Dignitas is hitting an impressive stride in the LCS, and support veteran Zaqueri ‘aphromoo’ Black wants his team of emerging talents, along with jungler Joshua ‘Dardoch’ Hartnett, to keep up the aggression.
After going a perfect 3-0 in Week 2 of the Spring Split, DIG is tied for third with Team SoloMid. This is coming from a newly built roster that’s being led into battle by a hyper-aggressive jungler in Dardoch and a cool-headed, reserved support in Aphromoo moving every piece into place.
In the early phases of the split, this dualism is molding the rest of the players into a decisive, fast-paced unit, who aren’t backing down when taking on the bigger clubs in the league.
While Dignitas’ style of play might not be totally sustainable after patch 11.4’s changes to the jungle, Aphromoo is looking forward to keeping the tempo high as this team continues to grow.
“I think for our veteran guys we prefer high tempo. To get on the same page, everybody has to obtain that knowledge,” he explained. “Everything to the small details, ‘who has prio, when can we fight, we want to fight here right now’ then make it happen… we’re constantly fighting. Pushing for control, hitting them where we can.”
Admittedly, for Aphromoo and DIG, it’s still a learning process.
There’s still a few ‘green’ players, as Aphro puts it. Outside of Dardoch and himself, no one on the team had pro experience before 2019, according to Tim Sevenhuysen, founder of Oracle’s Elixir, a database for professional League of Legends.
Mid laner Max ‘Soligo’ Soong, Top’s Aaron ‘FakeGod’ Lee, and Aphromoo’s lane partner Toan ‘Neo’ Tran are still getting a hang of the ropes.
There are mixed feelings. DIG had an early exit in the preseason Lock In event. But now they sit 4th in the LCS at 4 wins and 2 losses through two weeks of the Spring Split’s compacted 6-week schedule.
“[It’s] just a learning period for us,” the DIG support said. “We’re a young team, it’s going to take some time, gonna hit some roadblocks. We just have to take it in stride.”
In the regular season, DIG’s shown to have a shaky early game. But they have a league-best mid-to-late game rating (MLR) of +26.0, per Oracle’s Elixir. Meaning, even with slow starts, Dignitas tends to get much better as the game goes on through Week 2.
With wins over teams like Golden Guardians, an incomplete CounterLogic Gaming, and Immortals, we can at least put this lineup squarely above ‘the rest.’ But how do they fair against the best?
Before Sunday’s game, the 28-year-old American noted how disciplined and aggressive Evil Geniuses were all around the map, from 2013 World Champ Jeong ‘Impact’ Eon-young to mastermind Lee ‘IgNar’ Dong-geun down at the bot lane.
For a team “that’s a lot more built,” the 9-year veteran saw their matchup with EG as a good litmus test.
With EG’s aggression noted, Sunday’s match started with a level 1 fight in Dignitas’ jungle. Dardoch, Soligo, Fakegod and Neo instantly collapsed on Impact and Dennis ‘Svenskeren’ Johnsen, who invaded their top-side chickens. Aphromoo TP’d in.
FakeGod had First Blood in less than 2 minutes and would have had a Double Kill but Impact blast coned seemingly at 1hp. Before the announcers could catch their breaths, Dardoch and Soligo dropped Svenskeren to 0/2/0 before 3 minutes.
EG eventually managed to pull ahead later on, but DIG’s mid-late game held for a solid 32-minute win relegating a projected top-4 team to the middle of the table.
These aren’t signs that Dignitas are guaranteed to win the Split and go to Worlds, as much as that’s the goal for them, but this does give the team a lot more validation.
“It gives us confidence going into future matches,” Aphromoo said of their early LCS success. “You know, it’s validation. We’re learning in the right direction. It’s just about being disciplined, rinse and repeat. Make sure we’re always talking. What we’re picking, prioritizing, and the best spots to be in.”
The grind has been hell, he says. But the aggression and fast-paced style has been clicking at its best with DIG tallying the 2nd best K/D ratio at 1.45, only behind Cloud9’s 1.71. And the discipline is getting there, with the team having the least amount of deaths in the LCS with 58, Team Liquid has one more at 59.
Behind the data, there’s a belief in the team that they can be something great week in and week out. They’re playing like one of the best teams in the league, but LCS Week 3 is where we’ll see how consistent they can be.
In talking about how he and Neo have been running the bot lane, Aphromoo says “it’s way better to be aggressive and fail, then just try to be one of those passive bottom lanes.” So far that’s been something we’ve been seeing all throughout the map from Dignitas.
This weekend, they face Cloud9, TSM, and FlyQuest. If Dignitas can go 3-0 in back-to-back weeks, they’ll have a firm grasp on top 2 in the league.