Mephisto is looking to lead Team Vitality to their first LEC title
0-3 to start the 2022 LEC Spring Split is not the record one would expect for Team Vitality, who came into the season as the favorites to contend for a LEC title. Team Vitality, a team that has been relatively middle of the pack barring a Worlds 2018 run, made a big splash in the offseason when they built around Selfmade and Labrov to grab Europe’s most highly-coveted talents. The change was one that got many fans excited, and for the longtime coach of Vitality, Louis-Victor “Mephisto” Legendre, it was an opportunity to make the transition from Strategic Coach to the main coach of the team.
Having first joined the organization ahead of the 2020 LEC Season, Mephisto is the longest-tenured member of the Team VItality League of Legends team, having seen its many trials and tribulations as an org in the past couple of years. From VISA issues to multiple 9th and 10th place finishes, Mephisto has seen Team VItality at its worst. Now, with a new star-studded team, he is ready to lead Vitality to its best days.
In this interview, we spoke to VIT Mephisto to talk about his promotion from Strategic Coach to Head Coach and how coaching this Vitality superteam is different than any other team he has coached.
Congratulations on getting promoted up to the head coach position on Team Vitality. You’ve been with the organization for quite some time. When you got the news, what was that like for you?
VIT Mephisto: There was still a bit of discussion, as many were really cautious about the possible added responsibilities of becoming the head coach. Not all of them want to be head coaches because it’s the most stressful part of the job. Some people who have been head coaches are switching back or dialing it back down to, for example, a strategic coach. I’m thinking about me here, where there’s a lot of stress and a lot of expectations you have when you are the head coach.
It is a good problem to have in the offseason, do I take the promotion or not? Same time, there is a lot of responsibility that comes with that role. I can continue being the strategic coach and helping the team in strategy or I can be the main person these players look up to. At some point in the offseason, talking to players from different teams, and having a lot of issues with managers and people responsible for building games, I felt like it was time for me to step up in the team. It will be fine because I will have great players here. And it’s gonna be a good time. So yeah, I was happy about it.
I like that point that you bring up about pressure with being a head coach versus a strategic coach. Over the offseason Vitality built this super team, with players that have gone to Worlds and found success. What made you so willing to jump into that head coach and ready to step up this season?
VIT Mephisto: I think it was mostly about the challenge. Because coaching these players is a challenge. These guys have very high expectations for you, but the ceiling and reward is so high with this team. If people want you to perform at a very high standard, and if you do then you are doing a great job. First off, I thought to myself, am I gonna sign somewhere for like, two more years of assistant coaching or is the head coach role the next step in my journey in esports.
I felt like I had done my fair share of the job and Vitality was really happy with the work I had put into helping develop players in the League of Legends department as well. Every player I have worked with in the past has had very experiences with me so I wanted to be able to bring that to a higher level. It was both the challenge and the reward of succeeding with all eyes on you that really drew me to this position?
Just from talking to other head coaches, it seems like the main thing you start to delve into is the organization and mental aspects of the game. Is this something that you feel resonates with your new head coach role?
VIT Mephisto: Yes, I think when your head coach, you start to delve into aspects of competing that are far past the game. That is what really drew me to wanting to move away from the Strategic side of things and to be able to really focus on the players now. It is really important because they’re humans, and you take care of their rights. As head coach, you need to really put this at the forefront of priorities, or else a team will crumble. Our Performance Manager, Ismael Pedraza has done a really great job in developing that here. This team is set up to succeed in the long term.
What are some of the differences working with a super team versus some of the other teams you have coached in the past where it is predominantly rookies? What were some of the biggest differences between coaching this veteran team?
VIT Mephisto: Biggest difference is for sure the midgame. There is so much more that I can do with this group of players because the starting base of how they teamfight is so high. I can go into really intricate things that can really challenge them, which has been what we continue to work on. Barney and Luka are really good at communicating from the sidelines during midlane sieges. They know when to have a sidelane slow push so that they can come and take objectives as a team, and when to apply pressure on the other team. Naturally, this team has such a great base of knowing the right time to farm and when to pressure the enemy opponent.
I have worked with top-tier pros, but these guys are on another level. Other than that, they are just really efficient with knowing what they need from me as a coach and help me understand how I can coach them better. They do not get upset by losses because they understand they are a talented bunch. All they need to do is focus on improvement and the wins will eventually come.
Barney and Luke are extremely, extremely good at giving feedback to other players and also extremely good at playing the map in the beginning with the team. They are. I am impressed like nothing else you say there.
I’ve heard Vitality has been doing well in scrims and it seems like they’re a really strong team, but this week it was not great. From your perspective, what do you feel could have gone better this week?
VIT Mephisto: I feel like our competition was a tad too spicy, I would say. But it’s the beginning of the split so many teams will be rustier than if it were say Summer. That includes us, especially after this week. Right now, we are trying things on stage and getting a little more creative with our compositions and picks. We gave certain things a try on stage to see if they would be able to work, and unfortunately, they failed extremely hard. That is okay, and I am glad to make those mistakes because we can afford to do so. This is the moment where we can learn things through trial and error. We could have won throughout this week playing boring champions or what everybody is doing, but we didn’t.
Do you think entering a system where best-of-ones were no longer a thing would work better? Is the 18-game season something you are cool with?
VIT Mephisto: I think that the best-of-one system is not conducive for growth, and is only better for a viewer in some sense. In any game, you can lose because of one simple mistake, which makes players either risk-averse or drop games, when they would have easily won the best-of-three. There’s this element where you can go for more games, which would be better for player development, but we opt for the best-of-one format which I feel stunts growth because teams will not be able to get used to longer series, and how to make adjustments.
That’s the first point. The second point is that at the end of the day, every patch is not equal. There are some patches where the blue side is extremely favored. And somewhere you are at an extreme disadvantage without that final counterpick that redside offers. As a team, you are going to have unlucky games where you can lose because of the draft because you end up on the red side. That is something that I want to avoid in the LEC.
It feels wrong to me that a team can get lucky in terms of what patches are happening or if they get the correct side to get important picks. Yeah, that feels off to me. So I think best-of-ones are really weird. Even a two-game series would better balance things out because each team gets to choose which side they want to play. Nonetheless, we will continue to work really hard and get wins for the Vitality fans. You guys deserve it after some really rough splits. I think the 2021 Summer was a nice preview of what this organization can do, and now we will look to showcase why we are the team to beat.