Will letting Aztral leave be the downfall of Dig?
As silly season rolls on, the effects of the biggest move in Europe are beginning to be apparent. One year after letting Turbopolsa leave to go across the pond, Dignitas has again let their star player depart as European MVP Aztral has now joined Oxygen Esports. Unlike 2019 however, Dignitas was arguably at the peak of their powers. European RLCS champions and 2nd in the Spring Series, sure it’s not the literal summit where Vitality looks down at everyone, but it was still a position many teams envy. Whilst the move ultimately happened out of respect for Aztral’s personal desires for change, we examine whether Dignitas, in respecting his wishes, has dug their own grave or whether it won’t be long before they bounce back yet again.
A Happy Team is a Healthy Team
Let’s not beat around the bush, the Dignitas camp has been a tumultuous one. It was a known risk that bringing Aztral and his less than stellar mentality could cause issues, and while they didn’t tank the roster’s success, perhaps it put a limit on just how far Dignitas could go.
In RLCS S8, Dignitas started releasing “comms videos” along with many other teams, giving fans a listen-in with the pros communications. Of all these videos, perhaps none is more famous than Dignitas’ video from the Semi-Final of the RLCS World Championship in Madrid. Along with giving an accurate representation of just how loud the arena was, it showed that while ViolentPanda did the hard lifting in communicating and Yukeo was putting in a similar effort on the pitch, Aztral was quite quiet in communicating, particularly when Dignitas went down 3-1. While Dignitas would nearly comeback in a legendary series, there was a seed of doubt planted about Aztral’s mentality again.
The seed would blossom into a tree in the aftermath of RLCS S9. Dignitas was the European champions and the comms videos were hotly anticipated. The video from their semi-final clash vs mousesports released and to say it was intriguing was an understatement. Dignitas would go down early in the series courtesy of some unfortunate mistakes from Yukeo. To say this didn’t sit well with Aztral was an understatement, as insults were hurled at the Austrian by the Belgian in the vein of your typical ranked player. It’s no secret that internal arguments happen between teammates, people are human but to see it aired publicly was eye-opening. The attitude was even shown towards coach Virge, and it took until the end of game three for the whole squad to put the incident behind them.
Now perhaps this was just a once-off, but on a stream with French caster Fuury, while reviewing the VOD of the European Finals with Alpha54 no less, Aztral made a lot of comments either insulting or mocking Yukeo in French. This shows that Aztral’s attitude towards the team was not a great one and once Dignitas were resoundingly swept by Vitality in the Rocket League Spring Series, Aztral had had enough and wanted out, and given his negative contributions to the atmosphere within Dignitas, it’s not hard to see why Panda & Yukeo didn’t fight hard, if at all, to retain him. But should they still have anyways?
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An Irreplaceable Talent?
This is where the dilemma arises for many. Aztral is a one of a kind talent, quickly ascending to European MVP and becoming the best player in the world. While he was brought in for the potential that was there, I don’t think could imagine just how far he’d come and how quickly too. And if you take a step back for a second, Dignitas let the best player in the world leave. That on its own is going to be tough to replace on its own, but given Aztral’s role on Dignitas, that task becomes borderline impossible.
It can be argued Aztral has the perfect mix of mechanics and brains. He can go all for solo plays and have an absurd success rate, but he knew when to find teammates on the pitch, and not only how best to set them up, but to convert the great passes Panda & Yukeo were providing him. Dignitas' new try-out, Joreuz has great individual ability in his own right, and we’ve already seen dazzling solo efforts from him, but they’ve mostly come when giving far too much space from a boost-starved, or far too respectful, opposition defence. Aztral has proven that neither of those factors is limiting to what he can do when on the ball.
In the two events we’ve seen since Aztral’s departure, while Dignitas bringing in Joreuz obviously has a view to the long-term, it's exceedingly obvious that there’ll be struggles for a while. Placing 3rd-4th in the Fusion 3v3 Cup and 5th-6th in the Eurocup 10K, where they scraped by Sandrock Gaming and lost to RLRS side Giants Gaming, it’s a far cry from the team that was atop of Europe. More importantly, Aztral’s new home in Oxygen has had a resurgence, winning the Fusion 3v3 cup with dominant wins over both Dignitas & Vitality. Being able to turn around the fortunes of the former Reciprocity roster so quickly, (With Ferra & Chausette being multiple time major LAN winners in their own right), if that isn’t a showcase of what Aztral is capable of, is it ever really the right decision to let him leave?
Ultimately, whether you believe Dignitas made a mistake in letting Aztral go comes down to whether you think it’s absolutely necessary for teammates in a team to be on good terms, something that with the benefit of hindsight was not the case for what was a successful Dignitas roster. At the same time, just who knows how good Joreuz might be, the ability for ViolentPanda & Virge to mould him into their ideal 3s player is an enticing prospect, there is probably no better team to develop as a new player as Dignitas, Aztral case in point.
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