Vitality Coach Says VALORANT Roster is ‘Close to the Top’ of EMEA, but Just Missing One Thing

The Vitality lineup has less international experience than some of the top EMEA VALORANT teams. Nonetheless, head coach Salah Barakat is optimistic that the group of players he assembled to compete under the yellow-and-black flag will eventually join the top.

At the VCT LOCK//IN, Vitality won their opening match versus Global Esports, with decisive wins on Split and Lotus despite dropping Pearl. In their second-round match versus Leviatán, they rallied back from an early deficit on Haven, but couldn’t cross the finish line in regulation—or after three overtimes. Lacking international stage experience, the OT loss sapped all of the energy from Vitality, and they got run over on their own pick of Pearl, bringing an end to their LOCK//IN run.

“I still confidently believe we’re in the upper echelon [of EMEA], in the top half,” coach Slash said post-match. “This game is a lot about experience in front of a crowd, and in an event like this, [and it’s] the first right experience for everyone here except for BONECOLD.”

“Experience is going to be key for us,” he continued. “In terms of [strategy], aim, player mechanics, all of these things, I think we’re definitely close to the top. From what we’ve showed already, I think a lot of people would say the same and believe the same.”

As Salah alluded to, it was the first time on an international VCT stage for everyone on the team, except for former world champion BONECOLD—however, he hasn’t been back on stage since the title run at the end of 2021. Some players on the team hardly have any European VCT experience from the past two years. This is a stark contrast to some of the more stacked rosters in the region, with rosters like NAVI, Fnatic, and Liquid overflowing with international experience.

The contrast was clear for Vitality during their two series, most notably with an unfortunate statistic of losing all 10 pistol rounds over their five maps, but ceNder, MOLSI and Twisten all thrived overall in their international debuts. And confidence surely isn’t waning in the Vitality camp, as BONECOLD said that the team has seen “tremendous” improvement across their map pool, agreeing with their coach that Vitality will be a “top contender” in EMEA play.

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