Choi ‘huhi’ Jae-hyun was once a bright star in the Mid Lane. However, it dimmed in 2019 while on 100 Thieves. Now, with 18 months as a Support under his belt, he’s back and ready to show why the career-saving move was worth it.
When LCS Lock In 2021 started, many looked towards 100 Thieves as one of the teams to beat. Sticking with star Top Laner Kim ‘Ssumday’ Chan-ho and bringing on the Golden Guardians core that almost made Worlds 2020, there was hope they’d run deep.
Up against Cloud9 in the semis, they broke out to an early 2-0 lead. However, as that roster knows, that’s the worst lead to have. They finished 2020 getting reverse swept by TSM to miss Worlds, and they started 2021 getting reverse swept by Cloud9 to go home early.
Despite the disappointing result, there was promise, especially from huhi. The former Mid Laner looks more at home in Support now, and really showed up Alistar and Rell during Lock In. He even saw the positives in the heartbreak.
“I think we were playing pretty well. It was our first best of five for this year, and our first with Ssumday as well, who is a new addition. Even in Game 3 and Game 4, when we were losing, I just felt like we were playing so much better as a team, but we made a lot of basic mistakes,” he told Dexerto.
“It was a good learning experience for us — we were trying to figure out what we’d change in best of five conditions. I’m pretty happy with how we played — except for Game 5 — but we can come back stronger for LCS.”
One of the most successful role swaps in LoL history
Huhi, in a past life, was one of the world’s most promising Mid Laners. He had made an MSI final in 2016 on CLG, falling to SKT at the final hurdle. He won a domestic LCS title to put some silverware in the cabinet, but things started going south in 2018 and 2019.
He was soul-searching, and the role swap was calling him. It had been weighing on the veteran’s mind for quite some time. He was at an ultimatum — swap to Support and stand a chance of making it back to Worlds, or retire as a has-been Mid Laner. He chose the former, and it’s paying off.
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“It saved my career for sure. If I didn’t [say that], I’d be lying. I decided to swap to support after, ironically, my 100 Thieves Mid Laner split. I didn’t have that great of a split, and I don’t think many teams viewed me [too highly]. I was considering switching to support because I was always confident in thinking ‘oh I could maybe play jungle or support,” he said.
“I thought the support role fit me better because I could be more vocal and more controlling on the map. Switching to it and working with FBI [Victor Huang, 100 Thieves’ AD Carry] was a blessing for me.
“The first year that I switched to Support, I definitely missed [playing in the mid lane]. But the more I spend bot lane with FBI, the more I don’t think how I was a Mid Laner any more. Here and there I’ll give some insight into mid matchups or how I used to play it and used mid to roam, but I would never go back to mid lane. I’ll be with FBI in the bottom lane.”
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An unbreakable bond between friends
That bond huhi shares with FBI and the rest of the 100 Thieves squad is special. Damonte labeled the squad as “best friends,” and that’s an apt description. The power of friendship almost took them to Worlds in 2020, and it serves a real purpose beyond just memes.
“I remember back in the days where a friendship kind of thing in a team was a meme, but it definitely helps a lot. When you have a problem with your teammate, instead of being uncomfortable, you can bring it up and fix those things. Being really close friends definitely helps a lot in team bonding, synergy, and moving forward as a team,” he said.
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FBI and huhi have also been together throughout their LCS careers — at least in their respective roles. While huhi brings an experienced head to the bot lane, the Australian AD Carry brings flare. Now, they’re an unbreakable duo, on an unbreakable team.
“In the beginning, we obviously didn’t mesh that well. I think our bond just got a lot stronger when we had problems with each other and talked it out. After that, I just feel like we’re not hiding anything from each other, and at that point, your bond can never go back — it’s just too strong and kind of unbreakable.”
Building towards Worlds 2021
With LCS Lock In now behind them, there’s plenty for 100 Thieves to focus on. Huhi wants to make it back to Worlds after a five-year exodus from the event, and it’ll all start by brushing up on their sloppy record in best of fives.
“We have an overall issue at the end of a series where our energy level will go down. Starting from like Game 3, we won’t lose focus, but we will miss basic stuff we already know. We just have to be extra on top of it,” he said.
Plus, an extra LCS trophy in the cabinet would be extra special. He’s got one as a Mid Laner, and he will be one of only a select few players globally to successfully role swap if he gets one as a Support, and that’s something he wants to share with his best friends.
“I won once as a mid laner, but if I win it as a support I’ll be so much happier — especially with this team. We know we’re really good, but the thing is, in the end, we couldn’t prove we were a better team [at Lock In]. It really sucks for us, so winning a trophy will maybe make me cry or something,” he laughed.