VandeR: "I expected to be top two at the end of the season behind Fnatic"
ROCCAT's VandeR discusses his transition from ADC to Support, famous botlanes he has faced and the results of LCS Spring 2014.
This article was originally published on GameSpot's sister site onGamers.com, which was dedicated to esports coverage.
Oskar 'VandeR' Bogdan was one of the relevations of the recent LCS Spring. The Polish Support player was able to display impressive performances on Thresh and Morgana, helping his team occupy the top spot at times during the split and eventually finish the playoffs in third place, with series win over Gambit and Alliance. The former AD Carry talked to me about his career, his transition to the Support role and how his team performed over the recent LCS split.
Looking across your team history, it seems there were times and teams where you did not play the Support role. For how much of your career have you mained Support on your competitive teams? What other roles did you play and for which teams?
I played as AD Carry for around 1.5 years in teams Delta eSports, mousesports and Elohell.net. After failing to qualify to the LCS Spring split for 2013 (the ever first split) I decided to stop playing ADC entirely. I was really frustrated and tired, the game started to be really boring and I didn't enjoy it at all. I took some time off League and then got an offer from Millenium to fill in their support role with Creaton as the ADC. There were not any good main support players without a team at that time, that was the main reason for them taking me in. It was in March 2013, so I have been playing support for over a year now.
How would you assess your skills as an AD Carry? What were your strengths and weaknesses? Which players in Europe were you comparable to?
I think my strength was the laning phase, but I didn't perform as well in team-fights. I played really aggressively and many people did not know what to do back then. I would say I was probably the best ADC in Europe in laning at that time, after Creaton. Mid and late game I was mediocre. I didn't know how to rotate that well and sometimes I played too carelessly in team-fights. Overall I would say I was in the top 8 ADCs in Europe for sure.
I don't really know who could you compare me to. I think my style was pretty unique. For champion pool I was always trying to copy Genja, Creaton did the same, so I had it in common with both of them. Then overall gameplay maybe Jimbownz? He was really good at laning, but in the mid/late game he was not good at all.
When you were playing ADC, you got to play against some famous EU botlanes, so can you tell us something about your experiences or impressions in playing them. The first I wanted to ask about was Moscow Five, since you got to play them offline around the time many people think of them in their prime, at the S2 Regional Final. What were Edward and Genja like as a botlane back then?
They were really smart and knew what was OP in the game. Edward was picking Sona, Nunu or Taric almost every game. Those champions were simply the best and some people didn't realize it as quickly as Edward did. I think Genja was a really smart guy in a lot of respects. His theorycrafting was very solid. They were the best bot lane in EU for sure. Overall their team knew everything about LoL at that time. Beating them would be a miracle, like CLG.eu did at Dreamhack.
When Edward left, Genja started to draw a lot of criticism for playing too passively, in some people's opinion. When Edward returned, they initially seemed very strong again, winning IEM Cologne. Where is the level of their bot lane now? Did you notice any change between the old Edward and Genja partnership, before he left to Crs, and the partnership they have in S4?
Yes, I also noticed Genja started playing too passively, but it isn't the case anymore. I think Edward is not playing as well as he used to and they also dont know how to react in the game. They force too many 2v2s, even if their picks are much, much weaker in the laning phase (for example: the match against Copenhagen Wolves, where they played against Caitlyn-Karma). I think they are a pretty weak bot lane now with some bright moments from time to time (for example: the match against SK, which sadly for them got replayed).
I have to mention that they performed pretty well in the recent play-offs.
Another was the Curse.EU botlane of Creaton and SuperAZE. You must know both well individually, from your history playing with them in teams, and when they were together in that Crs line-up is when they famously beat M5 at Tales of the Lane, but they broke up shortly after that.
I think Creaton was one of the best players at that time. Crs.eu had a really strong mid and jungle, especially extinkt was a god back then. Overall the tactic of their bot lane was to play extremely safely in the laning phase and use the advantage extinkt had. SuperAZE is one-dimensional player. He will play every game very aggressively or very safely, he can't find the balance. At that time he was very passive. In both games against M5 at TotL their bot lane was 0/0/0 in laning phase, if I remember correctly. They were playing too safely, but I can't say they were not efficient.
