Team Vitality and their rebuilt roster are one of, if not the most interesting teams in the Western hemisphere. With the introduction of Kyeong “Photon” Gyu-tae from T1 Challengers, Zhou “Bo” Yang-Bo from FunPlus Phoenix, and Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser from MAD Lions, the French bees have the potential to lift the LEC cup in their first year.
We spoke with Kaiser, their new support, about his offseason adventures, the new LEC format, his thoughts on Champions Queue, and their game against Fnatic.
Aykut Sapaz, BLIX.GG: Thank you, Kaiser, for your time and for being with me here today. How are you doing? How was your offseason? How was the big wait, is anything of note besides changing teams?
VIT Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser: I mean, not really. I was spending time with my family, just relaxing, getting some time off the game. That’s kind of what I usually do in my offseason, like calming down a bit and trying to basically load your battery for the next season right so you can start grinding again once the season starts. And yeah so it was like a chill off-season.
BLIX: You think playing League in the off-season feels different than the rest of the year?
Kaiser: For sure, I would say, because I usually like it when I play for something, like for example high rank. I think in the offseason it is a bit more difficult because no one is playing seriously. You don't really get good solo queue games because most of the players are taking a break, so usually I like playing when everyone’s training for LEC Winter Split and I think in the offseason, when it's preseason, no one is really tryharding too much so it’s time to play less solo queue for sure.
BLIX: To your point, we are going to get Champions Queue in the EU. What do you think about the introduction of that?
Kaiser: I think it’s pretty good and it’s going to be fun, it’s just a question of “Do you actually have time and everything to play” because I heard that it’s going to start at 10 PM or something, so it’s going to be pretty late, we’ll see, I think we’ll get some games in. It’s going to be high quality for sure, so that’s good. It’s going to depend a lot on how much more exhausting LEC is right now because we have a lot more games and sometimes you just wanna chill in solo queue after six games of scrims. We’ll see how it goes and like we’ll see how Champions Queue does. I think, in NA for example, it didn’t really work a lot but I’m not sure why, so yeah, we’ll see. I think at the start it'll be fun for sure, to play and to watch. Maybe people will stream it, right? So it will be fun, but yeah, we’ll see how it goes.
BLIX: Definitely sounds like it'll be a fun experience. We also had a lot of changes in the LEC format during the offseason. What are your thoughts on the format changes?
Kaiser: I really like them actually, because they give better practice for international events. You have more Bo3s to play, Bo5s to play. Bo1s are less important now, of course, Bo1’s are important for group stages and getting into quarter-finals at Worlds and stuff, but I think once those actually happened West was always a bit behind in that regard, [lack of] that ability in Bo5’s just because we just played less. So I think that’s a really good change. I don't really mind playing more stage games because it’s just better practice. It gets rookies a lot more experience and I think it’s just going to make the teams better, I would say.
BLIX: A lot of people are really excited about these changes but those are not the only changes we had in LEC. We also had new teams come in and it’s really a different league than we saw last time. What do you think about the new LEC?
Kaiser: I think so for sure and I'm pretty excited about this. It's good because I think there are a lot of competitive teams right now, for example, G2, and KOI; those are the teams that are really good. Even teams like, for example, SK or other teams kind of really improved. I think the split will be really competitive, of course, there are going to be some teams that are less good than others but I think it’s natural, the average level of teams will surely increase and I think the [performance] cap of some teams will increase, for example, I think G2’s cap has increased and I think VIT, of course, we have so much potential. So yeah, I'm really excited. Of course, the 9 Bo1s we play right now are not indicative of everything that’ll happen in Bo5s. I think Bo5’s will be the true test, we’ll see how well teams do there but I’m pretty confident that Europe is going to be better this split.
BLIX: Bo3s, Bo5s, we’re going to see a lot of action, lower placed teams will be eliminated early on and that will be interesting to see. You guys just took your first step to qualify for Winter Groups with your win. What do you think about the game today?
Kaiser: It was really rough, I think, in the midgame for sure, we had to give up a lot of objectives. I think our champions were a bit less good. For example, I think the mid-lane 3v3 was really hard to play because we just couldn’t find any openings and it was just really hard to play the mid 3v3 cause they had stronger champions. We had to give a lot of objectives, which was really worrying, I think we had a good game plan but we didn’t wanna overextend, for example, other teams fought for dragons and maybe threw the game there but I think we just played quietly in a good way and then had some really good team fights.
Bo, I think, played really well on his Graves, he had some good moments, Photon had some good moments, I think everyone played kinda good this game. I think Fnatic played well, I think they used their champions really well up until that one team fight where that gave us a really big advantage and kind of slowed the game, at some point they didn’t have any flashes left and we could just engage on them because they aren’t super mobile right, like Syndra or Varus can’t really do anything without Flash, so yeah, we just flipped the switch and won the team fights.
BLIX: Rough is one way to put that game. It was really good perseverance through midgame on your part. Do you have any last thoughts for fans who are now excited and who’ve seen the VIT potential with you in the team with Bo and Photon, any words of hope for them?
Kaiser: I mean, of course, it’s always difficult to be a fan of a team that changes so many players. I think we have a really good roster and I’m really excited for it. We really understand each other pretty well. Of course, there will be some issues at the start with communication with language barrier and stuff, but I think once we just play some games together or play some stage games as well because we have two rookies, I mean Bo played some games on stage but he’s still relatively new so I think once we get into our group, I think you can expect great things from us and I hope you guys support us and continue sending us nice messages. I already know VIT fans are pretty crazy, right? Already had a lot of nice messages, so yeah, just continue supporting us and we’ll hopefully not disappoint you.
BLIX: I have a follow-up question. What do you mean by VIT fans are crazy? What is the craziest thing you’ve seen of them?
Kaiser: It’s just like on every post or, like, every picture you have some nice messages from VIT fans and I don’t really think MAD Lions had that kind of fans, I mean they had really good fans, they would send me a lot of private messages as well. But I think VIT fans are more hardcore like they’re more real, I’m not really sure how to explain it. Kind of like the hive mind, I think that’s a good way to put it and they’re all working together and I think that’s really nice and I can definitely feel the support already, even though we’re a new team and they don’t really have like seen anything from us, yet I can already feel the support.