Dignitas' parting of ways with jungler Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett in the middle of the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split has the LoL esports community divided. Some think that DIG's citing of behavioral issues as the reason for Dardoch's removal is right in line with his previous issues in seasons past, and given that he's played for seven LCS teams throughout his career, it's tough to argue.
However, some point towards Dardoch being arguably the biggest part of Dignitas' wins in a season where the team has exceeded expectations with a five-man roster of all homegrown North American players, and that his passion to win may lead to some charged moments, but is justified.
In week 4 of the 2021 LCS Summer Split, Inven Global spoke to former LCS teammates of Dardoch to get their thoughts on his recent split with Dignitas.
Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes — Golden Guardians
Stixxay played with Dardoch in the 2017 NA LCS Summer Split after a trade between Counter Logic Gaming and Immortals sent Dardoch to CLG in exchange for Jake "Xmithie" Puchero in the mid-season. Dardoch was part of a strong CLG system that saw the team shoot up the standings early on, but his individual role was one of sacrifice and minimization. Ultimately, Dardoch was removed from the team shortly after being benched for CLG Academy jungler Omar "OmarGod" Amin.
"I was pretty surprised because I think he was probably their best player; for sure one of their best players," Stixxay said. "I think he was the catalyst in a lot of their wins, so it's pretty surprising that they dropped him, but I guess something extreme happened or something like that, from what I've heard."
Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon — TSM
Huni was a major signing in Echo Fox's all-in approach to the 2018 NA LCS season alongside Dardoch, and the duo was expected to form a fearsome one-two punch for the FOX squad on the top side of the map. Echo Fox finished top 3 in spring, but even with roster changes that looked for the better on paper in summer, the team found itself eliminated in the first round of the Summer Playoffs and failed to qualify for the World Championship through the NA Regional Final.
Dardoch's contract expired after the season, and he eventually ended up on OpTic Gaming Academy. Huni, on the other hand, was traded to Clutch Gaming ahead of the 2019 season.
"I haven't really followed and I don't know what happened internally in Dignitas," Huni said, pondering. "I haven't really had any contact with that, so I'm not sure, but I was kind of surprised that this is what happened in the middle of the season. It's not an easy decision for anyone to make, but we'll see how it goes. I'm just not 100% on what the answer might be for them."
Lawrence "Lost" Hui — TSM
Lost was also a teammate of Dardoch's on Echo Fox, albeit under different circumstances. In the 2018 NA LCS Summer Split, Echo Fox re-tooled its roster around Huni and Dardoch. Mid laner Kim "Fenix" Jae-hoon, AD carry Johnny "Altec" Ru, and support Adrian "Adrian" Ma were swapped out for Tanner "Damonte" Damonte, Lost, and Andy "Smoothie" Ta, respectively, the latter of whom was acquired from Cloud9 after being benched for Tristan "Zeyzal" Stidham.
In a post-game scrum with the media following TSM's first game of week 4 of the 2021 LCS Summer Split, Lost gave his genuine reaction to hearing Dardoch and Dignitas were parting ways entirely. "Oh my gosh! Yeah. That was kind of my reaction," Lost exclaimed.
"It’s kind of crazy that it’s in the middle of the split and they’re not even making him play in Academy — he’s completely off the whole organization," the TSM AD carry continued. "I think that’s pretty interesting; if anything, pretty spicy. You have to do a lot of stuff that isn’t in line with the organization to be booted entirely where you’re not even playing in Academy.
Honestly, I hope some kind of story comes out so we can see what happened there because that would be really spicy and interesting."
Andy "Smoothie" Ta — Counter Logic Gaming
Smoothie went from one tumultuous situation to another in being transferred from Cloud9's bench to Echo Fox's starting roster, but in an interview with Inven Global, said that he could understand seeing Dardoch go overboard in a moment of frustration, but that he never personally experienced problems with the jungler on Echo Fox. "I don't really know exactly what happened," Smoothie said. I think sometimes he ends up going a little overboard.
'I never had that many problems with him personally, but I can see how he would rub people the wrong way, for sure," Smoothie admitted. "I'm not going to say anything because I don't know what happened, but it must have been something pretty bad."
Johnson "Johnsun" Nguyen — FlyQuest
Johnsun has played with Dardoch more recently than any other player in the LCS not currently still with Dignitas. Johnsun made his LCS debut in the Spring Split of last year, and after being transferred from TSM to Dignitas in the mid-season, Dardoch won the starting jungler job over at-the-time starter Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham ahead of the Summer Split.
"I guess, for me at least, it was pretty surprising that Dardoch isn't on the team anymore," Johnsun said when asked about Dignitas' recent decisions. "They originally said that the roster was built around jungle and support, and I think they had a good spring showing. However, I guess they went through a rough patch or had internal issues like a lot of other teams have this split."
Maybe things couldn't be resolved after Dignitas benched Dardoch last in the week before the bridges were burnt." Johnsun paused before continuing on about the potential of Dardoch's behavior being an issue on Dignitas. "I could see it... I guess he's like...I'm not sure what the word to describe Dardoch is, to be honest, but he's aggressive and passionate about what he wants to do."
Where Dardoch will end up next in his currently unknown, but his recent signing with UK management agency ICM Stellar Esports could imply a potential debut in a European Regional League like the UK League Championship Series.
All images by: Tina Jo/Riot Games via ESPAT