Vitality Sayf, Kicks & runneR talk rookie pressure and how they aim to ‘f**k s**t up’

Vitality Sayf, Kicks & runneR talk rookie pressure and how they aim to ‘f**k s**t up’
Image via Team Vitality

Written by 

Jack Marsh

Last updated 

21st Feb 2024 17:30

VALORANT Esports, how we've missed you so. The VCT is back, and as Riot Games' latest circuit continues to serve as a building block for the future by meandering complexities of a partnership-lead league system, the same can't be said for those teams around the globe looking to be crowned as champions of the world. 

One of those sides is the new-look Team Vitality.

As an organisation, they nearly completed the esports speedrun in 2023, having found success in CS:GO, Rocket League, and more. Yet VALORANT has not been to their tasting so far.

That is until 2024, as now the French organisation has deployed three new starlets to round off a European roster hungry to prove to themselves, and the world, that they have what it takes.

No Lebron, No problems. 

Click to enlarge

Zooming out from VALORANT slightly, Team Vitality as a whole has a habit of scouting and sculpting a mix of leaders and hot prospects to combine in a roster, with the new rooking moulding into world beaters.

The case was made in CS:GO with Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut becoming the legend that he is under the guidance of Dan "Apex" Madesclaire, a model that was also replicated in Rocket League with wonderkid Alexis "zen" Bernier and wise-beyond-his-years Yanis "Alpha54" Champenois.

This year, that method looks to have been deployed again in the VALORANT roster, as the trusted Saif "Sayf" Jibraeel has been added to bolster the hive mind, while two prodigies in Kimmie "Kicks" Laasner and Emil "runneR" Trajkovski are being deployed to add a new sting to the team.

Both of the rookies are lesser-known than some of the rookies that have paved their way into the VCT EMEA league before, but that doesn't matter in the eyes of Sayf, who told GGRecon, "You don't need Lebron James".

"You don't necessarily need four other really good names on paper. You don't need to have LeBron James on your roster. You just need someone who can show the team how it's done," Sayf continued.

"I think it's about who you're working with most of the time, and people tend to forget that the reason it goes well in teams when you bring in people that have experience is that they make the rest of the team better."

A new kick-and-run Vitality

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When there's an unknown entity in VALORANT, it's safe to say that all eyes are fixated on their performance, and as the old saying goes, everyone will be praying for their downfall. It's the catch-22 of getting your shot.

But when there are two of these anomalies buzzing in the same camp, the emphasis then shifts onto the team dynamic and the organisation structure, who will take any flak or praise on the chin.

For Vitality, their process of acquiring Kicks and runneR saw scouting networks trowel through Europe's lower leagues, and an extensive trial period where cohesion and communication were valued over strict performances.

But if nerves were a doubt before the VCT Kick Off, the duo aren't feeling a shred of pressure.

"I'm probably one of the most unknown players in the league now, but, I know I'm here for a reason and I just want to show that I know what I'm doing," said Kicks.

"I wouldn't really consider myself to have a pop-off kind of style, I consider myself as knowing my role in the team, knowing what I need to do to make the team win, and helping others around me as well as much as myself.

"That also means that I do have this level of expectation from people around me that I need to perform as well, but I will put in the hard work, do what needs to be done, and I'll be there every day with the team. If I'm doing the right thing, I'm going to perform."

For runneR, he will step into the duellist role where more emphasis is weighted on individual skill, but already the youngster has showcased that he has a winning mentality, stringing together an impressive list of gold medals in different lower-tier tournaments in Europe.

"To be able to win, you have to have a good winning mentality, you cannot win without it," runneR told GGRecon.

"Right now, in Vitality, we have this winning mentality, but at the same time we're keeping a lid on our ego, we're keeping each other in check, and we're just playing for fun - we're having fun while winning."

But, there have been plenty of breakout talents that have been able to cement themselves in the VCT, showing that they deserve to be playing at the pinnacle VALORANT league.

And to do that, runneR believes you have to, "find your strengths", "don't give up", and "grind", a sentiment echoed by Sayf.

Hitting the ground run(neR)ing

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The VCT EMEA Kick-Off places Vitality against Fnatic and Gentle Mates, which is a gauntlet of its own, given the tangerine Brits are regarded as the best team in the world by many, and the newly-added French roster will be keen to earn the national bragging rights early on.

Despite the group of death, Vitality has targetted a quick start, although there is a notion that the team could "f**k some s**t up" and have to remain calm and bonded to rectify it on the drawing board.

"I definitely think we can hit the ground running," Sayf said.

"Either we can be one of the best teams right now, or we just flop. But at least with this roster, you can say it's all in our own hands. We control that. If we want to do it, we can.

"It's possible that we f**k some s**t up."

Reflecting on teams gone by, Sayf continued to say that it's not the worst thing in the world if Vitality doesn't find success at Kick-Off, as the team needs to suffer losses to learn.

"The thing with Liquid, for example, was that a lot of us in that roster had seen failure and defeat before. So it was easier for us to find more success. For this team, we need to see failures so we can improve," he added.

"We could lose a lot of games and we could still pop this season in the end. We could both qualify for Madrid and still be in Champs, and that's the aim that you should carry throughout the whole season. It's not too important to start off very strong, even though it's mentally nice, it's more important to be the best when you hit Champs."

So, while early momentum could see Vitality cause quite an early upset, wonderkids and dynasties aren't made overnight, and this VCT Season is a marathon, not a sprint.

"Buzz out," Sayf, Kicks, and runneR sign off. 

Jack is an Esports Journalist at GGRecon. Graduating from the University of Chester, with a BA Honours degree in Journalism, Jack is an avid esports enthusiast and specialises in Rocket League, Call of Duty, VALORANT, and trending gaming news.

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