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Letters for the Future Fan – Team Dignitas

Volamel 2019-04-17 04:35:20
  Dear fan of the future, I am unsure who is dominating the esports ecosystem when you read this, or who is quickly climbing the rungs of the competitive ladder, but I write to you today about a team, player, or organization that is long past your time. Something that is timeless in their story and their purpose. Something that dared you to challenge your perception of the current landscape of League of Legends. These are my letters from the past to help educate people on where the community has come from and to act as a Rolodex of info on just who these teams were so that their legacy might continue to live on through you, the reader.
Six years seems so wrong. This strong sense of nostalgia warps and bends time in ways you would expect. The memory is distant but so familiar. It feels like only a year or two ago I mistakenly had watched as Team Dignitas and Team Curse played their infamous match at MLG Raleigh in 2012. Team Dignitas were a cornerstone of League of Legend’s history. A building block that helped to craft and launch hundreds of narratives that the league now rests on. They might not be currently in the LCS, but their story will always be entangled with League of Legends. Through the pointed peaks and disappointing valleys, this is the story of Team Dignitas. Founded on September 9, 2003 as a fusion of the Battlefield 1942 clans Sweden Kompanix and Legion Condor, Team Dignitas went from an amateur group of esports athletes looking to chase a dream to multi-game title contenders. This narrative is best supported by their berth into League of Legends. Team Dignitas entered the space with the roster of Rock Solid in September of 2011. The roster included Joedat "Voyboy" Esfahani, Joshua "Jatt" Leesman, William "scarra" Li, Michael "Imaqtpie" Santana, and Patrick "L0CUST" Miller. At the time, the team had a handful of solid top four placings at a number of ESL Go4LoL online tournaments as well as a top-four placing at the NESL Premier League Season 1.     Team Dignitas found success early in League of Legends. Through 2011 until about the LCS era, the team was competitive, stacking multiple top three placings at prestigious events such as MLG Providence 2011, IEM Season 6 Kiev, IPL 4 Las Vegas, and MLG 2012 Spring Championships, to name a few. The LCS era saw the team suffer a dip in performance. For roughly three seasons, Team Dignitas would be labeled as a solid middle of the road team. However, two outliers tarnish that reputation. At the 2015 Spring split the team finished at 9th place with only 6 map wins to their name and during the 2016 Spring split, Team Dignitas finished at a harrowing 10th place, only being able to secure 4 map wins. Outside of these exceptions, Dignitas were a contender for playoffs and averaged about a 4-5th place finished in the regular season of a majority of the seasons they played. They wouldn’t make deep runs, but they were solid staples of the North American League of Legends space. After failing to qualify for the 2016 Summer split, Dignitas transferred their North American Challenger Series seed to Apex Gaming. After Apex Gaming finished the split in seventh place, both Dignitas and Apex were acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers in September. The two teams would merge and play under the Dignitas banner. This marked a continuation of traditional sports investment into the League of Legends space. Some notable investments include Rick Fox’s involvement and ownership over Echo Fox, the Houston Rockets investing into Clutch Gaming, FlyQuest is headed by the co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Golden Guardians are a sub-sect of the NBA team, the Golden State Warriors. However, putting their demons in the past, this spring split would be a fair return to form for the veteran team.     During the 2017 Spring split, the team would manage a 50% win/loss ratio going 9-9 and placing 6th overall, which qualified them for playoffs. Facing Phoenix1 in the quarterfinals, Team Dignitas would fall 0-3 and would exit the playoffs at 5-6th place. The 2017 Summer split began on a high note which saw Team Dignitas win four straight games against Team Envy, TSM, Phoenix1, and Echo Fox. Overall the team would end the split at 5th place with an 11-7 record. The Summer playoffs went well for Team Dignitas as they coasted over Cloud 9 in the quarterfinals, but failed to beat TSM in the semi-finals. Dignitas would take home 4th place after losing the 3-4th place match to CLG, 3-0. During the 2017 Season NA LCS Regional Finals—which is a tournament