The start of the 2020 LCS Summer Split is upon us and with that came some roster changes in the midst of one of the most strange seasons in LoL history. Dignitas was a team which saw some of the most movement this split, releasing Huni, Grig and Olleh, while adding V1per and JayJ. On top of this, Dignitas have said that they are going to be implementing a 10-man roster lineup, with active flexibility on the starting lineup, week to week, dependant upon performance.
Esports Heaven spoke with DIG coach Invert to discuss the 10-man roster decision, Huni’s departure, one-dimensional top laners, having JayJ as a player again, picking up the forbidden fruit Dardoch, and finally, his opinion on the LCS lineups.
Could you explain the 10-man roster decision?
We looked at different configurations in the roster, and obviously with Huni leaving, there was a hole in top. We also parted ways with Grig in the jungle. We kind of thought our whole idea of how we make a roster competitive is that healthy competition internally leads to great results externally; in traditional sports it’s the norm that people compete for their spots. In high school sports you have tryouts or you have people who are actively in the same role as you in traditional sports. We talked to our players who, in some cases, have been a part of a platoon system. Akaadian and V1per were both parts of a system like this, as well as Lourlo on Echo Fox with Solo.
We had really in-depth discussions about what worked about those systems from orgs that implemented them, and what did not. The running theme was teams had a lack of transparency and a lack of camaraderie, it was never necessarily both, but it could have been one or the other. I don’t want to call out specific instances but those were the general themes when orgs tried to implement competition within roles. We took those lessons to heart and we listened to our players on how to best implement this system and constantly keep players feeling that they’re at the same level as one another and to also give the same amount of respect to each player. We implemented a lot of administrative things in order to make that happen. One great example when we do our morning meetings is that we do it with all 10 players, whether you’re a part of one team today or the other team the next day. The important thing is that we’re part of the same organization and we’re all doing this together as a team. We wanted the two teams to holistically feel like one entire team that you’re competing to win for. That was the culture we were brewing for a 10-man roster. We also think that the talent is good enough that these players can raise each other’s skill floors by competing with one another.
Did you expect to lose Huni during the off-season? The move seemingly came out of nowhere.
On the coaching side of things, we went into the off-season with the expectation that we would keep Huni, and then that switched over to where that wasn’t going to happen, so we had to re-jig and adjust accordingly. So, from the coaching side of things, it did definitely come as a surprise.
From an outside perspective, you’ve traded a one-dimensional top laner for another in V1per. What are your thoughts on differentiation in playstyle between Huni and V1per?
I guess that’s the cynical side of things and in a sense I would agree. Both of them are very aggressive players that thrive when putting the enemy laner under pressure, whether that’s with or without enemy jungle pressure. I think both of them are also pretty diverse in playstyle. Both of them can play tanks, it’s not like they’re unable to, it’s just the top lane meta hasn’t leaned to tanks for the past couple of years. That’s just the nature of the game right now where tanks are kind of being pushed out of that lane. We saw this last split with tanky champions being placed in the support role with Tahm Kench and Nautilus. I don’t think that evaluation is wrong necessarily, but to compare V1per to Huni in general and see similarities just speaks to the overall qualities of V1per as a player given Huni’s pedigree and stature. So I don’t have a problem with that comparison at all.
How do you feel about putting pressure on Aphromoo with JayJ behind him? As far as I’m aware, you had coached JayJ. What’s your take on this dynamic situation?
Sure. I mean, whether it was JayJ, or previously Olleh, the theory was still the same. The important thing that we emphasized was transparency. Working with Aphromoo and talking with him about it, the situation was clear to him that we were challenging him on a couple of things we wanted to see in the coming split and that’s added incentive for him to work on those things. To his credit, he was actually very open-minded about this because his communication suggests that he wants to win and be a part of an org that wants to win. So whatever creates the most success for us, he was on board with, it was a very mature response. For me, I love working with Aphromoo and JayJ, I think they’re both good players and can be challenged to perform a little bit better and I think they’re working on those things they need to work on. I’m very proud of both of them at the moment.
