Team Vitality has turned a few heads as its teamwork and macro knowledge have slowly started to improve. After a choppy encounter against Ninjas in Pyjamas, Vitality came away with a 2-1 win in Week 6 of the European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS). Vitality support Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan talked with Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser about their compositions in the set, playing as a support for a team with a top-jungle focus, and the progress Team Vitality has made this split.
Kelsey Moser: In the first game, you had a pretty straightforward 1-3-1 comp with Lucian and Tahm Kench. You were making a lot of Tahm Kench plays bot after 20 minutes or so. How do you know you can do that kind of setup even when Baron is in play?
Oskar “VandeR” Bogdan: So when we push out mid, I have some vision a bit deep in the enemy map. Lucian, after pushing the lane, can walk, and then we can try to catch Renekton with my ult since he doesn’t have — I think once we force his flash, and then he didn’t have flash, so we try to catch him again. But also the second play we can do is just to play into top and try to catch Taliyah.
We thought Renekton would be the target since we only took two towers bot, and then we wanted to force the enemy to come bot so Lucian can take top tower, but every time we didn’t get a kill, so it was maybe a waste of time for us. In retrospect, if we played to top side, I think it would be even better.
KM: There were a couple of instances where your team would make a play top side, and NiP would react with Taliyah ult. It seems like your team relies a lot on having Nukeduck push mid. In today’s scenarios with Taliyah ult, was it just that your team is used to pressure mid or you forget about Taliyah ult?
OB: Yeah, our jungle and top forget about Taliyah ult sometimes. I think we trade one for one, and Taliyah ults, so in this case it’s not that bad for our team since Taliyah will use her ultimate, and Lucian has a free push mid, so Taliyah will at least lose one wave. But obviously the purpose up top — because it’s a bit risky because if you don’t kill fast the guy, and Taliyah will ult, then you can both die for nothing. So the most safe setup or the correct one is to push mid against Taliyah like any TP champ (because Taliyah ult is just like TP, right? It’s the same speed), and then you connect with enemy jungle, and then you can push mid again, and then you can dive top.
But sometimes we rush plays like this, especially on the top side of the map. So we tend to get punished, but then we also tend to get some stuff from it, so it’s hard for me to say, but I guess we’ll look into it as a team more.
KM: It also seemed this game your team was somewhat hesitant to push forward mid. Is this a symptom of Tristana or being afraid of getting caught too far forward when you push mid?
OB: So I think they had like Thresh, Taliyah — Thresh, Tristana, and Kha’Zix…
KM: And Renekton.
OB: And Renekton, yeah, so it would be hard to engage on us. But we have Ashe, which is easy to engage on, but we have Tahm. If we go really deep, and Taliyah ults behind us, and then Thresh flash on mid, we will probably die, so it feels better to play on Lucian’s side — like push mid a bit (not go very deep), and then when Lucian pushes out top, he walks to jungle, then we can cross together, you know? So I think that that was in our mind.
I don’t think we played perfect. Probably there was a time where we could pressure a bit more and step up a bit more. We definitely could play the first game faster when we had the lead. I still think it’s easier to push top with Lucian, and then if they make a play on him, it’s easy because Tahm can follow. It’s way better than playing really aggressive mid. I think we were sieging mid tower a lot, which is OK if Ashe hits ult, but we didn’t manage to have that once. It’s pretty free if you have mid control to play sides because they can never catch anyone since Tahm can — when Tahm can push the lane, he can move, and enemy’s stuck at tower, he can move at like seconds, so it’s pretty easy.
KM: Moving on to the second game, which was a little bit unfortunate, first let’s talk about the lane swap. It seems like the list of reasons and conditions for lane swapping are kind of growing in the EU LCS. What was the reasoning behind the swap in this game?
OB: I guess the main reason is that we have tempo in the bot lane. We are like 30 seconds ahead on the map in bot. Then Shen has like two TPs, Rumble has only one, so it’s okay — I didn’t like the lane swap, and it was not called by me, so my team forced me to do this swap *laughs*. I think it’s OK because we are ahead on the map, and we can take top tower faster, and then rotate to mid, and then we are mid when enemy just took tower, so they have to either lose mid tower or they have to respawn, and we recall. We are ahead on the map in theory all the time, right?
