Team Vitality’s start to the 2023 LEC Winter Split has been a dream. After a nearly full rebuild in the offseason, which saw only mid laner Luka “Perkz” Perković retain his position, the team kicked off the split with three consecutive victories. It stands in stark contrast with 2022. Vitality’s lineup, promoted and praised as a ‘superteam’, went 0-3 at the start of last year. A bad omen that carried through until the end, when the team failed to make the Summer Split playoffs.

For Perkz, 2023 brings more than just a shot at redemption. With four new colleagues by his side, Europe’s most-decorated player feels that he can transfer his wealth of experience to his peers in a much more balanced setting. After the second day of the LEC’s opening week, Perkz spoke with Em Dash about Vitality’s rebirth.

Treating the offseason with care

Welcome, Perkz, and congrats on the great start in the LEC. Before we talk about 2023, though, I want to dial it back to the end of 2022. Vitality missed the Summer Split playoffs and you posted, obviously jokingly, that you would retire. Still, you’re one of the most competitive people I know, so I imagine you spent quite some time reflecting on the result. Can you tell me a bit about that?

The retiring thing was just a meme, honestly. I don’t think I’m gonna be retiring soon. Even if I did, I wouldn’t post it right after a loss, you know? [Laughs] It would be after two months of thinking about it. So, that was just a meme.

Sometimes, things are just not meant to happen. We had a five-game losing streak right after a five-game winning streak, so we had downward momentum at the wrong time and we didn’t snap out of it. I don’t think we were the seventh-best team in the LEC. I think we were better than that, personally. We showed a lot of good things as well. We tried really hard to improve, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Having said all that, I do think this team was built way more carefully. We had a lot of time in the offseason, we had a lot of options and things to think about, and players to talk with. The year before, everything went super fast in the offseason after Worlds. We just grabbed the best free agents and it wasn’t a super thoughtful building. Sometimes, investing way less money can build a much better team. I’m not saying this team is gonna be much, much better. I can’t say that for sure. But from the beginning, it looks like we are going to do better.

“I do think this team was built way more carefully.”

You have a strong vision for League of Legends, and you had a big say in last year’s roster being built. How did you approach this offseason, and how did you work with Vitality?

Hm, I think it was important that we got Carter quite early on in the offseason. Then it was mostly me, Carter, and Neon talking and trying to figure out what is good and what is possible. There were a lot of options that we could go for, but we thought this roster would be the best. Even though it is a little bit flippy because we have two Asian players, we thought there is a lot of potential with this lineup. We decided we had to go for the highest potential possible.

I’m not gonna say that we’re insane, or something. Our scrim results aren’t that great. But as long as you’re winning on stage, do scrims really matter that much? I’m really happy with the effort everyone puts in, though. We knew it was gonna be a tough road in the beginning because of the language barrier, but now it’s gonna go better and better.

Perkz Bo LEC
Perkz embraces Vitality jungler Bo after a victory in the LEC Winter Split. (Source: Michal Konkol for Riot Games)

Bo as center piece of Vitality

Bo was brought on Vitality last year with the explicit intent to work him into the team. Was he a given to join the team for this year, then?

Since we already had him on the roster, we were pretty sure we were gonna use him. Unless something went really wrong, right? But going into the offseason, we kind of only had me and Bo. We just had to fill in the other blanks. I think building around me and Bo went pretty well. Bo was the center point for this year’s roster. I think he is a player that can adapt as well. It’s not just that we have to play around Bo, you know? He can also play the Sejuani, play the tank, play the engage. That’s the most important thing: that we’re not a one-dimensional team and the enemies don’t know what we’re gonna draft.

“Bo was the center point for this year’s roster. I think he is a player that can adapt as well. (…) That’s the most important thing: that we’re not a one-dimensional team and the enemies don’t know what we’re gonna draft.”

It’s interesting that Bo became the center point. He’s obviously a good player, but I wouldn’t assume that someone who maybe doesn’t speak the language fluently would be the focal point. Why was the decision made to build around him, as opposed to building around you?

Because he’s just very talented. It’s not necessarily that we built around him, but we looked at the players that could play well together with us. We also made sure that the personalities don’t conflict too much. It’s not “Bo, take the wheel,” you know? It’s taking into account what everyone needs.

Vitality LEC 2023
Team Vitality’s new roster: Photon, Bo, Perkz, Neon, and Kaiser. (Source: Michal Konkol for Riot Games)

Perkz’s vision for 2023

Well, the team is off to a great start. Last year, you said that you built the team with the confidence that it had the potential to win Worlds. Is that something you dare say again this year? Because, to be honest, it kinda blew up in your face. [Laughs]

[Laughs] No, I’m not gonna say we’re gonna win Worlds. But I want to compete on the international stage. That’s the point of every team I want to play in. Otherwise, I don’t want to compete. I don’t want to compete in the LEC and just earn a salary. I would rather do some other job then, honestly. I think we definitely have the potential to be competitive on the international stage. I think we and G2 have the rosters that should be the most competitive in international tournaments. We’ll obviously see. It’s still early in the year and you can’t overhype the teams.

“My goal will be to transfer my share of knowledge with someone who has played less long. I’m gonna be honest: the game, at its core, hasn’t changed much in the last six or seven years.”

To round up, how do you envision your role in the team this year? You’re the most experienced and have a big voice, so, what’s going to be the role you think you have to play?

I think I have to make sure the team is on the same page. The players, the coaching staff et cetera. As you said, I do have the most experience. I actually have more competitive experience than my four teammates combined. [Laughs] There is always some sort of expectation or pressure on me to perform, to be that guy.

You like that pressure to perform, right? It’s something that drives you.

Yeah. And I feel like I have really great players around me. The stage games are easygoing as well. The flow of the game is not bad, communication is pretty good. I think Kaiser has been a great addition and has worked really well so far. My goal will be to transfer my share of knowledge with someone who has played less long. I’m gonna be honest: the game, at its core, hasn’t changed much in the last six or seven years. The macro concepts are still the ones I learned six years ago. They’re still being played out by the best teams in the world right now. Sure, some intricacies change. The way the Herald works, stuff like that, but the macro concepts, the concept of tempo, is still the same.

I’m just making sure everyone else is on the same page and the whole team is on the same page. That is important for us to be a good team.

Vitality plays its next match on Saturday, Jan. 28th, at 6 PM CET against Astralis. You can watch the game live on the official LoL esports site.