Slightly overhead view of CS:GO and Valorant player stellar behind his computerSlightly overhead view of CS:GO and Valorant player stellar behind his computer

100 Thieves’ stellar: ‘XSET is an easier matchup for us than FaZe Clan’

by Sage Datuin

“It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

The quote attributed to Yankees’ legendary catcher Yogi Berra is fitting to describe 100 Thieves' two incredible 9-3 comebacks against FaZe Clan to start the North America VALORANT Champions Tour Stage 2 playoffs.

FaZe Clan and 100 Thieves were incredibly closely matched. The scrim partners have been working on their own individual issues and have helped each other grow outside of official matches, but Thursday was different. On Thursday, the teams competed against each other in the first round of the playoffs with a spot at Masters: Copenhagen on the line.

Read more: What you should know about the NA VCT Stage 2 playoffs

The last time 100 Thieves and FaZe Clan played each other in a professional match, both lineups looked very different. Since their last matchup in 2021, both teams opted to rebuild their lineups.

100 Thieves built their lineup around young phenom Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk and swapped out their veteran-centered lineup with a team of young players looking to prove themselves. FaZe Clan built their lineup around star player Andrej “babybay” Francisty and acquired the Rise duo of Kevin “poised” Ngo and Phat “supamen” Le to compliment the star power of FaZe with some strategic prowess.

With both teams being very familiar with each other, poised didn’t think 100 Thieves did anything unusual.

“They didn't really catch us off guard or anything,” poised said following a loss to 100 Thieves on Icebox. “They didn’t really do anything that I feel was different than what we saw. I think we just kind of beat ourselves in this match.”

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For FaZe Clan, it was a story of two different halves in all three games they played. In their first halves, FaZe Clan looked dominant and strong. In both of their losses, they dominated with a pair of 9-3 halves before ultimately losing both games in the second half, reviving talk of the infamous 9-3 curse.

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One of the things that poised felt affected them was their practice schedule.

“We only had a day and a half of practice for Split because [Xavier "flyuh" Carlson] had a graduation that he needed to attend,” poised said. “The lack of reps threw us off and felt affected us going into this series, but we just made a lot of mistakes overall.”

Photo credit: Riot Games

100 Thieves mount two 3-9 comebacks in the second half

While it was a disappointing finish to an otherwise strong performance from FaZe, the opposite was true for 100 Thieves, who shined bright under the pressure. 100 Thieves, most notably Sean "bang" Bezerra and Brenden "stellar" McGrath stepped it up in the second half of the maps they won, where they posted ACS scores of 383 and 289 compared to 187 and 166, respectively.

The second-half heroics came to life because of how good they felt even through tough first halves.

“On Split, we were doing a lot of the right things, but we just couldn’t convert a couple of key rounds in the first half, but overall we knew those rounds could be won,” Stellar shared when talking about 100 Thieves’ struggles in the first half. “It was discouraging to lose rounds we knew we could win, but you can’t dwell on it in the game. All you can do is take it round by round, stay positive and take it from there.”

Stellar admitted that there were a few rounds that really kept the morale high when they were down that helped them maintain a positive mindset throughout the series.

“There were three key rounds that really made us feel like that final map was winnable,” Stellar said. “Winning the pistol in the second half helped give us a huge morale boost. Then when we won the bonus round and saw that the score was 9-5 with economy momentum, that really helped us stay on track to win.”

Both teams now will look forward to their next set of matches, with intentions of improving upon their performance.

Photo credit: Nerd Street

100 Thieves to face XSET next

100 Thieves will move forward into the upper bracket semifinals against Group A first seed XSET where both teams will be vying for a spot in the upper bracket final. XSET topped Group A with a 4-1 record, but the one team who did beat them is going to be their next opponent. This upcoming matchup is one that Stellar has much more confidence in than his match against FaZe Clan.

“I think that matchup against XSET is an easier matchup for us than FaZe Clan in my opinion,” Stellar shared when talking about their next match against XSET. “I don’t think they have a lot of super heavy hitters like FaZe Clan does with [Quan "dicey" Tran] and babybay. Matthew "Cryocells" Panganiban can pop off, but overall, it isn’t as often as they probably would like, so I feel confident playing them again.”

As for FaZe, their loss to 100 Thieves has dropped them to the lower bracket against Luminosity Gaming, a team they lost to in the group stage. Yet, even after a tough loss against 100 Thieves, poised still remains confident going up against Luminosity Gaming because he feels the team has a better grasp on what they need to fix.

“We feel like we should have beat them the first time, but when we played them, Flyuh had just joined the roster,” poised said. “Now, after having this group of five for a couple of weeks, we think we should definitely win this game, unlike last time.”

FaZe Clan’s match will take place Friday at 4 p.m. ET, while 100 Thieves’ match against XSET will take place Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.

Lead photo credit: Nerd Street

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