100 Thieves VALORANT Bench steel and Promote b0i to Starter
Following their disappointing loss to NA rival Envy at VALORANT Champions Tour 2021: Stage 3 Masters – Berlin, 100 Thieves knew they needed to make some changes. They have made similar maneuvers in the past with their League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) team, having signed four new players (Closer, FBI, Damonte, and Huhi) at the start of the 2021 season and then replacing one of them, their mid laner Tanner “Damonte” Damonte, midway through the season.
While these changes are significantly more substantial than their latest VALORANT roster changes, 100 Thieves’s LCS team did become the NA LCS Champions after these changes. Hoping to see similar success, 100 Thieves publicly announced on Twitter that Josh “steel” Nissan would be moved to the bench and their substitute Aaron “b0i” Thao would take his starting position.
It does not stop there, however, as steel will not take b0i’s position as the primary substitute. Instead, he will be moved to the inactive roster and Johann “seven” Hernandez will become 100 Thieves VALORANT’s primary substitute. This change, while not entirely shocking, is quite drastic considering steel was 100 Thieves IGL, in-game leader, meaning he had the final say on team decisions, map picks, and agent selections.
While the exact reasoning was not made public, steel’s performance in the latest stage of the VCT was less than desirable for a top VALORANT team. Having played 4 matches in the international tournament, steel’s average stat total left him in 3rd, 5th, 5th, and 4th of his teammates in those 4 games. This meant that steel was the worst performer on the 100 Thieves five-man roster for 2 of their 4 games and only peaked at 3rd best for one of their matches.
While this might not seem problematic as he outmatched at least one of his teammates in half of the games they played, steel was the only player to have a negative k/d ratio in their 13-3 destruction of Havan Liberty on Icebox and in their 13-8 victory over Ascend on Haven. Similarly, steel had an embarrassingly low 0.38 k/d in their 5-13 loss to Gambit Esports on Ascent, almost half of the next lowest player for 100 Thieves: Hiko with a 0.69 k/d.
100 Thieves CEO Nadeshot Weighs In
The CEO of 100 Thieves, former professional Call of Duty player and an MLG X Games gold medalist, Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag shed some light on the situation on his Twitch stream on September 28th: “I love Josh, I think Steel is an incredible player, but the team just needed something different right now…this isn’t the end of steel, this isn’t the end of his career…Just gotta try something different.”
While not entirely revealing of the reasoning behind steel’s benching, Nadeshot’s comments do suggest that the nature of the decision was amicable, citing 100 Thieves’s intentions to keep steel in the VALORANT scene for the long-run.
While Nadeshot clarified steel’s run in VALORANT is not over, it does raise some questions about the steel’s future with 100 Thieves and who will take his mantle as the 100 Thieves IGL. These questions will be answered later this year as 100 Thieves prepare for their last qualifying opportunity for the VCT in early October.