Hiko's Journey From the Bottom of CS:GO to the Top of Valorant

Courtesy of 100 Thieves
Courtesy of 100 Thieves /

In 2019, Spencer "Hiko" Martin was shown the door by Rogue Gaming and their CS:GO team. This marked the end of a two-year down period for Hiko after being dropped from Team Liquid. Many thought Hiko would simply retire after this, as he had bounced around as a trial player but never really fit in anywhere enough to have success after leaving Liquid. Very few would have guessed that less than two years later, Hiko, along with four other talented players, would once again be hoisting trophies in a different game.

A mere two days into the launch of Valorant, Riot Games entry into the tactical FPS genre, it was announced that 100 Thieves would be signing Hiko to play for them professionally. This was a pleasant surprise for many in the CS:GO space, with Hiko being a fan favorite, many were hoping he would be placed into a roster where he could win once again. However, when 100 Thieves announced the rest of the roster, it received nothing but criticism.

Those criticisms were well-founded, as the roster, filled with former PUBG players other than Hiko, struggled to pick up wins versus tier-one teams. They lost early in most tournaments that they played in, usually failing to get out of the group stages. Hiko was seen as a wasted talent, as the 30-year-old was being forced to carry this team on his back. He was once again playing extremely well on an individual level, but saw little success.

Hiko, along with 100 Thieves, understood at his age that the time to build a competitive team was in the next month. This led to 100 Thieves releasing all the members of their team but Hiko. The organization then sought to put teammates around the once retired star player that could bring both him and the organization to the top.

Over the course of the next month, 100 Thieves would sign ex CS:GO pros Nick "Nitr0" Cannella and Josh "Steel" Nissan. They would also facilitate the transfer of Peter "Asuna" Mazuryk and Quan "Dicey" Tran from Immortals. This team immediately felt like a genuine push from 100 Thieves to put talent around Hiko, and possibly enough to win.

After having the pressure taken off of him by having better teammates surrounding him, Hiko along with the rest of the team became one of the dominant North American teams. It was clear that 100 Thieves new lineup, led by Hiko, was going to be a threat for the title of best in North America.

When the First Strike North American championship started, 100 Thieves were one of North America's favorites to win it all. Hiko's side ran through their first opponent, T1, with minimal difficulty, but faced an incredible challenge in eventual world champion team Sentinels. In this matchup between the two titans, Hiko was untouchable. He willed his team to a win with a +15 in KDA and multiple improbable clutches, which eventually became his specialty. In the finals of the tournament against TSM, it felt like a 100 Thieves win was inevitable. TSM fought back and won one map, but it was clear who the better team was. After a 3-1 series win, it was 100 Thieves and Hiko hoisting the trophy.

Hiko had left CS:GO, a game in which he could have simply streamed for years, to follow his heart and continue competing in another title. He was forced to carry a team of lesser talent at 30 years old and was finally given a team worthy of winning. When 100 Thieves broke down their team to create a roster around Hiko, they showed their faith in him to lead the organization to a win. Months later, when he had the opportunity to pay back that good faith, he did it in style. Not only did Hiko win, but he was named the MVP of the tournament, cementing himself in the history books of Valorant.