NA LCS fans have grown accustomed to witnessing Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett either single-handedly carrying his team to victory, or proceeding to throw the game out of desperation to do so. As the prodigal talent took to the competitive stage in a Counter Logic Gaming jersey, fans waited in anticipation to see which Dardoch would show up for the first game of the Summer Split: the answer was neither.
Counter Logic Gaming returned to the North American League of Legends Championship Series with a signal of intent for the season playoffs and potential World Championships. Having made their first roster swap in two years, swapping out jungler Jake “Xmithie” Puchero in a trade with Immortals for Dardoch, the title contenders opened their campaign with victories over Cloud9 and Team Liquid.
It appeared that Counter Logic Gaming were hoping to provide their newcomer with a confident boost in the opening game vs Cloud9. Focussing three bans on opposing jungler Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia, CLG secured Dardoch’s pocket pick Lee Sin for themselves, hoping to give the debutant a clear edge.
— lolesports (@lolesports) 2 June 2017
Despite a positive early game, Dardoch was unable to convert the priority placed on his jungle into a Game 1 victory, overwhelmed by the proactive plays made by Contractz’s Olaf. In an all too familiar trend, Dardoch’s eagerness to strike consecutive fatal blows backfired as the CLG jungler conceded unnecessary kills to Cloud9.
Typically at this point in proceedings, one loss away from a series defeat and having produced an underwhelming performance, the Dardoch of Team Liquid and Immortals fame would have engaged in full ‘rambo-mode’ and likely thrown the series. Embedded within the Counter Logic Gaming squad however, Dardoch sat back and watched as – for the first time in his career – his teammates carried him.
The synergy of CLG bot lane Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black and Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes entwined with the champion combination of Xayah and Rakan to devastating effect. The duo combined to carry the late-game team fights, utilising Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun’s Orianna ultimates to lock down targets and get CLG on the board in the series.
Top laner Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha continued to shine for Counter Logic Gaming, though Game 3 ultimately orientated around HuHi’s renowned prowess on the control mage Auerlion Sol. Dardoch began to grow into the series as the final game reached its conclusion.
— lolesports (@lolesports) 3 June 2017
Whilst Dardoch will perhaps be disappointed with his individual performance, the jungler will take comfort in knowing that he doesn’t have to perform at the top of his game every match to secure victories. Unlike his experiences with Immortals and Team Liquid, Counter Logic Gaming will not be reliant upon Dardoch to provide the team with 10 kills every game.
Providing that Dardoch is able to adopt a backseat role and step away from the limelight for the benefit of his team, his move to Counter Logic Gaming is shaping up to be an ideal fit. When a star player knows he can rely upon his teammates to carry when he has an ‘off-day’, the pressure to perform is relieved. Without the weight of his teammates on his shoulders, the 2017 Summer Split should bring the best out of Dardoch.