that was used to determine the last seed for North Amerca when it came to the World Championships—Team Dignitas drew FlyQuest during the first round and were quickly dispatched by the young team, 0-3. Ultimately, this would be the last time we saw the Team Dignitas banner hung in an LCS sanctioned event as they were not apart of the chosen few who would receive nods for franchising. However, recent developments might change that. According to a report published by ESPN, the parent company of both Team Dignitas and the Philadelphia 76ers have come to an agreement to acquire a majority stake in the League of Legends team, Clutch Gaming. The report goes on to say that Clutch Gaming will be rebranded to Dignitas later this year, more than likely after the 2019 League of Legends World Championship. For the first time in nearly two years, Team Dignitas may, in fact, grace the LCS stage once again.   Clad with a new logo and a familiar color scheme, Dignitas will be looking to recapture their previous glory as a contender. And while the Dignitas brand is not currently with us, their legend lives on within the memories of their fans and the resumes of some of their most notable alumni. Beloved by the masses, Michael "Imaqtpie" Santana left Team Dignitas after three years of service as their AD carry in October of 2014. He then went on to have a massively successful streaming career. Like some of the other Dignitas veteran’s Imaqtpie has also played for Delta Fox and the Meme Steam Team. Danny "Shiphtur" Le played for Dignitas for two years. After the team transferred its challenger seed to Apex Gaming, Shiphtur left the team. Since then he’s played alongside some of his former teammates in Delta Fox and the Meme Stream Team. Many know Joshua "Jatt" Leesman as a beloved color commentator and analyst on the North American broadcast desk, but he actually had a small stint as a professional player with Team Dignitas in 2011. In 2019 Jatt retired from the broadcast team and is now working with the balance team at Riot Games. You might know him for his stellar Katarina play or bringing AP Soraka to mid-lane, but William "scarra" Li’s name is synonymous with Team Dignitas. Scarra played for the team for nearly three years and transitioned to coaching the team for a brief stint in 2014. He joined Counter Logic Gaming in October of 2014 as the team’s head coach. He stepped down from the position in April of 2015. Since then you can find him on his personal stream or with, a content creation house featuring some of’s biggest personalities. Former top laner Noh "Gamsu" Yeong-jin joined the European team, Fnatic, in 2015 and found marginal success with the team throughout the year. However, Gamsu retired from League of Legends in 2016 to pursue a career in Overwatch. He participated in the Overwatch League as a part of the Boston Uprising during the inaugural season and was sold to the Shanghai Dragons for season two. After stepping down from Team Dignitas in 2015, Alberto "Crumbz" Rengifo moved on to play on teams such as Misfits NA, Team Dragon Knights, and both coached and played for Apex Pride. He then transitioned into a fixture on the NA LCS broadcast team as well as working as an analyst for the Overwatch League during its first season. After only playing one split for Dignitas in 2014, Darshan "Darshan" Upadhyaya, joined the North American staple team, Counter Logic Gaming, and has been there ever since. At CLG he has two playoff championships to his name, the North American LCS 2015 Summer playoffs as well as the 2016 Spring playoffs. After his December 2012 suspension from the league, Christian "IWDominate" Rivera, played for teams like Team Curse and Team Liquid. During both stints, he would assist each team’s academy roster and act for a substitute player if the need arose. IWDominate stepped away from the competitive scene in July of 2016 and is now a streamer for Team Liquid. Greyson "Goldenglue" Gilmer join Team Dignitas in March of 2014 and only served a few months with the team as a substitute. Since his time with Dignitas, Goldenglue has played under the banner of many different organizations. Team Coast, compLexity, Frank Fang Gaming, Team 8, Immortals, Ember, Echo Fox, Team Liquid and Cloud 9 are the teams that took an interest in the young mid-laner after his departure from Team Dignitas. _______ More in this series:
Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLGs of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would follow his thoughts you can follow him at @Volamel. Images courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr and Riot Games.    

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