The Dardoch Paradox: The Power of a Player’s Value

*Courtesy of Riot Games

With the recent announcement of Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett leaving Counter Logic Gaming and rejoining Team Liquid, one begins to wonder why Team Liquid would take him back after the accounts of his historic behavioral problems. Let’s not forget Dardoch’s tweet citing he got kicked from Team Liquid during his supposed acquisition to Echo Fox, which later turned into news that he was joining the Immortals lineup. One can also point to his comment, stating that he doesn’t “have a lot of respect for Liquid as an organization, or players, or team” during his short stint with CLG. All of these connections lead to a continued obstacle with acclimating Dardoch into a team’s culture due to his rambunctious personality, but let’s take a step back and examine the entire pro player base and precisely why Team Liquid is making this move, before we eventually roast him for his…questionable behavior.

The player pool is a massive epidemic within the League of Legends scene. The difficulty with the player base is that there aren’t many players within solo queue to draw from. With the current ranked statistics (as of this writing), BR has 1.22 million players, EUW has 3.23M and Korea has 3.03M. When comparing the relative scope of these regions, NA is a disappointment, with only 1.54M ranked players.

* Data Courtesy of OP.GG

What one can see from this data is that there are far larger player bases within both South Korea and EUW. This in turn means that both of these regions have a far larger pool of players to select from when building a professional team. This doesn’t bode well for the North American region, because they heavily rely upon importation in order to supplement the remainder of their rosters. Here’s where players like Dardoch come in.

*Courtesy of Riot Games

Dardoch is invaluable to teams because of his innate skill in the jungle role, all the while being an NA resident. The NA residency rule makes Dardoch an almost unparalleled player in terms of value. The task is not impossible to find another import player with better macro or mechanics, if you’re willing to spend the money, but it is difficult to import a player with minimal language and cultural barriers to ensure they function properly within the team. NA talent is becoming much harder to find, with Challenger teams having to take risks on rookies because of their small budget and other NA teams vying for the best NA players available. The small oasis of players isn’t the only annoyance, but the power these players currently hold is the primary subject of paramount concern.

* Courtesy of Riot Games

With stints such as Martin “Rekkles” Larsson being opposed to playing meta champions, it’s apparent that he commands a particular power over his entire team. He is quite the tenured and respected player, so he should garner some significant amount of clout, but there’s a fine line between gently brandishing respect and ruling with impunity.

* Courtesy of Riot Games

Peng “Doublelift” Yiliang is another such figure which had the ability to extend his agency to great benefit. During his time on Team Liquid, he had the ability to accumulate an incredible amount of money simply because Team Liquid was at risk of relegation and he was their foremost option when choosing an ADC.

* Courtesy of Riot Games

Dardoch is the most recent example, able to flex his position of power and prove that, regardless of his overwhelming personality, many owners and coaches think the juice is worth the squeeze in times of hardship. Steve Arhancet’s Team Liquid is tied for 7th place and these last couple of weeks are of utmost importance to the standings. Steve had said previously that Team Liquid is in the dilemma of improving the roster with a limited number of players to choose from in between Spring and Summer Split. At this time, Steve has a choice to either forgo possibly improving his current team’s standings by not signing Dardoch, or giving in to the authority of a player by signing him once again.

The true problem doesn’t specifically lie with Dardoch, but with the whole ecosystem of players and the shallow player pool which forces owners to choose players based upon accolades and proven capabilities. With the arrival of franchising, this may be a thing of the past and players like Dardoch will have less jurisdiction when negotiating value because there is no fear of relegation. This will also leave players like him to reflect upon just how terribly they have set themselves up for when the future of a larger and less risk averse player pool arrives. For now, the supply doesn’t equal the demand, so we‘ll have to make due with snooty children like Dardoch.