By Petar Vukobrat
November 8, 2019
In hindsight, this one feels like a no-brainer. After an incredibly disappointing season — and this might be putting it mildly — 100 Thieves has decided to part ways with their head coach Neil “pr0lly” Hammad after working together for two years.
It wasn’t that long ago that 100 Thieves burst onto the competitive League scene. For a moment, it felt like they had it all, the complete “package.” But things simply didn’t pan out as many of us expected. Their LCS run off in spectacular fashion as they were able to finish first in their inaugural split and thus end the regular portion of the split above the perennial LCS pantheon — Team SoloMid, Team Liquid and Cloud9.
For a moment, they looked unstoppable. It seemed like North America finally had a brand-new contender, a team that had what it took to upset the established order both locally, but also internationally. Such a stellar line-up had all the guidance it needed in Neil, a veteran coach in every regard. It was a match made in heaven, or so we thought. Their honeymoon phase definitely bore fruit in 2018, but once 2019 began, they were struggling with even the most basic concepts and were unable to register more than seven wins. Such an abysmal record resulted in a tenth-place finish in Spring.
That was, by all accounts, a shocking and rather baffling development. It made no sense whatsoever, for a team with much inherent talent, so many proven veterans and an experienced coach, to struggle to such a degree. Their fall was staggering, and it caught everyone by surprise. The months went on, but their play never improved. In fact, their play continued deteriorating up until they brought in Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider near the end of the Summer Split.
While 100 Thieves did improve enough under the guidance of pr0lly to contest for a playoff spot, they were ultimately unable to reach Top 6.
Their immaculate start back in 2018 only made their ending that much more bittersweet.
Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a positive slew of changes for 100 Thieves. It feels like they have it all: the branding, the content, fan engagement, the right approach as an organization, a stellar line-up (or at least one can assume that’ll still be the case come 2020), and — as of recently — one of the most beloved and cerebral professionals in the scene as their General Manager: Chris “PapaSmithy” Smith.
Their popularity skyrocketed once they became a permanent partner in the LCS back in 2018, and their inherent virtues made them fan favorites fairly quickly. We know that this organization is capable of achieving great things. That’s a fact at this point, but they need to make additional changes in order to win back the trust of thousands of fans across the globe. This is definitely a good start as Neil’s guidance and overall approach to the game no longer elevated the team. That said, 100 Thieves needs a complete do-over rather than just a change or two if they want to stand a chance of once again attaining greatness.