After six weeks of action, the League of Legends European Championship standings are finally becoming clearer. Some of the regulars at the top aren’t around, as Fnatic have struggled to pick up pace. Others, like G2 Esports and Team Vitality, are entrenched at the top of the standings.
In the meantime, Splyce have steadily made a case for another playoff run. Despite rebuilding the lineup around Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup and Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir, they are in the thick of the playoff race, as has been customary since the 2016 summer split.
They have done so with Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamas as their in-game leader.
Vizicsacsi is well acquainted with leadership, as he has assumed similar roles within the Unicorns of Love since 2015, and at Schalke 04 in some capacity in 2018. In a way, his position within Splyce is more familiar. But he did not join them solely for that reason; in fact, he weighed in a number of offers before joining them.
“I decided that Splyce was the best one in terms of the players they already had,” Vizicsacsi says, recalling his decision-making process in the offseason. “They had a very solid base, and they told me what players they were scouting as well, just bringing in some young talent, and trying to nourish them during the spring split. I was fine with that.”
The team’s coaching staff also won him over, as they had already taken Xerxe and Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer to the next level. In fact, he has noticed how reliable and communicative his former Unicorns of Love teammate, Xerxe, became after a year spent within the team. Surely, Marek “Humanoid” Brazda and Toer Hoel “Norskeren” Eilertsen would grow in time, within Splyce’s structure.
In a way, he said, Splyce was the best option across the board. He also feels the weight of responsibility more than he did in 2018. “It actually feels a lot different compared to Schalke 04, because I get a [much] bigger role in Splyce and in the mid-game rotations,” he said. “When I'm grouping with the team, I really need to be vocal about what we want to achieve and what we want to do with [a situation.] I personally like it a lot!”
Vizicsacsi has shaped his understanding of the game for five seasons, yet he is entering his sixth season with an open mind. During scrimmage reviews, he has frequently bombarded his coaches with questions to fully understand a gameplay concept, so that he could replicate it in-game. His attitude has an indirect benefit, as his teammates have full access to the information he is given.
As such, they know what to expect from him, and what he should expect from them as they ask questions in turn. “I want to make sure that everyone is on the same page, and that everyone understands the concept,” he said.
“So, I try to bring in some counter-arguments to see what we should do if [something specific] happens. Then, it becomes more of a discussion, and we try to figure out more about it. I think everyone gets a bigger understanding of the picture,” he added.
Eventually, Splyce surprised many observers that had placed other teams above them as they quietly slid to fourth place (6W-4L), tied with Origen and within one game of Vitality and Schalke 04. The team has already shown signs of strength. Despite their defeat against G2 Esports, they recovered from G2’s oppressive early game and scored momentous team fight victories, nearly evening the odds until a Blast Cone undid them.
However, Splyce has also shown signs of their more traditional side: play for the late game. Rather than being a goal the team sought, it is a sign that Splyce has ways to go, and that their focus is not at a desirable level. For example, their game against SK Gaming during Week 4 was a slugfest — and another Blast Cone play (rather, an accident) nearly led to a loss.
“Everyone of us should step up a bit more in terms of communication, when they get [lane priority], on what we can do with it,” Vizicsacsi said. “I feel we are not using them to the maximum extent. Our problem in the early-game is that we cannot snowball our leads as much as we probably should.”
And although the meta changes destabilized Splyce during Week 5, their experiments allowed them to learn what worked — and what didn’t. Even then, their loss against Fnatic was unpreventable as it stemmed from miscommunication turned awry. In fact, a similar event occurred against Excel Esports.
“If I was more insistent that they could a Teleport play after Jarvan IV recalled, if I drew more awareness to it, it wouldn't have happened,” he recalled. “I could have said that he had this one opportunity to TP, and I would just keep perma-pressuring him if he doesn't, and I could also match his TP. If you provide this information, [your teammates] play safe enough, and even if the enemy engages, it would be bad for them because we would be in a position where we can counter.”
However, Splyce have strong in-game fundamentals, as they practiced them before the season started. As such, their road to becoming a top team is much smoother: as long as they actively seek to refine their communication process, and as they add structure into their approach to the game, they have a chance at contending for the top three spots.
Rather than panicking and playing reactively, Splyce’s players strive for proactivity: to reach a level where they are on the same wavelength akin to Griffin’s players in the LCK. For that, they need to become more familiar with one another, and communication goes a long way towards that goal.
“There cannot be any sloppiness allowed, because we are not at the Griffin level of understanding each other,” Vizicsacsi said. “We cannot say that we're coming in and everyone knows their role instantly. Synergy doesn't come instantly; it needs to be built up over time. Just talking about it helps a lot.”
(Photos credit from Riot Games)