Team Vitality has been one of the better performing teams in the EU LCS for the past few years. Although they weren't recognized as a "Worlds" contender, this team started to shape up and improve after YamatoCannon joined the team as head coach.
Finishing 4th on the 2018 Spring, they managed to find their ways up on 2nd place in the 2018 Summer regular split. With winning the 3rd place match in the playoffs against Misfits, their chances of qualifying for Worlds were higher than ever. With Fnatic defeating Schalke in the finals, Vitality secured their ticket for the 2018 Worlds.
Like the other Worlds participants, Vitality decided to set a boot camp in Korea. Although they were placed in Group B with the current LPL champion, RNG and the defending Worlds champion, Gen.G Esports, the crew seemed excited to take on the challenge.
On the 25th (KST), we had the chance to meet the Vitality crew in Seoul. Although they were going through some intense practice for the past few days, they seemed determined than ever.
"People say that we're trapped in this group. But it's the other way around, RNG and Gen.G are trapped with us."
The following is the interview with Team Vitality.
Congratulations on the team’s Worlds qualifications! Before we begin, can you guys each give us a brief introduction?
Cabochard: I’m the top laner for Vitality. My favorite champion is Lucian or Lee Sin. But the others want me to play Sion, so…
Kikis: I’m the jungler for Vitality. I’m currently 22 years old and played this game for roughly 8 years now starting from season 1. I joined the LCS in 2015.
Jiizuke: I play mid for Vitality. Although I did play the game for a while, this is actually my rookie year in the EU LCS.
Attila: I’m 23 years old and I’m the ADC for this team.
Jactroll: Hi, I’m the support for Vitality. It’s my first professional year. Also, my favorite champion is Thresh.
YamatoCannon: I’m the head coach of Vitality and I played this game for 8 years. I plan to do so for 30 more years, hopefully.
Dreams: (In Korean) Can I speak in Korean? (laughs) (Q. Yes.) I feel nervous when speaking in English… I’m currently the substitute support for Vitality.
The team visited Korea for the second time this year. Compared to your last visit, how is it to be in Korea this time?
Cabochard: We're in the same neighborhood when we last came here. We know where to go now. Let’s say, now we can find where the good Korean BBQ place is at. It’s always a great pleasure to be in Seoul.
Kikis: Well, I did come to Korea when I was 15 years old, but I was young so I can’t remember a lot. Literally, this time is my first time here.
Have you been only practicing these days?
Kikis: I think I’m the only one that went outside. Everyone else wanted to chill. I wanted to explore a bit more.
Cabochard: Last time, when we came here in spring, we went outside, went for tours and visited some palaces. However, this time, we have to focus more on preparing for Worlds. We’ve been playing with some really good teams, so it’s been helping us a lot.
How is it practicing in Korea different compared to practice in Europe?
YamatoCannon: In our current circumstances, I think we shouldn’t answer this question…(laughs) Well, I think my guys won’t know what to say. Frankly speaking, currently, we are having a hard time. Over in Europe, the competition is much easier for us to perform, but here… We’re trying to figure ourselves out. We’re trying to figure out our enemies as well. We’ve faced some very tough opponents and in the current state, they’re a step ahead of us. That’s why we’re working very hard.
This might be a bit personal but...How are the players doing in Korean solo queue? Additionally, have the team been playing duos with other players?
YamatoCannon: Is it personal? It’s very public you know… (laughs)
Jiizuke: I played in a Master queue and won 2 games and lost 2 games as well.
YamatoCannon: Jiizuke is best friends with everybody in Korea.
Jactroll: In our last boot camp, I played duos with Smlz, the Chinese AD carry. At one time, we did a scrim with Rogue Warriors and I was performing so well that he asked me to play with him. (teammates laughs) Well, actually, I was the only player to reach Challenger tier in last boot camp. (YamatoCannon: I’m glad he didn’t ask about me…)
Oh… So, is your head coach currently playing solo queue?
YamatoCannon: You know. I started to play in the darkness. (laughs) I finished my Korean placements and started on Silver 1. Now I need to do some research on our opponents in the group stage, so this might be an excuse to stop playing Korean solo queue.
Let’s talk about the EU LCS. Team Vitality performed well in the past few splits in EU. Then, do you guys also agree that the team has been performing well?
Cabochard: We did have some glimpse of hope, but we didn’t reach the top. We did go to the playoffs, and we did perform in the third place decider. In general, we are satisfied with what we did, but we could have done better.
People say that the players in Vitality have good potential. As a pro LoL player, what would be your strengths? Can you give out at least one?
Cabochard: A few years ago, I usually focused on delivering good mechanics. But in Europe, now it’s more important to see the overall picture. So, I’ve been focusing on that these days. I’m good at decision making.
Attila: For me, I just hate losing.
YamatoCannon: I’m very good at containing my emotions. I think my guys barely saw me showing my emotions. The only time in this split [I revealed my emotions] was when we won the third-place match; I cried. But, when Fnatic won I cried as well. However, in other cases, I mostly try to contain my emotions as much as possible.
