YamatoCannon: “I always feel like this is some epic anime battle for myself whenever I play Unicorns of Love”

Photograph taken by: Michal Konkol / Riot Games
It’s been the week of upsets with Roccat beating G2, NiP beating Fnatic and Vitality winning 2-0 against the Unicorns of Love, with the first game being a perfect 12-0 game for the Frenchmen. We sat down with Vitality’s coach YamatoCannon to talk about the series, him looking back on his first split with Vitality and his love-hate-relationship with the Unicorns. Enjoy!
Congratulations on the win! Very impressive game, especially the first one. What happened there?

Unicorns of Love definitely inted in the draft. It happens. When we played against H2k we also inted the draft. Sometimes it just happens. You can’t blame the coach, you can’t blame a player, you have to blame the team. Drafting is a team effort. In this case, we had Kalista and Janna versus Caitlyn and Trundle. Good luck! We had a Maokai jungle which I think is absolutely absurd in 7.15. He has a nerf coming in 7.16 of course. We also had Kassadin into LeBlanc. The Galio against Renekton. Like, cmon! Galio against an AD champ? You’re not going to have a good time. The moment when Kassadin went 2-0 and LeBlanc had 40 CS when Kassadin had 55, that was when I could just lean back and drink my Cool-Aid. The game was set in stone already then. On top of that, my guys didn’t do mistakes. It was pretty clean and slick. That also counts when you have a good draft. You have to avoid mistakes and my boys did that.

Are you proud of your boys and are you happy with how the split went?

In general, I’m very proud of them. There are some games where I know I could have done a lot better to prepare the guys. I really felt like this last week against H2k where it really mattered the most. I think I made too many last-minute changes. That was my mistake. We had the draft coming in and then all of a sudden I was like “What if they do this? What if they do that?” and suddenly everything was spinning in the air. That’s something that I take upon myself. The H2k series was not something I was happy with, but looking at the split as a whole, I am pretty satisfied. As a team, we experienced a lot of growth and also a lot of individual growth. In the end that is what matters. Everyone comes out with no regrets.

We started at a point where I think Vitality had a lot of scars and wounds from the previous split. Also, a lot of bad habits we had to unlearn because these guys are playing together for a long time. There was a phase where we had to deconstruct and I feel like we have reached the point where we have a good team atmosphere and in general a very good environment for progression and growth. In a world where the split would be maybe eight weeks longer, the standings would look different but right now with our slow start and only beating lower teams, this is how it is. There is no shame involved saying that the six teams who qualified were better than us. Either way, we have done a good job this split in general.

Do you feel like you have set the foundation on which you can improve the team more effectively next split?

My plan is to stay with Vitality for another season. Maybe even more if things are prosperous. Right now, we have a base and I know what we need to change and the guys know what to expect coming into the next split so I would call it a very solid foundation.

Vitality debuted in the LCS with an incredible performance finishing the split in second place with KaSing back in the days. In the recent splits, Vitality hasn’t been performing on that level. Can you get back on track to be a playoffs team?

When Vitality was successful, it was just raw mechanical skills that carried them. It was the Cabochard meta where he was playing Graves. Every team was playing those Malphite bulldozer compositions with Lissandra and then they came up with the Zilean, Bard and Graves. They played very fragile compositions that relied heavily on mechanics. They did good rotations and also a thing that many will remember is the Nukeduck Gankplank. In general, it was mechanical skill that worked for Vitality and they had that lane-swap game that was very ahead of the curve.

When all the other team caught up and played a more team oriented game the mechanical power didn’t matter that much anymore. They have had that tendency of having a good early game and to get first blood but it never meant anything. I think that is what was missing the most, the team element. They had to realize that they all work towards one goal and responsibility means not only to be responsible for yourself, your own actions and your own problems, but looking at the whole situation to determine how you can affect others. I think that is where some of Vitality’s players this split have shown immense leadership. When one stumbles and gets down they pick each other up. This is a really important step. It’s all about being synchronized, being on the same page for the same thing and trusting each other because that is the best for the team.

You have denied the Unicorns of Love the entry to Worlds last year and you have now given them a hard blow for playoffs and the potential Worlds qualification. Do you personally have a grudge against the Unicorns or are they just your favorite team to beat?

So, when I was with Roccat, we played a best-of-five against Unicorns of Love and we lost the fifth game, even though on paper I thought it was completely over. They had Varus as ADC and that was the time where armor penetration was almost useless. Varus was garbage. We had a Kog’Maw, we had our composition going and things just went horribly wrong. This is where it started for me. I don’t know if they have any feelings towards me but I always feel like this is some epic anime battle for myself whenever I play Unicorns of Love.

All in all, there are no hard feelings. A lot of respect for Unicorns of Love but apart from that I hate this pink unicorn thing that they got going on. But that’s what makes it genius! Everything about branding is supposed to make you feel something. If you feel love or hate against something that’s a good thing and when I feel hate towards Unicorns of Love that is better than nothing. It’s a good and powerful brand and a lot of respect for Sheepy.

If you would have to construct a brand for Vitality right now, what would it look like?

A brand? When it comes to my own brand I just try to be myself and hopefully something good comes out of it. Something classy. If I would get to choose all my guys would be sitting in suits on stage and they would wear shades like in the Matrix. No really, I think Vitality has a lot of presence in France and hopefully as we go we can expand that as well as an EU LCS team. Even today it was surprising that we had a lot of fans here in the studio. That is not something we are used to because not many people travel from France to visit the EU LCS. The French fans always backed us up and they are a part of our brand.

Anything you would like to say to your fans or the fans of Vitality?

It is always nice to get those tweets like “Good luck today!” and even in the darkest matches on paper it always feels good to have support. A big finger to all the haters! They are also a part of what gets me going. Even the haters and everyone who has some emotional attachment to the game a big “Thank you!”. Also, a big “Thank you!” to Vitality and all of the sponsors. I had a wonderful time with Vitality this split and I hope to continue like this. I’m very happy here and it has been much fun to work with Nukeduck and VandeR again. That is what gets me excited to go to work every morning.

Thank you very much for your time!