100 Thieves hire Zikz as new League of Legends head coach

100 Thieves is hiring former Team SoloMid coach Tony "Zikz" Gray as their new head coach, sources told ESPN. Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games

100 Thieves have hired former Team SoloMid coach Tony "Zikz" Gray as their head coach as the team prepares for the 2020 season, the team confirmed on Monday.

Zikz moves to a 100 Thieves team that has made significant changes this offseason. On Friday, the team parted ways with Neil "Pr0lly" Hammad, who joined 100 Thieves as their first head coach when they entered the league in late 2017. The team also hired color commentator Christopher "Papasmithy" Smith as its new League of Legends general manager in September.

"Pretty early on, we identified that we wanted a new direction with coaching staff," Papasmithy told ESPN. "Coming straight from casting in Korea, I really wanted to find a [North American] coach who knows the scene really well, has a lot of player respect and understands what players are like behind the camera.

"Zikz was my first choice as head coach for the project I want to build in 2020, focusing on culture and growth. We have a lot of roster building to do these coming weeks, and I'm so excited to work alongside him at 100 Thieves."

100 Thieves are expected to shake up their roster in the off-season, which officially begins Nov. 18 for the League of Legends Championship Series. The two-year-old franchise finished 10th in this year's LCS Spring Split and eighth in the Summer Split.

After appearing at the 2018 League of Legends World Championship in South Korea, 100 Thieves returned to the United States last fall looking to overhaul their roster with major stars.

In the 2018-19 offseason, the team made big moves, including the acquisition of two-time world champion AD carry Bae "Bang" Jun-sik, who competed on SK Telecom T1 for the majority of his professional career. The team also bought out mid laner Choi "huhi" Jae-hyun from Counter Logic Gaming. Despite the significant spend, 100 Thieves performed poorly throughout the 2019 season.

Prior to being hired in late 2018 by Team SoloMid, Zikz served as a long-time staff member of Counter Logic Gaming. He started his professional career as an analyst and was eventually promoted to coach, where he won multiple domestic championships with Counter Logic Gaming.

"What drew me the most to 100 Thieves was the opportunity to work with Papasmithy," Zikz said. "His philosophies on running a team and building a roster aligned with me so well that this decision was very, very easy to make. At TSM, I didn't feel this strong alignment and it's something I really look forward to at 100 Thieves.

"What excites me the most about the future is that 100 Thieves has a completely clean slate and we get to really sculpt what this team and its culture will look like for 2020 and beyond."