But we misplayed because we didn’t move mid from top. We just recalled. We actually didn’t get anything. We lost some jungle camps, so it set us behind. I think the swap was OK, but we could also go back to bot. We could slow push the wave, get like 20 CS ahead from it. When Rumble is not forced to use TP to lane, then you can just keep playing the game, right? If they force Rumble TP to lane, and Shen has ult, then it’s good to swap, obviously.
KM: Then you were playing against Tahm Kench and Shen, so it’s really difficult to 1-3-1, but it felt a bit like your composition was missing something. Do you agree, and could you talk a bit more on that?
OB: Yeah, I did not like our draft too much Game 2. I think in jungle we shouldn’t have picked Olaf. We should have picked something to engage because we had only one engage, which was Thresh, and they have Tahm Kench, so he’ll always block my engage, and then we don’t have anything else. We don’t have any stuff around for like Orianna ult. So when we fall behind, it was really hard to answer the 1-3-1, since they have two TPs and Tahm Kench ult. And Leblanc was winning the 1-3-1 with everyone on the side because she got like two kills.
So I don’t know what we could do. We tried to just force a 5-v-5 fight on Nash or mid. I think we could win the Nashor fight. I didn’t rewatch it, but I knew we could win. I think some people misplayed. We like didn’t stick together in the pit. But after we lost this fight on Nash, and they got an Elder Drake after it, it was pretty hard. It was hard for our comp to answer. If they play correctly, it was hard for us to answer.
KM: In the third game, you went for a lot more scaling options and team fight. This is almost an EU LCS default now. If you lose a game or go 1-1, you go to more of these mid team fight comps. Was this comp more comfortable and easy to execute?
OB: We had Renekton-Elise, which is good early game, and then we have Corki-Twitch. We picked Braum into Tahm, which we know is gonna — Braum was losing lane slightly, but it’s better late in the team fights. Same with Twitch against Ashe. He will get pushed and poked, but he’s better late in the game. We knew Elise-Renekton would guarantee us decent early game. Even if we lose bot tower because they will make a play, we can take top tower, and we also Corki scaling into Galio. So I think this was our draft that we knew we did a good job there, and not like Game 2, where did not have a clear goal, but Game 3 we had good scale, pretty good early game. I think Game 3 we really out-drafted enemy team.
KM: I spoke to mithy this past week, and he seems to think VIT might be one of the teams with good jungle-top synergy. Do you agree with this statement, and do you think this is something your team really focuses on?
OB: Yeah, my top-jungle really like each other. They’re both French. I mean, most of the junglers and most of the top laners, they like to play like they do now. But then other sides of the map, they get a bit punished in a way for it. For me, it’s OK. I can play like this, and I think it’s hard for enemies to get an advantage on my lane most of the time. It’s not my best split, but I think I can hold my own if the enemy jungler plays to bot. We just try to give them free room in some early games. Most of the time, they pull something off. Like Game 3, for example, they played really good top side, so they had some advantage there.
KM: You’ve played with a lot of different AD carries. Was there anything when you started playing with Steelback that sort surprised you about him or that made him different?
OB: I guess every player or person is kind of different in a way, right? So, he’s for sure different than FORG1VEN or Upset in the way he plays and his approach to the game. I tried to make him play more the way I wanted to, so like more aggressive, and then play to pressure, and sometimes play a bit risky. I think he’s doing a much better job to pick up on it. He has pros and cons as a player and as a person, you know, so I can’t talk a lot about it, but he’s for sure different than FORG1VEN — especially than FORG1VEN, so I consider it a big difference between those players.
KM: As a final question, Deficio has been really hyping you guys up on the desk. He thinks Vitality is the new big thing. Do you think that’s true or do you have some way to go?
OB: I think we play way better than in the beginning of the split. We had to play the first two weeks every good team in our group like UoL, Splyce, and H2K. We did some bad drafts, and our play was also bad. We were getting stomped most of the games. But I think the problem was that we had — when I came to the team, the base of the team was really lacking, so everyone had to learn pretty much how to do every type of play, you know? How to set up Nash, drake, how to play specific scenarios like — I mean we were pretty good only to gank top, and everything else was pretty lacking, so we always get punished against better teams. Then after those three months of playing together, we covered those basic game knowledge points, and we have a chance now to beat the better teams. We’ll see if — I think we can beat them. Yeah, I think we can beat them.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Raphie Rosen