Creaton has continued to post good numbers during his two LCS splits, in the Summer and now Spring, yet both times his teams have failed to place highly. What is Creaton the ADC like right now? Does he ever position too conservatively in team-fights, to get away, if he doesn't trust his team can win? What do you think he needs from a team or support to show his full potential?
I think he is a good player now. Not extraordinary, but a solid performer. I think his biggest weakness is a lack of individual training. He doesn't enjoy the game as he did before, so he doesn't have as much motivation to train. If he wants to show his full potential he has to start taking LoL more seriously. When he was the best he was playing day and night to become the best and he succeeded. In the Summer Split he was brilliant. I think you are right, he lost his faith in the team and it may have effect on his mindset.
At Dreamhack Winter 2012 and THOR Open, you got to play against the fnatic botlane of nRated and Rekkles. Was it as good as the public thinks?
I think nRated could have been a weak link in Fnatic back then. Mechanical skill has always been his weakness. As a team they had really good strategies and I don't know who created them. I think it could have been nRated, because he has a really methodical playstyle. He is not playing spectacularly, but he knows how to get small advantages and not lose them. So if he was a brain behind the Fnatic team back then, he was still very valuable for the team. If you want to know how they looked individually - Rekkles was really strong, great mechanics and nRated was weak in those aspects of the game.
Is the Rekkles of LCS Spring 2014 the same kind of player? You got to play him on the amateur circuit too, so was there a change in level or style since his first fnatic period to now?
He is probably spending the most time playing out of any EU LCS player. He has always been like this. I remember when we played at THOR Open and the teams had around two hours break between the next round (playoffs after groupstage) everyone went to eat, relax or watch other games, but not Rekkles. He started playing soloq and spending all this time preparing for the next games. He really impressed me there. He rarely makes any mistakes, he is for sure a big star of the European region. I think he has much more experience, than he had before. That's the only difference I think. He turned 17 and showed that it was worth it for Fnatic to wait.
His only weakness in the amateur scene was farming too much, a bit of selfish playstyle, but it's hard to point it out now.
What do you think of Yellowstar's transition from ADC to Support? Are there any subtleties you can point out, since you had to make the same move yourself? Usually players who swap roles end up worse in the new role, if they were good in the previous one.
If you transition from ADC to Support you probably know what to do in lane better than people who play only support. Small things like not losing lane-brush vision, because your ADC will get poked while CSing, how to trade or how to behave with the minion waves. You get a lot of experience and knowledge about laninig phase, but the biggest problems are rotations, warding and overall behaviour on the map.
When I started maining support I was getting caught really often, I was impatient with my ultimates (for example Sona's Crescendo). Also both Support and ADC have one thing in common: you don't have to learn a lot of champions to be considered a good one. If you transition from Jungle to Mid you have to learn how to play 10 champions at least and the meta is changing much more dynamically there. As support or ADC your champion pool is limited, so the transition is easier.
Who is the Support player you model your game after the most?
I think I can improve from watching a lot of players. Many people come up with good ideas and when I see them I always try to learn it from them. For example I learned a lot how to play Morgana vs. Leona matchup from Nyph and nRated. In NA Xpecial wrecked someone, who played Morg with Leona, because Morgana was playing too aggressively. You can't get hit by Leona's E, otherwise she can jump both on your ADC with Flash or just stun you and probably one-shot you (if level 6).
From Jree and Chinese supports you can learn how to roam very effectively with Leona etc. Overall my biggest role model was Poohmandu until recently. He is not performing as well as before, I think he is probably out of practice now, because of his break. Even if some players are bad, if you add every aspect of their gameplay, they can still shine in one area and if you learn it from them it's good.
Since Celaver used to be a Mid laner, did you have influence over how he played as an ADC in the early days, perhaps showing him how he should or how you wanted him to play? What was your in-game relationship like in that sense?
Yes, our playstyles were really different when we started playing together. I was a really confident player, who was trying to always go all-in and he was a type of passive and a bit scared player. He wasn't confident in himself (it was around August). Since that time we both learned some things from each other. Now I prefer to engage when there's a low chance that enemy jungler is here, we have more minions etc. and he is playing much more aggressively and confidently.