Jactroll: I’m confident and I can fastly adjust, adapt. Well, inside the game, I have outstanding mechanics. (laughs)
Kikis: I’m good at positioning using ranged champions.
Jiizuke: I’d say I’m mechanically gifted. I never stop training.
Dreams: (starts to speak in English) For me I’d say, I perform well on the tank support matchups. I’m also good at 3 vs 3s. (Jiizuke: You spoke in English…) Yeah, I’m not going to speak only Korean 24/7.
In our last interview with YamatoCannon, he seemed very confident about the team’s performance. He also had strong faiths in each of his players. Do the players also have faith in their plays as well?
Attila: Having faith in yourself is a basic thing for a pro. If you’re not believing in yourself, why would you be here? But, for Gilius (jungler for Vitality), the last split wasn’t his best times. The team in general thought that we hit a wall. That’s why we decided to make a change. We got a more handsome jungler. (laughs)
YamatoCannon: Well, in Spring I thought we were too confident. When we played scrims and did a lot of things wrong, my players said, “We perform better on stage, so it doesn’t matter.” They were right, but eventually, it hit us hard later on. We had to sort some things out. But currently, I think our confidence is on a good level.
With Kikis joining the EU LCS and Dreams joining from the Vitality Academy, what did the new players try to throw into Vitality?
Dreams: I always wanted to make my teammates have fun. (laughs)
YamatoCannon: Dreams came from our Academy team. He stayed in the gaming house for about a month or so. We needed to bring a substitute in the Worlds. I think everyone here has a good relationship with Dreams and I also believe that he’s a very nice guy; he’s really warm-hearted. He has been playing in a lot of tournaments in his Academy days, so he’s a big help for the team. Kikis joined in week 6.
Kikis: In my previous team, I focused to help the early-game. I wanted to make my teammates rely on me; I did my best early and didn’t want them to struggle in the late-game. In the EU LCS, I’ve been trying to focus on supporting my laners as much as possible. I wanted to make them freely engage for 1 vs 1s, or even 2 vs 2s. Well, at Worlds, I’d like to test myself whether I can deliver the same performance against the top junglers in the world. I’m confident and I think I’ll be able to perform well.
Vitality will face the current LPL champion, RNG and the defending Worlds champion, Gen.G Esports in the 2018 Worlds group stage. Are you guys confident about facing these two monsters?
Jactroll: We couldn’t have got a better group. (laughs) I think it will benefit the team. We might show some competitiveness against them, or we might just get eliminated.
Jiizuke: Others show zero expectations on us. If we lose, it’ll be fine. But, if we manage to win, it’ll be a great chance for the others to remember who we are.
Attila: I think it’s amazing. Well, people think that we’re trapped in this group. As a matter of fact, it’s the other way around; they’re trapped with us. (laughs)
Jiizuke: Others have low expectations of us. So, if we can survive in the group stage, it’ll be such an advantage for the team since winning the LPL champions and the Worlds champions aren’t easy. I’m willing to take this challenge.
Jactroll: I also can’t wait to face these players on stage!
YamatoCannon: I learned a lot in my last Worlds experience, and now I’m going to do my best to figure a way to get out of the group stage.
After seeing the group stage draw results, when Gen.G and RNG popped out, how was the atmosphere of the team like? Were you guys excited?
YamatoCannon: I got blamed because I did say I want to be in Group B. Soon, I saw Gen.G pop out. Then, I said, “Okay, not Group B.” However, there was no turning back. (laughs)
Jiizuke: When I saw RNG and Gen.G, I just laughed it out; I laughed so hard.
So, everyone agreed to take on this challenge?
Team Vitality: Yeah. (laughs after a long pause.)
For the current Worlds, what position do you think is the most important?
Jiizuke: Mid and jungle. But if it’s about facing RNG, the bottom lane is the most important.
YamatoCannon: I think the game is in a state where you can basically do everything. For the first time in League, the champion pools of each lane became so vast. You can use so many champions and snowball at every angle. This actually makes us harder to prepare for Worlds since the players need to practice and master all kind of styles. If you look at RNG and Gen.G, they’re not just a 1-dimensional team. They say that RNG relies on Uzi, but they’ve already proved that they’re not a one-man team. The current meta is very flexible, so we need to prepare for more than what’s right ahead of us.
In order to get to Worlds, Vitality had to wait for the results of Fnatic vs Schalke 04. How was the team atmosphere like after Fnatic won?
Cabochard: The game was surprisingly even until Rekkles started to perform well.
Kikis: We watched that match altogether. There were people from the Vitality organization. Well, of course, there were the team members and there were our family members as well.
Jiizuke: I knew that Fnatic would win, so I wasn’t that emotional I guess. (laughs)
YamatoCannon: Some of us did think that Fnatic would win. On the other hand, others thought, “What if they lose...”.
