BONECOLD of Team Vitality: “We got super good comebacks, but…with the way we played, there’s still so many things that we can solidify.”

Team Vitality started their run in the 2023 VCT EMEA League playoffs by losing 2-1 to Team Liquid in... Pedro | 25. May 2023

Team Vitality started their run in the 2023 VCT EMEA League playoffs by losing 2-1 to Team Liquid in the first round of the upper bracket. Despite opening the series with a 13-7 in their selected map of Lotus, VIT were unable to continue their momentum in the second and third map as a pair of 13-11 losses in Bind and Ascent dropped them to the lower bracket.

While moving to the lower bracket normally signifies a trend in the wrong direction for a given team, with Fnatic’s victory in LOCK/IN, which awarded EMEA an additional slot for Masters: Tokyo, as a result of their defeat to TL, VIT is one series win away from qualifying to their first ever Valorant international LAN since entering the scene in February 2021. Conversely, VIT is one loss away from being eliminated out of Masters contention and entering the Last Chance Qualifier instead.

Following the series, Fragster interviewed VIT’s in-game leader Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi about his view on VIT’s performance against TL, the development of his IGLing throughout the season, his chances on qualifying for Masters: Tokyo and more.

BONECOLD on facing Team Liquid

Pedro Romero, Fragster: Commiserations on that series against Team Liquid. I want to start off by asking for your thoughts over the series in general. What went right, what went wrong, and was there anything else that came in between of that?

Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi: After the first map, it’s hard to say. I feel like the pressure caught up a little bit on us after having a bad half. I felt like we got super good comebacks, but I feel, with the way we played, there are still so many things that we can solidify. Even against Liquid, I feel like we had a super good chance to beat them, but I just feel, for today, we crumbled a bit and what we showed was just not enough.

Fragster: I want to dive specifically into that final map. You came back from a 7-9 deficit to go up 11-9 before TL made a comeback of their own to win it 13-11. Within the final four rounds specifically, what do you think, prohibited this team from closing it out?

BONECOLD: Maybe it was a little bit of autopiloting there that we just did all the stuff that we do in practice, but I feel they adapted to it really well. We just couldn’t get the trades that we normally got. I feel it put a little bit of pressure [on us], [had us] not getting trades, and put people being half a second bit late and it ends up that they get these round-winning entries on us when we were trying to execute on a site. I think those combined merited to the loss.

Fragster: One of the things that were highlighted throughout the broadcast was your team’s preparation over taking down nAts and how you guys figured out exactly where he was in various portions of the series. Was the preparation towards neutralizing nAts taken into account above all the other parts in the strategy? Or was that just a part of the entire strategy when it comes to preparing against TL?

BONECOLD: We had very, very good preparation by the coaching staff and one of the things were that, with nAts, he kind of plays like he’s invincible and when you take him out, he stops doing what he’s best at. As soon as you go and you where to push him, such as when we know he’s going to B, it just makes the map a lot more playable. I feel like the preparation was done correctly, but it was not like the full preparation. We had a lot of different stuff prepared. It was not only shutting down nAts but I think that was one of the things that was very much highlighted throughout the games.

BONECOLD’s view on the state of the team

Fragster: Was there any takeaways that you made from that first series with Vitality during the regular season that you utilized for this go around?

BONECOLD: No, not at least what I’m aware of. We didn’t really have that game in our minds and just wanted to come and play round-by-round and the preparation we did have didn’t really have that much stuff from our previous games. We didn’t really think about the first game we had versus them.

Fragster: As you guys are now in the playoffs, finished off your first series, and are the sixth seed in playoffs, how do you view the current state of the team gameplay-wise, coordination-wise and communication-wise?

BONECOLD: I’m gonna take an example out of the map of Lotus. We were just playing quite carelessly. We were just having fun, but then I feel the pressure and experience were the biggest things. I feel as soon as we can get that out of the way, I feel like we can easily be one of the best teams in Europe and even the world, but I feel it’s the small things that can crumble us and when we can get that out of the way, we can do what we can do best.

BONECOLD’s view on his IGLing

Fragster: How have you viewed your IGLing with this team throughout the season going by that same line?

BONECOLD: I feel my IGLing has come a long way. Even from the start of the season, I feel the addition of Salah has helped me out so much out of becoming a lot more of an IGL than what I was before. Salah came with the structure and helped me out a ton in becoming one of the best IGLs. Big props go to Salah who helped widen out my view of the game but I feel I’ve come a long way. I feel there’s still so much potential and so much to show from me and hopefully I can just get that coming into the next match in the playoffs.


(Credit: Hara Amorós / Riot Games / LVP / lag.)

Fragster: Can you go into depth as to exactly what it is that you need to improve in order for you to reach that level of IGLing that you set out to accomplish?

BONECOLD: I think it’s a lot to do with the experience and, by going from experience, I think it’s going in with the certain confidence of people knowing that the way we play in practice should go as well as how we play in officials. As soon as we step out of our comfort zone and step out for structure, if our communication is not on point, I feel like lots of the chaotic situations just turns to the enemy team. I have so many things I could say but the biggest thing is just bringing our game from practice to officials. I think that’s easily everything kind of combined. Playing how we do when we’re playing at our home and bringing that to the stage would be a huge step for us.

On the precipice of reaching Masters

Fragster: With that said, you guys are going to drop down to the lower bracket and have one more chance to reach Masters: Tokyo because of Fnatic’s win in LOCK/IN, the region has one more slot for that competition. You will look ahead to either Fnatic or FUT. All fingers point towards your opponent being FUT, but nevertheless, where do you rank your team’s chances in reaching Tokyo for Masters?

BONECOLD: I’d say we still have a fairly good shot. I feel today’s game is going to wake up a lot of people so I’m quite confident playing either team, even yet unbeatable Fnatic or even FUT who have been showing quite master class [Valorant] lately. I feel both of the teams are as human as we are so I feel we can easily beat them. We haven’t lost our chance of going to Japan so I think it’s just that we have to bring our A-game for the full series the next time we enter the stage.

Feature Image Credit: Hara Amorós / Riot Games / LVP / lag.