Mephisto: “Rogue are decent, but I'm expecting them to slow down”


A lot of buzz surrounds Team Vitality ever since they announced their LEC roster. Boasting some of the most successful players Europe has seen, the squad was said to be a "Worlds contender" that is "doomed to implode" because of the strong personalities, and everything in between. Halfway into the spring split, Vitality sit at a 5-4 score, right in the middle of the pack. Head coach Louis-Victor "Mephisto" Legendre evaluated his team’s growth, what needs to be improved still, and how he perceives other teams in the LEC.


Welcome, Mephisto. A 5-4 start to the Spring Split — a positive win rate, and after a bleak 0-3 opening weekend you've gone 5-1 as a team in the subsequent weeks. How do you reflect on the opening weeks?


Did we go 5-1? Yeah, I guess we did. That's decent. We're setting up. We are learning and we are improving daily. We're also improving the conditions for the players to play by doing routines. We're doing everything around the players to improve, so we can function better as a team. This includes the coaching staff. There are improvements here and there. We're getting there. It's going pretty fast.


When you began this project, did you expect the team to be where it is now, in terms of development?


After that first week, 5-1 seems fine, yeah!


"[Alphari] is not underperforming. He's playing really well."


In terms of play, though, the team sometimes looks pretty vulnerable still. Especially against Astralis, the bottom team.


Hm, nah, I think it's fine. I think we had an off-day. At the end of the day, we still won. Players just smurfed it. That's good. I think it's important to win those close games. Especially those from behind and especially against the lower-tier teams. These ones have to be celebrated, kind of. It's important to not only win from ahead. It's also important for our players to understand that yeah, we can stall the games out, we can play a good macro and trade up. I think there are some learnings from this game for sure.


Earlier in the LEC, on a broadcast, Perkz said that he needs everyone on his team to follow his game plan in order for him to perform well. When I watch, sometimes it still feels like five talented individuals playing the game together. So, how has it been to get everyone on the same page?


I think it's good. We are improving at playing together. We are all very, very happy to play together. So, it's good vibes. Honestly, it's just good vibes. Actually, this game [versus Astralis] gives very good vibes! [Laughs] We are super happy that we ended on a win. It was a bit of a crazy game.


Sorry to Astralis. They're not playing badly, by the way. Astralis are actually playing the early games really well. They are 0-9, but they could have two to three wins, I think. From the games that we have watched, I think they may even have been able to have four wins as well. It's the nature of best-of-1s, you know? I think they could win some of those. But you end up losing, your Nexus blows up, and that's it. Everything you have done in that game is not counted up. It's tough for them.


Back to the performance of Vitality: the community is particularly critical of Alphari's performance so far. It does seem like he's a bit of a lone wanderer sometimes. How do you perceive it?


No, I don't see that. Look, the way I see Barney is simple: I pick him any matchup, and he will win it. In scrims and on stage he is super confident and he always executes on the matchups. For me, if I look at the top lane during scrims, I just have full trust in Alphari to play the matchup out really well.


I can tell you that no, he's not underperforming. He's playing really well. This guy brings a lot of things to the mid-game in the team in terms of good macro, good shotcalling, and how to set up everything and play the fights. Barney is fantastic.



With the sometimes scrappy gameplay and the team still working on getting on the same page, to what do you attribute their clutch factor at the moment?


I mean, I have five fantastic players, not gonna lie. I'm extremely lucky. There is not much more to say, right? Just look at the [Astralis] game: Luka plays fantastically. We stole Baron Nashor, we had really good comms, by Alphari as well, in the late game. I think we just are clutch players.


You're very positive about your team at the moment, and I'm happy for you that you're enjoying your team so much. But, there have to be points of criticism as well, right?


I think some things we have to work on are like... Hmm. It's something in scrims, I think. It goes for every team, right? There's not a single team in the world where they can stop going for plays when someone has run it down. We scrim most of the top teams and it goes on both sides: it's a big fistfight.


