Following 100 Thieves’ run in Valorant Champions Tour 2023: LOCK//IN, where they lost to eventual champions Fnatic 2-0 in the quarterfinals, controller player Sean “bang” Bezerra spent time reviewing and reflecting on his team’s performance in Brazil.
Having rewatched 100T’s matches during the event, he identified two things that led to their Top 8 finish in the first event of the 2023 season: a tendency to play scared as opposed to playing with a clear initiative and a confluence of various small mistakes that prohibited them from going further than they would have liked.
Such things needed to be addressed; should 100T aspire to follow up their LOCK//IN with another impressive outing in the Americas League, which kicked off with their opening series against familiar foe Sentinels.
While there were some bright spots for the team and bang, who switched to the controller position after starting as 100T’s initiator last year, their past LOCK//IN struggles reared its ugly head at the end of Ascent, where they dropped a 12-9 lead to ultimately fall in overtime 14-12.
Unfortunate as it was for 100T to receive defeat in their league debut under familiar circumstances, for bang, in consideration of how the series panned out (each of the three maps went the full distance in terms of rounds played), there’s reason for optimism that they can regroup for their next series. With a few tweaks and a clear mental reset, he hopes 100T can start their journey towards qualifying for Masters: Tokyo on the right foot instead of stumbling backward once again.
Following 100T’s series against Sentinels, bang spoke to BLIX.GG for an interview about his performance in that opening encounter of the season. He also reflects on his time in Brazil for LOCK//IN and his personal development throughout his ongoing stint with 100T.
Pedro Romero, BLIX.GG: To start off, I want to know your thoughts of just playing on stage for the league and in front of the crowd in the studio. What was that like?
Sean "bang" Bezerra: It was a lot of fun. I love playing in front of crowds. I love playing on the stage. I think this is my third time playing in front of a crowd, so for each time, it's way more fun than playing online or even on LAN without people. I really enjoyed the experience.
BLIX: How much different was it for you to play in such a smaller venue compared to the larger venues such as the one you competed in for LOCK//IN in Brazil? Was there any difference you felt regarding venue size?
bang: With this smaller venue, the AC isn't as bad. We had a huge venue in Brazil and it was hot. It was hot as heck over there. We were sweating a lot but that's probably the biggest difference. I don't really notice much outside of that.
BLIX: Well thank God for air conditioning. I want to focus on the series with Sentinels. Obviously, it was a tough loss. Both teams played on an equal level all the way through. You guys went ahead by an 8-4 lead in Ascent before Sentinels came back at the very end of the map. What went wrong for this team in Ascent?
bang: The smallest mistakes of not being on the same page and not thinking ahead enough. It was just the small things. It's so important in these matches to be on the same page and have the same plan, and when you don't have that sometimes, and sometimes that happened to us, it was the reason that we lost. But then there were other things that we had practiced before but didn't run correctly.
It's just not exactly what you want but yeah, it was just the small mistakes that will happen when you're under pressure like that, so hopefully, we can clean that up in the short time we have until our next match.
BLIX: Looking at how Sentinels played against you guys. they threw new things on the table so far like Sacy playing as Omen, and pANcada on Killjoy. How were you guys able to work around and counter all of the things that Sentinels threw at you?
bang: We weren't really taken back too much by it. We kind of had the feeling that they were doing role changes and stuff like that so it was expected. But we didn't give too much thought to it other than the fact that they are in different roles.
It was going to be weird, but other than that, we didn't think too much about it. I'd say it was definitely really interesting to see those role swaps, I can understand why mostly because I felt the dephh one [Rory "dephh" Jackson] was mostly because they wanted him to be with the pack in the calling. Initiators are able to control the map better than Sentinel players who are just lurking.
There are benefits to both and there are downsides to both, but I can understand why they made that change role-wise. As I said, we didn't think too much of it. We kind of just played her own game and that's pretty much it.
BLIX: So was it either them being the better team, or you guys not playing up to your standards?
bang: I think it's a combination of both, to be fair. I think we didn't play to our standards and I think they played to their standards and they played really well today. We just didn't show up when it mattered. In the very close rounds that we needed, we kind of choked some of them. They definitely played incredibly, so props to them. They made us really fight for a close match, but we did not come out on top in the end.
Looking back at the LOCK//IN
BLIX: I want to take the conversation to LOCK//In where 100T finished in Top 8, you put up a tweet about how you were thinking about all the things that went down for you and the team there during your flight back home. What exactly were your takeaways from competing in LOCK//IN with 100T?
bang: One thing we took away was we kind of made some role changes a little bit to what we're playing. I don't want to go too deep into it because we haven't shown our entire map pool yet, but you'll see it eventually. I think in our match against Fnatic, we played really scared so we tried to not play scared again next time. We took that away for sure. It's really easy to play not to lose and it's hard to play to win, so I think we played not to lose in that match and I think we played not to lose in some of the rounds in today's match. It's the thing that will always impact your team when you're up or when you're down. Playing not to lose is something you have to know when it's good and when it's not good to do that kind of play style and you saw some of that today out of us unfortunately.
BLIX: What about you specifically? How do you take away your experience in LOCK//IN for yourself and how were you able to utilize your experience for the Americas League?
bang: For my individual takeaways, I don't think I played to the best of my ability sadly. I tried to do my best to learn from the other players. There's other really great smokes players that played in LOCK//IN and I tried to take as much as I could from them because there are just a lot of incredible players that play my role. The competition is hard, but I don't think I played to my standard. I watched the matches back, of course, and tried to fix the mistakes I made.
But the only individual thing I took away really was that I didn't play at the standards that I expect from myself to and I really tried my best to correct the mistakes that I made.
BLIX: You changed roles from duelist/initiator to controller last season. In doing so, you were able to help 100T qualify for Champions by winning the NA LCQ. As a result, in taking a look at your individual play, your NA peers named you as their Most Improved Player for the year. How did you react to it and what does that tell you about your development as a player from last year up until now?
bang: I was really happy to be nominated for Most Improved Player. I was really excited when I saw that. I definitely felt like I earned it. I thought that I played really horribly in my stint with TSM. I felt that I was redeeming myself when I was on BBG [Built By Gamers] and then joined 100 Thieves with will [William Cheng] and I kind of got my confidence back up slowly but surely from there. That was because when I was on TSM, I had little to no confidence. I built it up slowly but surely and for the second time, when I joined 100T, I was finally ready.
Obviously, I joined as initiator, but we made some roster changes and eventually, I ended up my way as smokes as that was the only way I was able to actually stay on the team when jcStani [Noah Smith], Ethan [Ethan Arnold], and the whole roster got blown up other than me and Peter [Asuna]. The only way I was able to stay was by playing smokes. I played smokes before and I was open to playing smokes and things worked out and eventually, I was able to play that role for the team.
BLIX: Given that you had to go through many things in order to be the kind of player that you are, how would you describe yourself right now as the season is finally underway in the Americas League?
bang: I hope to be smart and aggressive. That's the standard I’ve set for myself: being smart and aggressive. I hope to be like that for the rest of the season. I don't think I showed as much today because I know I'm capable of that.