Steeelback: “When you import Koreans, it’s always a bet. Sometimes it works, but it’s not a bet you need to take because we have really good players in Europe”

After a strong series against the Mysterious Monkeys, Vitality have secured their fourth place within Group B and are now looking at getting into playoffs. We talked to their ADC Steeelback about the series, problems with Korean imports and why Yamato feels like a Dad to him. 

Congratulations on the convincing 2-0 win! How do you feel right now?

I feel good, given that we really needed this win to secure our fourth place. Now we still have a shot at going to playoffs which is going to be hard. But we’re going to work hard at getting our chance to go to playoffs.

All the teams from Group B look pretty strong, even though UoL have lost their last two matches. Do you think there’s a decent chance that you can still go to playoffs?

I think we need to win but they need to lose as well, so it’s not completely in our hands. That said, I think that the Unicorns have looked a really shaky, both in scrims and on-stage, so I think that we’ll have a good chance against them. But we’ll have to step up our game against Splyce and H2K because they’re really hard to beat.

Splyce spent most of their time in third place, do you think you could beat them?

If we improve even more then yes, but if we play like we played today, I don’t think that we can beat Splyce.

What does Vitality need to change in order to beat teams like Splyce and the Unicorns?

There’s a lot of stuff really, but we specifically have to play the map better. I think we usually go even in lane or get ahead, even in bad matchups, but after laning phase is over when we need to assign the lanes and bait Baron, we struggle. That’s something we need to work on and I’m sure that if we manage to fix this, we’ll be a strong team given that our laning phase is so good. We need to translate the advantages we get from our early game into snowballing.

Let’s talk a bit about the current ADC meta: Ruler has called Caitlyn the “most broken Champion in League of Legends”, and when we talked to Zven he argued that she’s a tier above every other ADC. What’s your take on this?

I think Cait is obviously the best ADC right now, but if you’re a good Kalista you can go equal against a Caitlyn and actually do stuff in laning phase. I think Kalista is really good because if you go Fervor of Battle, you can kill tanks later on in the game, which is really important in this tank meta. Her build path and Rend ability are also really strong against this tank meta we have since the latest patch. She’s a strong ADC overall.

Given that this meta is all about killing tanks, you also see picks like Varus or Kog’maw coming back. I think they’re all really useful since the last patch.

You personally seem very energetic! Has there been a lot of positive energy going on in the gaming house ever since Yamato and Vander came in?

I think that this split is going a lot better than the last one. Last split we had a lot of internal problems. So I’m getting happy since we’re all working hard and we’re all friends, making it so much easier to work together. I just feel happy how things are going. Going to playoffs would be the best thing imaginable for us. We’re on a good track.

What were some of the internal issues from the last split?

We were having problems with Hachani. We had trouble with the communication and we were not on the same page. Our coach was Korean as well and it’s a big issue when you have Koreans who don’t speak English well. I think it’s something that teams are just starting to understand.

Romain gave this big speech about EU winning Worlds without Koreans which turned into a discussion on whether it even makes sense for Western teams to import Koreans. You’ve had your experience now, what’s your take on this?

I think when you import Koreans, it’s always a bet. There are a lot of problems that can occur, like the already mentioned communication problems, they can be homesick given that the Korean culture is very different from ours. Sometimes it works, like with Huni, Reignover or Trick who were really good, who came here and it worked. But it’s also a bet that you don’t really need to take because we have really good players in Europe. We just have to pick them up and try them out.

What has your relationship been like with Vander?

At the beginning, we weren’t really on the same page. We had very different views on how to play the game. But since then, we’ve worked on come along together and I think it’s started to work out. We discuss the game a lot. I think Vander’s a really good Support. I’m happy to play with him.

Did Yamato coming in have a huge impact on the team?

Yeah, Yamato had a really huge impact. He’s very close to every player and he has a good approach towards the game. I actually think that he’s almost kind of like our Dad if that makes sense? He’s always lecturing us to focus, he’s always motivating us to play better and he’s doing it really well.

Anything you’d like to say to the Vitality fans?

Thank you to every fan who supports us. It’s very nice to have a lot of fans who help us to go through hard times. We had a lot of losses and it hit us quite a lot. I’m very happy that fans are always here for us.

Thank you very much for your time!

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Darius Matuschak

Darius is an esports journalist trying to nurture esports culture whenever possible. He got into esports while finishing his Bachelor in Journalism, and has been a regular EU LCS attendee since January 2017.

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