Defeated as soon as it entered the League of Legends' LEC Spring Split on January 24 Vitality didn't shine in what was one of the longest match so far this season. Beaten by a SK Gaming team that is not among the favourites this year, the new coach, Hadrien "Duke" Forestier, looks back on a first miss for his team. Interview.
Duke, can you remember anything positive from that first game of the season?
The positive is more that we know what we need to work on. We already knew that before day one. We knew that we're very fragile, and we have a lot of work ahead of us. We realised that in the first few weeks of training.
But there's nothing insurmountable, we can improve, although we're going to have to work twice as hard, which isn't easy at the moment, given the back and forth midlaners we've had. Even if Saken was really excellent today.
The positive point is Saken's match?
Yes, that's it. I think the good thing about today is that Saken really played very well.
Why isn't Saken the starting midlaner for Vitality?
It's more a question of experience than of player. Both are excellent and the original idea was to have Saken at the academy, even though he's a very good player. For now, we're going to go with Milica (ex-Giants), who's also a very good player and has been training a lot over the last three weeks. Unfortunately, visa problems have prevented him from playing with us for an indefinite period of time.
How do you feel about your preparation tonight?
We're clearly not at a satisfying level, and we've been aware of that for a few weeks now. There is a lot of preparation to be done beforehand. It's going to take more than two weeks to get to the level we want, that's for sure.
Let's just say that we didn't have the surprise of coming in with an excellent level, as sometimes rookie teams can be. Now we have to start from the beginning.
More than half of your team was from the LFL tonight, what lessons can you learn from that?
I saw a team that didn't have a concrete idea of how to think about the game in general. We played worse today than some of the top teams in the LFL last year. That's something that happens a lot at the beginning of the season. I don't think it was necessarily far below the bottom of the LEC table either.
Right now, we're a team that doesn't play well together. But as soon as it "clicks", it can go very fast. These are players who, individually, have a lot of talent: a player like Skeanz for example, who is excellent. Now we have to understand how to play the game together at a top level.
More specifically, what weaknesses have you found in your team's play in this first game?
I think it's hard to have a clear game plan throughout the game. The macro is far too weak at the moment: we tend, like all teams who are starting out together, to turn at mid-point, and we've seen that. Typically, we could have played on the sides with a very fed Cassiopeia. And after a while, as soon as the game gets going around the Baron, we find ourselves five against five midlane all the time. In this case, one team has Ornn and the other doesn't, and we can't get through.
So there's a lot of macro in mid/late game to work on, because it's going all over the place. All the players have a lot to offer, but if you want to do everything, you do everything half-heartedly, and you end up not concluding anything.
Is it still too early to talk about playoffs at the end of Spring?
We're gonna have to fight for the playoffs, that's for sure. Having coached for a few seasons, anything's possible, frankly. For me, the goal of the Spring Split, which is not worth a Summer Split, is to succeed in building solid foundations for a long term. Afterwards, the results will come.
Tomorrow, Vitality faces MAD Lions to conclude this resumption week. This is a team that impressed you tonight?
Let's just say they played their early game very well and lost a game they would have won against anyone else. Bad luck, it was G2 across the street.
I know MAD Lions (ex Splyce) very well because it's my former crew, my former colleagues and friends. With Human0id, in the mid, that I know very well. In fact, I participated, in a way, in the construction of the roster before leaving for Vitality this season. They're very good players with a lot of talent too, in the same way we are.
Maybe they have a little more chemistry at the start of the season. They're probably beatable, even if I think they're the favorites.
Thanks to Duke for taking the time to answer our questions.
Credits: Riot Games