I had much more experience in lane, so when we started playing together I was often telling him what to do, when to back, when to push and when to engage, but recently I saw that he knows as much as me and sometimes even better. Now we are more like co-workers in the lane, before I was the leader.
When you were back in Eternity Gaming, you got to play against the famous Heimerdinger's Colossi botlane of mithy and freeze, which then became the NiP botlane you played in the Promotion series. What do think of this botlane? Was it particularly strong back then? How would they have done if they'd been a botlane in LCS this split?
I think before joining Lemondogs Mithy was the best support at that time. His mechanics were really awesome, you could learn a lot just by watching him. Then he joined an LCS team, he had some good showings and suddenly he stopped performing. Since Worlds he didn't show anything special, if you don't let Freeze play Draven their bot lane is just average. The key players of NiP are their solo laners, Nukeduck and Zorozero. Before the Promotion series I expected Mithy and Freeze to play much better, but they turned out to be really easy enemies. Their mindset is not good as well: very arrogant without any reason.
Over the first five weeks of LCS, your team went 9:3 and beat every single team in the league at least once. What had your real expectations been for how the first few weeks might go and what do you think allowed your team to be so successful over those first five weeks?
We started bootcamping on the 2nd of January and we had a lot of trouble finding scrim partners, because many LCS teams didn't start preparing yet. So since the first week we were prepared as a team, we were much better individually thanks to the practice, but both stress and lack of experience lost us few games. I think we were even 10-3 and we could have easily gone 12-1, I think the only justified loss was against SK, they actually outplayed us in every aspect.
I expected to be top two at the end of the season behind Fnatic at this point, they have always performed when it mattered, really strong players with tons of experience, except Rekkles. After a good start we were quite confident and we stopped practicing as much. In comparison SK played around three times more than us. We had a lot of issues living together, arguments, the bootcamp place was not good enough to live there for more than 10 days and we stayed there 2 months. We were really devastated mentally. When our coach came into the house he tried to do something with it, but it was clear that because of skipping practice we were just too bad individually to perform.
When we got a new house [after IEM VIII Katowice], which is really great by the way, everyone started try-harding again, we got a big motivation boost and we started playing decent again.
There was a stretch where your team won only three out of 10 games this split. Due to MYM's problems in LCS Summer, falling off hard in the later weeks, some people wanted to suggest you were another MYM and all the other teams had "figured out" how to beat you. Were you ever concerned yourself that your early season form would not return and you'd place badly at the end of the split? Were there any elements of your team's style/approach that were no longer working and had to be changed?
I think our main issue was lack of practice and in advance we played really poorly as units. Celaver and I started losing a lot of botlanes, Jankos was getting counter-jungled, Overpow was getting heavily out-farmed or Xaxus didn't have enough champions he was comfortable with. When we managed to fix our private issues, we could focus on our teamplay and overall game-plan. It was much easier thanks to our coach Veggie, who is a really smart guy in my opinion. I had some thoughts that we might end up like MYM, but when we started practicing hard again, they quickly faded away.
Over the first eight weeks, you were getting all of your success from playing Thresh and Morgana, almost every win came on those champions. After week eight, you only played Thresh twice and Morgana never again. How would you describe the evolution of your champion pool over the split and your decisions for what to play. Were you limited earlier on? It seemed like in the latter weeks you tried to be more diverse.
My best champions back in the day were Sona, Fiddlesticks, Thresh, Nami and Zyra. All of them got nerfed quite significantly, except Thresh, so it was natural choice for me to stick with that champion. Then Leona and Annie got really popular. Thresh was not doing too well, especially against Annie, so I came up with Morgana, which was a good call.
Yes, I was limited. I could play other champions, but I was not that confident on them like I was on Thresh or Morgana. I think I was also a bit too scared of failing on champions I was not that familiar with. When I got back into shape individually and started playing much more, I had some time to practice other champions. Now I'm pretty confident with my pool, but I will try to be even more versatile.
