Shortly after their loss against Team Liquid on Friday, Dignitas jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett sat with the press and answered some of our questions pertaining to the Jungle meta, item changes, and the roster swap that was made earlier in the week, swapping Soligo for Yusui. Underneath is the video for the interview. The written transcript will be following it.
Any media questions will be in Bold and the answers by Dardoch will be in standard font.
Udyr, Rumble and Morgana dominated the meta for a couple of months, Udyr and Rumble still do. How do you feel the jungle meta is evolving, adding champions like Xin Zhao, Lee Sin and even Viego?
Well, I’m a huge fan of there being more champions in the pool for jungle. Especially when I started out in 2016, the jungle has come a far way from then. I think back when we were flipping Gragas and Rek’sai, we’ve come a very long way from that point, so I’m happy where the jungle meta currently stands, and I hope that they keep adding more viable champions.
How do you feel of the new upcoming item Hullbreaker will affect the competitive meta?
Well, I think if the iteration that was posted all over social media is going to get to live and it’s going to stay at those stat numbers, then I think it’s going to be a pretty big impact on competitive play at least. I’m not sure what champions would be buying it, I doubt junglers would obviously. I’m not sure what champions in the lane would be really most synergistic with it, but I’m sure there is going to be some sort of strong combination, champion and that item, that’s going to make the league at least adapt to it.
We saw you pull out eleven unique champions before, and a lot of people attributed Dignitas’ wins based on that performance. Do you ever feel like your performance is make or break for your team on the day, and will we see the unique champions run again this split?
Well, I’ll answer the first part first. I wouldn’t say that it depends on me to have a very outstanding performance I would say, it’s more like if I come in constantly at the level that I do at practice then we’re going to have similar results, so that’s kind of the mentality I’ll go about it.
As far as the second part is concerned… in my opinion that’s just part of playing the game at the highest level. I think you should have a multitude of strategies, both as an individual and as a team, and we are always working on our strategies as a team, but I’ve had my individual stuff, I’ve had that prepared a long, long time ago. It’s kind of the stuff I worked on in the offseason and in between splits, so if my teammates trust me and a scenario comes up for me to pull up something wacky or off-meta, then I’m always ready, I’m always willing.
Who is the best jungler in the meta right now?
I’d say my vote is Udyr. It’s probably the most well rounded and consistent jungler in the meta right now that doesn’t require any sort of leash, or assistance from his teammates to reach that 3:15 full clear mark, where he kills all the camps before the scuttle spawns, and I think a flash Udyr gank is one of the easiest and most simple setups in the whole game and it’s just something that high elo players will resonate with, especially laners. They love playing with Udyr, so I think that he’s a champ that until they nerf him, he will be uncontested in the, maybe not the best jungler in the whole game because I think Rumble is also very, very powerful, but I think that he’s, in my opinion, the most consistent.
What are your thoughts on Lee Sin in the meta right now? From what we’ve seen so far, is there a reason why Dignitas prefers to take him jungle, instead of in lane like other teams do?
I think the main reason why Dignitas prefers is we have a very good Lee Sin player in the jungle, not to take any credit away from my teammates, I think that Yusui and FakeGod are also very good on the Lee Sin, but for the most part, it’s one of my best comfort champions, and it’s something I’ve been playing forever so if it’s an option and we feel like it’s better from a draft perspective to put it jungle, I don’t think I’ll ever say no to it so that probably one reason. It’s that I’m very willing to play Lee, so it’s very easy in the draft when I’m, you know, in my coach’s ear the whole time saying ‘Yo Lee jungle looks great here’. But I love Lee Sin. I think he’s a champion that is extremely fun to play, he’s also extremely interactive, so playing against him, in my opinion, doesn’t feel bad, and I’m always excited when Lee Sin is in the meta, both as a spectator and a player.
Just talking about the game today, you found yourself caught out around objectives quite a lot across the game. Was there anything in the team plan that found you overextended a bit or was it individual misplays?
I’d say it’s a mix of both. I think I’m definitely overstepping at times due to pressure, especially around objectives, I think TL played well today. They got up to the soul condition pretty quickly and also had a very good setup around baron pretty consistently so it’s definitely a lot of pressure in the game, and then also I think we’re a bit jumbled as a team right now. We’re still getting back into the mix of things, especially when it comes to things like macro and decisive team calls. I think that that we are still kind of finding out groove, especially since adding Yusui to the mix, it has kind of make us take a step back in terms of how cohesive and comfortable as a team we are as well.
How much practice have you had with Yusui before your games today?
Just one week. As soon as he was done with his academy scrims, on Monday I believe, was our LCS off day, we informed him that he’d be playing the remainder of the week in the LCS and the weekend of games, so I think we had three total scrim days with him, and that’s all.
Recently we’ve seen Udyr come back to the meta, after years of irrelevancy, and Xin Zhao as of last week as well. Is there any champions that you can predict will come back into the meta or champions that you’d want to come back into the meta?
I don’t really have any hard predictions based on patch notes or anything, but as far as a champion that I would like to see come into the meta, I’d like to see the reworked Dr.Mundo be a viable option. I just think his animations are pretty funny and he has a cool little theme to him, so I’d like to see Mundo.
Did the position of mid substitute impact your play at all as a jungler more so than if the sub was in the support position?
I wouldn’t say it’s easy or difficult, depending on what role is subbing in specifically. As far as the mid swap goes, I think David (Yusui) did a really good job playing. I think he performed really well, above the expectation that we had set for him, and I think we just fell short as a team today.
What was the expectation that you set with Yusui and the squad? Did you guys expect to be able to come out guns all blazing like how you had done with Soligo the whole year or were you guys more tempering what you were expecting from the academy mid?
I wouldn’t say that we put any pressure on David to sort of fit the mould that Max (Soligo) already did, in terms of how we played in spring. I think the only thing the coaching staff and myself told David coming in was just to play naturally. I think coming into the scrims, I think he was a bit nervous, and we did have pretty mid to bad performance in scrim I think for the three days that we did play with him, so our feedback going into the week was to play the game you normally play. Just lean on the veterans to help you out in situations where you’re not so sure, that’s all. This is kind of the same thing that we ran with Max, I mean, we were a roster primarily built from rookies so our stage plan to a certain degree, is always going to rely on the veterans to help you out in the game, because that is me and Zach’s (Aphromoo) job, to guide our guys, so I wouldn’t say anything was very different. I think we changed David to get a different feel in terms of the draft and I think he did a very good job.