After voting by the public and our analyst panel, it is James “Crowder” who emerges victorious as the coach of the year. The 2015 World Champion, who was signed by 100 Thieves as a coach following Faze Clan’s failure to qualify for the Pro League, led them to two Championships and three finals.
CEO Nadeshot appointed Crowder with the goal of transforming 100 Thieves into a Championship winning team, and they saw results right off the bat. At CWL Fort Worth, 100T finished in 4th place, four places better than their performance at CWL Vegas. It can even be argued that they could have potentially achieved a better result, as new addition Priestah was hospitalised on Sunday forcing Fero to sub in for the remainder of the event. Nonetheless, progress was being made by the squad, and the coaching of Crowder definitely contributed towards this.
100 Thieves’ main AR Sam “Octane” Larew highlighted the influence of Crowder in an interview with RealSport. He said: “Chris’ addition was felt on the first map of day one of him joining the team. Being a player not even 3 months ago, and an amazing player at that, allows him to understand the game beyond just what spectators or coaches that haven’t played may see. He understands the intricacies of respawn game modes which was something we were lacking pretty heavily”.
“We all had a lot of animosity towards each other just from how badly we were playing so it hindered us from improving by a lot. We all knew the problems that we had and we were just too stubborn to actually attempt to fix it so having Chris as a voice of reason in a lot of these situations definitely facilitates conversation a lot better than before.”
The momentum continued for 100 Thieves, as they went on to win CWL London, defeating big names like eUnited and GenG along the way. They ended the event with a formidable 16-4 respawn record – undoubtedly the key to their victory, and an area in which Crowder had a big influence on. For a team that started the CWL season with a 12th place finish, this event marked the complete turnaround made by the organisation, and Nadeshot’s additions of Crowder and Priestah were pivotal in making this happen.
Going into CWL Anaheim, the team showed no signs of slowing down, as they won their second event of the year. Not only did they continue to show their utter superiority in respawn game modes, but they also went 6-1 (86%) in Search & Destroy, an improvement of 48% compared to London. Their blueprint on Hacienda Hardpoint was too hot to handle for any team, as they were able to win a whopping seven out of seven matches on the map/mode. It was crystal clear that 100 Thieves worked harder than most teams in the build up to this event, and one of the focal points of Crowder’s philosophy must have been to increase the team’s discipline and synergy in S&D.
Just like many things in life, good things must eventually come to an end – and it was no different for the back-to-back champions. Complacency seemed to kick in, as 100T did not look like their usual dominant selves in the Pro League games following CWL Anaheim. A loss to Evil Geniuses and an unconvincing game 5 steal versus Luminosity raised a few eyebrows going into the Playoffs. From the viewer’s perspective, it seemed like an issue with the effort put in by the players, rather than a strategic one. 100 Thieves desperately needed a reality check by Crowder if they were to have any chance of being victorious at Miami.
Unfortunately for 100 Thieves, their bad run of form spilled over to the Playoffs. They were defeated in Round 1 by Faze Clan – a team they comfortably 3-0’d just weeks before. With their backs against the wall, 100T were able to put together a string of victories, including one against rivals OpTic Gaming. However, the road ended shortly after that, as GenG finally scored revenge on the team that defeated them three times at Anaheim. A breathtaking 1v3 clutch by Maux in game 5 delivered the final blow to the back-to-back champions, as they crashed out in 6th place.
The reign of terror officially ended for 100 Thieves following Miami, and it was their worst placing since the arrival of Crowder and Priestah. Being the best team in the game came with the side effect of every team in the CWL putting them under the microscope, investigating ways to counter them, and perhaps adopt some of their tendencies. This came to fruition at Miami, where Evil Geniuses ended their undefeated run on Hacienda Hardpoint – a match which saw EG win by over 50 points. With Champs knocking on the door, Crowder needed to help the team reinvent themselves fast by coming up with a fresh new approach to the way they played the game.
Thieves showed promise at the start of Champs, dropping just two maps in pool play. However, history repeated itself as they lost yet another round one matchup in the Winners Bracket. Staring defeat in the face, Crowder’s squad eventually reached their stride in the Losers Bracket, running through every team that stepped in their path. Another resurgence was made by 100 Thieves in the season, as they booked a ticket to their third Grand Final of the year. Sadly 100T didn’t get their fairytale ending for the 2019 CWL season, as they fell short against a blistering hot eUnited, but they should have nothing to be ashamed of, as the accolades they obtained in 2019 gives them every right to be called the best team in the game.
As far as the future is concerned, there is still a question mark above the future of James Crowder. Despite having a successful year with 100 Thieves, the organisation confirmed that they were not purchasing a spot in the 2020 Call of Duty League. One thing we do know for certain is that the 25 year old will continue to work in a coaching role, which was confirmed via his stream. For any franchise looking to make leaps and bounds in the CDL, signing the coach of the year should be a no brainer.