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Were 100 Thieves Right In Their Drastic Roster Moves?

If you’ve even glanced at social media you’ve seen the firestorm. What seemed to follow a disappointing loss to The Guard, 100 Thieves released Adam “ec1s” Eccles and Hunter “BabyJ” Schline from the roster after just being with the organization for a little over a month. In their stead, former Immortals ace Noah “jcStani” Smith and former TSM duelist Sean “bang” Bezerra have been signed on loan from their respective teams. With such drastic moves being laid out in the midst of the opening event for VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT), are 100 Thieves right in making changes now or have they jumped the gun? 

After having a successful run last season, 100 Thieves carved themselves a space at the North American VALORANT table as one of its figureheads. The moves made in the offseason were only supposed to catalyze that potential further and see them maintain their position. Now? They’re at risk of not even making it out of their group for VCT: Stage 1 Challengers. While they were competitive losses, dropping sets to both Cloud9 and The Guard is not something that should be taken lightly. However, 100 Thieves’ front office very clearly wants the public to know that this was not results based in the slightest. 

In a follow up regarding the immediate release, CEO Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag took to social media to add context to the situation. “I think a lot of people have a hard time understanding why we made this decision,” Nadeshot said. “It’s tough to say this wasn’t a results-based decision, but it really wasn’t. Obviously a disappointing loss yesterday to The Guard, Cloud9 got the better of us beating us 2-0 last week. And I think a lot of people don’t have the ability to look deeper into what causes issues with teams and roster,” he explained.

Reflecting on his own time competing, Nadeshot pointed towards the fact that moves like these rarely has to do with skill, talent, or results as much as the culture and mindset of the team. And just based off that we can already assume that these players simply didn’t fit the process that 100 Thieves had laid out. What that means is none of our business but sometimes things like this happen, what seems to look fantastic on paper just ends up not working out in practice. 

There is a famous baseball quote that goes “Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late.” And while initial reactions could point towards an underlying value loss or a healthy rotation of talent, this quote chips away at any sunken cost fallacy that this situation has. Of course, 100 Thieves do not want to be in this position, both ec1s and BabyJ are fantastic players, both parties wanted things to work or else the initial deal would not have gone through. But things change and it’s better to make the difficult choice now than to let something fester and hope it gets better sometime in the future. Sweeping it under the rug does no one any good, period. 

Were 100 Thieves right in their decision making? Yes, if they believed that there were such cultural or philosophical differences that made the future that much more difficult, then cutting ties is going to be best for both parties in the long run. The results are likely to suffer, without a doubt, but this isn’t a move for the short term–you don’t cut two players following a loss to attempt to save your season, you do that because things were not productive or conducive to growth in the long term. 

The situation is frustrating from all sides. You want to support young players and allow them time to grow, but if the situation is simply not going to work then when is the best time to cut ties? Nadeshot and 100 Thieves have a whole year to plan for and while criticisms could be levied at the initial acquisition, the fact of the matter is that it is more mature and productive to make a move like this now than it is to sit on your hands and wait for things to get better.

Proactivity is a hallmark of good play and that moves into the organizational front. While it’s difficult to see such promising players depart, 100 Thieves has their best foot moving forward with some new and talented players as 2022 marches on. 

Images via Riot Games