Echo Fox are tied at the top of the standings. Their performance early in the season isn’t as consistent as the last split, but they’re doing quite well.
Although they struggled through the Rift Rivals, Dardoch wasn’t too worried. He explained his thoughts on the changes in the team’s coaching staff and on how to play an aggressive jungle champion. Dardoch also expressed his faith in Huni.
We had a chance to interview Dardoch during week 4 of the NA LCS Summer Split.
As you know, Inero stepped down and Thinkcard took his place. Could you tell us some of the reasons for that change?
It was not an internally made decision or anything like that. As far as I know and as far as everyone else knows, Nick has an opportunity that he wants to pursue, and he doesn’t want to get in the way of our season or try to join another team to sabotage us or anything like that. We still see him as our coach, we’re still really close. He’s still around, backstage with us helping with the draft. Still will be coaching for our scrims in the next two weeks.
Thomas was always like our secondary head coach. They can always go back and forth in terms of how you draft. Him transitioning to the head coach is just natural for the players.
Then would you say there’s any change in the team regarding team atmosphere or drafting, or would you say that it’s relatively the same because they both had a very similar role with the team?
I think maybe Nick will be a bit more open-minded to some of the weird picks. Thomas is more like to the data. So for example, if I wanted to play Swain jungle, Nick will be like ‘Alright, let’s try it.’ Thomas will be like ‘Okay, why do you think Swain jungle is good?’ That’s pretty much the main difference, but overall, our team identity is with the players, so I don’t think much will change on how we play or how we select our champions for probably our entire careers. Players like Huni and I will be playing that kind of aggressive style regardless of who’s coaching us.
Is it safe to assume that Echo Fox will be doing less of those ‘wild’ picks unless there are data and everything supporting it?
I think we should be playing more of a clean style and less frantic winning and losing in 15-20 minutes kind of games. You will see us become more of a stable and reliable team. That was kind of a direction that we were always trying to go since day 1 of spring. We’ve always been a chaotic talented group of guys, but we’ve always lacked a little bit of discipline. It always turns into our demise in the game. It could end up snowballing and getting a counter solo on us often because we over-aggress, but Nick and Thomas were always trying to help us with that. So pretty much the same will be going on for us.
About Huni, he’s a player that’s always praised for both his ups and downs and recently, he hasn’t been playing as well as his potential allows him to. Are there any issues or is it just one of those moments?
Huni has always had a double-edged sword style of play in-game. Everyone kind of assumed that all of that was gone when he joined SKT, and after he left them, people assumed he’d be a perfect player instead of just a great player, which he is. Huni still makes most decisions on how he plays the games; he over-aggresses and over-extends. He’s still a phenomenal, extremely gifted individual player, and the same dominant player he’s always been. You can call it over-aggression, but he hasn’t lost it, he’s the same Huni he has always been.
Your pathing in the jungle was really aggressive on the top side to secure the early game pressure for Huni so he can play his comfortable style, but you can’t always prioritize top lane forever. What are your opinions on that?
Huni is a very versatile player, so even though he is this extremely great carry top lane player that we can always play around and rely on to carry the game if he’s in that position, we can also rely on him to be a solid pillar in top lane.
Huni has shown that he can play any style and Echo Fox has shown that we are branching out towards strategies other than playing through Huni, but obviously, our strongest strategy is still playing through Huni.
Did you see the interview of Darshan where he kind of trash talked a little bit about Huni being one of the easiest top laners to play against?
Yeah, I saw it. Darshan kind of talks his things when he wins, he never has the opportunity to meet Huni at the playoffs. (Laughs) If Huni ever has a chance to repay in a playoff match, or later in the regular season, he will. As far as I know, Huni is not too concerned with Darshan on an individual level.
Echo Fox has gone through a lot of roster changes. Could you share a bit of the team’s insight on the changes?
Generally, we always had the substitute options, and after the last split where we had some minor problems with motivation and overall staying in form with patches and having a good champion pool. We set out this year with the precedent that anybody who is underperforming or overperforming in a sub/academy position, we would give them time if they deserved it/needed to be removed.
In this case, Damonte played really well in the academy the last split and we were waiting for his suspension to end. Rift Rivals was when his suspension ended, so it was a perfect opportunity to give him a chance. We thought he did well enough to give him more time. That is pretty much the story in regards to mid. For support, I’m pretty sure Feng is just our starter.
What would you say the difficulties are as a jungler when these changes happen?
The difficulties for me personally comes when there’s a mass difference between the players on how they play the game. Like how Feng and Adrian play the game is completely different. You can see Feng is a more aggressive player; he’s always in the enemies’ face. In coms, he’s always really loud calling us how he can fight and when he wants to fight. When Adrian comes in, he’s more of a supportive player in the background. Sort of like aiding his teammates. He’s just a support player that wants to get the vision down, play the game slowly, and do the laning phase. There’s such a different way of playing between them even if they play the same champion. Even if I’m drafting the same champion, if the player is different, it’s a huge deal for me.
I do think it’s generally better to have the same five. However, because I’m in a more leadership position on this roster, there is less change in the game. There is more focus on the individual level. It has worked pretty well for me.
It seems that you’re confident on the carrying junglers like Kindred and Graves. What are your thoughts on that?
They’re both -- I don’t want to say overpowered -- on the stronger side of the jungle, but they do take a lot of practice and a lot of good decision making in-game especially on the Kindred side, where you need to be denying camps and you need to get your marks constantly. I do think it requires the team to play around you, but with your team playing around you, you’re required to have a very good understanding of the early game jungle which I believe I do.
Every game you should be getting these leads like I am on Graves and Kindred and if you are playing those characters, you have to understand that they are the carry. Those characters aren’t in the game for any other reason.
I think the biggest difference between the other players and me, is that they play Kindred and Graves because they see them strong, but I play them because I understand the characters and I’m sure how to make them function and my team know how to play around it. When carry junglers work, most of the time it’s just a very good team play, and I think my team knows how to play around very well.
Do you think it’s a plus for you making calls because you’re on the leadership role for the team?
It’s always going to be easier when we’re a team when we draft a champion that has to play in the jungle, and I’m in a very comfortable position to tell people what they need to do. So often times, I’m calling out thirty to forty seconds in advance on what they need to do with their wave and how they need to move on the map so everybody is on the same page when we get in position for a fight; they don’t have to think anything for themselves (Laughs). When they get into position, they only have to think about playing the game. So that is what I view as the jungler’s job. For my teammates, it’s just that they’re following the call making and thankfully, it often works out.
Any last comments for the fans?
Thanks for the constant support you’re showing me. I know haven’t been showing the most consistent performance in the LCS; even Rift Rivals was very shaky for us. But we do show that we’re a dominant team when we do play well, so we have a lot of stuff to iron up, but by the time playoffs and Worlds comes around, you’ll have a very reliable team to cheer on.