Dignitas: The Unexpected Gatekeepers Between The Two Halves Of The LCS
Expectations for Dignitas as a team going into this upcoming League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) 2021 season were low. Their roster didn’t catch eyes like the other old guards of the league did: Cloud9, Team Liquid, and Team SoloMid. They also had a slow start to the LCS Lock In — being one of the two teams to not reach playoffs — and it continued all the way through to the first week of the Spring Split. But this did not veer them away from unexpectedly being a strong middle of the pack team going into the LCS’ fifth week.
As the only team to field five North American players this year in the LCS, Dignitas had their work cut out for them going into this brand new season. Due to the nature of their roster, many had questions about their performance. Prior to the season, if one were to compare this roster to others in the league, there would be glaring mismatches — they were not the Cloud9s, Team Liquids or even Evil Geniuses of the world. This roster was and is two veteran players serving as the glue for the new, fresh, up and coming players.
But that glue is fresh, and it consisted of two key players that have been in the LCS for years. Dignitas put their faith in jungler, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, when no other team would knowing his past, making him the first signing of the team. While also keeping former MVP and multiple time LCS champion, support Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black — definitely not a cheap brand glue. But even with the more expensive adhesive, this team does not get to benefit from a huge signing like former League of Legends European Championship (LEC) player, Luka “Perkz” Perkovic, or like a League of Legends World Championship finalist, Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh.
Dignitas’ start to the 2021 season was rough. They were the only team alongside Counter Logic Gaming to not make it into the playoffs for the LCS Lock In tournament. Their only win during the tournament came from their first game of the tournament when they played against FlyQuest. After that, they faced an Immortals who wasn’t much better than them at the time, a surprisingly red hot Evil Geniuses and an eventual LCS Lock In finalist in Cloud9 — a tough break for them.
Throughout Lock In, Dignitas didn’t really offer much apart from showing that they were a bottom-tier team at the time. But one thing to note was their solo laners, top laner Aaron “FakeGod” Lee and mid laner, Max “Soligo” Soong. Even though they had prior LCS experience as they played for 100 Thieves in years past, they showed another hidden level that wasn’t expected of them.
Spring Split Thus Far - Week 1 through Week 4
The poor performance continued through to the first week of the Spring Split. Even with Dardoch’s continued attempt of “what jungler will he pick this time?” picking Rengar and Dr Mundo in consecutive games, the team was still not offering much, putting them at 1-2 for Week 1.
Once in Week 2, things began to change — apart from Dardoch’s champion pool continuously growing — their solo lanes started to ramp it up, holding their own, getting themselves a 3-0 week. Unexpectedly, after much criticism last year and not much of an apparent impact so far, aphromoo once again let the league know why he’s a former MVP. He took yet another fresh AD Carry under his wing and helped him flourish. Both him and Toàn “Neo” Tran had the best KDAs for their positions up until the end of Week 4. Aphromoo has had such an impact that going into Week 3; he earned himself the player of the week.
So far, this team has been the bridge between the upper and bottom halves of the standings. Their only losses consist of teams that are either above them in the standings or, if they’re Team Liquid, tied with them in the standings. Apart from Counter Logic Gaming, they’ve made sure to keep the teams below them at the bottom while also getting an occasional win over the current second-place team, Team SoloMid.
This team, so far, has been a pleasant surprise. They are fun to watch, they are proactive, and throughout the first weeks (counting Lock In), Dardoch has been able to bring out a variety of champions in the jungle. The glue is working; it’s sticking together well. Solo laners FakeGod and Soligo are holding their own while occasionally having pop-off games while Neo — alongside aphromoo — has been on a tear.
If you were to look at many pre-season rankings and the roster on paper, Dignitas have no business doing this well. Many were expecting that they’d fizzle out by Week 2.
In their most recent week, Week 4, they cleanly took down Immortals, had a close game that could’ve gone either way with 100 Thieves and had a questionable play call versus Counter Logic Gaming that cost them the game. Overall, this team is strong, and if they continue on the right path, they’ll be a mainstay in the middle of the pack — unexpected seeing the names of players on teams around them.
Images via Riot Games