ggChronicle continues our “Twelve Days of eSports” series with a comprehensive profile of Dignitas. Every day between now and the World Finals, we will release one article highlighting each of the teams going to Los Angeles. Don’t forget to check back daily for our new content, and be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
As an organization, Team Dignitas has existed since 2003. Based in the United Kingdom, it grew from two successful Battlefield 1942 teams and expanded to a number of other markets. Currently, it fields squads in a number of games: besides League of Legends, you’ll find the yellow-and-black taking part in Starcraft 2, DOTA 2, Battlefield 3, as well as a number of other racing and fighting games.
They fashion themselves as one of the UK’s finest gaming dynasties, and with almost 10 years of experience under their belts, it’s getting harder to dispute. The word “dignitas” itself refers to a concept from Ancient Rome – the prestige and worth that is attributed to an individual. These days, its closest synonym would be “honor”.
Though their League of Legends team turns a year old this September, dignitas’ ambitions for the World Championships remain great. With a fine-tuned roster since their inception, unorthodox strategies are what make them a contender for the $1,000,000 prize and the title of best in the world.
The players that initially competed for Team Dignitas originally united under the banner of “Rock Solid”. Formed in 2010, Rock Solid went through a number of roster changes while competing in weekly events, mainly in the form of the Go4LoL tournaments. As the fledgling team looked to find sponsorship, they gained a reputation for shifting and subverting common strategies, placing unfamiliar champions into common roles.
On September 22, 2011, their search for a sponsor ended with the team coming to rest under the Team Dignitas family. Of the five men that became dignitas from Rock Solid, only two remain today: William “Scarra” Li in the AP Carry role, and Michael “imaqtpie” Santana playing AD Carry.
Fans may remember the departed from dignitas players, including Joshua “Jatt” Leesman, who many players currently praise for his analytical skills in the commentary booth. He cut his teeth playing the Jungle role for dignitas and Rock Solid before eventually being hired by Riot Games as an Associate Game Analyst. Jatt still holds this position, having retired from the life of a professional player. Joe “Voyboy” Esfahani, on the other hand, left dignitas for NA rivals Counter Logic Gaming. His massive potential from a young age and his tendency to pick unorthodox champions in the Top Lane left many in awe of his skills. Being 16 at the time, however, his age presented problems for dignitas, as Voyboy’s high school education led to some forced substitutions in tournaments. Patrick “L0CUST” Miller was a bit of an enigma, seemingly coming out of nowhere to play Support for dignitas. Scarra knew Miller from his days of playing World of Warcraft, and brought him in before the Rock Solid to dignitas transition.
|Leigh “Deman” Smith casting a game between the newly-formed dignitas and Team SoloMid.|
Jatt left the team in late December 2011, and was replaced in the jungle a month later by former compLexity Gaming’s Christian “I Will Dominate” Rivera. Voyboy’s departure for Counter Logic Gaming in May of 2012 was remedied by the replacement with Team Curse’s Alberto “Crumbzz” Rengifo in the top lane, as part of a well-known triple trade with Counter Logic Gaming and Team Curse. When Team Dignitas parted ways with L0CUST in July 2012, his spot was quickly filled by Jordan “Patoy” Blackburn, a former teammate of I Will Dominate.
Scarra would release a statement to L0CUST’s departure, saying “We had to reach a tough decision after our performance in [Korea] and prior events, and we decided that we wanted the highest chance to win the [Season Two Championships], which was a choice that eventually came down to this moment. [edited for style]”
As team members were replaced, Scarra set the tone for the coming months: dignitas would give no quarter to enemy teams, and would stop at nothing to become one of the top squads in the world.
While dignitas replaced former players with little downtime, the amount of changes resulted in a team lacking synergy, which left them on the losing end of many tournaments. Dignitas’ last first-place finish in a high-stakes League of Legends event happened in February of 2012, where they defeated Counter Logic Gaming and Team Curse in order to win $25,000 at the Curse LoLPro Invitational. If going by larger LAN events, we must look even earlier, to the IGN ProLeague 3 of October 2011, where they defeated the now-defunct Team Epik Gamer.
Since then, dignitas has remained competitive, but not particularly threatening. In 2012 we often saw dignitas in contention for a major tournament’s third place spot.
Of course, the team can’t be written off altogether. They’ve pulled together victories in smaller tournaments, including defeating Team SoloMid two games to one in the fifth TSM Invitational, and topped the leaderboard in the IPL Elites tournament in June-July. Continued synergy between members will be a huge factor in the coming World Championships, and Scarra’s “highest chance to win” comment could spur dignitas on.
To Asia and Back
The summer of 2012 was a rough one for dignitas. Though they can boast about a trip to Korea, I Will Dominate faced health problems, which impeded his performance. This compounded into a failure to make it out of a tough group stage with NaJin Sword and Azubu Frost during the OGN’s Azubu The Champions Summer 2012 tournament. Dignitas went home with a bitter taste in their mouths that persisted until the MLG Summer Championships. Despite finishing in a respectable second place, it would not be without controversy.
