100 Thieves was eliminated by Sentinels in the VCT Americas Last Chance Qualifier, and esports.gg sat down with IGL Stellar after the fact.
Many were calling 100 Thieves versus Sentinels VALORANT's "Match of the Century." From rumblings to the eye test in scrims, the community and other pros were certain this match would exceed all expectations. And Unfortunately for the likes of Brenden "stellar" McGrath and his 100 Thieves teammates, the "Match of the Century" was also their last match of the year.
It was a 2:1 victory for Sentinels. 100 Thieves got off to a hot start with an overtime win on Pearl, but Sentinels locked it down from there to take the win. The high profile elimination match up was a treat for fans of the esports, and after the series, we spoke with 100T's in-game leader on what went wrong in the season-ending contest and what it means for him.
100T Stellar discusses the LCQ loss to SEN and his thoughts on the team's progression overall
"We'll start with the series. It was a huge comeback on map one, winning it in overtime. Even with a large deficit to overcome, it was your map pick and at halftime, you swapped over to defense. A look at previous outings has shown a successful 100 Thieves defense on Pearl and a sometimes struggling attacker side for Sentinels. How confident were you in a comeback knowing those circumstances heading into the second half?"
Stellar: "We didn't really think too much about whether they were good on attack or defense. Seeing how they played on their defense, they played pretty much the same round every single round. And we kind of knew they would probably do the same on attack and that's pretty much what they did.
"All we needed to do was win pistol, make sure we don't get eco'd, and then have a solid bonus round. Then after that, we figured out how they were playing. I mean, they just hit A or B, right? They didn't really go Mid at all. So, we just played around that, and knowing that, we just made sure we were doing things proactive. Then that was it and that was all we thought about."
"Obviously, it was a different story on Split, 13:7 in favor of Sentinels. 100 Thieves failed to get a single round on Attack. Simply put, what stopped your attacking strategy from working?"
Stellar: "A couple of the rounds were kind of close. Pistol round was pretty close in the grand scheme of things. And then there's a handful of other rounds. I think I had a Viper round where almost won a 1v2 or 1v3. It was just us being a little hesitant on the way we were working the map. Just like around Mid, pretty much.
"I mean, we would get stalled out pretty hard and then even after we got stalled out, we would just take way too much time to proceed to do things. And that hurt a lot on a lot of the gun rounds. We tried it on a couple, and just being too hesitant, that was ultimately why."
"And moving on to map three. Bind saw interesting compositions from both teams. Yoru versus Yoru. Cryo on Chamber again. How does an Agent selection that like come to life? Do you or Mikes suggest to Asuna, for example, that he play Yoru or does that come from his input?"
Stellar: "That was actually his input. I don't know if he said it as a joke or not at first, but I was always down to experiment. I had a pretty big voice in trying to experiment on things during the season. Obviously, there's not as much time to do it, so it's hard to get people on board.
"And I don't blame anyone for that. But now that we had a lot more time, I think people were a little bit more open to experimenting and that was just something that we experimented with. It was working for us in practice. Practice is much different than matches and it just didn't pan out."
"You mentioned you had time to practice, but how fresh is that composition? Did the team have a lot of time to practice it?"
Stellar: "Probably like two or three weeks of practice. I'd say two weeks of Bind practice, which was enough in my opinion. And we had some scrims on another comp where we would just sub out Yoru for Raze, so pretty basic, right? But we haven't scrimmed against one Yoru comp, so that was completely new. I'm sure Sentinels also hasn't, so everything we had to figure out on the spot.
"And I think compared to practice and then the match, we were just playing way too far back. That could be just an accumulation of things. Maybe match pressure. It's map three. Maybe it's just that we played the comp, but we never played against it. There's a couple of things, but we just let them kind of do what they wanted for just way too long. And the momentum just got way out of hand."
"We heard all throughout the regular season that there were issues with communication and cohesion among 100 Thieves. Did any of that rear its ugly head in this series?"
Stellar: "Not as much. I'd say some of the lower energy stuff started to creep in a little bit on Split. But something I'm really proud of regardless of the outcome was that everyone was still talking at the end of it. Everyone was still trying, everyone was still giving input, and trying to solve the problems even until the last round.
"So, that's something that I think, had we maybe been very consistent at throughout the season, maybe we could have done a little bit better during the season. That's just something that we were working on and then we were able to show it in the match regardless of the outcome. So that was a positive outcome in my mind."
"You and I spoke in week one, which you know was also a close loss to Sentinels. You mentioned that it was a game that could have gone either way and just happened to slip out of your grasp. Do you feel any differently about this one?"
Stellar: "I'd say more for Split. I'd say Bind, you know, we probably shouldn't have won that game regardless of the score line, with how we were starting the map. I think we deserved to go down that many rounds. Well, maybe not deserved, but I think how we were playing kind of warranted it.
"And I think Split still could have went either way maybe. Imagine we won that attack pistol and we would've been way more ahead, have better money, better momentum, and then yeah, who knows? I mean, similar rounds, like I said, were close on Split, so I think 2:0 was extremely possible."
"Well, both your VCT Americas regular season and LCQ came down to just one match. Either you made the playoffs against MIBR or you didn't. Either you made it further here against Sentinels or you didn't. As the team's IGL, is there any blame you place on yourself for the final results?"
Stellar: "Yeah, partially. I am the one calling. At the end of the day, I make a lot of decisions for our team and I can't dodge that at all. I think I could have been a better leader outside of the game in terms of just making sure that everyone's on the same page. Not just in-game, but out, so everyone's feeling good all the time. I mean, it's hard to do. I have a very young team. I've also never really had too much mentorship in terms of leadership ability.
"I'm still figuring a lot of this stuff out as we go. And it's tough. It's tough. I'm not going to make excuses for anything. It's tough and I'm still learning. But at the end of the day, it's still a team game. And as much as I'd love to take all the blame off my teammates, that's just not how it works. I think you win as a team and lose a team. I've made my mistakes. Everyone else has made mistakes, and that's just how it is."
"Lastly, being on 100 Thieves, which is such a high profile esports organization, you have a lot of expectations to uphold. A lot of eyes on your every move in VALORANT. Not everyone is going to be happy with how this series went. But there are clearly fans who have your back, win or lose. Regardless of the outcome and your season ending, do you see and feel that support, and does it outweigh the negative reactions you come across?"
Stellar: "I pay more attention to the positive stuff. I reply to a lot of people. I have a lot of friends, family, and supporters that I personally know and recognize their name. They're there not just one time, it's a repeat kind of thing. I appreciate all of those people and everyone who does reach out to me. You can't dodge negative comments, people that are hating, ort rying to bring you down. That's just a part of any sport, to be fair. It happens everywhere. That's just how it is, but I appreciate everyone who does support me in a positive light, and my team."