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Vitality hopes to recover from a disastrous spring with a change at the top

Once a hopeful superteam, Vitality now just hopes for a playoff berth. Can YamatoCannon bring success to the French organization?

Riot Games

When Team Vitality first joined the EU LCS in Spring 2016, acquiring Gambit Gaming’s spot, expectations were high. Combining quality starters from Gambit, Copenhagen Wolves, H2K and ROCCAT, the word “superteam” was thrown out more than a few times.

It started pretty well, as Vitality secured the No. 3 seed in the playoffs with a 13-5 regular season record. But the team was hammered 3-1 by Fnatic in the first round of the playoffs and has not returned to the postseason since.

In the last two splits, Vitality has posted a combined record of 6-19-6. The team finished in seventh place in Summer 2016, and fourth place in Group B in Spring 2017.

Those poor results have to a change in leadership. After years under the direction of Kévin “Shaunz” Ghanbarzadeh, Vitality will now move forward with former Splyce head coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi. Yamato was the head coach of ROCCAT’s last playoff run in Summer 2015, and brought Splyce to a surprise Worlds appearance last year.

In Vitality, he inherits a roster that has promise, but many questions. Once upon a time, Cabochard and Nukeduck performed like top-tier EU LCS solo laners (or at least close to that level), but their level of play has dropped in recent splits. Steeelback should be helped by the addition of former H2K support VandeR, but Djoko in the jungle is a pretty big question mark after mixed performances last split.

The bad news for Vitality: unlike last split, there may be no bottom-feeder in this group. Mysterious Monkeys joins Group B with a roster that already has significant playing experience together. There have been quite a few former Challenger Series teams to succeed immediately in the LCS, and most of them were teams that kept rosters intact from Challenger, like the Monkeys did. But there’s no reason Vitality should not be able to finish above the Monkeys, or even Yamato’s old team Splyce.

Vitality’s season opens with a best-of-three against the Unicorns of Love on Friday, June 2. No one expects Vitality to take down the EU LCS runners-up, but taking a game in the best-of-three would go a long way towards building the confidence necessary for a successful split.