Dignitas became the first team eliminated from the 2021 LCS Championship playoffs after losing in a three-game sweep to Immortals, finishing their year on a sour note despite starting off well with a promising spring.
Fresh off a respectable finish in the Mid-Season Showdown, Dignitas was viewed as a dark horse who held the possibility of continuing their form for the second half of the year. Coupled with an all-NA lineup featuring a pleasant mixture of veteran leadership and young prospects, Dignitas was also cultivating a following that began viewing them as formidable LCS contenders.
But with a combination of mid-season roster moves involving the switching of their starting mid-laner and jungler, DIG couldn’t muster the same magic of spring that originally propped them to the LCS’ forefront, ultimately devolving into a three-game sweep defeat to Immortals in the lower bracket of the LCS Championship.
Following DIG’s elimination, their Director of Esports James “Bakery” Baker talked with Gamezo for an interview about the result, the 2021 season in general, how the team played in summer, what they will focus on for 2022.
Bakery, I know it was a difficult series to watch, but I’d first like to know how you’re feeling at this moment.
Bakery: It’s never easy to lose. There’s also never anything that could make losing better. There’s not anything you can say, but the thing that I know is that I know how much work every single player, staff member, manager–just everyone in Dignitas put into this year and I’m so proud of the things we did accomplish.
Being second place in spring split for a few weeks, getting Top 6 in both splits, overcoming every expectation people had of us, and the standout performances of the people that stepped in and really stepped up to the plate for the team. I’m really proud of every thing that our team has done this year and it always sucks to lose.
You highlighted the excellent performance that the team showed in spring, which was a wonderful thing to watch, but then the team’s level of play sunk in the summer in which they hovered beneath the mid table. From that end, I’d like to know what you have seen from the team’s performance in summer and then leading up to playoffs.
Bakery: One of the traits that we had before in spring was that we were just as strong on stage as were in scrims. Teams were often the opposite where they were much stronger on scrims and weaker on stage. That meant we had a bad record in scrims but we had a good record on stage. We kind of swapped that out and got way less consistent so our scrim record went up massively. We almost doubled our win rate which is absurd in some weeks.
The counterpoint to that is that our LCS stage matches were a bit more inconsistent. Things have gone more weirder, but we still saw some absolute stomps of games which truly showed our potential. Think about the games against 100 Thieves (in Week 7) and Team Liquid (in Week 8) where we came and stomped them and look at how good TL is now, right? There were still flashes of dominance which was amazing, but overall, we weren’t consistent enough and at the end of the day, we just didn’t play very well and that is what led to our loss.
Within that summer, you guys encountered some roster swaps. We saw that switch between Yusui and Soligo at mid-lane and then the dismissal of Dardoch which led to Akaadian playing in LCS. How did the team remain focused amidst that adversity as the season wound down to playoffs?
Bakery: Talking about the roster swaps, one of them is–and I’ve said this before because it’s perfectly fair to criticize our decision-making and the way it happened; and for the other, I don’t think it is. Speaking about the mid-lane swap, at the end of the day, what everyone on the team (the players, coaches, staff) were trying to do was to put ourselves in the best position to win. Every move we make is with that goal in mind and sometimes it doesn’t work out.
I think I’m still really proud of how Yusui played. I think he stepped up and had some real pop-off games. He was one of our best performers in this series as well and I’m still really proud of how Soligo grew as a player from starting in that Lock-In tournament to where he ended up in spring was really impressive. I’m really happy with both mid-laners this season and I can’t wait to see them do great things next year.
With that perspective, you guys now look toward next year. I understand that you guys just lost and it might not be the best time to ask in your current headspace, but nevertheless, how are you going to look towards 2022?
Bakery: There’s a lot of stuff that went really well for us this year. The way that we built our culture, the way that we upgraded our operations and facilities at our gaming center has been a world of a difference (compared to last year). As we move into next year, we have some core pieces that I’m really excited to work with and build around and a really great base which was something that we were aiming for in previous years but I don’t think we had (until now). With our staff and players, I think we’re primed for lots of success next year. I’m excited to go away, work on it, and go from there.
Throughout the year, you guys have been one of the only teams to field an all-NA roster. What does it mean to the amateur scene seeing not just a team like Dignitas perform on the main stage of the LCS, but other players as well?
Bakery: Dignitas is an org that puts a lot into NA talent. The evidence is in not just our academy roster and Dignitas Mirage amateur roster, but also, as you said, in the LCS team. Moving into next year, we’ve seen some amazing standout performances from DIG Mirage such as them defeating Evil Geniuses Prodigies and being one series away from qualifying to Proving Grounds with some rookies. We’ve been one of the only amateur teams to field all rookies.
And then we have obviously William “Will” Cummins who stepped in as our academy jungler this year and is still competing in the (United) Grand Prix tournament over the next week and he’s truly a shining star that we’re very excited to work with as well. I think NA talent has definitely shown a bit of a resurgence. You see the seeds starting to grow and throughout the next year or two, we’ll see an absolute explosion as all of these newer talents come into the scene. They start to show up in the academy, people like Danny start to show up in the LCS and it will become a very exciting time to be a NA League of Legends fan.
Within this specific roster, we have two players whose contracts are running up (Akaadian and Aphromoo) according to the Global Contract Database. Where do they fit into next year?
Bakery: It’s still too early to talk about next year’s plans with any form of certainty or definition. I can say that working with both of them has been an absolute pleasure. They’ve been our leadership figures this year. It has just been really amazing to watch them build this team together. We will have to go away and have some conversations before I can share any details on that.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Bakery. Do you have any final words for the fans?
Bakery: I just want to thank every Dignitas fan out there for cheering on us until the end. It has been truly great to have that NA team at one point to be the “people’s champs” and I’m really excited to get back to that status for next year and cement it. Huge shoutout to everyone cheering and to every single one of our players and staff. I truly appreciate working with you guys.