So, something we need to work on is that, for example in this game against Astralis, we forced a lot while we were behind. We dove their tier 2 bot while we were hitting the tier 1 bot turret. It comes down to trust. It is important to push the limits, but this is something we can target as something to improve on. That we can be happy with a stable game state. We have the players to do that. Surrounding the explosive players are the more experienced players, which can help makes the process easy.


"Maybe [Rogue] have more. I'm interested in seeing how they develop."


And for you as the coach, have there been any developments in the team that you didn't anticipate and had to adapt to? This can be positive — maybe a player is ahead of schedule — or negative, of course.


No, I would say that everything is pretty smooth, I would say. These players know what they need from a coach and what they want from a coach. So, they give me the feedback, I execute on the feedback, and it goes both ways. I think it's going fine. I know what we need to improve on, I know the things we can fix.


Of course, you constantly have to adapt to what the opponent is doing in the league. So, what about the other teams in the LEC? Have they been performing according to your expectations?


I'm not too surprised by any team. I think MAD Lions are slowing down. I think Fnatic are good. G2 are good. Rogue are decent, but I'm expecting them to slow down, potentially. It's oftentimes the same thing for Rogue. They play what works for them, but when the time comes to renew their style, they can be a bit slow.


Even though in the 2020 Summer Split, I was really impressed with how they switched their style. They were playing Azir, I think, and then they got hit by the Lucian/Evelynn from Fnatic. The week after Rogue was playing the Lucian/Evelynn against G2 and they took them to five games. G2 were on the verge of being kicked out of the Playoffs by them. I was really, really impressed by Rogue's switch of style back then.


But now I see Rogue locking in the Volibear plus Ornn twice in a row and I think to myself: Holy shit, are they gonna do this until it doesn't work? And maybe at some point, it doesn't work. Maybe they have more. I'm interested in seeing how they develop. I think they're playing solid. They're a good team.


Source: Team Vitality


What about the teams lower in the standings?


I'm curious to see how Excel shapes up. They had something special with their support and jungle synergy, and now it's removed. So, I'm not 100% sure. Mikyx is a fantastic player as well, right? So, I understand the upside of the move. But I'm not sure about the downside of that jungle/support synergy.


For Misfits... I think they had a good draft today! Banning Gwen third and then first-picking Renekton is really good, I think. So, very good research from their coach.


Ah, the B1 Renekton. [Laughs]


Yup, B1 Renekton. It's a strong champion at the moment, I think. When it's paired with the right champions, he does everything that the other champions, which he's getting carried by, are lacking. So it's not about Renekton being good: it's about Renekton being good at enabling specific champions.


Vetheo is French, so I'm always curious about how he does. I think he's been performing well. I think in every single win of Misfits, he has been a very important factor. It was very important for us to corner him. We know he likes Akali, we know he likes Sylas, he likes Yasuo... He likes these melee champions. But if we take them away, it's not a good spot for Misfits to play Lee Sin, Sylas, Jayce. Their top side was hard to play into our top side, I would say. The game still went on, but at some point, Oskar just clutched it.



You've almost had all the teams now anyway, so let's round out the list.


SK are struggling. I think they had some very, very bad drafts last week. But, you know, as a coach you use the information you get from your players. There are specific power champs as well, and you try to craft things around them. But they had some rough drafts. I think this week they want 1-1, so I'm happy for them. The future is not bright, but it's less bleak than before.


The thing is, all these players are good, in every team. It's just how they gel together. Maybe some are lacking some firepower, but they can win games. You just saw it today, right? There is no team that cannot beat another team. You also had BDS almost smashing MAD Lions, right? These things can happen. It's up to the bottom teams to catch up to the middle of the pack and upper team. It's up to the top teams to keep grinding and secure our wins.


That is why today was extremely important for us. It helps to finish the first part of the standings 5-4, rather than 4-5. That means we can play Akshan again, for example! [Laughs]

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