Alphari sat down with Esports.gg to talk about Gnar, the LCS, and plans for Week 8
Team Vitality and top laner Barney "Alphari" Morris are on the edge of Playoff qualification, with three games between them and Spring Playoffs. Vitality, having started the season surrounded with talks of being a ‘Super Team,’ struggled to find their footing. But as the weeks progressed, the team started living up to its potential.
We sat down with Alphari on Wednesday, March 2nd, to talk about the pressure being off as the Super Team narrative died down. We also talked about the LCS, C9’s coaching woes, Gnar, and what Vitality is doing to prepare for the final three days of the LEC 2022 Spring split.
Thanks for talking to me. Thanks for taking time out during the week. And congrats on your wins over the weekend.
Alphari: No, thank you. And no problem, happy to do an interview.
Coming into this season, there was this kind of slightly false narrative about the Vitality Super Team. But now that's kind of almost entirely gone. Is that a relief? That it’s gone?
Alphari: I guess maybe, yeah. But okay. So personally, I don't pay too much attention to narratives. I think, regardless that I want to win, and that the team I'm on should be aiming to win and should be capable of winning. So in this regard, I guess any team I'm on is a Super Team from my perspective, because these are the expectations I have of myself and my teammates.
So even when we were losing, this was still like, what I thought, and what I believed, what I felt. Because it's just best-of-ones during regular season. And, of course, they are indicative of something right, it sucks to lose. And I mean, winning is nicer, winning is better than losing. But it's also just about training and getting better and improving and kind of like figuring out styles and meta and whatnot during regular split. So I never really, like lost any confidence too much. Yeah. And as far as like, the pressure goes for being sort of like not a super team.
I don't, I don't notice it. Yeah, I don't think that changed anything really. I think maybe we are just, like, more relaxed and less stressed about winning games.
Do you think that once that Super Team talk had died down, it helped the team perform better? Or do you think you were just generally improving over time?
Alphari: Yeah, I think we're just genuinely improving. And I think that when we lose, it's like, you learn more when you lose, because you have problems to look at and things to solve. It’s also like a reality check. Like a wake up call. So I think that losing and just playing together and talking to each other made us improve.
These final few games are obviously going to be some of the most important of the season. Does that change in any way the way that you play? Does it make you more conservative in your decision making, for instance?
Alphari: No, I don't think so. I mean, these games are important, but they are also not super important. Like we are already maybe locked in the playoffs. It’s like 96%. And regardless, I think it's like a big problem for players to play differently, or to play worse under pressure. It makes sense to play better under pressure. And to like, enjoy the adrenaline or to enjoy the excitement and to focus more. Because sometimes scrims can feel monotonous, like boring. Basically, when you do it every day for years, the games can sometimes feel less important for us. But stage games can feel really important and fun.
I understand that you can also play better under pressure. But I don't think that we are doing anything different. I don't think we're gonna play any different. I think that we are all experienced enough. And the games are important. But also it's like another weekend, right?
Regardless of whether we win or lose this weekend—which we're going to win—but regardless, we're still going to be in the playoffs. We're still going to be prepping for best-of-fives. And if I go 0-3 this weekend, if I go 3-0, I'm not going to care by the end of the split. By the end of the split the only thing I really care about is whether I won the split or not.
Alphari Talks LCS
Last year you were in the LCS. Do you ever watch the LCS now and think “Man I could be cleaning up if I was over there"?
Alphari: I've watched it like a tiny bit, but not on purpose. If I see it after games on the weekend, like browsing YouTube, or Twitch, I’ll look at it a little bit. And I mean, it's “curious” to see some of the teams. Seeing TSM fail so spectacularly. It's interesting a bit. It's like kind of fun, but also feel bad for Tactical a little bit because he’s good player. And this sucks to be on a shit team.
And then watching TL and C9 is also interesting. TL look pretty strong. I mean, for NA, right? And C9 with their weird drafts. Yeah, I don't know. I don't watch NA too much. But when I do, it's like…I actually, really I don't watch NA too much at all to be fair. Maybe there are some good teams. I’m not entirely sure.
One more LCS question, you had a bit of a prophetic moment in an interview earlier this year. You were asked about LS’s opinion on Vitality imploding, and you kinda joked that C9 would be the ones to implode. Did you know something we didn’t? Or was it just a lucky guess?
