The line-up of Rogue is directly going to the group stage of the League of Legends World Championship. After securing their ticket to Worlds by finishing the regular Summer Split of the LEC in first place, they now know for sure that they won’t have to go through the Play-In stage. The convincing loss against Fnatic last week raised questions about Rogue’s adaptability. However, the team surprised everyone with a dominant victory against MAD Lions, showing that they are more than capable of adjusting to new strategies.
After the win, Rogue’s support player Oskar “Vander” Bogdan sat down with us for an interview. He reflected on the strong showing of his team against MAD Lions, and how they approached their opponent. Vander also weighed in on the pivot Rogue made in their playstyle and why it took them a bit to change it all up.
Hotspawn: Congratulations on the victory Vander! You guys simply stomped MAD Lions—did you expect to win this convincingly?
Vander: Well, I wasn’t sure. I just thought, before the game, that we can win it. In our scrims, we did have really good early games all week long, but we always managed to throw a lot of games. So we were not sure on what level we were. We also didn’t play that well with the lead we had against MAD Lions, I think. In games two and three there were some deaths here and there, they stole some drakes, stuff like this. I think we had to clean it up a little bit and play a bit smarter in key moments. We sometimes risked a lot to gain almost nothing, like two minions for example. That’s not really worth it.
Hotspawn: Maybe it wasn’t always super clean from your side, but that means that it was even worse from MAD Lions overall. They did have another series this weekend, against Schalke 04, so they had little time to prepare for you specifically. Was that something you took into account when preparing?
Vander: In general, I just think we were always kind of in control of every game. But we turned the big leads we had into small leads, you know? We were still in control but just not that convincingly anymore because of small flaws. I think the MAD Lions game of Friday did not really change our approach at all, coming into this best-of-five. It kind of assured us that what we were thinking, how we had prepared, was the right way. Their jungler is really limited in his champion pool. Also, we realized we should not let Humanoid play Akali because he plays it really well. We played a lot against them in scrims, and if something had gone really wrong we would probably leave the Akali open to adapt. But yeah, after watching the Friday games we were reassured that what we were thinking about MAD Lions was correct.
We all agreed that we played really badly in general [against Fnatic].
Hotspawn: Something repeatedly banned was Lillia. Is that, in general, considered to be one of the strongest champions by you, or was this a target ban to eliminate Shadow’s champion pool?
Vander: I think Lillia is good, but I don’t think she’s OP. For sure, she’s highly contested by almost every team right now. I think we’ll see her a lot more next week, probably. It was more of a target ban from our side though. We think Shadow, and their team in general, is good when they have Lillia in the team. It can force plays from nowhere, often. Her E [Swirlseed] and sleep [Lilting Lullaby] just catch you off guard. So we decided on the bans we wanted to go with for game one, and then we would see if anything changes. I also wanted to ban the Lee Sin from Shadow, just to target him even more. But Inspired said that we didn’t have to ban it, and that he could handle Shadow’s Lee Sin. And he did.
Hotspawn: Tying into this series and your preparation is that last week, against Fnatic, you didn’t have a great performance. Commonly heard criticism and, in my opinion fair criticism, was that Rogue played one style only and got punished. But against MAD Lions you pivoted, played new champions and a new style. Walk me through that change.
Vander: On Monday, we had a big team meeting after losing to Fnatic. Everyone just said what they thought went wrong, and where we should improve. We all agreed that we played really badly in general. There were a lot of individual mistakes, and this made the games unwinnable. But we also thought that we could maybe make our life easier for ourselves in the draft. We wanted to see if we could match other teams with early aggression because up until now we didn’t really play to fight in the early game too much in this Split. I was pushing hard for this. In the team meeting, we said that we should try out these early game champions in the mid lane, and play junglers that can carry the game and fight all the time.
The first days of scrims where we played this stuff didn’t go too well, I’d say. But from day to day, it improved a lot. We were confident to play this style today and I’m glad we won. It’s also really good for us since we’re going to Worlds. We probably have to play like this at Worlds. I said this to my team: Chinese teams are probably the best right now, and this is the way they play. If you’re just going to pick a scaling composition against them, it’s probably not going to work. They just start the game too crazily for it to work against them.
Hotspawn: When I spoke with other members of Rogue during the regular Split, they all said that Rogue has a larger champion pool available for when Playoffs come around. So why didn’t you guys pivot when you’re playing against Fnatic, and why can you pivot now?
