The so-called superteam has took it down a notch before the start of the 2023 LEC Winter Split, hoping to bounce back.
A week from now, the first split of the 2023 League of Legends EMEA Championship begins, and we can get our first look at the new lineups of the LEC teams. Literally no team stayed the same as last year, with some squads changing almost all members. Team Vitality fits into this category, as last year's superteam only kept it’s star, while signing four new players in hopes of restoring their reputation in the European region – and with this roster, they might just be able to do so.
Toplane – Kyeong “Photon” Gyu-tae
One of Team Vitality’s import slots went towards Photon, the former toplaner of T1 Challengers, who will look to give a hard time to his opponents and get countless victories for the French team. The 21-year-old has played in Gen.G Academy for the 2020 season, finishing in the top 16 of the LCK Academy Series 2020 August tournament. He then joined the Academy team of Liiv SANDBOX, making both the 2021 Spring and Summer playoffs with his teammates, and finishing 5th in Summer. Before the start of the 2022 LCK CL Spring Split, he joined T1 Challengers, and while they couldn’t get past 5th in the Playoffs, in Summer, Photon and co. won the regular season and finished 3rd at the end of the season.
According to rumours the young player was considered to be a candidate for the main T1 roster in case of Choi “Zeus” Woo-je left, but never got his chance to the T1 toplaner being an absolute master of his role. Nevertheless, that’s high praise for anyone, and Photon should scare anyone he faces in the northernmost part of Summoner’s Rift. His most played Champion was Gwen, but he has played some unusual heroes, such as Sylas, and Lillia in the toplane. He is also proficient on Akshan, even though he only won 1 match out of 3 he played. We will see what he’s capable of in Europe, but Vitality should have high hopes for Photon.
Jungle – Zhou “Bo” Yang-bo
The language barrier has been broken down! Bo can finally join the roster of Team Vitality after spending last Summer a substitute who couldn’t play simply because of the fact that he didn’t speak English well enough. The Chinese player has been a part of eStar Young for the 2020 LDL Summer Season, where he and his team finished 4th in the Regular Season and in the top 8 in the Playoffs. He joined FunPlus Phoenix after the team won the 2020 World Championship, but only stayed with them for the 2021 Spring Split, where he played 10 games – and won them all, even whipping out Champions like Nidalee and Pantheon.
However, the 20-year-old didn’t have a professional match since he and his team finished 5th 2 years ago, so he didn’t have much practice on the highest level. His EU West account, zyb is currently in Master elo with 139 LP, with some great performances on picks like Kindred and Graves according to statistics site OP.gg. But as shown in 2021, he is very capable with more ganking-style junglers as well. Bo has been highly anticipated since last Spring to make his debut, so he should be a player to look out for.
Midlane – Luka “Perkz” Perkovic
The only player remaining from the last squad was their biggest acquisition of last year, the GOAT of the Western regions, Perkz. The Croat started his career back in 2014 with GSI Gaming, then joined Gamers2 right after it’s founding. With only a brief period at Millenium, Perkz has been a part of G2 for most of it’s existence, leading the Golden Generation to an insane amount of European titles. He was the midlaner for G2 Esports for more than 3 years, but when the team signed Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther, he moved to the AD Carry role. While he was a great Marksman, Perkz always wanted to return to the midlane. G2 tried swapping Perkz and Caps around for the 2020 Spring Split, but it didn’t work out the best, so he returned to the south of the Rift. Not wanting to play in his offrole forever, Perkz left G2 to join Cloud9 and play in the LCS, before returning to Europe to be the captain of Team Vitality.
Perkz has won everything short of a World Championship: he has 9 European Titles; one LCS Title which he got in the 2022 Spring Mid-Season Showdown; he and G2 won MSI 2019, where they beat Team Liquid 3-0 in the finals; and in the same year, they made it to the finals of Worlds, but couldn’t take a match off FunPlus Phoenix. Still, Perkz is one of the most accomplished players of Europe. He is also extremely proficient on a number of Champions: he had a 100% winrate on Corki and Taliyah last year (except those he only played 1 match of). His Ryze is formidable as well, and he is one of the only European midlaners who can confidently play Yasuo into anything. He has proved himself time and time again with G2, but now it’s time to lead a new squad to heights it has never seen.
Botlane – Matus “Neon” Jakubcik
After Misfits Gaming sold its LEC spot, many great players found themselves without a team. So was the fate of Neon, the ADC of the team, who has improved greatly during the 2022 Season of the LEC. Neon played for teams such as eSuba and Millenium in the second division of Europe, but had some matches in the EU LCS back in 2017, where he was the Marksman of Origen for 5 matches. He returned for the 2018 Summer Split to help Unicorns of Love out, but after UOL finished 7th, he had to return to the ERL’s. He joined Misfits Premier, and proved himself after winning the 2019 EU Masters Spring Main Event, where he and his team beat SK Gaming Prime 3-0 in the Finals. He became a sub for Steven “Hans sama” Liv during the 2019 Summer Split, but he couldn’t save Misfits Gaming from the 9th place in the LEC. In 2020, he left France to play in Germany for Schalke 04 Evolution, and after winning the Prime League, he joined the main roster of Schalke, and achieved the Miracle Run alongside Sergen “BrokenBlade” Celik and Felix “Abbedagge” Braun. After Schalke left, he joined Misfits, and made playoffs both seasons last year.
While Neon had a bit of a slower start to his career, he really became a great player by the end of last season. While the community said that Vincent “Vetheo” Berrié was the only carry of the Rabbits, the Slovak proved them wrong in Summer. But after the French player had a slump at the beginning of Summer Season, it was Neon who stepped up to lead his team to victory. With his mindblowing Aphelios and Zeri games, he kept the flame alive until his teammates could catch up, and secured some crucial wins. While Misfits didn’t make it to Worlds, they made it to the Playoffs thanks to Neon – and Vitality should be happy to have him on board.
Support – Norman “Kaiser” Kaiser
The last member of the 2023 Vitality roster is Kaiser, who left MAD Lions after more than 3 years with the organization. The German only had one team other than the Lions: he played for MOUZ, then known as mousesports from 2018 until the end of the 2019 season. The won two German titles in 2019, and made it to the semifinals of the 2019 EU Masters Summer Main Events. He joined MAD after Splyce rebranded into the Spanish organisation. Even after their first season together, Kaiser and co. managed to make to Worlds 2020, even though they couldn’t get out of Play-Ins. In 2021, MAD became the first team other than G2 Esports and Fnatic to win an LEC title since Alliance back in 2014, and they doubled down after beating Fnatic in Summer. They got through the Group Stage of the 2021 Worlds, finishing in the top 8 after losing to Dplus Kia. In 2022, Kaiser and co. couldn’t replicate their success, failing to qualify for Playoffs last Spring, and while getting to Worlds after stabilizing, didn’t manage to get into the Main Event.
Kaiser is a premier engage support, with 4 out of his 5 most played Champions being tanks who can playmake. The 5th one is Yuumi, but last year, if Yuumi was open and you didn’t pick it, you were seriously hindering your team. Kaiser will be one of the most proactive players in this squad, which should pair him up nicely with Bo, as they can make way for the 3 carries of the team.
Overall, Team Vitality made the right choice about toning down the team a bit. While they got extremely good players in the botlane, they are not so-called stars who have to live up to anything- but they can become one in 2023. The topside of the team has to prove itself, however, as neither Bo nor Photon has any big-time experience, with the former not playing a single pro match in years. But still, Vitality seems to be one of the most interesting squads to look out for.
Catch Perkz and his new team next week, where Vitality kicks things off against Fnatic in the last match of the first day!