There have been a lot of questions surrounding Barney "Alphari" Morris. Can Team Vitality find their stride? Is he still one of the west’s best top laners? Where is he at? For Alphari, though, he’s confident in the progress his team has made and isn’t worried about the team’s record. Inven Global had the opportunity to speak with Alphari, and discuss his thoughts on Team Vitality, how it compares to Team Liquid, and his opinion on Janna Smite top.
Vitality have shown a lot of potential but doesn’t have the consistency that some of the other teams have shown. What have been your impressions of the team and what it does it need to work on?
I think that the biggest thing we need to work on is to fight less. We have in our instincts to over-chase and to go really deep and to take skirmishes, even when we are not supposed to because we are naturally aggressive players. We just need to fight less, I think that's the main thing. And the question of the team so far — it's been a good impression. I think we will be really good in playoffs. So I'm all for it.
In this team, you’re bringing together a lot of people with unique ways they want to approach the game. How has it been finding a cohesive style.
Yeah, so I think that it's been interesting, and it's also been new, primarily for me playing with Selfmade. I've been used to supportive or just AFK-farm junglers. I mean, not Santorin. He was supportive but he was not AFK-farm, I think he was really good. Whereas Oskar is a super aggressive carry-jungle — go into assassins, never back down from a fight. You don't need to tell him to gank you, he will gank on his own accord. Whereas I'm used to kind of like arranging plays and being more disciplined, compared to more aggressive and selfish style.
That's the biggest noticeable playstyle difference for me. But everyone else plays just decent League of Legends. I mean, Oskar also plays good League of Legends. I don't think there have been any real playstyle differences, to be honest. I think that everyone's just getting used to the new season where I think the TP changes impact the game a lot.
"We have in our instincts to over-chase and to go really deep and to take skirmishes, even when we are not supposed to."
What do you see as your role within Vitality? How has it changed since Team Liquid?
On Team Liquid, I felt pressured to be the strong point early game — it was needed for us to get ahead. And I think that I was good at communicating what was needed: setting up plays and to kind of... everyone was good at it as well. CoreJJ was really good at roaming; Santorin and Jensen — like everyone did their job, right? The team came all together and played for top really well.
But I also felt like it was kind of needed. Because it was a very big advantage that we had in America that other tops kind of sucked. So I felt like we needed to abuse this. And I think the team or coaching staff felt similarly. Whereas here in Europe, I don't feel much pressure in terms of having to make calls or get ahead or make plays. I feel like I can just sit back and chill if I need to. And I have really good players all around me. I mean, I had good players on Team Liquid, but it was very different. And I would say that now, I do have players who are more capable of seeing the game from a whole perspective and making more productive plays themselves. So that would be one difference.
Though you're more comfortable with your teammates, how has it been adjusting back to European top laners?
Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about top lane in Europe right now. I don't think it's as strong as it was a few years ago — when it was like 2019, 2020. I feel like the competition was more fierce with Bwipo playing top lane and being in good form, and Wunder also being in good form. And I think I was also in good form around this time, too. So I think since then, top... I expect me, Wunder, and Broken Blade to be good in playoffs. But right now, no top has been very impressive to me.
How about Odoamne and Armut?
Odoamne is always just an okay player, from my perspective. He's good competition to have in the league, because he's always there and he always does fine relative to the league. But I've also never thought Odoamne's a special player. I mean, I thought Bwipo was special in terms of his champion pool, how he plays with his jungler, and how he moved around the map. This is what I thought about him in 2019. I thought Wunder was really good for being able to play so many champions and being very efficient in lane. I thought that I was also quite good, but I never thought that Odoamne... I've just never seen like an "X" thing about him. He's just always been okay. I don't know how to describe it. Like it's not bad. It's just not interesting for me.
Odoamne: "Now, we have the tools to not go 0-3 in playoffs like the meme is."
Armut, I don't think we scrimmed them too much, but Armut is like... I don't know, he's okay. Maybe he'll be good in playoffs because this is what catches us about him — that he's good in playoffs. So I'm not sure. I also think that he is better at unconventional picks, like cheese picks. I haven't really played against any of these picks from him yet, but obviously I'm not going to try to give him a good angle to play his cheese picks because I think this is his only strength. Armut is okay, I just expect Broken Blade and Wunder to be the tops that are most challenging to play against.
What about the team atmosphere? In an interview recently with Wunder of Fnatic, he said the team skipped the honeymoon phase and is willing to disagree. How is it with Vitality?
I think the atmosphere is pretty good. It's better than what the atmosphere was like on my past two teams by far. And obviously, it's only early into Spring Split, so it's hard to say exactly how it'd stack up when playoffs come and when pressure begins to mount more and more.
But right now, everybody is talking to each other like they should and not taking offense from criticism. Because criticism is there to improve the team. Whereas a lot of players, unfortunately, see criticism as a personal attack from personal experience. But it doesn't happen on this team. Everyone is willing to actually behave and talk to each other like adults.
I also think that the coaching staff — Mephisto — has been pretty good. I've been impressed with him, more so than I thought I would be. It's just easy right now but again, it's not like anything too stressful is happening. It's just regular season.
At Worlds, you stated you thought NA was at a similar level to Europe if not better. With the off-season, as well as your observations, is that still the case to you?
No, because I'm back in Europe [laughs]. And Perkz is back in Europe. No, but seriously, at Worlds I thought — and I still believe this — that Fnatic needed Upset, and as soon as Upset was gone, the team was terrible. Because they couldn't play through top because they had Adam, and their bot lane was their strong point. And they had Nisqy, who's like... Nisqy's good, but he's a supportive player. He plays for side lanes. And then you have Adam side lane and Bean on the other side. So suddenly, both side lanes are lost so Fnatic are doomed. MAD, I don't think they were too good — they had like a shit AD carry with Carzzy on their team. And Rogue as well, I thought were okay, but I thought that we and Cloud9 were okay as well.
I don't know which region is better now. Probably both regions suck at the moment because it's Spring, and it's a new season.
We saw the first Janna top with Smite game in competitive play in the Spanish ERL, what are your opinions on that Smite Janna and will we see it in the LEC?
God, I hope not. I really, really, really hope not. I don't want to play this. I've told my coaching staff already that I'm not going to play it until a good team plays it and I get forced to play it out of an obligation to my team. But I think it's immoral to play Janna top. It's not what I stand for. I think that it's just totally unfun and against the game.
And it's really sad to me, honestly, that top lane right now in Season 12 is at a state where actually it might be more productive to just not play top lane. Just not bother farming and just not bother doing anything that requires any brain effort. So I hope it gets nerfed. Basically, I hope TP changes get reverted so that the game can return to being a little bit more interesting, because it's very boring just sitting top for 40 minutes. Yeah, no, I think this preseason by Riot was the worst so far. Nerf Janna, revert TP changes, fix the game. Would be nice.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.