KOI’s Emil “Larssen” Larsson talked to esports.gg in an exclusive interview after losing to the MAD Lions in the third game of LEC Spring Split.

KOI players opened their League of Legends EMEA Championship (LEC) Spring Split with only one win against Team Heretics. With the new format of the league featuring shorter games to qualify for Playoffs, KOI players are already finding themselves in disadvantaged situations.

With the likes of Team Vitality, Astralis, and SK Gaming all showing impressive form, KOI players have more than G2 and the MAD Lions to be worried about. Following KOI’s game against the MAD Lions, KOI’s Emil "Larssen" Larsson sat down with esports.gg for an exclusive interview.

"We are playing very poorly, we have a lot to worry about."

Emil "Larssen" Larsson
KOI players (Image via Michal Konkol and Riot Games)
KOI players (Image via Michal Konkol and Riot Games)

KOI at the LEC Spring Split

KOI, formerly known as Rogue, was known as the masters of the regular LEC Split in the past. Their regular season consistency started back in the 2020 Summer Split with a first-place finish and continued until the end of 2022. During this period, they finished first twice and only dropped to third in the LEC 2022 Summer Split before eventually winning the Playoffs.

With a rebrand and a new format, the new season is not going smoothly for the 2022 LEC champions. After a rough start in the Winter Split, KOI finished seventh with enough wins to qualify for the Playoffs. They played much better during the Playoffs but fell to the MAD Lions in the semifinals.

Just like the Winter Split, KOI began the LEC Spring Split with two losses and a win in the opening super week. Their loss to Astralis was the most concerning as they were never really in the game after the third minute when they lost the two-versus-two in bot lane.

Larssen at the LEC studio (Image via Wojciech Wandzel and Riot Games)
Larssen at the LEC studio (Image via Wojciech Wandzel and Riot Games)

The late start to the tournament may not bother fans that much given that KOI players have shown that they can get a comeback. However, mid-laner Larssen believes that they cannot rest on the past and need to improve quickly for the next games.

"We definitely have to worry," he said. "We are playing very poorly, we have a lot to worry about. We need to improve on a lot of things because we are very bad. And it's not like we can just hope that things will automatically fix themselves like in the two past splits. Like the last summer, we were doing pretty poorly before Malmo and the last split as well."

"I think the current format is superior in a lot of ways."

Emil "Larssen" Larsson

Is the new format a factor in Rogue’s poor performance?

The LEC rebrand in 2023 shifted the league to three splits, shorter games, and higher stakes. Teams that participated in the Winter Playoffs had less time to rest and prepare for the new split. While Larssen believes the short break affected the team, he is a fan of the new format.

“I think the current format is superior in a lot of ways," he said. "The only [complaint] that I have is that the final weekend is not being played in Arena and it’s a shorter split so the finals is not hype. Otherwise, I think it is a very nice format. The first few weeks [are] already hyped now because there is a possibility of teams [that] can be knocked out already."

The LEC Spring Split only contains three weeks after which the top eight teams will advance to the group stage. Next, the top four teams will advance to the Playoffs. With G2 already qualifying for the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), the remaining teams are all battling for not only the Spring Split trophy, but Europe’s final MSI spot.

Larssen backs Syzgenda during a tough period in LEC

KOI came into 2023 with four existing players and new top-laner Mathias “Szygenda” Jensen. The former Vitality player replaced veteran Andre “Odoamne” Pascu who went to Excel. Filling Odoamne shoes has not been easy for Szygenda who has quite a different approach to playing League of Legends.

Many speculated that Rogue will have to switch things up in their play style to accommodate Szygenda who is known to play carry champions. Their win against Heretics showed exactly how dominant the top-laner can be. However, it seems that Rogue players have yet to find a perfect balance in their new system

Having completed a split with the team, Larssen praised Szygenda for his resoluteness and his personality.

"[Szygenda] has been very good, it’s not his fault at all. I’m having his back, it has been very nice with him both player-wise and as a person."

Emil "Larssen" Larsson

Despite the slow start to the split, KOI is still very much in the race for the LEC group stage with Fnatic and Heretics occupying the bottom positions. However, with just six games left, the team will need to find a consistent rhythm for the next two weeks and beyond.