Team Dignitas has returned to the North American LoL Esports scene in triumphant fashion. Alongside Cloud9 and FlyQuest, DIG is one of three teams in the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split to currently sit at 3-0 after defeating Counter Logic Gaming, Evil Geniuses, and Team Liquid.
DIG's solo lane dynamic duo of top laner Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon and Henrik "Froggen" Hansen have lived up to expectations, and support Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black looks rejuvenated alongside cool customer rookie AD Carry Johnson "Johnsun" Nguyen. Froggen spoke to Inven Global's Nick Geracie about his 2019 season with Golden Guardians, joining Dignitas, and the team's strong start in the 2020 LCS season.
I'm joined by Dignitas mid laner Froggen. How are you feeling about the team's performance?
I feel pretty good.
Did you expect things to go this well early in the season? The community seems hgad varying opinions on Dignitas' level relative to the other teams in the LCS before the season, mostly due to the fact that your roster was publicly announced later than the other teams this off-season.
I think we just stayed focused on the fundamentals, that's usually what teams focus on at the start of coming together as a roster. In my opinion, compared to scrims, we've underperformed. Our week 1 games weren't as clean as our scrims, and there were definitely some nerves and jitters at the start that we needed to get out of the way. Because of this, the fact that we got the win against Counter Logic Gaming was pretty good, and against Evil Geniuses, we were a bit cleaner.
It feels really good to get some wins on the board; it doesn't feel like anyone is unbeatable right now. Obviously, it's too soon to say, but in our first two games, I felt that we managed to win pretty easily.
Your roster has a lot of established veterans, and then one rookie in Johnsun. What's the dynamic of the DIG roster?
Ever since I started competing in North America, I've played with mostly rookies or less experienced players. Historically, it's been me and 3-4 rookies on my team every single time for the past few seasons, so this is the first time I've had a lot of experience on the roster around me.
At the start of practice, it was really easy to tell that they have been around for a while and they know how to play the game. There aren't a lot of things that we need to sort out or talk about, we're just able to play the game. Everyone is trying to contribute in whatever way they can, and everyone knows what their role in the team is in terms of what to do in game.
The start of the season has been pretty easy for us, I would say. It's felt more fluid than the other teams I have been a part of in the past.
A concern for Dignitas was that too many veteran players would result in a clash of styles, but the wealth of experience seems to have only benefitted the team.
Yeah, everyone always has these narratives that players only want to play a certain way, but if you look at the good teams, everyone is going to get the gold that they need. People treat it as if when one guy needs to farm two waves, the other players on the team go afk...like what the hell are you saying? It's like they haven't even played League of Legends before.
People like to evaluate those things in a very black and white context, but there's usually a lot of grey area.
Yeah, I think it's more that if someone is getting a lot of resources, he's probably doing pretty damn well. He's probably managing his waves correctly, and knows what he needs in the game to succeed, so I don't really think resource hogging or something like that is really much of a thing.
Despite the jitters you mentioned, Johnsun has played well so far. How has he been dealing with the pressure?
I'm not sure if things have been too daunting for him. He seems like a super chill guy and takes everything pretty well. He had some jitters in his first weekend of LCS, and in our first game, his mouse was not working the way he wanted it to work. Despite that, I think he's performed pretty well, and has done really well on stage in terms of being calm and collected.
We're all on the same page doing the same thing, and Johnsun didn't back out of any tough situations, so I think it was pretty straightforward. He handled himself well, and we're here to help him as much as he can as three of our starting players have been around for a very long time.
Visa issues have afflicted many LCS teams in the off-season, and even now, some teams are without players or have had to adjust their rosters drastically. Did Dignitas have any visa issues, or has the team had a good amount of time to practice before the start of the split?
When we started practicing, we were playing with DIG Academy top laner Samson "Lourlo" Jackson instead of Huni because Huni was still in South Korea dealing with visa issues. Johnsun was practicing from Canada because he also had visa issues, so I think we had six total days of practice with all five of our starters here in Los Angeles.It's not much more than that, but it's felt pretty good so far.
Switching from Lourlo to Huni was pretty smooth. Lourlo has been doing well; in the scrims he played with us, it didn't feel very different in terms of the way he wanted to play or the way the team played with him. Lourlo came in, played with us, and contributed. He's good in communications and he's really smart about the game, so he actually added to what we already had as a team. It felt really good.
Speaking of Lourlo, the DIG Academy roster is stacked with veterans with several splits of LCS experience. Is there a dynamic between the main Dignitas roster and the Academy roster, or are you guys mostly operating separately?
Right now, I don't think we have interacted too much with each other. Both teams are scrimming in the office, and we're talking after when we're eating food and what not, but they're kind of doing their own thing and we're doing ours for now, it seems. Obviously, there are some things that crossover. If people want to theorycraft, we definitely have someone to bounce off of and they have someone to reach out to as well. Both teams have a lot of experience, so it feels pretty good.
