Vitality’s 2022 roster was one of the most hotly-anticipated teams in the LEC this year, but things didn’t go quite to plan in its first weekend in the LEC.
The team managed to snag arguably the biggest signings of the offseason for their European superteam, with mid laner Luka ‘Perkz’ Perković and top laner Barney ‘Alphari’ Morris returning from NA after a year in the LCS.
It was to the surprise of fans and players alike, then, that Vitality are still winless in the league after facing MAD Lions, Fnatic and Excel in their opening weekend. Perkz looked invisible on the map, Alphari failed to translate strong laning leads into late-game power, and try as he might, jungler Oskar ‘Selfmade’ Boderek could not carry one versus five. The bot lane, too, struggled to show signs of life in their opening games.
— Team Vitality (@TeamVitality) January 16, 2022
What went wrong
Before the cries of ‘Vitality is a flop!’ rain down from the rooftops, let’s take a look at the facts. A lot of the issues Vitality are currently facing are to be expected from a team of people who have never played together before.
Outside of Perkz, who we’ll discuss later, their laning isn’t unsalvageable. Alphari in particular is acquiring significant early laning leads, averaging significant gold and minion advantages over his lane opponent at 10 minutes.
The bot lane has looked a little invisible at times, but they’re not giving over unnecessary kills. With hard carries in the mid and top lanes, not dying is a fine game plan for this bot lane, especially in early weeks, when synergy is still coming together. More than any other lane, bot lanes suffer at the beginning of a split because the lane requires so much more communication than any other part of the map. If there’s a lane that gets a pass for subpar laning in the early weeks of competition, it’s the bot lane.
The point at which Vitality have struggled is in transitioning lane phase into mid-game team fighting. They looked lost around major objectives and took the fewest dragons of any team in the league during the opening weekend. They didn’t secure a single Baron buff during their first three games, either.
Perkz’s disappointing return
For a player who’s known as one of the best in the world, Perkz had a poor showing in his first week back in Europe. He was down in gold, minions, and experience to every opponent he faced in Vitality’s three games.
Into players like Marek ‘Humanoid’ Brázda, the two-time LEC champion whom he faced on day two, that’s understandable. Into players like Erlend ‘Nukeduck’ Våtevik Holm, who has struggled to make his mark on the LEC in recent years, and rookie Steven ‘Reeker’ Chen, it’s not. Perkz looked completely invisible on the map during Vitality’s games, and that simply isn’t good enough for a player of his caliber.
It would be ridiculous to say Perkz is washed up from a sample size of three games. His history as one of Europe’s greatest players, if not the best, gives him the benefit of the doubt after a poor start. Call it nerves, call it growing pains, call it lack of team synergy, call it what you like.
However, that benefit of the doubt can only last for so long. Without Perkz in top form, this team will crash and burn before they’ve even had a chance to work on their clear communication issues.
Still a superteam?
The problems of this Vitality superteam are very different from the problems that plagued G2’s lineup last year.
G2’s issues came in their communication and division of resources across the map. Not only could Vitality’s communication use some work, but they’re losing lanes before they reach the point where communication becomes crucial.
we're rookies just need time to grow
— Barney Morris (@Alphari) January 16, 2022
It is important to note that this was only their first weekend. A poor start does not mean a poor end, and trying to draw conclusions as to whether Vitality will make the playoffs from such a small sample size is an exercise in futility.
However, it’s also safe to say that this is a much worse performance than anyone could have expected from Vitality, and they’ll need to get it together fast if they want to reach the kind of heights that their full potential can bring them to.