Finishing Winter Split of League of Legends European Championship (LEC) as the first in regular split but exiting playoffs early as the 5th place, Team Vitality come to Spring with a vengeance — determined to take anyone in their way down. They’ve proven that so far by coming out of their match against MAD Lions with a definitive victory.
We spoke with the support of this bloodthirsty team, Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser, about their dismantling of MAD Lions, their newest teammate, how LEC has changed and what the future holds for the league.
Aykut Sapaz, BLIX.GG: Hello and welcome Kaiser. Thank you so much for your time and congratulations on your win against MAD Lions in the first match of the Spring Split.
Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser: Thank you.
BLIX: How are you feeling right now after that win?
Kaiser: I mean, really good, for sure. Like, after we came back from the winter break because we dropped out against SK. Of course it is nice, especially because we really stomped them, right? They had almost no chance. It definitely feels nice and extra nice because MAD Lions was my ex-team, right? So, there’s some competitiveness there. Yeah, it is nice for sure.
BLIX: Beating your old team, that must be fun. I can’t imagine. Before we get into the game, how was the off-season for you?
Kaiser: Honestly there was not much off-season for me. I was just spamming solo queue because I was really frustrated after winter [split]. I wanted to get better because I knew that my current level is not enough to win the split, right? So I was just spamming solo queue games, trying champions and just trying to get better as much as possible. I think we only had maybe a few days break, like 4-5 days maybe. And then we started scrimming again.
BLIX: Wow, that doesn’t sound like a lot of vacation.
Kaiser: Actually, I don’t even remember. Maybe it was a week or something. But of course, we just wanted to get better. I think that’s- Like, we were at 5th place, which is not the worst that could happen but I think we all have more, how do I say it- Like, we just want to win, right? I think 5th place is not enough for anyone.
BLIX: Yeah, I imagine coming off of the regulars, the expectation must have been higher for you. You guys have started this new season full of possibilities with a win on your side now, in the Bo1s. What are your comments on the game you just played against MAD?
Kaiser: I think we had just a really good draft, like, we had a good read on the meta. We knew what they wanted to play, kind of. We just probably surprised them a bit with how we drafted as well. So I think, yeah, we just had a really good draft and we executed it well as well. They didn’t really stand a chance. I think, like, some opportunities maybe - which they kind of messed up or missed. But I think our draft was just way better than theirs and we just played it.
BLIX: Yeah, that was literally the definition of that game. We’ve seen no big mistakes from your side and it was just very fun to watch. Do you have any other surprises for drafts you’re cooking up behind the scenes? Nothing specific as to not leak anything.
Kaiser: I mean, for sure. It’s a new patch so we’ve tried a lot of stuff. We just want to be a lot more flexible, I guess. And of course, with Upset coming in, he has his own opinions as well. He adds another perspective to a lot of things. In general, yeah, we do have some stuff prepared. Of course, I can’t name it. We showed Darius today, we showed Aurelion Sol, we showed the Caitlyn-Heimerdinger lane, right? That’s a lot of new stuff that we played and we are comfortable with.
A new player joins: Upset
BLIX: Yeah, those were good showings and I’m excited to see what comes next. As you mentioned, with Upset coming, a new voice has entered the team. How is playing with him? How does he fit in with the team?
Kaiser: Playing with him has been really really nice. I think me and Neon - we got along really well, I think just in the gameplay perspective-wise we just didn’t match well together because we were both a little bit on the quiet side. In contrast to Neon, I think Upset- like, he talks a shit ton honestly. He makes plans, he talks about wave, he really likes to improve. He always talks about matchups and he always talks about what we could maybe pick or what we could’ve done better, right?
Especially in game when we have two players who don’t speak that great English, having a shot caller that is confident in his ability to lead the game, I think that’s kind of what we’ve missed. Like, of course Perkz is a good shot caller but I think as a mid laner it is sometimes hard because usually you always have to play around side lanes. Bo, he’s good and he can also, like, be the shot caller in a way, but I don’t think he has the understanding of English right now to kind of solo lead the game. I think Upset is really filling in that gap and basically giving us direction, I guess. I think that was really important and what we lacked last year or last Winter Splits.
BLIX: That is very insightful, as to how a team works with foreign players and players who may get along well but don’t in-game maybe. And as Upset adapts to the team and you guys adapt to him more, we will see Vitality take off. Do you have any expectations for the split that you’d like to point out right now?
Kaiser: I try to not expect anything because I know that even though you could be stomped in scrims or you could be losing scrims, I guess it doesn’t really matter. I just try to focus on the next game, kind of. I don’t even want to think about who I’m playing next, I just want to focus on our side a little bit and try to take each small step. Then, in a way, I feel like we all arrive at the finals, maybe we play with G2 or KOI or whatever, right? I think that should be our goal: just taking small steps until we’re basically the winners.
I don’t really want to have big expectations. Like, sure, we have the names to win a split but I just want to solely improve because I know that teams are more than their names. So far we’ve shown a lot of synergy and a lot of progress, so I’m confident for sure. But I want to keep expectations low, I guess. Or just focus on the next game.
Past, present and future of LEC
BLIX: Not only did you guys have a change, but LEC itself changed a bit with many players coming on in 2023. Which team, since last year, do you think has changed the most?
Kaiser: It’s honestly hard to say. Maybe Fnatic because, I think changing from Upset to Rekkles is a big change, I guess, in play style. Because if you have Upset you kind of want to play around him, and Rekkles usually likes to chill more, I guess, and take a slow scaling late game. So, I think Fnatic, for sure, is the team that changed the most. Maybe Excel, because they changed a lot of players as well. Aside from Patrik, I think they changed everyone. But yeah, I think the league got stronger but the level is still not like LCK.
BLIX: Do you think the LEC will ever reach that level?
Kaiser: I think so. I mean, there shouldn’t be a reason why we should be worse, right? Can’t be like genetics or whatever, it has to be either infrastructure or, just like, depth of talent. I’m not sure. But I think in general there have been times where there was a European contender like G2, 2019, right? They were so close to winning Worlds.
BLIX: It was 2019.
Kaiser: Yeah, they got kind of stumped at finals, but their drafts were a bit more lucky, I guess. If maybe LCK and LPL are a bit weaker some seasons, maybe you can actually start winning. For example, DRX, they also won Worlds even though no one had them on their radar, right? I think DRX kind of showed that you can have a really good run if you just have decent players but if their synergy is just off the charts, then you can have real power on hand. Maybe that can happen, so…
BLIX: I mean, we’ll see if there will be a team to come out of here with that synergy and the luck. And maybe just a bit of power of friendship, we’ll see how far they can go. But it’s always exciting to watch. Lastly I want to ask, do you have any messages, words of hope and/or encouragement to Vitality fans out there?
Kaiser: Of course, it’s been really great with them because there’s been a lot of interaction. Some of the Vitality fans were in the office or in the studio and it’s been really fun. So, I just hope that you guys keep supporting us. Like, of course we know that the Winter Split didn’t meet ours and their expectations. I think we’re stronger right now, already, than we were in winter.
And we will just keep growing as well because I think we have enough potential and I think you can expect good things from us.