It’s been quite a journey to watch Team Vitality in these last couple of years, they’ve come so close to victory and all the spoils that entails, but returned empty handed. In Winter they finished the Bo1 stage in first place but they weren't able to make it to the finals. This split, they're more determined and ferocious than ever — and so are their fans.
We caught up with Vitality’s coach Alexander "Carter" Cartwright ahead of their first match in the LEC Groups this past Saturday and spoke about their finishing match against KOI and their regular season finish. Plus, how having one of the biggest fan presences in Berlin helps them, what they expect from the rest of the season and more.
Aykut "Kots" Sapaz, BLIX.GG: Hello and welcome Carter. Thank you very much for being here with me and also congratulations on your victory against KOI. Before we get fully into the game, I just want to ask, did your 6-3 finish meet what you expected from the split?
Alexander "Carter" Cartwright: So we saw last split that the regular season is not that important, as long as you make it into the top eight. We are satisfied with being six-three. It’s not incredible but it’s good enough.
It’s got us into the top four, we’re in the second pool of teams with G2. So I would say it’s going fine and we just have our eyes ahead to the playoffs and the group stage now.
BLIX: Well, you guys made it there and it wasn’t due to this match. You guys were locked in before that. But this was still a great match to watch. I believe this is what is called a statement game. It was very one sided. Did you expect this game to go this way as well against KOI?
Carter: No, I didn’t expect it to go this way. KOI is a very good team and we’ve struggled against them in the past so I think it’s really good for confidence that we were able to play so well today.
Especially because some of our wins recently weren’t so convincing, so it gives us a lot of confidence. Really happy with how we played today. The boys are happy as well, I’m sure.
Vitality fans swarming the studio
BLIX: I’m sure your fans are very happy to see this performance as well. There were quite a lot of them in Berlin today. How is the fanfare affecting you guys?
Carter: Oh it’s great. We’re very fortunate to have a lot of great supporters of Team Vitality and we love it when they’re in the studio and really help us take our game to the next level. I look forward to having more vitality fans in the studio again soon.
Credit: Riot/Michal Konkol
BLIX: Well, we’ll see them back for Bo3’s, hopefully. Speaking of the Bo3’s, now everyone’s almost locked in but there is one more spot and two more teams and they’re currently on that stage. Who do you think will be there alongside you and the other teams?
Carter: That’s a tough call because I don’t know which side the teams are on and I don’t know the draft because we’re currently doing the interview.
What I do know is that it would be better for us if Team Heretics were to win because of the Winter points that MAD Lions have. That would increase our chances to go to MSI. So for me, I’m hoping for a Heretics win today.
BLIX: I think I’ve seen a scenario on Reddit where MAD Lions are in ninth place but they still make it to MSI. Hopefully that won’t happen, and you guys will maybe be there. Are you currently watching the international competition in case you make it there?
Carter: We’re obviously watching a lot of LCK and LPL but we’re not super focused ahead like: “Oh this could be one of the teams we face at MSI.” Right now we’re just taking one game at a time and for now that’s the best-of-three stage. We don’t know who we’re gonna be against, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.
We have a long way to go as a team and a lot of room to improve. We know that. We’re all working towards that same goal so, yeah, just taking it one game at a time.
BLIX: One game at a time, I like that sentiment. Your next game, from what I’ve heard and from what the format suggests, will be either against SK or Fnatic. Who do you think you’d prefer?
Carter: Well, you could make arguments for both teams. I think Fnatic is playing really well. Right now they’ve had a big resurgence. Nightshare, he was doing a good job with adjusting the drafts and making changes.
From a coaching perspective, I think Oscarinin has really improved since week one so that’s great to see. SK, for us, we struggled against them in the last split, but we had a good game against them so both of these teams are going to be tough and we’ll see which one we face here.
Read More: G2 Yike: "I’d be really happy to play against T1 ... I hope I can play versus Kanavi and Oner."
Sharing the top with a few friends
BLIX: We’ll see when the games are decided, but right now you’re looking good. You’re at the top alongside Astralis and BDS and G2. Was this result the result you expected from the league itself like the placements that we currently have?
Carter: No, definitely not Astralis and BDS and that is quite shocking but props to them, they have been playing really well. Both of those teams have their own unique identity carved out and I think people might not expect to see these players on the top but I think the league is becoming more and more about the teamwork aspect and less about the individual skill.
Obviously individual skill is very crucial but it’s not the defining factor it was five or six years ago. I don’t want to take credit away from them because it’s really impressive but we know that it’s just the Bo1’s. So let’s see if they can keep it going in Bo3’s and Bo5’s.
BLIX: Yeah I mean that is the fun part of the league this year. You can be great at Bo1’s but there are Bo3’s, you can be great at Bo3’s but there’s Bo5’s. There’s a little of everything. Are you excited to be back in the best of three’s?
Carter: Yeah I’m excited. I think that really shows what a team is capable of. For me, this time around I wanna be in the Bo5 stage. I think that’s when it’s the most fun to play, coach and compete. Especially since if you’re in the best of fives you’re competing for the chance of the trophy which is what we want.
Credit: Riot/Michal Konkol
BLIX: Yeah, hopefully we’ll see you at the end of the split with the shield. Thank you so much for coming here and giving us all this insight. I just wanna ask, do you have any messages for the loud and cheerful vitality fans out there?
Carter: Thank you for coming to support us at the studio this week and I hope to see you guys again soon and thanks for having me on this interview.
Feature Image: Riot/Michal Konkol