Vander: We tried a bit of Evelynn, Nocturne, things like that, before in scrims. It worked quite well, but it seemed that there would be a lot of conditions for those champions to work. They have to get rolling starting in the early game, right? Then some in the team, especially Inspired, said that Evelynn got a free kill so she could carry. Then in the next game, some other guy got a free kill so he could carry. So we figured that, if we just played better, the enemy couldn’t get a free kill and carry against us. We had the mindset to just keep playing the teamplay champions. Sett, Sejuani in the jungle, scaling mid lane champions and top/bot as well. If the game would be zero to zero at twenty-five minutes, we’re happy.
But then, when we played against Fnatic, we kind of noticed that you can actually pull it off quite easily against a team that doesn’t have enough crowd control, or tools to threaten you in the early game. There were two camps in our team, basically. Some people wanted to keep playing the same way, and other people really wanted to change it. We were just trying it out, not knowing what we would do this weekend. But it worked out well in the end, so I’m glad that we could evolve.
I would say G2 is the hardest opponent for us.
Hotspawn: Fnatic opened your eyes for those champions, in a way.
Vander: Yeah. We just didn’t know if this meta would work in competitive play. Everyone knows that those champions are really strong in solo queue. Evelynn, Hecarim… But they were not really played in competitions in any region. LPL plays Nidalee and Graves, who are more carries that just farm and they don’t really assassinate with chose champions all the time. But with Hecarim, you just farm, you one-shot the enemy’s carry, and you go back to farming. The game is really painful to play for the other side. So we didn’t think it was possible, but Fnatic showed us that it was possible to play these champions.
Hotspawn: You’re facing G2 next week, which is the first best-of-five Rogue will be playing against G2 altogether. It’s a tough opponent. What will you have to do in order to beat them?
Vander: The way I see G2 is that they have very strong solo laners who play a lot of champions, who can often carry games for them. All of them are really good in team fights as well. I wonder what Jankos will do for next week. I feel like he wants to play those carry junglers as well. I saw him play it a lot in solo queue. He was really good on them in the past, so I think he might want to also play this role. So far he was just playing Sett. He was playing quite well on Sett, but you just play the game completely differently. It was Jankos trying to gank all the time, trying to make plays. Even though Jankos’ plays worked, the enemy was still a threat.
So, in general, I would say G2 is the hardest opponent for us. We struggle against them the most. If we met Fnatic again, I think it would be a bit easier for us and we could get revenge against them. Now we know how they want to play and we can match it, I think. Against G2, I’m not sure how they will change things. They’re going to change something for sure. I’m not even saying that they’ll do it against us, but for their potential rematch against Fnatic. They think they’re favorites for sure against us, and they just look to play in the final already. But yeah, we’re just going to do our best and try to beat them.
Hotspawn: It could be an advantage for you to be in that underdog position, right? To be able to surprise them with something you have up your sleeve.
Vander: I think they should at least start to consider us after today. We just 3-0’d MAD Lions. It is quite a statement, I would say.
Hotspawn: Both you and Mikyx have played a lot of Nautilus this Split. Do you enjoy trying to find a match-up against another support player and see who’s better?
Vander: It’s very hard to determine. I remember in the past, when there was a ranged support meta, there was Karma, Zyra, these kinds of champions. You could easily see which support player is better in terms of mechanics in the laning phase. The timings for roaming would have to be very precise. If you lost too much time, you were a bit fucked in the lane for no reason. Everything had to be really efficient for a support player. I had to be good in the lane, make good trades. If you got out-traded once or twice, the lane was just unplayable. But now the meta is completely different. Nautilus against Leona, or Braum or Tahm Kench… In those match-ups, it’s hard to say which support player is better.
I think I played better today. I was playing a solid series. I responded well to their plays and I was the first on the map to reach objectives that both teams would contest. But the champions we played today are not mechanically demanding. For supports, it now isn’t about who the better player is. It’s about who can play better with his team. If you get picks like Morgana and Karma, then it’s gonna matter who the more skilled player is.
Hotspawn: Alright, to round off the interview: what do you think the result will be of your match against G2?
Vander: Well, I think we are either going to win 3-2 against them, or they’re going to 3-0 us. I think we get stomped, or we’ll win after a close series. That’s my prediction for now.
Rogue’s next match will be against G2, who they’ll play on Saturday, September 5th, at 5:00 p.m. CEST.