Before becoming the best, you often need to learn from the best. 100 Thieves’ newest support, Alan “Busio” Cwalina has a lot of help in that regard.
The 19-year-old Busio is a rookie in the League Championship Series (LCS) this year after getting called up from 100 Thieves’ academy team. Lucky for him, he’ll be a support in the bot lane alongside AD carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, one of the greatest players in LCS history who came out of retirement to join 100 Thieves this year.
The two haven’t played any official matches yet this season, but Busio told Nerd Street he has already learned a lot from the LCS legend.
“Doublelift’s taught me a lot about eyeballing the situation and not being too rigid in your gameplay, being very flexible at like identifying specific situations and making decisions based on that not just on how things are supposed to be,” Busio said. “And also just the way he thinks is very very 2v2 focused, and I like that, of course, because I want to be strong in the game, I want to win lane hard.”
Busio knows Doublelift could have stayed retired and made a lot more money streaming, so he appreciates the fact he decided to be on this team and play alongside him.
Doublelift isn’t the only veteran on the team that Busio can lean on. Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg, another LCS legend, joined 100 Thieves this offseason too. Together, Doublelift and Bjergsen have won 11 LCS spring or summer championships since 2014, including three together.
“Bjergsen’s just a great teammate and a great player and teaches me a lot of things about team culture and life in general and optimizing performance, because he’s that kind of guy,” Busio said.
Photo credit: Riot Games
They’re like yin and yang, and perhaps not unlike the dynamic that Busio and fellow rookie Milan "Tenacity" Oleksij bring to the team. You get the sense via social media that Tenacity brings a little more flash like Doublelift, whereas Busio carries more of a quiet confidence like Bjergsen.
The two played together at the academy (now challengers) level last year, and both got promoted this season, so neither will be alone as they make their transition to the LCS.
“It’s pretty good to have a familiar face and also someone that’s kind of from my generation of gaming, so we think generally the same,” Busio said. “Of course, I played with him, so just having that experience and bond is really helpful.”
Idolizing a world-class support
Beyond the advice of Doublelift and Bjergsen and having Tenacity to lean on, Busio’s north star when it comes to playing support is Ryu "Keria" Min-seok. The T1 support who played in the League of Legends World Championship final last year is considered one of the best supports in the world.
Busio actually has gotten to meet Keria twice during 100 Thieves bootcamps in South Korea. He was, of course, thrilled to meet his “idol.” In addition to having role swapped from the mid lane to support like he did, Busio has taken note of the many things that make Keria a world-class support.
“Keria was also mid role swap and just from -- I watch a lot of his VODs and POVs -- he’s very detail-oriented and wants to make the most out of his champion,” Busio said. “And what I really like as well is he’s very mechanically talented, so he can play the more crazy supports -- the eccentric supports -- but then he also has a very solid -- not even solid, just perfect -- gameplay on other more standard supports like Nautilus, Leona, so he’s just kind of the perfect player in my eyes.”
Reaching the LCS
Perhaps one day Busio will play against Keria on the international stage, but first he and 100 Thieves will have to prove that they’re among the best teams in North America after an offseason of major changes. After going to Worlds each of the past two years, 100 Thieves decided to let most of their 2021-22 roster go and rebuild. The only remaining player from the team’s previous roster is jungler Can "Closer" Çelik, who is now surrounded by two LCS legends and two rookies.
Photo credit: Riot Games
The quietly confident Busio knew his promotion to 100 Thieves’ main roster was not a matter of if, but when, after spending the past couple years in the organization’s system. He has known that reaching the LCS was a possibility even from a young age. After getting his first competitive taste playing Starcraft II with his dad, Busio said he started playing League of Legends when he was around 7-8 years old. Ever since then, he’s been making steady progress up the competitive ladder.
“I was always pretty high-ranked for my age. At 10 years old I was like diamond or something, and at 13 years old I’m master, so I always knew I had a lot of time to improve,” he said. “I just had to keep going at my pace.”
That pace led Busio to achieve the rank of challenger at 15, according to Liquipedia, and earn Most Valuable Prospect honors last summer at the academy level.
Now, Busio has reached the very top tier of North American League of Legends at the age of 19. He’ll start the season as the third-youngest player in the league, showing that he’s still ahead of the curve for his age. Busio will make his LCS debut with 100 Thieves on Thursday, Jan. 26, against Cloud9.
Lead photo credit: Riot Games