For the second split in a row, KOI has to sweat for a ticket to the LEC Group Stage. The 2022 Summer Split champions and 2023 Winter Split semifinalists have claimed three wins and three losses after six best-of-ones in the Spring Split. Though three wins were enough for the team to claim a top-eight spot last split, the competition is much closer this time around, and KOI has lost important games against teams just below them in the standings.

Bot laner Markos “Comp” Stamkopoulos sees problems with his team’s mid game play, but mostly blames himself for the losses so far. After KOI beat SK Gaming, Comp critically reflected on his team’s middling results.

Adjusting in the Spring Split

Congratulations on the victory against SK, Comp. You’re 2-0 up this week now, which is already much better than how the first week went. How do you feel about the start of the Spring Split?

It’s for sure way better this week. I feel good about it so far. There are definitely some moments from both games that could’ve been cleaner. Today, we had this… unfortunate 2v2 fight on bot that they won against us. But overall, I’m very happy that we are playing more as a team. We are way more of a unit, right now. Especially when it comes to fighting around objectives and the mid game.

I’m not glad that I put my team in a tough situation, where I died in my lane. It made the game a bit rough. But I am proud that, even if that happens, I can still feel like they have my back later on and I can have a redemption moment.

“We need to be way faster with making decisions in the game.”

If I compare the compositions you played in the first week compared to this week so far, it strikes me that you made quite some adjustments. Did your perspective on the meta change a lot?

I would say so, yeah. I think we are playing way more aggressively right now. Specifically, we made changes for support and mid lane champions. We have a lot more proactivity in our compositions, we have a lot more creativity later in the game.

You can also see that I played Kai’Sa in the last two games, which is a pick that we haven’t played a lot. There are also a lot of AD bans for this to happen. The way we’re drafting now, where we have a champion like Kai’Sa that needs a team comp that goes in and sets her up, it’s really nice. I feel like I can actually play a lot of different AD carries if we keep drafting like that.

Comp KOI LEC 2023
KOI impressively beat G2 Esports, but struggles against weaker opponents. (Source: Michal Konkol for Riot Games)

KOI’s mid game problems

You said it yourself as well, but KOI’s level of play doesn’t quite feel clean yet. What does the team need to address from a broader perspective?

I think it all comes down to us being focused in the mid game. Even in this game, at some points we were consistently talking about fighting, setting up for drakes et cetera. We need to be way faster with making decisions in the game. For example, we can take something on the map while the enemies are doing drake. But instead of that, we are standing around in the mid lane for no reason. We’re gaining nothing.

These are the important moments that we need to be aware of, especially when it comes to stage games. There is way more adrenaline and you feel more exhausted on the stage. We need to consistently keep thinking about important decision-making.

We did a lot of reflecting on the loss against MAD in the Winter Split and we really felt that we should’ve been the ones in the final against G2. I think that, if we fix those points, we can get there for sure.

“When I am in the zone, I know that there is not much of a difference from last year. I already know that Trymbi is in the zone.”

When KOI struggled at the start of the Winter Split, it quickly became clear from several interviews that the slow start was due to the team taking practice easy in the offseason. What is the cause of the slow start this time?

We didn’t expect Astralis to draft the way they did in the first game. I also played very poorly in that game. The Heretics game was a bit of a fiesta. It shouldn’t have been like this—we had a pretty good draft—but we won anyway. The third game, against MAD Lions, was a draft issue. I should have picked something better for myself in that game. I decided to play Draven because I had practiced it all week, but it was definitely not a good Draven game.

I mostly blame both of those defeats on me and the fact that I picked the wrong champions. If I picked something different, at least in the MAD Lions game, we would probably have an extra win.

You mentioned earlier that you feel KOI should’ve been the ones in the final against G2. You have another opportunity to get there this split—do you have any stepping stones in mind for the team to get there? Perhaps finishing the Bo1 stage better than last split is a start. [Laughs]

[Laughs] Yea for sure. I don’t have anything specific in mind. We just need to take those steps in the mid game that I mentioned before. The laning phase has always been pretty solid. I think we have solid laners across the team. When it comes down to making decisions as a unit, we need to be on point. That’s when you can make the difference as a team.

Comp KOI LEC 2023
Comp has faith in his ability to get back into peak shape. (Source: Michal Konkol for Riot Games)

Comp takes the bot lane blame

Talking more about the overall bot lane performance: last year, you and Trymbi rose in prominence and became one of the best—if not the best, at times—bot lane duos in the LEC. It’s much more contested this year so far, and you two don’t seem to have found the same impact yet. Why do you think that is?

I think it’s mostly on me. I make way more silly mistakes individually than I did last year. Sometimes, even during official games, I might not be fully focused in-game. That can always make a difference. I think it’s on me to always be in the zone. Honestly, when I am in the zone, I know that there is not much of a difference from last year. I already know that Trymbi is in the zone.

Right now, I don’t think we are that terrible. I think we are definitely showing some bad games. Even in this game, as I said, there were some misplays. They mostly came from me, so I don’t think Trymbi could do much about it. [Laughs] We just need me to be more on point.

“I played way more League in the offseason than I should have. At the beginning of the year, I felt slightly burned out.”

Is there a reason why you’re struggling to focus fully on the game?

I didn’t use the offseason after Worlds the best way possible. I didn’t take advantage of that offseason.

What do you mean with ‘taking advantage of the offseason’? I remember when you rejoined the LEC last year, you told me that being benched on Vitality did you a lot of good because you could live life, go out, socialize, those types of things. Did you not distance yourself from the game enough this time around?

I actually grinded too much League before the year started. The thing is, in the offseason, the quality of the games is way worse. Especially in solo queue. People don’t really put a lot of effort into those games. They’re just waiting for the season to start and don’t really care.

A lot of things will change between the offseason and the start of the season. Items, champions, and everything else. From personal experience, it’s not worth a lot to play that much if you’re a pro player and you have a long year ahead of you.

So yeah, I think I played way more League in the offseason than I should have. At the beginning of the year, I felt slightly burned out. But right now, during this one week that I went home between Spring and Summer, I lived how I wanted to live during the offseason after Worlds. I just relaxed and reset my mental. I think I’m getting back to where we were. I’ll just make sure, from now on, that I won’t repeat the same mistake I made.

KOI plays its next LEC game on Saturday, March 25th, at 7 PM CET against Excel Esports. You can watch the game live on the official LoL esports site.