The MLG Grand Finals were uncharacteristic of the team, considering dignitas’ namesake. After playing an All-Random All-Mid game against Curse during the first match of their series, both teams were punished for trying to influence that series’ outcome under the pretense of collusion. Prize money was revoked, and the Team Dignitas organization fined the team the extent of their travel bills. Whether the allegation applies to the supposed splitting of the prize pot, the rule-set changes or something more sinister, it’s likely the public will never know: both Riot and the teams involved chose to remain silent on the matter.
Later, in the North American Regional Finals, dignitas had a strong showing against Counter Logic Gaming. Unfortunately, they fell short against Team SoloMid, leaving us with one question. Will the roster changes and international experience pay off, or will dignitas falter once again?
Team Strategy and Player Picks
dignitas is a team that is at their best when their plans fall into place. Team-wide synergies and themes permit them to exercise strategies that snowball carries and lead to decisive victories, or allow for a slow game to be played. Recent history showcased their poke composition at PAX, where they used Gragas, Nidalee, Janna and Caitlyn to secure their second victory from CLG Prime on their way to the finals.
While their poke composition served them well against CLG Prime, Team SoloMid managed to pick off the dignitas team that ran a similar composition, replacing Alistar with Nunu. Soraka and Vladimir picks also negated much of their harassment, allowing Team SoloMid to sustain and win the second game.
Essential to these successful strategies comes secrecy – while all teams have withheld tactics to avoid giving up an advantage, it’s safe to say that dignitas has some ideas that will surprise. They’ll have to avoid using these trump cards until the last possible moment – they don’t want their success jeopardized by having their unconventional choices banned.
The AP Carry: William “Scarra” Li
When people think of the dignitas lineup, the first member who comes to mind is Scarra. A constant throughout every iteration of the team, Scarra’s skill in the middle lane is one to be respected. He is the public face of dignitas’ League of Legends team, and is likely the originator of the team’s secrecy, which has increased as a result of the Korea trip and tournament preparation. When he streams, his commentary is valued as some of the most informative in the game. Within the day of a Katarina re-work being announced — a champion he is notable for — Summoners all over the world asked a crucial question: what would Scarra think?
Lately, Scarra has been favouring a number of champions that combine utility and high burst damage. While we rarely see his signature Katarina in competitive play, Scarra has been practicing Anivia, Twisted Fate, Cassiopeia and Gragas: champions that reduce their opponent’s health bars in large chunks when they spam their abilities. Along with his notable Ryze, these champions are mana-intensive; a Scarra with blue buff is a happy Scarra.
Scarra has the tendency to crumple when confronted with an aggressive lane opponent or jungler, such as Team SoloMid’s Reginald. For Scarra, success depends on a team synergy that allows him to seize a lead and keep it. Coupled with ganks from I Will Dominate’s crowd-control-centric jungle champions, he can gain momentum to obliterate all foes.
The Jungle: Christian “I Will Dominate” Rivera
Dominate’s picks in the jungle usually satisfy two categories: champions who fit into the rest of his team’s strategy, and champions who have the ability to exert large amounts of crowd control. The reasons for this is simple: to feed carries kills, and to make sure that they can continue to aggress unhindered.
Lee Sin, Nocturne and Skarner are champions that Dominate has historically favoured, and they fit his mold well. Each have great initiation and crowd control, allowing an aggressive I Will Dominate to propel Crumbzz and Scarra. When it comes to teamfights, these champions lead the charge and allow Dominate to isolate key targets for slaughter.
These junglers are not just meat shields, however. With appropriate itemization, Lee Sin and Nocturne can do their fair share of damage – building a Phage on Lee Sin allows Dominate to add a slow to his auto-attacks, and Youmuu’s Ghostblade combines well with Nocturne’s Shroud of Darkness, giving him extra movement and attack speed to hunt down his prey.
Whether Dominate can successfully build these damage items depends on how well his team is doing. Without his ability to land skillshots and make plays, the rest of the team falters when it comes to amassing gold, killing sprees and global objectives that will allow them to win games. Pressure will be at an all-time high for Dominate as he moves into a stressful environment in the World Championship.
The AD Carry: Michael “Imaqtpie” Santana
Well-versed in the ways of the Ezreal-Graves-Corki Holy Trinity of ranged ADs, Imaqtpie can match other top AD players. The allure of these champions is escapes, attack speed steroids and burst damage output. Imaqtpie is somewhat of a Corki Hipster, though – he was playing him before he was cool.
