NA LCS Summer Week 7: Farewell, Dardoch

Photo: Riot Games

I’ve been a fan of Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett ever since he took the NA LCS by storm in 2016. He was cocky, but he made the plays to back it up. As a jungler myself, I admired his dominance.

After his falling out with Team Liquid, I sympathized. He was immature, and a lot of people were right to call him “toxic.” But what I saw was a kid who just wanted to win. If anything, I thought, that’s the attitude more people on TL should have had.

But I’m done defending Dardoch.

Counter Logic Gaming announced today that they were trading Dardoch to Team Liquid in exchange for cash.

“Over the course of the split, we found that Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett did not align with our focus on teamwork and culture,” reads CLG’s press release titled “Farewell Dardoch, Welcome Omargod.”

“Unfortunately, Dardoch was unwilling to adhere to the set of standards expected of every member of the team.”

That makes three roster swaps for the 19-year-old jungler in less than two years. I was willing to give Dardoch the benefit of the doubt for the first two. Not anymore.

I was really excited to see how Dardoch would fare on Counter Logic Gaming. Maybe things didn’t work out on Team Liquid and Immortals. But with CLG, Dardoch was joining an established core. A core that just last year put up NA’s best performance ever at an international event.

If Dardoch was ever going to find lasting success, this was his best shot. I even wrote about how I felt both CLG and IMT managed to win the trade involving Jake “Xmithie” Puchero.

And at the beginning of the Summer Split, it really did look that way. Dardoch wasn’t carrying games all by himself, but he didn’t need to. He brought just enough early pressure to set up his laners and keep CLG at the head of the pack.

Obviously, that earlier article about the trade makes me look pretty dumb right now. Xmithie is on his way to an MVP award with Immortals, and Dardoch is off the team. It happens.

But it didn’t happen all at once. When CLG subbed out Dardoch in favor of Omar “Omargod” Amin for a few games recently, it was hard to criticize them. Dardoch had been slumping. Omargod might not have looked amazing, but if you showed me a CLG game with the nameplates off I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you which jungler was playing.

I still thought Dardoch was CLG’s best shot at winning come playoffs, so I figured CLG might have just wanted Omargod to get some LCS stage experience after closing out his NA Challenger split with CLG Academy. But then came the following tweet from Dardoch:

“I do not have an attitude problem. We do not have internal issues. Omar is in because he deserves time in LCS nothing less nothing more.”

It’s like when a general manager voices his support for a team’s manager. It always comes right before a firing.

Omargod might not have looked better than Dardoch in his limited playing time. But of all the organizations, CLG has shown they value more than just in-game performance. Just look at Jae-hyun “Huhi” Choi — after he replaced Eugune “Pobelter” Park, for months people were calling him one of the worst mid laners in the league.

Huhi obviously had his struggles, and still does from time to time. But CLG saw something in him behind the scenes, and now he’s playing like a top three mid in the NA LCS, and his Aurelion Sol still draws a ban almost every match.

CLG sees something in Omargod — Something they didn’t see in Dardoch.

Obviously, I don’t have the full story. I’ll probably never really know what went on between Dardoch and the rest of CLG. Maybe if I knew the full story, it’d change my mind. But I doubt it.

I can imagine two teams being wrong about Dardoch. I can’t picture a third team being wrong, especially not one with the track record of CLG.

This will be Dardoch’s third second chance in the NA LCS. Why Team Liquid is the team giving it to him, I don’t know.

It’s the same team he left after clashing with just about everyone involved with the organization. He’s shown no signs of maturing. How’s his reunion with Gwang-jin “Piglet” Chae going to go down exactly? Is he going to greet him with a quick “Hi Piggy?”

What’s even more baffling is he’s not the only new player Team Liquid is bringing in this week. They also signed former ROX Tigers mid laner Young-min “Mickey” Son. Yeah, the team sponsored by Disney signed a player named Mickey. Memes are real life now.

And they did all of this after their first 2–0 week of the season. What?

I don’t see this ending well for TL, and I don’t see it ending well for Dardoch either. For some reason TL just can’t help but reconnect with that ex-boyfriend. Everything is pointing to them being wrong for each other, but all they can think about are the good times they had. They’re not thinking about how all the things that broke them up the first time never really went away.

But I’m done trying to be the friend that tries to tell either of them that only to be ignored. I believed in Dardoch once, but I just can’t ignore the evidence any more. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably an overconfident 19-year-old who doesn’t understand teamwork.

Random thoughts

  1. This tree definitely made a sound. Maokai was an immovable object this week, going 8–2 in Week 7. Teams like TSM were punished for not respecting his power, and Team Dignitas 2–0’d them for it.
  2. Teams lagging IRL. Anytime there’s a new patch, some teams are slow to adjust. TSM has historically been terrible at this, and they continued that trend against DIG this week, picking Jax for some reason and putting no priority on Maokai. Meanwhile, Echo Fox also showed their unfamiliarity with the patch, playing three games in a row against TSM without picking a single tank. It’s like they’re playing a different game than everyone else. PUBG, maybe?
  3. The Altec and Adrian show: Johnny “Altec” Ru and Adrian “Adrian” Ma are looking like an S tier bot lane in their short time together. Altec is dealing 28% of his team’s damage, putting him second among ADCs (behind Piglet). Meanwhile, Adrian is leading the league in wards placed per minute at 1.69. Makes you wonder what DIG’s record would be if this had been their bot lane all split.
  4. Mike “I’m a caster now” Yeung. Phoenix1’s jungler showed some real versatility this week, joining the caster desk briefly. This guy really can do it all — except win games against North American teams.