Labrov: “I really think we can win versus every team in the LEC”
With their first 2-0 weekend of the LEC Summer Split in the pocket, Vitality is living up to its name: the roster is more alive than it had ever been since the LEC franchise started in 2019. After a few rough bumps early on, they’ve increasingly polished their play and take down their opponents with much more control: last weekend, both MAD Lions and G2 Esports fell to them.
After Vitality’s first win of the weekend—an incredibly one-sided game against G2—the support player of the team, Labros “Labrov” Papoutsakis, sat down for an interview. He spoke about his team’s steady improvement in the Summer Split, and what it has been like to work through Vitality’s different rosters this year.
Hotspawn: Welcome, Labrov, and congrats on the dominant victory against G2! I don’t think anyone saw such a one-sided match coming. Did you?
Labrov: No, I didn’t really think we would stomp G2 today, but I had a good feeling. We had a good draft, especially in the bot matchup. I was really confident going into the game. We played well, so we won.
Hotspawn: It seemed like you had a good advantage as a result of the draft—did you have a specific plan for a draft against G2?
Labrov: We just wanted to focus on getting a good mid/jungle combination, and focus on the bot lane as well. We didn’t expect to get Thresh, but they let it open together with Gwen, so we just went for it.
Hotspawn: When a champion like Thresh is banned a lot, do you still practice it? Or did you have to get used to playing him again?
Labrov: [Laughs] Yeah we don’t really play him that much in scrims because usually he gets banned. But I’m very confident on the champ. I’ve played many games with Thresh and I still play him in solo queue if I want to win.
Hotspawn: This win is a very welcome one for the team, as you were 2-3 heading into the weekend. Was it easy to brush off the tough loss against Fnatic in week two, especially?
Labrov: No, it was not that easy actually. I felt that, because of the start [to the Split], everyone felt a bit more pressure. But even though we were feeling the pressure a bit, I think we still managed to play well. We’re still confident in ourselves, you know? We are confident that we can win against every team.
Hotspawn: How did the team work together to get over that rough start?
Labrov: We just had some talks about the games. The reason we lost the games was pretty clear: we were just playing a really bad game. Everyone knew, everyone was on the same page. So we just admitted that we were playing bad, and we focused on playing better on-stage as individuals. I think we have been doing that lately. The games seem much easier too.
Hotspawn: So you’ve started noticing the improvement overall, in scrims as well?
Labrov: Scrims were going decent from the start, I would say. Our scrim performance is still the same, I think, but we just slowly start playing better on stage as well. That’s why we win, I think. I feel like we could’ve won versus the other teams as well, if we had played better individually on those days.
Hotspawn: The team is obviously not perfect yet, even though the game against G2 was so dominant from you guys. What are the next improvements Vitality needs to make?
Labrov: I think we just need to take the game slowly and focus on each game individually. As I said, I really think we can win versus every team in the LEC. We just need to perform well in our own roles. Everyone is very confident that we can do very well.
Hotspawn: So no specific in-game points that need to be ironed out? Like, maybe in the mid-game you guys need to adjust, or—
Labrov: Oh no, the reason we lost the games versus Fnatic, Rogue, and Misfits was definitely not because of the mid-game. It was because we were 5k behind very early in the game. We were playing a bad game. We’ll just try to not be so boosted on stage, and then I think we’ll do well. [Laughs]
Hotspawn: [Laughs] Alright, now to talk about something else: you are the only member of the team who started this year on the Vitality lineup. The rest were all brought in throughout the year. Is it weird to play with such a different lineup now?
Labrov: Yeah, well to be honest: as a person, I don’t really like changes. Not in League, but also not in my life. But it had to be done. We were in last place or close to that for a few Splits in a row. We had to change a lot of stuff for sure if we wanted to be a good team and make the Playoffs, or even get further. I really like how it’s going so far with the team, and I’m looking forward to the future.
Hotspawn: If you don’t like changes: how was it to transition through Vitality’s different roster formations?
Labrov: The start was a bit hard to adapt to. There were new play styles, new personalities, and it basically became a whole new team because everything changed. But with time I got used to it, and now I really enjoy playing with my team. I really feel confident we are going to do well with this lineup.
Hotspawn: While the lineup isn’t very old, you and Crownshot did already start playing in Spring to build your synergy. In a way, you two are the ‘veterans’ welcoming the three new players this Split. How has it been to work with him?
Labrov: We are doing well, inside and outside of the game. We are trying to see how we can be even better as a duo and help our team also be more confident. I don’t really see ourselves as the veterans though. I feel like everyone is confident playing on-stage right now. We just focus on ourselves and we are doing well.
Hotspawn: To round up, Labrov, is there anything you’d like to say to the Vitality fans?
Labrov: I want to thank the fans. It has been a really rough year to be a Vitality fan, but we are working very hard to make good things again. Thank you for cheering for us, we love you so much!
Vitality’s next game in the LEC Summer Split is against Astralis on Friday, July 2nd, at 6 PM CEST. You can watch the game live on the official LoL Esports website.