You’ve taken the forbidden fruit. You picked up Dardoch. Were you not worried about his past reputation?
Not really. I’ve worked with players in the past that had bad reputations and people weren’t fans of those players and they’ve always worked well with me because I have a tendency to put winning above everything else and to create that culture which understands that you’re working as a team and working with each other more than anything. I think Dardoch has adapted and received that well. I really enjoy working with him. We haven’t really had problems, and the way we work together I don’t foresee that happening. I also think the other thing is, I’m not really worried about Dardoch given the fact that we have Akaadian too. I understand if people think that we have to rely on him and therefore he can act out, but first off, I don’t think Dardoch is the kind of person to do that, and secondly, even if that was the case, as an org we understood that if this doesn’t work out, we still have a really really good jungler (laughs). We made sure when Dardoch was onboarding that it wasn’t a guaranteed spot and we already have a jungler that works well with the team, and Dardoch was very open to the idea and also to playing in Academy, contrary to what I had heard in the public.
What about Dardoch and Aphromoo? Were you not concerned about both of these players butting heads because of the previous CLG fiasco?
Part of all of this was approaching players and saying, “hey listen, we’re looking into this person, what do you think of this person”? We’ve had people who have worked with him before, in both FeniX and Lourlo, so talking to all of them to get a sense of how they feel about him as a person, at the end of the day it made it really clear that he was a great fit for us and we would appreciate him working with us. All of those players had good things to say about him, in some cases, some of them actively wanted to work with him. Aphromoo specifically, he was very happy we were giving Dardoch a chance to be on this team.
What is your prediction for top 3 teams in the LCS, excluding your own team Dignitas?
Soft spot aside I do really think FlyQuest will maintain their form and they were a better team than a lot of people gave them credit for. I think the first instance of predictions, I was one of the few people that thought they had the floor of semifinals. Probably because I worked with the players before (laughs) and the coaching staff and I know how they work and what the culture is like there. I think the team will continue to be elite but they still have some stuff to work on. We’ve even been victim to some of their weaknesses, but they can be turned into strengths. I think the meta is good for FLY and Santorin is a really good carry jungler and Ignar can play supports that impact the entire game. I think they’ll still be good.
Of course C9 is in my top 3 as well.
To round out the top 3, I would love to include us, but to answer the question, I don’t think there’s really a 3rd team worth talking about. I think the tiers are pretty clear, with Tier 0 being C9, Tier 1 being FLY and then there’s Tier 2 under that. Personally, the way TSM constructed their roster, I don’t feel there really were improvements because obviously the bot lane change and jungle change could work out, but the coaching staff situation is very weird, so I do struggle to see how they adapt to circumstances with the staff that they have. That’s not to say they won't adapt, but at the moment, with how their staff is constructed, I don’t see how they can actively improve as a team.
As for the other teams, I don’t have super high hopes for Immortals or Counter Logic Gaming. I am also personally low on 100 Thieves because I thought they could only play through one lane and they have a distinct drafting style that was easy to predict.
Golden Guardians I am a little higher on than most people because I really respect their jungler and ADC. I think those two are very good players. I also like the way that Inero thinks about the game, even though I don’t completely align with it, he makes his team fit that identity very well. They become good at it even if it’s not the best way to play the game.
Team Liquid is also interesting because they’re the other side of TSM where I see the coaching staff, but I need to see if it actually improves things or not. TL was similar to 100T in that they were very exploitable in their drafts and also easy to read on a team identity level. I’d love to see if that changes at all.
I think EG is pretty good, a tier right under FlyQuest. I just don’t know what roster they’re using. I also think they have a tendency to go too crazy or try to get too much. If they fix that and become more patient, they’ll become a strong team.
Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content.
Images courtesy of Riot Games
For more LoL content, check out our LoL section