You took a year off from competitive play in 2018, and returned to the LCS stage with Golden Guardians in 2019. What did you think of your individual level of play least season?
I think I played okay. I think I've been playing okay on all of the teams I've been on, but the issue for me is that I haven't had any success in North America. This is my fourth year of playing competitively in NA, and in my opinion, I haven't really seen any success. That's obviously something people are going to look at, and it's going to reflect on me, but I think individually I've always played really well and have been working with the different teams and the players. I've played with a lot of different personalities, mostly rookies, and I've tried to do my best all the time while performing individually.
I think that on Dignitas, I can focus more on myself than I could on previous teams. I don't have to try and help other players who need to learn a lot about the game at the competitive level. All of my current teammates know what their jobs are, they just have to go out their and execute, and the same goes for me. I know what my job is on this team, and I just have to do what I need to do in order to win the game.
Golden Guardians followed up a 2019 LCS Spring Split Playoffs appearance with a strong start to the following summer split, but the team began to struggle and wasn't able to make playoffs even after some roster swaps mid-split. What do you think happened to last summer that caused your team to stop progressing?
I just don't think the team worked well together at all. We weren't really set up super well to succeed, and even throughout spring, we never really learned how to play together.
Honestly, the only thing that really made us start becoming pretty good towards the end of spring and got us into playoffs was playing a lot of World of Warcraft: Classic together when it first returned. We played a lot of custom games, which is something people in the LCS used to do back in the day, and we found some teamwork and willingness to help one another through that. After we lost to FlyQuest 2-3 in the Quarterfinals, whatever we had teamwork-wise kind of died out.
No one was aware of what the 2020 season would look like for you until Golden Guardians signed Greyson "Goldenglue" Gilmer. Had you already left the team by that point to explore your options?
No, I had signed a 2-year contract with Golden Guardians at the start of 2019. The second year was a team option, so they took the team option and tried to trade me to another team. Obviously, I didn't really know where I was going to go at that point. There were a few options, and I ended up joining Dignitas. I'm pretty happy, I wanted to play with Huni because I think he's a really, really good player.
I know people have their opinions about Huni's play, but I think that stems from when he first entered the competitive scene and was being crazy and all of that kind of stuff. I think he's a really smart player; when we scrimmed against Clutch Gaming as Golden Guardians last year, their starting mid laner at the time, Tanner "Damonte" Damonte, and Huni lane swapped against us a few times.
Every time I laned against Huni last year, I noticed he was very smart about playing the game and not just running into me for a fight like everyone seemed to think he is always doing. I think he's a really good player.
It's great to see you guys operate well together, and like Dignitas, the points of strengths for Golden Guardians last season were the solo lane pair of you and Hauntzer. Did you have a say in being traded to Dignitas, or was where you ended up entirely up to Golden Guardians?
They did talk to me about it, but obviously I don't know everything because I don't hear all of the different things managers talk about. It's hard for me to say, but in my opinion, it seemed that because Golden Guardians took the team option, there was no intent of keeping me.
It kind of is what it is, you know? This is also a business, so that's part of it as it is part of all contracts. You know what you're signing and you know what you're getting into, so I don't really have any bad blood with anyone from that situation. It's just how it is, but I'm pretty happy with the process of how everything has turned out. Again, I don't know every single thing the team managers talked about. I only know what I know, and I ended up in a place where I'm happy.
As Clutch Gaming, Dignitas qualified for the 2019 World Championship. Do you think this organization could be the place where you capture the success that has eluded you in North America?
Dignitas is still 'new' — they've been around for a long time, but they just rebranded from Clutch Gaming and there has been a lot of changes in terms of building our new Verizon Training Facility and other forms of infrastructure. Most organizations in the LCS are still new and finding their footing in terms of the direction they want to go in, and I think DIG is doing a good job so far.
The organization has plans, and they want to go out there and execute on them, but mostly, for playing, you're going to have five coaches, players, and subs. At that point, it's just about the team doing their thing. I'm here to play League of Legends, and I need to play the best I can possibly play. It's up to DIG as an organization to help the players do their best, so since that's up to them, I'm just focused on doing my job for my team.
Despite playing this game competitively for nearly a decade, you've always managed to retain a trademark play-style regardless of team or meta. Is there anything you want to say to your fans who have followed you for a long time who have fallen in love with how you play League of Legends?
Thank you guys for following me for this long. I think I'm really blessed to have so many people stick around and still watch my stream and my competitive games. People come to LCS and say hi to me and take pictures with me and ask me to sign stuff, and that's really cool. I don't think a lot of people are fortunate enough to be able to have that level of support in their lives, so I'm very happy about that. Thank you guys so much for all of it.