Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett had a tumultuous off-season which ultimately led to his transfer from TSM to Dignitas. In early May, TSM President, Leena Xu, leaked information surrounding Dardoch's status among League of Legends Championship Series teams, hinting that TSM wanted to replace him but were having little success.
Dardoch did, of course, secure a position on Dignitas following their release of Jonathan "Grig" Armao earlier this off-season. With that, he has a new home and culture, and has been able to reset from the difficulty surrounding the Spring Split and his transfer. His goal is to move forward and rediscover how he personally plays the game, developing a more defined style and identity.
What was your initial response when you found out Leena had accidentally leaked information about your status with other orgs in the league on a stream?
I mean my initial response was like, obviously this is pretty f***** up, so I wasn't exactly happy with what was going on. But behind the scenes, I already knew the situation was as far as teams' interests and stuff like that. TSM had told me they were going to off-load me a week or so after Playoffs were done, so I had known that I was going to be looking for a new team already. So her essentially putting out my situation to the public didn't feel great for sure.
So had you already been in contact with teams? Was her statement directly truthful then? A lot of people were speculating that it may have not been meant 100%, rather just her speaking in a frustrated moment.
Yeah, the way it seemed was that nobody was interested enough to pay a buyout for me, so I guess that made it seem like nobody was interested, I'm not sure. But I had already been speaking around and talking to a few teams, so I had a good idea that I had teams interested in me.
So I don't know how much you can talk about this, but what happened afterward? Did you get any compensation or did they take extra measures to find a team for you? They've been completely silent other than an apology put up on Twitter.
Yeah, and that post wasn't even from TSM [the organization] it was just from Leena. But yeah, I mean I wasn't compensated or anything. I got an apology, that's pretty much all. Not even from the person who did it, but from Regi. The whole situation... I still don't feel great about, but I don't see much purpose in speaking about it any more from my perspective. Because I did get a new team, so I'm more so just focused on what's next for me, rather than how I was disrespected in however many ways from this org.
I like that mentality. But before we move forward, did the Players Association help you work through the situation at all?
On a very basic level, they reached out and said, "Yo, if there's anything you want to do, let us know how we can help you with that." Something like that, which isn't very actionable, at least from my perspective. Because from a sense of "Am I going to sue them?" or anything, I have no f****** clue. You know what I mean? That's so out of my depth, I have no idea what I can and can't do with that sort of thing.
So if they reached out and say that to me, then yeah... We know you don't know what you're doing. So it was a hopeless feeling for sure. But like I said, I got a new team. I don't feel hopeless, I know there is a future. So I'm just trying to make the best of my circumstance.
Now that you're a part of Dignitas, can you talk about what the team dynamic has been like during practice and the synergy developed within that dynamic?
Currently, there is no set roster so the team is mixing and matching players as the coaching staff sees fit. We're going about things as if we have a new roster every day, and the coaching staff is also assigning us specific duo queue partners based on those day-to-day scrims. That's how practice has been recently structured.
How does the duo queue partnering factor into the greater team approach to practice?
Essentially, we have a meeting before scrims about an hour or and hour and a half before, and then we play a warm-up game with our assigned duo queue partner before our scrim block. Since the coaching staff is mixing and matching rosters, they make the duo queue assignments with that in mind.
Is there anything you're trying to focus on personally in terms of how your time on Dignitas will reflect on your career as a whole?
I think that on most of the teams I've been on thus far I've had a very natural way of playing the game the way I wanted. Rosters have been ready to play off of me and sometimes built for me to carry in the past. On TSM, I had a new role to fill that I didn't necessarily fit well into or understand how to fill. That made me realize that at this point in my career I should have a more confident opinion of how I want to play the game and how I view the correct way to play my role.
My main goal, personally, is to get back to that on DIG. Regardless of what league I'm playing in or what roster I'm attached to, I want to make sure I'm playing the role of Jungler the way I know how to play it and the way that I think is best.
On Dignitas, you've been reunited with your former Team Liquid teammate Samson "Lourlo" Jackson. How has he changed as a player since you were last on a team together? Do you still have synergy with one another?
Yeah, Lourlo and I will always have great synergy. Even though we haven't been on a team together in a long time, we still play duo queue like clockwork during the off-season. Sam and I have been close and see each other outside of game as well over the years, so I think we still have great synergy.
You mentioned having to fulfill a new role on TSM. What about you as a Jungler didn't fit into that new role?
I wouldn't say I wasn't able to show the way I wanted to jungle on other teams, but frankly, we had a lot of disagreements on TSM this Spring. From my perspective, we didn't necessarily agree on how the game should be played, and it made it very hard for me to play my role in that sense.
Does having a 10-man discussion on DIG change the dynamic in how those team-based conversations unfold?
It's not a format I'm not already accustomed to because of Team Liquid in 2016. It was the first team I had played professionally on but it was also the first 10-man system I had experienced. Honestly, if you can do it, it's better to have 10 brains in the call instead of five as far as players go because we all play 11-12 hours of solo queue during the off-season every day. In terms of getting opinions on what champions should be played, how the game should be played, and what is good on the current patch, you're going to get a lot more from more people. Even if a player is a 'lower-level academy player' I still think that everyone's opinion is valid.
How has the pandemic changed how you develop synergy with teammates? Being remote must change how that process is approached.
It was a big struggle for me, especially towards the end of this spring. It was really hard for me to feel connected to any of my teammates then, but I think it's a lot easier for me on this team because I'm a lot personally closer with most of my teammates. I've known Kim "Fenix" Jae-hun, Lourlo, and Zaqueri "aphromoo" Black for a long time and I've played with them before so it's not hard for me to maintain bonds over Discord. I've known them for such a long time now. As far as the teammates I'm getting to know for the first time, it takes more effort from my perspective because you have to put more time into it. I try to play more duo queue with my teammates that I don't know as well.
Thanks for the interview, Dardoch. Is there anything you want to say to the Dignitas fans now that you have arrived?
Thanks for the warm welcome. Honestly, the DIG org as a whole has been really welcoming to me - staff; players; fans all around have been extremely welcoming. I appreciate it.
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