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In the LEC 2022 Summer Split, KOI, formerly known as Rogue stood above the entire LEC as they hoisted the LEC 2022 Summer Split championship trophy to a crowd of 12,000 in the ​​Malmö Arena. 2023, however, painted a completely different picture from the last time we saw the team.

KOi ended the LEC 2023 Winter Season with a 4-5 record, narrowly squeezing their way into the LEC 2023 Winter Group stages in seventh place. Yet, once again, KOI have proven its capabilities to perform when it matters most as the LEC 2023 Winter 2023 Group Stages have been the best version of KOI we have seen in 2023.

In this interview, we spoke to KOI botlaner Markos “Comp” Stamkopoulos following their victory against SK Gaming to talk about the changes in the atmosphere, the botlane meta, and why he believes SK Gaming will qualify for playoffs over Team Vitality.

Congratulations on your victory against SK Gaming. Talk to me about the preparation going into this week because some members of the team have been stating that the practice environment was really great this week?

KOI Comp: I wouldnt say it was specifically for SK. We have been preparing at this level for pretty much everybody. It just feels like at the end of last week, especially after our game against Astralis, we just picked up a lot of things that were missing during the first two weeks. I think especially this week, it has been very nice. We have been taking over every scrim game, our practice has been great and everybody just has a huge amount of energy. We are very creative and talkative in the game so it really helps to keep moving forwards. When someone has a rough game or whatever, you can rely on the other people to still be in the zone and lift you up. I think everybody has stepped up heavily going into the best-of-threes.

I wanted to further ask about that because Larssen did an interview on stage after the game against SK where he was talking about how the environment was really good this weekend, noting the higher energy. What do you feel like brought that energy back?

KOI Comp: I would definitely say the moment we secured top eight. Everybody just felt relieved. It sounds really stupid for a team like KOI, especially when you look at what we achieved last year, but it was just three weeks and everything could go wrong. Unless you are really on point and drafting perfectly, anything could happen in this meta and after Astralis, we just felt relieved. I think this took a huge amount of weight off of us now that we were no longer having to play for our live this split. Anything can happen in those best-of-ones so that is what made things scary. Going into best-of-threes, we just felt a lot of relief knowing that we would have more room to make mistakes and do more preparation for everything. I think right now, I would say there is a huge difference in the way we play, the way we communicate, the way we draft, and the way we understand the meta in all of this. I think it is a combination of everything, but it all started getting better after our match against Astralis.

When you look back at how you came into 2023 and you found out about this format shift to only three weeks into the season, was there a bit of pressure on your end? Not necessarily in the team, but for you, do you feel as if there was more urgency to really perform because of how condensed everything was?

KOI Comp: I think definitely. I mean, for me, it was a new format for everybody and I especially was not the biggest fan of condensing the regular season to only three weeks. I do not like that the bottom two just go out. You could say that you should never expect yourself to ever fall into that position in the bottom two but you never know how things can unfold. I think the biggest part of what resulted in us having these messy showings and almost being a bottom two team was our view on the meta. We were way more flexible. I think if we were drafting more stable, I think we would have won a lot more games just playing the basics. It’s not the coaches fault, it’s a combination of both players and coaches because the players make suggestions in the draft. I think it was pretty much all of us maybe feeling a bit more cocky than we should and not taking it as seriously. Maybe we weren’t thinking about how it is a best-of-one and that we actually need to be really precise. I think that is what was missing the whole split. There was a lack of precision.

KOI Comp and Trymbi before their series against Team Vitality.

KOI Comp and Trymbi before their series against Team Vitality.

What are your thoughts on this current meta as a botlaner. It feels like one mistake can really make the rest of the game feel unwinnable. How do you feel about the state of the meta?

KOI Comp: I don’t think the meta is as different as it was in the past. I would say it’s mostly about the botlane combos right now. Like there are some really clever botlanes like Ashe and Draven and if you make a mistake very early on, the game can pretty much end if the other team is good. I think the best example is our game against G2. Right? When I died on Kalista at the first level and he gets a kill, it feels over. I know for many people, it might sound dumb to say that the game was over and maybe it’s not the right mentality to have, because Azir was smurfing that game. From a botlane perspective and the way the opposing botlane would just stack up everything and it becomes a really rough game. That’s just an example. I made a very stupid mistake and then it becomes impossible to regain any control back into the game if they are good. So, I would agree for the most part. You really need to precise in the early laning phase. It is really important right now and maybe way more important than it was a few years ago for sure.

I wanted to talk about adding Szygenda to the team in place of Odoamne ahead of 2023. What were some of the most significant changes in implementing one player into an existing group of four players? What were things the team was struggling with those first three weeks?

KOI Comp: Honestly, I don’t really think the meta really allows him to do a lot for the caliber of player that he is. Right now, the top lane meta is very basic and he has to play the same things because of how botlane meta looks. People probably will see the biggest differences from last year to tihs year if the meta shifts from top lane tanks to melee supports and more carry oriented topsides. Right now, I think he has been doing his job very great and we are doing our best to help him become better in the other aspects of his game. I think that’s what you need to do for newer players. For example, Irrelevant had to step up his macro game too, but he has made massive improvements this year.

Our draft is also getting a lot better so that we are now making his life a lot easier in the laning phase compared to before. Overall, I think he is doing a very great job right now with what the top lane meta is giving. I don’t think this is the level of play you should expect from him. I expect things to get a lot better once the meta changes and he can really shine.

KOI Szygenda LEC 2023 Winter Split

KOI Szygenda is the newest player to join KOI.

I now want to ask you how you rate all four teams in your group. Let’s start by saying before your game vs. SK Gaming and how you view all four teams now.

KOI Comp: Honestly, I think the top teams in our group are us and SK Gaming. I think I would put SK winning over Vitality 2-1. I think Vitality would be third and then I put Heretics at fourth.

I am curious, a lot of people view Vitality as one of the contenders for that top four spot. What puts SK Gaming over Vitality in your eyes?

KOI Comp: Honestly, I think it relies heavy on the jungle matchup. I think if Markoon can get a great matchup then he can control the early game against Bo. Honestly, I just think top and mid need to step up to the level of Vitality’s top and mid. Jungle matchup is a lot more even than people would expect and I think SK’s botlane is just better than Team Vitality’s. I think SK Gaming matches up well against Vitality in this meta.

Final Question, if you could rate how the team is on a scale of 1 to 100, where would you put KOI’s level of performance right now?

KOI Comp: If I had to put a number to it, I’d say we are performing at 75 percent of our full level right now.

After their 2-0 victory over Team Vitality, KOI have solidified their spot in the LEC 2023 Winter Playoffs. They will face G2 Esports in the Upper Bracket where both teams are guaranteed a top-three finish in the split. For now, they will wait to see how the rest of their group unfolds as Team Vitality awaits the winner of the SK Gaming vs. Heretics matchup.