Alphari: No, it's not lucky. It’s like, okay, I mean, it's quite obvious, from my perspective, that this team would fail. Or not “fail” right? But that there would be big conflicts within the team, probably from LS and other players, or management. And this is just, like, from his personality. And I mean, I'm not saying anything bad about him. I like him. And I think he's a good streamer. And he's, he's smart. He has good ideas about the game. But I think it was very rich that he would be saying that other teams would implode when his teams that he's been on have traditionally been, like, really unstable. And he's also shown himself to be quite, hmmm…
Alphari: Controversial, but also really unable to handle criticism, while also very willing to dish it out. Which, I mean, in a professional environment when tensions get high, and, you know, shit gets said, and also management usually wants to have a lot of control even of coaches. Then it's difficult to have egos involved where you're not able to kind of regulate your emotions as well. Which, I mean, I don't know exactly why he got kicked from C9, right. I've heard some rumours. But it's not me to talk about it. He's a smart guy. But yeah, it's pretty funny that he would say that our team will implode. Coming from him. It's really funny, but yeah our team is good. I think, I feel like we have a really good atmosphere on this team. Better than on TL, better than on Origen in my experience.
And also like shout out to Carzzy, because Carzzy is like so fucking positive he's a little cheerleader! Pretty fun to work with. Doesn't tilt even when everyone else is inting or tilting sometimes.
Alphari's Gnar and Vitality's Super Week Prep
Going back to last weekend for a moment. You Played Gnar in Vitality's last game against Misfits. It’s a quite versatile pick that can play the map, push lane, make space. Do you prefer that type of do-it-all champion or do you like the single minded aggression of an Aatrox or a Camille?
Alphari: I think Camille is very versatile as well. Aatrox, I agree. I think that this champion is kind of like just team fight and just look for flanks. I mean, I like Gnar a lot and I'm a fan. I've been playing this champion since Challenge Series 2016 When I qualified for EU LCS back then.
And now this champion is just super fun. I've always really enjoyed Gnar. I like laning with it, I like being able to kite, I like ranged top laners with solid kiting, I like side laning. And I like the little minigame of managing your rage bar. For me, it's also pretty fun, especially in competitive games, where it's actually a lot about managing your rage mid game and then communicating with your team. And try not to like mess up your timing and when as soon as you have the timing you have to go. So it's like quite a nuanced champion. I think it's quite strong right now especially because as well Hullbreaker is strong. And other tanks have been nerfed. So yeah, I'm a fan of the champion. I don't know if it's like just the style, but yeah.
You were able to build a good lead with the Gnar in lane on Saturday, which meant that the team ended up playing around you in the mid game. Is that the role you feel most comfortable with? With the team on your back, dictating the pace?
Alphari: I mean sometimes on certain champions, and certain points in the game, I don't know how to explain it… I just feel really, really powerful. In a game like this, when I'm playing Gnar, I know that I will win side the whole game, and I already have a big lead in lane when I'm not supposed to have like this big lead. Then, for me, the game is really hard to lose. Because I know that the Aatrox at least, it's not going to be relevant in the game.
I mean, it's just really hard for them to be proactive basically because we will always have side lane push and we will always have more options than them. And what this means is that we can choose what fights we take, and if we want to we can always take fights for numbers advantage or we can play to trade. So we just have a tonne of options and we kind of just decide what we want to do when we have a split pusher. Unless we are behind drastically. I don't know, the game is way easier to play when you win the side lane, it’s true.
This weekend, it’s a long weekend of games, MAD Lions, G2, Astralis. Any special preparations you’re making?
Alphari: Um, I mean, Renata is enabled for this super week randomly. So we have four days of practice in total playing with and playing against Renata before we have three days on stage, so that will be the biggest thing we are trying to figure out like exactly how this champion fits into the meta. If it's broken, and if it IS broken, like what priority it needs to have. Like, you know, can you drop it? Can you counter pick it? Do you trade? Stuff like this. So Renata’s a big thing.
Otherwise I don't think we are focusing too much on anything specific. We are still just practising some kind of standard stuff. We have ideas we want to practice, like new ideas still. But these come every week. Um, I'm not entirely sure what we will show anything too-new onstage so to speak because you also want to save strategies for playoffs, right?
Yeah, basically just Renata, and then just like taking each game one at a time. I think that G2 is gonna be like the scariest opponent to face this weekend. We have G2, MAD, and Astralis. So I'm looking forward to playing G2 because I think that topside is strong, but otherwise it's kind of just whatever.
That's great to hear. Thanks for speaking to us, and good luck this weekend