The last time Team Dignitas finished in the top four of the NA LCS Playoffs was 2013. They lost in the Semifinals to Cloud9 and then lost the third place match to Team Vulcun. This was all during Season 3 of League of Legends, also the first year of the LCS existence. There’s no trace of that classic Dignitas roster left on their current team and for good reason. That lineup (while popular) never achieved anything of note. Crumbz would later find modest success with Renegades, Scarra is mostly a commentator and Imaqtpie is now a full-time streamer. I need to emphasize all of this because personally, I could never envision Team Dignitas finding any success whatsoever, let alone a playoff victory. Right after that sweep, Christopher “Zuna” Buechter gave this now infamous interview;
First, a Word About Dignitas
Team Dignitas need to be commended for their success. After Season 6 Team Dignitas and Apex Gaming were both purchased by the Philadelphia 76er’s. Subsequently their two NALCS rosters were combined; creating a 10 man roster. What still shocks me is the same team that harbored KiWikiD for so long, actually worked toward finding the right group of five to make a better team. I am still shocked by this enormous turn around. Dignitas are the team that let CoreJJ and Gamsu leave only to see them both perform significantly better once they left Dignitas. Dignitas’ current roster really grew together over the course of this season and this victory is the culmination of that growth. I doubt Dignitas will defeat Team Solo Mid on 27th but I believe they can take a game or two. Granted I thought the same about this series against Cloud9, speaking of CLoud9 let’s get into the games;
Game One, Dignitas Came Prepared Today
This game would mark the first of many questionable drafting choices from Cloud9. Rek’Sai only has a 40% winrate in the Summer Split. Combine Rek’Sai’s stats with the ease of dodging her new ultimate makes Rek’Sai a sub-par pick. Contractz is a more than capable Lee Sin player. Lee Sin’s playmaking is significantly higher than Rek’Sai, especially in the later stages of the game. Blitzcrank is also a pick I don’t like, Blitzcrank offers little to his team when behind. Once the game finally started it was all Dignitas. Cloud9 kept trying to force kills and needlessly feeding. While Cloud9 did have a miraculous base defense and got a clean teamfight victory (this would be a theme of this series) they would get ACE’d soon after and this game was over.
Game Two, Kalista For Maokai Is Not a Fair Trade
I don’t understand how any professional team could possible undervalue a tanky champion with an incredible (and easy to land) teamfight ultimate like Maokai. I have no idea why Cloud9 thought Kalista for Maokai was an even exchange. The Nunu pick is probably the most interesting part of this draft. I was surprised to see Shimp’s style with Nunu, he wasn’t super annoying but he did punish Conractz for his invade. It’s also vital to note that Shrimp secured an Inferno Drake at six minutes, it helped to get Dignitas scaling early. Both teams picked compositions which have two large sources of damage but Cloud9 picked two champions (Cassiopia and Kalista) that need to ramp up over the course of a fight to really get going. They’re capable of burst but when Dignitas picked Syndra and Twitch it was clear that Dignitas would have an edge in teamfights. Cloud9’s Trundle pick also did not work out, his ult should have enabled them to kill Maokai in fights but the time it takes for Kalista to kill a target like that is still too long. Dignitas took firm control of this game at about the 24th minute. Both teams come into the mid lane, Dignitas want to siege and Cloud9 want to defend a critically important turret. I think this fight was over before it began, Sneaky was at around 66% health on Kalista before he could even damage anyone on Dignitas. When your team only has 2 sources of damage and one of them is too low to fight you should just concede the turret and live to fight another time. Smoothie hooking Maokai was a death sentence for his own team, Dignitas just engage on Cloud9 once that hook was wasted. This fight is over in seconds, Cloud9 get evaporated and Dignitas take a 5K gold lead after only being ahead by 600 gold before that fight began. Again Cloud9 have fantastic base defense and manage to survive for a while but when you lose your midlane inhibitor at 25 minutes that game becomes almost impossible to win.
Game Three, Nocturne Did Not Work Out
Picking Lucian mid is a popular decision, especially after Faker put on a clinic against Crown. I am a fan of Nocturne in the jungle but the circumstances for this pick were all wrong. Contractz may not be the most experienced Jungler in the world but he is incredibly talented and occasionally very smart. Cloud9 had already locked in Elise and I imagine Contractz knew exactly what to do to keep Shrimp out of the early and mid game portions of this game. Whil Nocturne has sustain in the jungle he’s not a duelist and Elise can maintain significantly higher health while she clears. After Shrimp gave up first blood he never really got back into this game. Cloud9 successfully snowballed their early lead and got a convincing win here.
Game Four, Just a Sivir Comp
I honestly feel like Cloud9 underestimated Dignitas going into this series and they continued to do so after game three. In their minds they had righted the ship and were on their way to a triumphant reverse sweep. Dignitas had a terrific draft, Maokai + Sivir Ult is a fantastic combination and it has been for some time. Couple that with Nunu & Taliyah and Dignitas have enormous potential for teamfighting. Dignitas draft also allowed them to rotate around the map significantly faster than Cloud9. Both teams swapped leads early until Cloud9 scored a huge teamfight victory. They had a firm grip on the game for 25 minutes. The fact that CLoud9 held a significant lead for so long and couldn’t close out this game is really damning. At about the 49th minute the most crucial teamfight of the game began, at this point all the carries on each team have 6 items. The death timers are too long for either team to defend if they get killed. Both teams had just skirmished and most of the players were at 66% health or less. Crucially Sivir, Taliyah, Tristana & Galio were at full health, Smoothie engages as Shrimp secures the Baron. At this point Sneaky and Jensen are close together and Ssumday uses his W to get on top of them after they get slowed by Taliyah’s E ability. At this point the fight is effectively over, neither Sneaky or Jensen can get any damage done with Ssumday on top of them. Impact attempts to solo dive Dignitas backline and he gets promtly ignored. Contractz had tried to contest Shrimp in the baron pit (which is futile against a Nunu) despite already being at 33% health after the first skirmish. Contractz attempts to use Gragas Ultimate to disengage but he only pushes ALtec into his team. Adrian did his best to shield and use Janna’s Q but with his ultimate down there’s little he could do to stop Dignitas. It’s difficult to single out one person for Cloud9’s poor teamfight only because they all made mistakes. Jensen and Sneaky have no business being near each other. Contractz should have never entered the Baron pit and his Gragas ultimate was horrible. Impact attempted to dive the enemy backline by himself instead of peeling for them. They all failed each other and Dignitas capitalized. Honestly Cloud9’s team composition was not designed for the game to go later than 35-40 minutes. Without an actual source of Magic Damage it was very easy for Dignitas to itemize against Cloud9. Picking Galio without having anyone to set him up or come in after was also an incredibly poor decision.
Dignitas (3) vs Cloud9 (1)
Dignitas should be happy they made it to the Semifinal. They are a team with significant upward momentum going into the Semifinal and a likely trip to the regional qualifier. After watching this series there’s a distinct possibility that this series was a changing of the guard in the NA LCS. Cloud9 are no longer a top tier team, they belong in the middle of the pack now. This series highlighted most of Cloud9’s flaws for everyone to see. They don’t adapt to new patches well and that tendency has lingered for years. This Cloud9 team has serious decision-making problems that call into question why the person (or persons) who shot-call for them should be allowed to do so. This team showed communication issues throughout each game. This team needs to focus on the Regional Qualifier, right now they do not look like the kind of team that could survive to go on to the World Championship. If this Cloud9 roster doesn’t make the World Championship this year I would expect changes to this roster. If they can’t compete at the highest level as they have in splits past then I don’t see a point in keeping them together.