His experience shows when playing the Daring Bombardier, as skill and Corki go hand in hand. Having a small pool of mastered champions means that mechanics, limitations and overall intuition may give Imaqtpie a competitive edge. His builds for these champions are fairly cookie-cutter (Infinity Edge, Berserker’s Greaves, Trinity Force on Ezreal and Corki), but he has lately been using items like The Bloodthirster to provide sustainability in lane. While this item is commonplace in many builds, getting it early allows Imaqtpie to stay in lane longer when Patoy chooses a champion with no innate healing abilities.
Imaqtpie isn’t limited to these champions: he plays Caitlyn and Kog’maw when needed. Their ability to fit into a poke composition — and Kog’maw’s innate advantage against high-health champions — is invaluable if dignitas can out-strategize their opponent. His tendency to play aggressively has often led to him being jumped by junglers, allowing his lane opponents to gain a gold lead with kills or missed minions. Like the rest of dignitas, when Imaqtpie has a good game, he is unstoppable – when he doesn’t, it can be quite ugly.
The Support: Jordan “Patoy” Blackburn
Patoy is the newest addition to the dignitas lineup, and has had only a couple months to acclimate himself to the team’s strategies and play style. In the support role, Patoy tends to pick champions with the ability to deliver aid from afar, like Janna, Nunu, Soraka and Sona. He commonly builds standard support items like Aegis of the Legion and Shurelya’s Reverie, which allows his to team escape or initiate as a unit, and buffs them passively.
Along with items, his champion pool allows him to influence dignitas’ AD Carry, Imaqtpie, with buffs like Blood Boil, Sona’s auras, or Janna’s Eye of the Storm. Depending on what Imaqtpie is building, each of these can allow him to itemize – to improve attack speed or survivability. It’s worth noting that there is a gamble in trading hard crowd control for allied buffs.
That being said, Patoy has been playing Blitzcrank lately, as well as a smattering of Karma; The World Championships will be an all-in event, so we could see something unorthodox as dignitas quest for that ultimate prize. As the new kid on the dignitas block, Patoy has a lot to prove for longtime fans.
The Top Lane: Alberto “Crumbzz” Rengifo
When discussing Crumbzz’ playstyle, there is one definite conclusion: don’t let him snowball as Jax. In Crumbzz’ hands, the Grandmaster at Arms becomes a whirling dervish of death, reaping destruction in top lane, even as champions think they’re safe, farming under tower. While Jax’s early game may be a bit on the weak side, it only takes one kill before he starts to pull ahead – something that mirrors dignitas as a whole.
Crumbz benefits from I Will Dominate’s pool of jungle champions, who can both damage and gank effectively. His champions often have the ability to shield themselves, allowing Crumbzz to be protected while he wades into teamfights.
When Crumbzz plays beefy champions like Irelia or Malphite, their autoattack damage allows them to still remain useful at all times. A well-farmed Irelia with a Guardian Angel can be an intimidating sight, and a well-placed Unstoppable Force provides the disruption his teammates need to mop up.
In a recent interview, Crumbzz admitted to finding Rumble attractive as a champion due to his manaless nature, sustained damage and The Equalizer utility:
“He snowballs incredibly hard which makes him an opponent to fear. But he does have his weaknesses and is also not the easiest champion to play. I think he’s fallen off with the nerf of abyssal scepter as well as the drastic increase in Irelia players improving their mechanics.”
He also notes the sustainability of running a Vladimir in the top lane; running two Ability Power champions can add more damage to an already carry-heavy composition, allowing dignitas to overwhelm their opponent.
All these champions have one thing in common: the reliance on farm to get items and the ease at which they can farm. A Hextech Revolver will allow Vladimir and Rumble to gain back health through their spells, and since they don’t have any mana to worry about, they can spam to their heart’s content. Irelia has her own built-in sustain with Hiten Style, but may benefit from other items like a Vampiric Scepter or a Trinity Force if needed.
This dependency on farm makes Crumbzz’ choice difficult: does he go for kills to fill his champion’s budget, or does he stay back and farm? History shows more of the latter, but with aggressive teams like Azubu Frost, Invictus Gaming and Team SoloMid aggressively destroying turrets early and often, can dignitas afford to wait that long?
Wrapping It All Up
Whether or not you’re a fan of dignitas, their team has the reputation of being one of the least dramatic in League of Legends. When they load up a game, regardless of a win or loss, they treat the game seriously, and it shows.
In the high-intensity atmosphere of the World Championships, though, they may need more than just attitude to combat the strategies of teams who thrive under changing circumstances and can think on their feet. While unorthodox strategies and team synergy are dignitas’ greatest strength, it can also be their Achilles’ heel: they will either have to win their games decisively or shift their strategies on the fly to avoid defeat.
Many discount Team Dignitas; that’s justified. They are not a favoured team, and their past results have not been stellar. As the Championship nears, dignitas’ preparation is sure to bring viewers to the edge of their seats: they are known for impressive innovation in League of Legends. The fight will begin, and dignitas will be a threat that no one sees coming.