Team Vitality is still finding its footing in the 2022 LEC Summer Split. The team went 0-2 in the second week of the competition, losing against G2 and Excel, with whom Vitality directly competes for a spot in the playoffs. Although a 2-0 week 3 is a welcome sight for the standings, Vitality top laner Barney “Alphari” Morris has his reservations, given the opposition they beat. However, he is hopeful about the long-term growth of the team.
Alphari spoke to Inven Global after his victory over SK Gaming and discussed the mixed start his team experienced. He reflected on the issues this iteration of the team is facing and which issues have been solved by swapping out jungler Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek for Kang "Haru" Min-seung.
Congrats on the victory, Alphari. I guess this was a welcome sight after going 0-2 last week. How do you feel about it?
I'm glad we won and it would feel better than it would feel to have lost, but it's SK. I think the win was still not the cleanest. So, it's not like I'm ecstatic. It's an ok day, it's fine.
How did the team regroup after going 0-2 last week?
Some of the issues we had in this 0-2 week were actually the same issues that we had in week 1, which we had tried to fix in between week 1 and week 2. We thought we had fixed them, but we didn't, so now we had to focus on them again. I don't think anybody was demotivated. That doesn't really happen. It's an 0-2 week, it happens. It's early on in the Split and it doesn't really mean much. It just means that you have stuff to improve on, which, so long as you actually look at it and learn, it's a good thing. For growth, going 0-2 is probably better than going 2-0.
So we focused on our issues, but there was also Bel'Veth coming in with the new patch, so there were meta changes. I think we had not an optimal meta read in the first two weeks. Who knows, maybe it's still terrible. [Laughs] But every week it's changing.
"We didn't know what we wanted from each other as a team. This was in week 1 and we thought we fixed it for week 2, but it's a longer process."
Can you expand a bit on the issues you identified with the team in the first weeks, and what you sought to fix?
The early game is the biggest issue, I thought. This has a lot of sides. Even if we had winning lanes, we weren't playing for dives, we weren't playing for Scuttles, we weren't playing for invades. We were using our Heralds very badly. We got Herald in four of five games and when you get Herald, you're supposed to win the game. It's supposed to be pretty damn straightforward. Take a tower and then play on two lanes, and force the enemy to match you because you're ahead all the time, basically. So yeah, we had really bad Herald usage.
We had no real planning in the early game, I would say. Our level 1 was an issue we identified, where we had miscommunications and our early jungle pathing wasn't clear. We didn't know what we wanted from each other as a team. This was in week 1 and we thought we fixed it for week 2, but it's a longer process. I'm sure there are other issues, but those are the ones that come to mind.
I would expect that, with so many veterans on the team, something like Herald usage would come naturally. What's going wrong then?
Hm, well I mean we had a new player [Haru], who doesn't speak English, and he's the one who has Herald. That's one thing. And yes, we have experience as players. But I would say that Carzzy and Labrov are naturally very accommodating in the way they communicate. They're not strictly demanding, and this is one thing they've been working on becoming. If they would see a good chance of using Herald they wouldn't force it.
I think it's a combination of having a new team member, getting back to playing the Split, and personalities that need to be more demanding or more focused in the moment.
How do you feel about where Vitality is at now, at the start of the Summer Split, compared to where you were at the start of the Spring Split?
It's hard to say. I think we're a very different team from Spring. I would say that one of our strengths in Spring — and maybe I'm totally wrong on this as well — was our early game. I think this was one of Selfmade's biggest strengths as a player. He is very creative and has a good champion pool as well. He has a lot of real strengths. But then we had a big problem in our mid to late game in Spring, I would say. Now, I think we should be in a better spot to play the mid and late game. If not, then we're really just bad. [Laughs] I don't know what to say, to be honest, if we can't play mid and late now. That wouldn't be great.
But I'm optimistic. I think that mid and late should be easier to play for us. It is more stable, that's the easiest way to describe it. Hopefully, our experience and knowledge will shine through. I think this will be the case. So then, like I said earlier, we still have our early game to fix and our meta reading as well.
"Haru brings more equanimity and I think composure is important for us. Maybe that was our biggest issue mid/late last Split."
So you've made a bit of a trade-off.
Yeah, I think our mid/late is a bit calmer now compared to Spring. The quality of practice we have in scrims... it's also less chaotic. There are fewer random fights going on in general. This isn't all on Selfmade of course. He was one chaotic factor, but it's not like he was the cause of us taking random fights all the time. It was a team issue, it's a team game.
Right, you're all parts of the machine.
Exactly. Haru brings more equanimity and I think composure is important for us. Maybe that was our biggest issue mid/late last Split. Now, we just need to fix our early game and find what's best in the meta for us.
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.