In a move sure to cause waves in the North American League of Legends scene, esports organizations Counter Logic Gaming and Immortals announced the swap of high-profile junglers Jake “Xmithie” Puchero and Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett.
The two teams had disappointing results during the 2017 Spring Split, and it appears both are eager for a change in the hopes of qualifying for worlds through the Summer Split. Both junglers were central to their team’s strategies during the Spring Split, so this trade will have a major impact on the dynamics and playstyle of each team going forward.
The change marks the end of an era for CLG, who only a year ago shocked the world with a finals appearance during the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational. After a long history of team dysfunction, CLG had developed a philosophy of eliminating toxic personalities, even if it meant losing all-star talent.
After a disappointing first-round spring playoff exit to LCS newcomer FlyQuest, it was clear this team lacked the playmakers required compete for LCS championships. Dardoch has shown clear weaknesses, but he is also one of the most exciting young players in the LCS, so he could potentially fill that role.
CLG explained their decision in this statement.
“Dardoch is a young and very talented player that will help add more depth and fire to the team. The decision to bring in Dardoch was made after a series of evaluations since our run in the Spring Split ended. Over the course of the past several weeks, the coaches and staff have been working hard to prepare for the upcoming split. Much of the time was focused on creating better systems for both the players and the team. During the evaluation of challenging current systems, the staff took a hard look at the roster as well. In the end, it was decided that Dardoch would be the best fit for the team.”
The decision to release Dardoch is unsuprising, as Immortals recently released a vlog highlighting internal conflicts within the Immortals roster. Dardoch’s explosive personality has been well-documented in the web documentary Team Liquid | Breaking Point, and it appears that Dardoch’s abrasive personality was contributing to an unhealthy team environment.
For their part, Immortals lacked mature leadership on the starting roster during the Spring Split, so LCS veteran Xmithie may be the perfect fit for their roster. In addition, Xmithie is a former teammate of current Immortal mid-laner Eugene “Pobleter” Park, so the two will likely build chemistry quickly.
Immortals explained the reasoning behind their decision in this statement.
“Dardoch is an incredibly skilled jungler and we have no doubt he’ll be moving on to a successful career in the LCS. We are, however, making the difficult decision to focus on improving as a unit, and prioritizing building a cohesive, single minded team…Xmithie is a true veteran, having played since Season 1. He is, of course, best known for his time on Counter Logic Gaming, where he was the perennially underrated jungler who served as the backbone of the team. On CLG, [Xmithie] took a leadership role both on and off the Rift, and he’ll be bringing those skills to IMT.”
Both teams made little progress towards a 2017 World Championship qualification during the Spring Split, so a roster change may have been inevitable if these teams wanted to contend during the Summer Split.
Rarely do you see a swap of this magnitude in between splits, especially of players with the skill level of Dardoch and Xmithie. Either way, it will be sure to make for a dramatic season for these two organizations.
Photos courtesy of Riot Games and CLGaming.net.