Following 100 Thieves’ win over Leviatan in the 2023 VCT Americas League season, a surge of expectations began behind their bid to be one of the competition's best teams. That being said, with Week 5 and a date against NRG Esports on the horizon, the belief surrounding the team was that they could push their opponents aside and continue their momentum to make Playoffs.
Unfortunately for 100T, as their series with NRG played out, that didn’t happen. Despite starting well on Bind with a set of brilliant individual plays, they fell to the opposing team 13-7 on the returning map of Bind before sinking further on Fracture where they lost 13-3.
For 100T, who previously played well against one of the Americas’ best teams in comeback fashion, it was a performance that raised questions over how they fare against the rest of the league’s best. With their next set of matches against all three Brazilian teams coming up, such scrutiny will only rise in volume until next week.
Following the series against NRG, 100T’s IGL Brenden “stellar” McGrath spoke to BLIX.GG about their performance in Week 5, how he views his IGLing so far this season and much more.
Pedro Romero, BLIX.GG: Tough luck in the series against NRG. Obviously, it wasn't how you hoped it would go down. Just to start this interview, I want to know your thoughts on the team's performance, how you guys prepared for NRG, and how those preparations played out.
Brenden "stellar" McGrath: Our performance was pretty lackluster. I think we had pretty good preparation, but we didn't execute on said preparation. We just didn't look like ourselves out there. That's all that it really was.
BLIX: I talked to Asuna, and he said that you guys were expecting the kind of things that NRG threw at you. Regarding that, what prohibited you guys from countering NRG's movements in a way that stifled them and prolonged the series?
stellar: In the series, they had a lot of first kills, which definitely hindered a lot of things that you could do considering you'd be a man down. We just weren't playing as snappy and fast. Maybe we were a little bit hesitant here and there and NRG were able to proceed to do whatever they thought would be good. I mean, that was mainly it. It was just a little bit of hesitation here and here that really caught us off guard in the important rounds, and it kind of scaled out of hand.
On Bind and Fracture
BLIX: I want to go more in-depth into the series, and the big story regarding this week is the return of Bind. I want to know your thoughts on what Bind is like and how different, if at all, it is from the previous version.
stellar: It's pretty much the same map overall. I think the only thing that's different from what you might see people starting to do is using the showers TP a little bit more. I think the map became a little bit more attacker-sided. Other than that, I think the map still plays pretty much the same. Obviously, Raze also got nerfed, so maybe the Raze Boom Bot isn't as good anymore, and Harbor has also been introduced, so you'll see some tweaks here and there but they will be played more in this league.
BLIX: Moving on to Fracture, it wasn't the sort of map that you guys want to experience. It was the sort of defeat that was received in a pretty resounding fashion. How did the team try to transition from Bind into Fracture? And what was your direction like and trying to lead them through the map in the fashion that it did?
stellar: I mean, you just try to shake off the first map and just go into the second, right? The longer you think about previous rounds or maps, the worse your performance will be. I think we were in pretty good positions early in the half, regardless of the score line, and I think we just let some of the rounds get out of our hands and that led to a kind of snowball effect where NRG just took it by storm.
BLIX: There have been conversations with FNS and his IGLing and how he led the team against you guys. From your perspective, how has it been trying to play against FNS in this particular series? What was it like trying to face him and the calls he was making at the beginning of the round, the mid-round, and also in the late stretch?
stellar: I mean, I think we had a pretty good grasp as to what they were doing especially on Fracture but they just did the simple things better.
IGL style and team struggles
BLIX: Given that you guys are 3-3 and are playing in the middle of the pack in the league standings, how have you viewed your IGLing of this team so far in the season and how has it developed from the start up until this point?
stellar: Obviously, I'm not gonna say I'm doing a bad job. I don't think that would be good, but I definitely could be a little bit better here and there. I'm still learning some things and the meta is shifting here and there, but I don't know. I feel like we're doing a pretty good job. I think a lot of the reason why we lose is maybe just that we mess up on a lot of the small things, which isn't necessarily calling but I think it's just a team aspect. I think everybody on the team, including myself, could do a better job and do some of the small things better. Usually, when we are, we're winning our games as we saw against EG. We did the simple things better against Leviatan and KRU. From the start to now, I don't think it's changed too much.
BLIX: For each specific team, they go about a way in which they strategize. Sometimes, they have players giving their input and how they would go about a given map. They sometimes put that input with the coaches' and mix them together. I want to know how it has been trying to strategize for each given opponent behind the scenes if you're able to disclose as such.
stellar: For each opponent, everyone does their personal homework, right? Strategies don't change much. I don't think we're designing strategies specifically to play against a certain team. It's more like maybe we have a handful of strategies that might work against teams better, right? It's kind of like a team discussion. That's kind of the way we go about it. We just play our game, we determine whether things can work or not against certain people, and then we kind of go from there.
BLIX: You highlighted the team's issues on the fundamentals. What do you think is the cause for that? Is it mostly individual-wise that the players are unable to execute the little things that you would like to see or is it something else that's causing those issues?
stellar: I think it's a mix of certain things. It's not like we don't understand the fundamentals or we don't necessarily have them but a lot of it comes down to whether we're taking the time to do them or not. I guess it's a person-to-person thing but then it's also a collective thing at the same time. It's a team issue.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season
BLIX: Looking ahead in the schedule, you guys have that Brazilian gauntlet ahead. LOUD is going to be the first Brazilian team you'll face next week. For you, as the IGL, what's going to be like for you to prepare against these teams' IGLs in the ensuing weeks?
stellar: I don't look at the teams based on their IGLs. I think we mainly focus on ourselves. Especially after losses, I think it's more of an improvement time and refining time for us and that's kind of what we're going to focus on and make sure we're doing things better for us. When the time comes, we'll just play and try to do our best.
BLIX: As someone who has been the IGL for this team for quite a while now, what has been your biggest takeaway from this team so far this year?
stellar: I mean, I think we just have insane potential. I think we could easily be one of the best teams in the world if we can consistently start doing the things that we practice pretty often. Sometimes, it just slips away from us in matches, so as soon as we can become consistent in matches and perfect those fundamentals, then we'll be super deadly.