Jactroll: When we practiced with Schalke, we used almost the same composition that Fnatic used in game 1; Akali was one of the champions that were used in that composition. However, Schalke knew exactly what to do against her and I knew that Fnatic would lose if they choose Akali.
Jiizuke: Although I thought that Fnatic would win the series, still I knew that they would lose a game if they use Akali against them. Eventually, they picked almost the same composition we did before against Schalke; Akali was picked and they lost game 1.
YamatoCannon: We were sitting down watching the game. But when we saw Fnatic use that composition I looked at Jactroll. We both were like, “Oh no. I know what’s coming...”. (laughs)
This time we’re going to do some small activities together. I’m going to give out a question, and on the count of 3, point to the person that is closest to the question.
Dreams: Oh… I heard about this one before.
The first question. Who do you think is the best-looking person on the team?
Cabochard: Wow. Thank you, guys. I don’t know, it might be because of my grey hair.
Next question. Who would you pick as the MVP of the split?
Cabochard: Thanks, but I think we all performed well. We all started to play really good starting from the point where Kikis joined. The team isn’t a one-man army.
YamatoCannon: The main reason why we pointed at Cabochard is that we appreciate his role as a leader. Leadership is such an important factor in a team and having an actual leader in a team isn’t something you come across that often.
Kikis: People might not have noticed but he did a lot of things outside of the game. We want to thank him for what he did.
In general, who is the most talented player in LoL?
Attila: You shouldn’t ask that question in this team since we have such huge confidence in our performance. (laughs)
Your head coach loves suits. Who do you think would be best looking in his suits?
Dreams: Oh, I don’t know. Let’s just point Cabochard.
YamatoCannon: Um… I think Cabochard has similar height, so probably he’ll be okay in one of my suits.
Who buys the least amount of wards?
Attila: Wards don’t do any damage.
Let’s move on to the next activity. We’ll give you guys each a brain map. On the map, write whatever is on your current mind.
If everyone is done, can you tell us a brief explanation about it?
Cabochard: Food takes the biggest proportion… However, if it’s about the most important thing, I’ll have to say my focus and determination to win games. Oh, the small dot is about playing Lucian in top lane. I’ll never be able to play, but I can’t let it go. (laughs)
Kikis: Well, I’m a jungler, so thinking about my jungle paths is the most important. I also like food, especially spicy food. I always miss my family when I’m on the road… Things like champion picks, builds are important as well. Oh yeah, I’m going to face Ambition and Mlxg in the jungle, so I wrote them down.
Attila: For me, the most important would be performing well in Worlds. I want to live healthily, so I put on food and sleep as well. I also put on RNG because I think Uzi is the greatest player. I’d like to be best in my role, so going against RNG is something I’m looking up for. The little dot is Uzi since I’d like to win against him. Well, I’m not a selfish person, but every night I try to think about myself, so I wrote down ‘myself’.
YamatoCannon: Oh wait, can I get a new one? Do you have another copy? Okay, Jactroll you can go first.
Jactroll: I love speed, so I’m always thinking about my car. I want to improve, so I wrote ‘improve’. I also wrote down Bulgogi Brothers (notes: a Korean franchise restaurant). It reminds me of the Waffle Brothers in Berlin. The second most important is my family and girlfriend. Of course, as a pro gamer, League of Legends is the most important for me.
YamatoCannon, if you're ready you may begin.
YamatoCannon: I wrote down my players.
Attila: Hey Jiizuke! My part is shaped like a heart, so he loves me more than you!
YamatoCannon: The most important for me is improvement; that’s what we need the most right now.
Dreams: For me, the most important is playing well in Korean solo queue because my goal is to go in the top 10 Challengers list. I’m pretty much focused on that and I want to prove that I’m capable of becoming a good player. I also wrote down some of my hobbies.
Jiizuke: I think I’m more focused on what I’m doing today, so I wrote down ‘schedule’. Well, my goal is to leave a mark in Worlds.
Now it’s time for the last activity. We’ll hand out a piece of paper for each of you. Please write down your names and hand it to the left. Once you’ve received it, write down a short letter to that player.
YamatoCannon: Jesus, who wrote this? I can barely read it. Look at this handwriting… (laughs)
If everyone’s finished, can you share your paper with everyone else?
Cabochard: I like it. Some of the comments do have a ‘political’ issue like my ‘top Lucian’, but it’s from my teammates so if they want me to play like that, I’ll give it a thought. (laughs)
Attila: Um… Someone wants me to visit his room at 11 PM… Wonder what this means. I do not know who wrote it, but thank you. (laughs)
YamatoCannon: I really like mine… How can I hate it? You know, it’s not easy to get praised as a ‘god’. (laughs) Their English skills seem… (laughs)
Jactroll: Every comment was so kind. YamatoCannon’s message was the most touching.
Jiizuke: The funniest one was from Attila, “Roam to my lane the same way you roamed to my heart.”.