals appearance there, and he eventually moved to NA to play for Dignitas in 2017.
A year later he reached his first NA Finals in Spring 2018. He had just been signed as the top laner for 100 Thieves in their inaugural split, and he was gunning for his second-ever title. Unfortunately for him, Liquid were well prepared. They swept him and his fellow thieves in the fastest best of five in NA playoff history.
Fast forward three and a half rocky years and he finally got his shot again. Better yet, he got a rematch against Liquid. But this match was about as different as it could possibly be from that humid afternoon in Miami.
Ssumday sat as the single player remaining from that previous matchup, as the other nine had been replaced since then. So, while it was a rematch for the orgs, only Ssumday could feel the full weight of this LCS Championship match. Not only that, but Ssumday is one of only three players still on a starting lineup of the 10 players from 2018, alongside Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black and Jeong “Impact” Eon-young. Sunday’s series was also played at home in the LCS Studio rather than a big, crowded venue full of fans, thanks to the rising number of COVID-19 cases effectively cancelling the planned finals in Newark, New Jersey.
Of course, the biggest change was the result. Despite Team Liquid taking down 100 Thieves one week prior, the boys in red not only defeated Cloud9 to find the rematch, but they overcame Liquid to quickly sweep them in the finals, nearly breaking the record that was set against them in 2018.
For the first time in his new, NA life, Ssumday won.
— 100T Ssumday (@Ssumday) August 29, 2021
While Can “Closer” Çelik stole the spotlight with his smooth Viego and Lee Sin plays, Ssumday performed spectacularly during the LCS Championship as well. In Game 1, he pulled out Shen and did exactly what his team needed to win. He completely broke open the game when he used his ultimate to facilitate a bot lane dive, resulting in four kills for 100 Thieves. Throughout the game, he protected his carries in skirmishes and teamfights for a quick 26-minute win. And though he died two times, they’d be his only deaths the whole series.
In Game 2, he got the first two kills of the game, utilizing his jungler in lane and working well with his team in the mid-game objective fights. By the end of the game, he was deathless with a 3/0/5 Kill/Death/Assist record. And in the final game, he combined his first and second game strengths, locking in Gangplank for global presence and laning power. Not only did he deal the most damage for his team, but he once again synergized with his teammates flawlessly to help guarantee the win and close out the series.
— dGon (@dGon) August 30, 2021
The team will move forward onto Worlds as NA’s first seed, allowing them to skip the top teams from the world’s other major regions in hopes of advancing to the Group Stage, something 100 Thieves failed to do in 2018. Despite his long career, this is only Ssumday’s third World Championship, but he shared his confidence moving forward in the post-game press conference.
“This time we will be much stronger,” he said. “We’ve proved ourselves as the first seed of NA, so let’s show you where we can go.”
Riot has not yet announced the specific Worlds location, but 100 Thieves will travel to Europe in the coming weeks to compete as NA’s first seed representative. You can find all of the teams who have qualified for Worlds here.
League of Legends esports reporter and photographer for half a decade. Sometimes I try to touch grass.