We sat down and talked with Neil “Pr0lly” Hammad, Head Coach of 100 Thieves, after their loss to Golden Guardians. Pr0lly talked about the slow start of 100 Thieves, what methods they are using to improve, his thoughts on the meta and how that has influenced the rise of the West.
So this might be one of the most heard questions for you, 100 Thieves started really strong in 2018 and it's clear 2019 has not been going great. What are some of the steps the team is taking to turn the ship around for the summer split?
The biggest thing is that this is the first time that we are making proactive changes in terms of the roster and for the coaching staff. I think that for the spring split and even last year we knew we had to make potential changes, but it took much longer to make them. God only knows if it was right to do it at that time or if we should have done them earlier. So I think this year we are trying to do it at a proper time. We started 0-4, so we wanted to make the changes as soon as possible, instead of waiting for our record to be worse or wait until some magic happens. We wanted to make changes soon, so we could see the atmosphere changes and see how the players meshed.
The team also wanted to be a lot more transparent with [the changes]. I know last year we had a radio silent agreement with almost everything that was going on, now we are a lot more open with what is going on behind the scenes.
Obviously, fans have been worried about the state of the team, even wondering what is going on?
Do you think the players are all for it? We have seen some players be vocal in social media about how they will improve, so is it something that is clear that all the players want to prove that the team can be as good as people expect them to be?
Yeah, I think a big foundational part of the team we wanted to grow this split was, not camaraderie because that sounds cheesy, but more for each other, like a team for each other. I think Ryu was a very big part of that. He had some coaching time so he spent some time outside of the player pool to kind of see how a team of players will, not love each other, but more like die for each other. So I think him, Zaq (Aphromoo) and I are really trying hard to recreate that. Obviously not artificially but more in the sense, the team will be able to try hard if they all care for each other. That’s kind of where we are now.
In the last two weeks the biggest change is how the players interact with each other, in and outside the game, because I think it is almost impossible to separate work and life entirely. With all these roster changes, one of the most important things was to make sure we kept everyone together. We wanted to make sure no one felt like they are being kicked or being benched, it is more like this is the best roster we have right now, so let’s see how it all works. That includes Ssumday and Saligo are included in all of that.
So switching topics to a more general League of Legends topic. Fans have seen you in NA and EU, you kind of have been able to see the long coming changes of both leagues, both making finals of MSI. Do you think this has been a long time coming or is this dominance a lot more sudden?
I would honestly say this likely unpopular opinion but I would give credit to the Riot balance team and what they have done to change the game. Honestly, I don’t like it very much. It used to be a lot more strategic, instead of players need to play well. I think the way that Riot has been moving the game kind of took a hit on these know-it-all teams, like in Korea. They are so structured and so disciplined, they kind of knew that if you move here and I move here then we can win. Since that has been stripped away towards a direction of more exciting games, which I understand, that has given rise to other regions.
Now, regions with strong players can make something happen. It is no longer relying on having a team with five geniuses doing one thing, it is having five people doing a lot of things greatly then you can probably mount a large advantage. I would think that is the biggest reason NA and EU have been climbing up the ranks because our team play is still behind what it used to be back in 2016 or even 2017, but the individual caliber of players is growing even faster because the game is encouraging that kind of thing.
So within that train of thought lets say that the meta would change tomorrow, vision control becomes a priority again, do you think we would see a drastic change of teams now don’t know what they are doing?
I would be very curious to see them revert all the warding changes, trackers knife changes, delayed sighstones, even pink wards, but if they did revert all of that I am certain if it would change too much. The main reason is that they added a lot of gold to towers and the early game plays. I think they kind of both go hand in hand. There's more gold early and less control late have driven the game to what it is now.
If they took out tower plating and gave back all those vision changes, I think that would be a very funny experiment. I would actually be very curious to see what happens, in my eyes I see Korea shoot up to number one instantly. All number one teams would not be able to beat any of the 10 teams in Korea.
At that point, Jin Air might actually better than G2.
*Laughs* At that point maybe. Right now in a parallel universe that is happening and someone is enjoying it. I would be very curious because that is something we don’t know, would individual play have prospered as much if all the vision still existed? Because with more vision you can still play aggressively, maybe even more aggressively. It would be interesting to see if that is the reason or if it is the fact that the game has progressed naturally.
Maybe that should be a change for Rift Rivals.
That would be funny to see in one game. You have 20 wards on one map and you have players feel like ‘I can see everything’. What would happen is everyone would just 1v1 and as soon as someone started losing the 1v1, the loser would just leave that lane and start grouping for an hour.
We talked about how the game has progressed, we have also seen some progress in the amateur scene. Do you have any advice for people that want to become better coaches?
Maybe this is a little obvious but don’t be a know-it-all. Be very willing to be wrong or be willing to listen. I see a lot of people trying to join in [Academy/LCS] trying to make a name for themselves and so they try to be boisterous and such. I think that is something that might get you into good terms with management but players would not respect that kind of style. So I would say if you can learn the skills of being understanding that is probably the most important [skill] to learn. After that strategy is very important, so learn how to play the game too.
Do you have any words for fans of 100 Thieves out there?
Thank you for supporting us and we are still not stopping.
Featured image via Riot Games/ LoL Esports.