Over the same time period, Celaver had been playing almost only Caitlyn and Lucian. Then, later in the season he tried Jinx more. Some people will say that Celaver is limited to Caitlyn and Lucian. What do you say to that?
He showed how powerful Jinx can be in a good team composition. I heard Tabzz was laughing when Celaver picked Jinx against Gambit. The next day he played her himself. Celaver was limited to Cait and Lucian in the middle of season. Now he can play four champions really well. The main issue with Celaver is his lack of will to train. When he started practicing really hard I was really amazed how good he became. Before the game against SK he had a golden week of practice, every day, the whole day. The result? He played perfectly in every scrim and both play-days. He outperformed everyone.
After that he couldn't stand that many hours of practice, but he was able to maintain a good level of play. If he was able to play as much as Rekkles then he would be the best ADC without any doubt. He seems to have no limits, I hope he will see it himself.
Everyone said that Gambit had been very strong in their practices before the playoffs and they had their famous bootcamp, so what did you think of the Gambit that showed up to play you? Were they at the level you expected? How did the series go in your favour?
They were not prepared enough. They didn't know the power of Jax, they underestimated me and Celaver. I expected them to be a big threat for us, but it wasn't like that. They didn't perform well against Wolves either, such close series shouldn't happen to Gambit. I also know the famous Gambit bootcamp and I saw the magic of it, how their team was able to perform thanks to it, but now LoL is not like before. People are much more involved now, players are really playing a lot to be in shape. Two weeks of practice are not enough now, if you want to have good results, you have to be systematic and train constantly. They were not that well adapted to the swapand fast-push meta, they made a lot of mistakes in rotations, pushing, recalling.
SK was one of the few teams you had a losing record against in the season. What made SK a difficult match-up for ROCCAT and what was the difference in your semi-final against them?
I think SK was one of the first European teams which focused a lot on rotations and smart objective control. They out-rotated us hard and used their picks smarter (invading buffs with Renekton etc). They were one step ahead of other teams. When we corrected our macro game we were able to put up a much better performance against them.
How would you compare SK to C9?
I think they are similar in some ways. LemonNation and nRated both play really methodically, less mechanics involved. I didn't watch that many games of C9 so it's hard for me to compare Candypanda and Sneaky. I think Candy likes to split-push, whereas Sneaky groups up with the team earlier. Strong junglers and very solid top laners. The only difference is that Hai is more versatile than Jesiz. He can play poke champs, assassins and is able to bring some new heroes to the table. Both teams have really a good macro game.
Do you think the patch change affected some of the playoff teams more than others? Which do you think would have done better or worse on the old patch?
I think patch helped us a bit. Irelia and Jax got a lot stronger, both are good Xaxus champs. Lack of Gragas, rise of Soraka in heal/shield comps, which Fnatic used. Perma-ban of Shen and Aatrox, due to the bug, could have damaged Darien's champ pool.
I read a comment where you said that Overpow doesn't shot-call, but that sometimes in a game he'll have a brilliant idea late in the game. Can you give an example from a famous ROCCAT win?
Against NiP in game 1, I think, where he took 2 inhibitors by himself when rest of our team was on Nashor. We got both Baron and two inhibitors for only his death. The Pantheon and Malphite "wombo combo" was all arranged by him. It's hard for me to give more examples now, but I'm sure there were some more.
How would you describe your team's style of play? What areas of the game are you strongest in? What is the ideal style of game for Roccat to play?
The ideal style for us is a slow paced game with not many things happening in the early game. If we are able to get to 20 minutes without a gold deficit we are going to win most games. We know how to behave in team-fights, but when game is chaotic and crazy we often make mistakes that cost us the game.
Who is the other team who plays most similar to ROCCAT?
Gambit, nothing else comes to my mind. I think we both have a similiar playstyle that relies on the mid and jungle synergy and we both have good team-fight ability.
The final words belong to you.
I want to thank all the followers and fans of team ROCCAT and overall League of Legends scene. Thanks to ROCCAT for sponsoring us and thank you Natalia for supporting me, you are great. Thank you Thorin for this interview and your time.
Photo credit: Riot Games
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