With a very strong start to the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) Winter Split, Vitality was flying high on the scoreboard undefeated until their match against SK Gaming. Despite their loss, they are still at the top of the mountain and ready to show their skill in Bo3s and Bo5s.
We spoke with Vitality’s bot laner Matúš “Neon” Jakubčík about their game against SK, the interesting bot picks from Korea, the current placements in the LEC, and coming back to the studio in Berlin.
Aykut Sapaz, BLIX.GG: Hello and thank you Neon so much for your time. You guys just came out on an unfortunate loss against SK. What are your thoughts on the match? It was a very close match too.
Matúš “Neon” Jakubčík: Yeah, I mean we knew SK was not going to be an easy opponent, right? And um… Yeah, I think maybe this week we underestimated the power of Elise. I think they won against G2 with Elise and Markoon looked quite- like quite the key element in both of them so um maybe we had like different reads on meta and yeah. They executed pretty well, they played very well with Elise so it was a good win.
BLIX: Yeah, we saw Elise in this draft, and we saw Maokai both power picks on both sides normally banned. And we saw very interesting picks. Did anything happen spontaneously? Did they surprise you in any way in the draft?
Neon: Not really, they all played the champions that they play so there were not really any surprises, right? It’s just that yeah, they might have… They had the better draft today and I think maybe they played well like played better like there’s not much to say, right? Like it’s Bo1. And this could happen easily to any team. Like it did happen to G2 yesterday. So, props to SK ‘cause they are quite a good team.
BLIX: Yeah, these are Bo1s. Stuff like this happens all the time. But we’re halfway through with the Bo1 and you guys are currently way ahead. You’ll most likely qualify. What are you… Did you expect to be in this position at the start of the season?
Neon: To be honest, yes and no. I didn’t know what to expect ‘cause it’s Bo1, I have a different team, I have my expectations right but the key part to keep in mind is that this doesn’t mean much or show much because best of ones are different from best of fives, right? So, the true strengths of each team really show going into best of fives, best of threes.
BLIX: This is the exact same thing Kaiser said by the way last time. In exact words so that’s yeah. We’ll see Vitality, I hope you guys have something very interesting prepared for the best of threes and best of fives. Because you’re making it sound very exciting.
Neon: Yeah, that’s just what it is.
How Kalista support works
BLIX: I just want to take a quick segue. We were speaking about the draft. We’re seeing a lot of AD carries now throughout the world, mostly in LCK. Like Kalista supports and now Tristana in the mid again. What… Is this gonna keep happening… Does this help you as you know a bot laner? What are your thoughts on this?
Neon: Well, I think these picks can work as LCK showed us. The reason why this works is because basically if you pick Kalista, if you pick Caitlyn, it pretty much guarantees you no matter what a winning bot lane match-up, right? And if you’re a very good team and you can execute early games very well you can actually get a value even out of these picks, right? And snowballing that lead is literally the only reason they are picked. It’s not because they scale or they have utilities, literally just because it’s a very powerful tool in the early game that allows you to snowball, right? Because, well, tower plays and Heralds, right?
All these snowball mechanics and these champs have super strong lanes, so you usually push the first three waves, look for a dive on the new bot plan, you kill them, then you do it again. You get Harold and try and play clean from there, right? So that is kind of the point of these picks, that’s why you kind of pick them.
BLIX: Very interesting, like winning early being this powerful. And then we’ll see if that takes over the globe, we’ll see if the other teams can execute it as well, I’m not sure. The season is halfway done, as I said, and this season for the first time we’ll see teams be eliminated very early on. Who do you think the two teams will be who won’t make it to groups?
Neon: Who won’t make it to groups… I think it’s gonna be Astralis, they don’t look too good right now, and it’s maybe going to be… I think that the second one will be a little more tough, right?
BLIX: Yeah, everyone says Astralis but no one has a clear idea about the second team.
Neon: Oh… Honestly, let’s say the boldest thing ever and if this happens then I’m Einstein, so let’s say Fnatic.
BLIX: Wow. Fnatic with all the history of making Worlds and being high placed…
Neon: Yeah. Just make sure I get credit when it happens.
BLIX: Okay, I will make sure you get the credit for that. Do you have any thoughts on who will be, like, the top players- the top teams in the split, in the best of ones? Like, you guys are a challenger for that…
Neon: I think G2, Vitality, KOI, and maybe SK, these four teams look quite good and quite tough to play against on stage so far. Yeah, I think that’s what I would say.
BLIX: I also wanted to ask, how does it feel to be, like, back on the stage after the off-season? Are you guys settling in now the first week has passed? Is it becoming normal now?
Neon: Yeah, I mean, it’s like usual, right? Yeah, I don’t know, like… The time flies really fast during the split and when it’s like stage games, but it also goes really slow and you’re like not playing in the off-season, right? So, like, we’re already almost done with the basic split, with the start of the split and it feels like we have just begun.
BLIX: Yeah, the half is done, we’ll see. You guys have your third match of the week against G2 tomorrow. You said, you know, G2 is one of the top teams as well. What are your thoughts on the matchup?
Neon: It’s definitely going to be interesting. I think they are good for sure, right? So, I don’t want to say too much but I think it’s going to be a very interesting match. Definitely going to be decided in the early game, I think, because neither of the teams will draft for scaling too much.
BLIX: Yeah, both teams are aggressive, wanting to prove themselves, I am very hyped to see that match and I’m sure you guys have something interesting up your sleeves. We’ll see. Do you have anything to say to Vitality fans who are very hyped for this team right now?
Neon: I mean, I’m just really happy for all the support that I’m getting, and um, I hope I can make you guys proud and happy, I guess.