With the 2020 LCS season just around the corner, this is a perfect time to look over the North American LoL teams, what they bring to the table and how will they stack up against what can easily be described as the most stacked lineup in the LCS history.
Only two more weeks separate us from the clash between Team Liquid and Cloud9, who will open the 2020 LCS Spring Season on January 25, 2020. How exactly the upcoming North American LoL season will go down is at this point anyone's guess, but one thing is for sure - it will be bigger and better than any year before, with a handful of new teams and new faces entering the Rift where they will duke it out to be crowned the LCS champions.
While Team Liquid will without a doubt be in the centre of the attention as they race towards their fifth consecutive LCS title, there is another team that has been a hot topic of discussion, partially because of their return to the competitive scene after two years and partially due to their questionable decisions when it came to assembling the roster. That team is no other than Dignitas.
The return of Dignitas
Dignitas (formerly Team Dignitas) is a well-known organization in the esports industry, mostly due to their League of Legends team, which was involved in the competitive scene since 2011, when they made their first appearance in the IPL 3 Atlantic City tournament, which they ended up winning.
Dignitas competed in the League of Legends tournaments for years to come and were one of the 10 LoL teams which appeared in the inaugural NA LCS 2013 season. As years went by, Dignitas continued to compete in the top-tier of North American LoL scene with varying degrees of success. Interestingly enough, Dignitas' best result in the NA LCS (now only LCS) came in 2013 Spring Split, where they claimed a bronze medal.
As years went by, Dignitas became one of the most recognisable teams in the LCS and while they failed to see much success, Dignitas was still one of the fan's favourite teams as it fostered some of the biggest names in the LoL scene.
The list of Dignitas' former members include some of the most prominent names in the League of Legends community and include Christian "IWDominate" Rivera, Joe "Voyboy" Esfahani, Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi, William "scarra" Li, Michael "imaqtpie" Santana, Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in and Danny "Shiphtur" Le, just to name a few.
Dignitas entered the 2017 NA LCS season with one of the strongest rosters they ever had and it showed in their results. While they still fell short of reaching the summit, Dignitas finished Spring in the top five and even managed to claim a fourth-place finish in the Summer Split. Unfortunately, Dignitas failed to deliver in the NA Regional Finals, where they lost to FlyQuest in round one, thus ended the season at fourth place.
Despite their solid performances throughout four years of NA LCS, Dignitas have met their end in 2017, when Riot Games denied them entry to the 2018 NA LCS, ultimately forcing the organization to disband their League of Legends roster and leave the scene.
In April 2019 the organization announced they have bought out the majority stake of Clutch Gaming, meaning Dignitas are set to make a return to the LCS for 2020. However, the question remains: will Dignitas manage to live up to the expectations they have set on themselves or will they fall flat against the stacked LCS lineup?
Huni and co.
Dignitas have earned a tag as one of the most controversial LoL teams heading into 2020, and not because of any incidents involving their players or the organization as a whole, but rather due to Dignitas' puzzling and outright outrageous transfer market activities.
The fact that Dignitas offered Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon a contract which will earn him $2.3 million over the next two years is arguably one of the most shocking decisions any LoL team has made in recent years. While we can't deny Huni has been one of the key members of Clutch Gaming last season, the fact that they splashed out such an enormous amount of money on a single player is still something we have a hard time understanding.
As a result of their enormous spending on Huni, Dignitas reportedly lacked funds to sign any star players to their roster, resulting in their team for 2020 looking very average, to say the least.
As their mid laner, Dignitas signed former Golden Guardians player Henrik "Froggen" Hansen. He was once seen as one of the best mid laners in the world, which earned him a spot in some of the strongest teams in the scene. That being said, it's been a while since Froggen played at his peak. While he has had some fairly successful results in recent years, it's easy to see he is only a shadow of his former self and his recent results show just that.
Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black, who was announced as Dignitas' main support is in a similar position as his teammate. Once regarded as one of the best supports on the planet, Aphromoo had a hard time establishing himself as a solid addition for 100 Thieves last season, which led to his departure from the team in June.
While they're both undoubtedly LoL legends, neither managed to look relevant in the competitive scene for the last couple of years and we can't expect any drastic changes in 2020 either.
Joining them will be Johnson "Johnsun" Nguyen as Dignitas new ADC and his former teammate at TSM Academy, Jonathan "Grig" Armao as the team’s starting jungler. Seeing how Dignitas signed two academy players who have little to no experience playing in the LCS, there are some serious doubts whether either of them will manage to deliver and help Dignitas reach for the stars this season.
Looking at Dignitas and their roster for 2020, it's easy to see the organization could have done a much better job when assembling their roster. The fact that Dignitas fields two academy players and two players who fell off significantly in recent years is concerning and while everyone would like to see Dignitas succeed in their first year back in the LCS, expecting anything more than a mid-table finish might be slightly too optimistic.
On a more positive note, Dignitas has the right mix of players for further growth. Johnsun and Grig might lack the experience, however, they have a great opportunity to develop as players alongside Aphromoo and Froggen, who can both teach them a thing or two, which leads us to believe Dignitas might have decided to focus on growth rather than making a splash in 2020.