By Petar Vukobrat
January 13, 2020
The Team Dignitas Academy roster has been finalized and officially announced. Now, even writing such a sentence feels strange because that’s not something you’d expect to see anyone covering in much detail. Such a thing isn’t particularly news-worthy (let alone worth a separate piece like this one), and yet this one instance feels like a good exception.
The return of Team Dignitas is an exciting thing. The organization has many fans across the globe, along with a rich and storied history. Some of the most beloved players competed under the DIG banner. It feels like they’re an unavoidable part of competitive League history. Despite this, their return sparked a whole lot of controversy and backlash. Unfortunately for Dignitas, much of it is well-deserved.
They’ve spent $2.3 million on one player, after which they struggled to complete the rest of their LCS roster. When they finally completed the roster, many fans felt the organization made numerous baffling mistakes in judgment.
The Team Dignitas Academy roster is getting a similar amount of backlash from the community and with good reason. Before we delve any deeper into the problem, let’s take a closer look at both their LCS starting line-up and their Academy roster.
If you didn’t follow the off-season, you’d be forgiven if you couldn’t guess which one was which.
How is this possible? Does it even make sense to field an LCS-caliber roster in Academy? Franchising should’ve been the one big gamechanger, the moment when North America — and its brittle native talent pool — would prosper. The one moment fans have been waiting for years. However, it was just a way for the 10 permanent partners to guarantee themselves a spot in the league and, by proxy, long-term revenue.
Now sure, a couple of teams want to invest in native talent, but they’re the exception. Dignitas is not such an organization, and that’s a shame. They deserve every bit of backlash they’ve been getting.
Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham was last seen playing for Team SoloMid. Tanner “Damonte” Damonte just went to the World Championship and Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung last played for the Golden Guardians before getting relegated to Academy due to poor play.
Heck, Samson “Lourlo” Jackson also played for many LCS teams over the years. The same goes for Kim “Fenix” Jae-hun. These are all veterans of the league. They’ve had more than a dozen opportunities to prove their worth.
Now, no one’s saying they’re undeserving of playing in the LCS, but seeing them in Academy feels like a dirty move. The LCS Academy should be reserved for up and coming talent for young native players who have shown promise. The LCS is in dire need of new blood, and yet it’s not getting any.
It seems that certain organizations are looking to capitalize in any way they possibly can. It means the rules must change. They must change as soon as possible. The solution would be to enforce a rule in which only a set number of former LCS pros have the right to compete in Academy. A limit of two sounds reasonable. They would be the backbone of the team and should gradually improve and eventually earn another shot at playing in the LCS.
By signing another five LCS-caliber players, Dignitas is reserving a second five-man line-up to rotate in and out depending on their needs. If, Jonathan “Grig” Armao underperforms for whatever reason, they’ll slot in Akaadian.
Having five additional players can provide Dignitas with an immense strategic edge (something they’re also aware of). To sign five veterans and have them “on standby” is morally dubious, especially when the region is in shambles as far as international competitiveness goes.
It appears Dignitas doesn’t care much for such a thing. While it’s hard to blame them for having their own best interest at heart, it’s still a bit demoralizing to see an organization only focus on short-term gain. To make matters worse, they’re not predicted to be much of a top-tier challenger. So, why they decided against developing the “Dignitas of tomorrow” is anyone’s guess at this point.
Hopefully, this kind of thing is a one-off occurrence. It’s in everyone’s interest to develop the next breed of North American talent. If other teams pull a Dignitas as well, they will effectively make the region regress talent-wise.
A nightmare scenario, in every regard.