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Opinion: How Vitality can still make playoffs

Team Vitality have a star studded roster but are struggling to make playoffs. What happened and how can Vitality still make the cut?

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Before the beginning of the Summer Split, Team Vitality made some major changes to their lineup. Adding Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek and Adam “LIDER” Ilyasov to their existing lineup, many expected this to be a very boom-or-bust team. This has largely been the case, as Vitality now sit at a 5-8 record and are standing on the precipice of playoffs. Vitality certainly have the tools to make playoffs, but going into the last few weeks, it all goes into execution.

A toplane substitution at the right time?

Enzo “SLT” Gonzalez had a rather contentious debut in the LEC. A former star in the LFL, SLT was undoubtedly Vitality’s biggest question mark going into the regular season. Unfortunately for Vitality, SLT largely struggled to keep up with the veteran LEC toplaners. Among toplaners, SLT had the lowest KDA (1.7) and second lowest kill participation percentage (54%). SLT’s laning stats weren’t much better, heralding the lowest GD@10 (-214) and falling negative in XPD and CSD at 10 minutes.

Mathias “Szygenda” Jensen has made his return to the starting roster after a short stint on Vitality.Bee. Though only with four total games played, Szygenda has given a much more stable presence in toplane despite their 1-3 record since he’s joined. Szygenda has shown a much greater ability to influence team fights and make plays, finding a 66% kill participation percentage. Szygenda has also provided another typically winning lane for Vitality, going positive in both GD@10 (+134) and CSD@10 (+4.0).

Szygenda’s re-entry into the starting roster alone is clearly not enough to push Vitality over the edge and into playoffs territory, however the toplaner has shown a greater ability to self-sustain and work with the team. This substitution has come at a critical point however, and Szygenda must continue to be a rock on this team.

Strength of schedule – Vitality needs to step up against the top

With only five game days left before the official regular season cutoff, who Vitality are facing is integral to know. Thankfully for Vitality, three of their coming opponents are teams currently below them in the standings. Generally speaking, throughout the season Vitality has been able to find wins over teams with worse records. They will need to continue this trend however if they have any hope of making playoffs. Considering they also must face off against Misfits and Rogue, their games against Schalke 04, Excel, and Astralis may be the most important matchups of the season.

While maintaining their position will require them to secure wins against ‘easy’ teams, Vitality needs to show they can compete with top tier teams. Vitality have struggled to show that they belong at the top of the table. Though featuring incredible individual players, Vitality’s macro game and overall team play have not been up to par with the likes of Fnatic and Rogue.

What Vitality needs to fix

Vitality are one of the most aggressive teams on the European main stage. Certainly favoring team fights, Team Vitality hold the third highest spot in Combined Kills Per Minutes (0.88) but had a relatively low combined KD (0.86). This means that while Vitality players tend to take a lot of fights, these are typically not winning fights. Fighting at disadvantageous positions tends to be Vitality’s biggest fault, as they are unable to flaunt the mechanical prowess of their players.

Vitality’s inability to gain substantial leads, and convert these to team fight wins, can be seen through their control rates. Vitality falls in the bottom half of the LEC in control rates over the Rift Herald, Baron, and individual dragons. Team Vitality simply need to find advantages they can snowball into team fight wins.

Can Team Vitality realistically make playoffs? Or even go further?

This iteration of Team Vitality has been almost as volatile as originally predicted. With five players all historically resource heavy carries, this team was bound to struggle during the early stages. With only a split to mesh as well, this iteration of Team Vitality has been at a natural disadvantage. This team however has some incredible players on it who have found success both domestically and internationally. In a best of five series, Team Vitality could do some serious damage. Vitality simply need to find a way to get to playoff.

Team Vitality can still keep their signature aggressive style, however it needs to be tempered. With a more steady presence in toplane and greater control over neutral objectives, Vitality can make playoffs, and potentially more.

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Image Credit: Team Vitality