100 Thieves Valorant head coach Sean Gares is no stranger to the roller coaster of emotions that is esports.
Both as a professional player and a broadcast analyst, Gares has accumulated nearly two decades of tactical FPS experience — a Radianite mine of knowledge that certainly played a role in 100T’s stunning 2-1 match victory over FaZe Clan to open up the 2022 Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) Stage 2: Challengers NA Playoffs.
After the match, Gares spoke to DBLTAP about how he’s settled into his role so far with 100 Thieves.
"I like the vibes a lot on this team," Gares said. "It's unlike any team that I've ever been a part of, where, you know, people [often] aren't super friendly with each other. It's not because they don't like each other. It's just, I don't know, people in esports kind of aren't fully developed socially, myself included.
"It gets a little weird sometimes, but this team does a really, really good job of staying positive, communicating things that upset them in correct ways and responding to any kind of weird negativity correctly. That's one of the craziest things about this team in my eyes."
Despite trailing 9-3 at halftime in all three maps, the resilience Gares’ squad displayed Thursday evening perhaps serves as a perfect merestone when reflecting on the organization’s rough start to the year.
Free-falling from its resounding Stage 3 Masters Berlin performance, 100 Thieves Valorant notoriously shuffled the deck with personnel moves to an almost uncomfortable degree before ultimately announcing its structural shakeup March 22.
Most notably, Spencer "Hiko" Martin and Ethan Arnold departed, and Peter "Asuna" Mazuryk went on to form the new core with Derrek Ha, William "Will" Cheng, Brenden "stellar" McGrath and the previously loaned Sean "bang" Bezerra.
Amid promises to actualize a fixed 100T Valorant, Gares shed light on the personal goal he's fixated on since taking up the head coach role for the first time in his career: teaching his players "in the right way." For Gares, that means making practice and play a "fun" environment.
"I definitely wasn’t as positive and optimistic as an in-game leader as I am [as] a coach," Gares said. "I was definitely a lot more harsh on the players. So I tried to learn communication styles I bring into this."
Aside from making a concerted effort to be accepting of everyone’s ideas on 100 Thieves, Gares believes the biggest change to his coaching approach is making shot-calling a bit more of a team effort during games.
"When I in-game led," Gares said, "I think I just created and almost just told everyone what to do. I was in full control at all times, basically, and tried to almost micro the players. But that's clearly not possible in this game. There's just too many variables, there's too many things to worry about. I think the way you create a really good team in Valorant is you have everyone understand everything that the in-game leader understands, so that way, they're just reacting subconsciously and their plays are correct. Then, when there needs to be some kind of macro play made, that's when the in-game leader comes in."
100 Thieves will face XSET in the Upper Semifinals of the 2022 VCT Stage 2 NA Playoffs on Saturday, June 18, at 4 p.m. ET.
For more 2022 VCT coverage, feel free to check out: