100 Thieves' Damonte on the team's development: 'They just haven’t seen our ceiling yet'

100 Thieves are already off to a 1-0 start.

After breezing through last month’s LCS Lock In tournament with an average game time of just over 31 minutes, 100 Thieves opened its season last night with a 47-minute League of Legends marathon win over Evil Geniuses.

There’s a strong chance that the game would have ran even longer if not for the heroics of 100 Thieves’ mid laner Damonte, who sealed the win for his team with a monstrous triple kill in the final moments of the contest. 

But even despite his solid performance on opening night, Damonte insists on not getting hung up on one pivotal win and keeping his team’s collective nose pressed to the grindstone.

“Once you’re done with a game like that, you’re relieved,” the 100 Thieves mid laner told Dot Esports. “Like, god damn, that was a banger, but at least we got the dub. We just got to move forward.”

Already, the team is moving past EG. Although the two teams tied for a third-place finish at the Lock In tournament, there’s reason to believe 100 Thieves might just have the necessary resources and ability to leapfrog over EG and make its way into the upper echelon of LCS teams. 

“I think we’ve already shown that we’re right up there with TL and C9,” Damonte said. “We’ve won games against both of them already. Yeah, they were during the Lock In but that definitely still counts.”

But even beyond early-season results, this year’s 100 Thieves roster has something most teams in the LCS don’t have: pre-existing synergy. While teams like TSM, Team Liquid, and many more are all still building basic chemistry early on in the year thanks to their various offseason shuffles, 100 Thieves boasts a roster where four of its five players competed together as recently as last year.

After the 2020 season came to a close, Golden Guardians released the entirety of its LCS roster. 100 Thieves pounced on the opportunity to sign an already well-developed and familiar squad, and essentially told the players to swap jerseys and continue their progression as a nearly-full unit. 

“Keeping the four players from Golden Guardians together was so sick,” Damonte said. “Every offseason you see teams blow up and rebuild their rosters from scratch and you normally don’t even get to play with one of the same players. But, it’s unprecedented that we’re all together, still.”

And, of course, getting the band back together and keeping the team’s development process intact is certainly a boon for the players’ progression. But that inherent familiarity the 100 Thieves players have with each other could just be a strong, early-season competitive advantage, too. Picking up exactly where you left off on a season-to-season basis is an incredibly uncommon feat in professional League of Legends, so for 100 Thieves to get the chance the “run it back” with a lineup of players that know each other’s ins and outs so well should give the organization an opportunity to circumvent the “growing pains” that other squads might have to endure early on in the split. 

A team like TSM, for example, sports a roster filled with five players who have never played with each other in any sort of professional capacity. Liquid, as well, is playing with two new players. Both of those teams started their regular season journeys in an 0-1 hole. 

“As a team, we’re a lot younger than the players on TL and C9. We haven’t been playing professionally for as long as them,” Damonte said. “That gives us an advantage because, maybe, they just haven’t seen our ceiling yet.”

In terms of LCS experience, 100 Thieves easily clocks in as one of the league’s greener teams. When broken down by way of service time, 100 Thieves only sports two players on its roster who have been playing professional League in a major region for more than four years.

The average amount of experience for the average 100 Thieves roster member is just over three years. Compare that to Liquid—which only posts one player on its starting roster with less than five years of major region service team—and it becomes remarkable to see just how quickly and efficiently this 100 Thieves squad has been able to develop senses of chemistry and poise within itself. 

If any year is going to be the year when this new 100 Thieves squad shows off its ceiling, it’s 2021. The cards are on the table for this already-well-developed team of young, fiery players like FBI, Closer, and of course, Damonte. The “poster boys” for rising talent have shown they can hang with the big dogs of the LCS early on in the season, and now, the focus shifts to sustained success.

By coming within just one game of reaching the Lock In tournament’s final round, 100 Thieves perked up any remaining ears that already weren’t listening to their song of success. “All five of us know that there’s zero excuses for us not to perform,” said Damonte.

But even still, early-season results are certainly a great foundation to build long lasting accomplishments upon, but the short-term focus needs to be thrown out the window in 2021. The LCS reformatted its schedule coming into this season, and every game—even the ones played during the Spring Split—count directly towards a team’s chances at making Worlds. A quintuple round robin highlights the LCS’ new format in 2021, and all 45 games that teams play during the regular season will impact their chances at representing North America on the international stage later this year. 

“Obviously, we’re not going to be so excited and so happy that we beat someone in the first game of the year,” Damonte said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. As long as we keep thinking about it that way, we’ll be fine.”

When every game counts towards the end goal—yes, even the 47-minute back-and-forth circus acts in early February—there’s no reason the World Championship shouldn’t be the target. Especially for a durable, now-proven team like 100 Thieves.

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