Ethan ‘Ethan’ Arnold didn’t get the dream debut he was hoping for in Valorant. His 100 Thieves were unceremoniously knocked out by Gen.G in 5th-6th in VCT Stage 1 Masters NA. However, he still believes they are the better team: They just didn’t show up.
100 Thieves weren’t favorites to win at VCT Masters. They had a rough start to 2021, scraping through the Challengers events. They had to deal with stand-ins for Nick ‘nitr0’ Cannella, and a late roster shuffle to bring in former Evil Geniuses CS:GO star Ethan.
But now, the First Strike champions have fallen. It’s still a shock to the system for North American Valorant. There was real hope and promise around 100 Thieves that they’d turn online when it mattered by just flicking a switch.
It just never clicked though. Peter ‘Asuna’ Mazuryk had a relatively quiet tournament after an explosive Challengers 3, although you can hardly blame him given the pressure leveled on the 17-year-old’s shoulders. Without their explosive fragger, 100 Thieves only had the stratbook on their side — and the rest of the competition had read it cover-to-cover.
“We definitely just didn’t play our A-game,” Ethan admitted, talking to Dexerto after the hard 2-0 loss to Gen.G.
“We still believe we’re the better team, but if they’re better than us today, then it’s going to be harder to win. That’s the main thing.”
It’s been an event defined by Jett players. Andrej ‘Babybay’ Francisty and Tyson ‘TenZ’ Ngo have played out of their minds for FaZe and Sentinels respectively.
Gen.G’s Danny ‘huynh’ Huynh bodied 100 Thieves today on the Korean duelist — his OP locked on shattering their hopes of another major triumph.
100 Thieves’ event could then be defined by their lack of Jett. The team’s new playstyle without Quan ‘dicey’ Tran is still a work in progress. In Ethan’s words, playing without Jett was “the simplest and easiest thing to do” without proper practice ahead of Masters.
“We had a plan for it — we’ve been working on it for a while, but it takes practice. It just depends on what the other team’s comp is. We’ve just got to be prepared for it,” he said.
“This is definitely a temporary thing. This was the simplest and easiest thing to do for the time being.”
Ethan on his 100 Thieves Valorant switch: “I wasn’t happy playing CS”
What’s done is done. 100 Thieves can only look ahead towards the next stage. For Ethan, it’s a bright new future for him.
The Evil Geniuses star was one week over in Europe, playing in the $1 million IEM Katowice event. The next? He was signed to 100 Thieves, and madly prepping for Challengers 3 — the squad’s final chance to qualify for Masters.
The deal was in motion for less than a week, but it came at the perfect time.
“We [Evil Geniuses] got knocked out of [IEM] Katowice and that’s when I made the decision to leave. Between getting knocked out of Katowice and flying home, the deal was done.”
Ethan was burning out of CS:GO. The game had moved overseas to Europe, with domestic competition in North America dying. Much like Owen ‘oBo’ Schlatter’s departure from Complexity (before returning to fill Ethan’s shoes on Evil Geniuses), Ethan didn’t want to deal with the long stints of travel.
He wasn’t satisfied with how he left the scene, but he just “didn’t have the drive to keep playing.”
“A big part of it was how long people are in Europe now for CS. It’s basically moving to Europe. We’d been in Europe for two months at a time and go home for a week, and that wasn’t something I wanted to commit to,” he admitted.
“I think right now, to be an NA professional player, it’s harder than ever and it takes a lot more commitment. There’s not really any orgs picking up Tier 2 teams — there’s Liquid, Furia, EG, and that’s it. If you’re not on one of those top three teams, you’re going to have to grind your ass off to get close to them. Step two is then committing half your life to Europe.
“The way I think of it: It’s just if I’m happy or not. I wasn’t going to be happy playing CS so that’s why I left.”
Reigniting the 100 Thieves flame
100 Thieves took this VCT Masters loss to heart. However, there’s a lot of growth left in this squad. It’s easy to forget that three weeks ago, Ethan wasn’t even a Valorant professional.
While he’s dealing with outside pressure from fans — who will no doubt be belting 100 Thieves online for their Masters result — the team knows they’re here for the long game.
“There’s always pressure. People expect things from you, so there’s that. From the team though there’s no pressure. They made it super easy for me transitioning in. They said ‘It was a big learning curve for you, so we’re going to work with you.’
“The good thing about this game is that everyone is still learning. My teammates, other teams, everyone is still learning different stuff. Teams will always be adapting, so I jumped in at a good time I think. I’m definitely still behind, so I’m playing as much as I can to learn.”
If anything, this loss has put things back in perspective for 100 Thieves. They are no longer the undisputed Kings of North America. There’s competition coming from every angle — whether it be Carpe Noctem in Challengers 1, or Gen.G in Masters.
They can only look forward, and try to reignite that flame to make it to Reyjkavik in May for the Stage 2 Masters LAN.
“Doing badly at this event is already a huge kick in the ass, so we’re going to get to work and work our asses off to the next LAN. That’s the only goal, and we’re going to go one step at a time.”
“I’m sure we can get there. Right now I don’t think so [with] the way we’re playing, but I have no doubt in the future that we will be the best.”
VCT Stage 1 Masters continues on March 20.