Slingshot’s Andrew Kim talked to Immortals’ Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett during Week 7 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series.
Andrew Kim: I want to ask you about the topsy turvy couple of weeks for Immortals. How have you guys dealt with the up and down nature of your spring?
Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett: Well Week 6 was — or whatever week we went 0-2 — a big disappointment to everyone, so we just diagnosed the problem as us not playing the same way we do in scrims as on stage, so all we did was compare our comms from stage games to scrim games and we saw the big differences and we fixed them. We put the blame on everyone. Everyone was doing things badly in comparison, so we all just worked together to fix our communication, and that’s why we showed up better.
AK: I do think communication has gotten much better as seen with Olleh (Kim Joo-sung) doing much better in the bottom lane, and Cody Sun has also improved greatly compared to the beginning of the split. In that regard, do you think there was an upward trajectory for overall improvement?
JH: Our coaching staff always likes to remind us about where we came from, and we always use our Korean bootcamp and our IEM experience as a mark for where we started and how bad we were back then. We made a lot of improvements as teammates and individuals since then. I mean we all see the improvements we’re making, but we’re still disappointed by losing.
AK: How are you guys approaching the end of the split and playoff push?
JH: I think the only element that’s missing from our play is consistent communication from top. Flame (Lee Ho-jong) is still sort of struggling with English, especially when we get into these high intensity matches where it’s all about shot calling and communication. And there’s a lot of sporadic movements, and also a lot of random calls, because things change and happen so fast. There gets to points where I start talking really fast in English and he can’t really keep up. So if I say like, I think in the TSM game they were doing a map-wide rotation where they would have hard push up bottom movement, and the duo would move top to crush the tower. I was trying to say what we’re going to do to counter that and we ended up just having to trade towers because we were too slow on it because he didn’t understand. Things like that happen all the time, and he takes English lessons every week, so I think by the time playoffs comes around, I think we’ll be fine. I think we have at least a 40 percent, 40-60 matchup against every team we have left and we should be able to beat every single team if we play the same level we did today.
AK: What do you tend to turn to when it comes to releasing pent up frustration or distraction from stress?
JH: Normally it’s I just remove myself from the situation. So it’s like, if I’m really frustrated after scrims are over, I’ll just go for a walk, go out for food. I’ll just remove myself from the computer itself, and I just won’t do anything on it and I won’t come back until I have a reset mentality. That’s generally what I do. I take walks after scrims. I take walks in between blocks. I just remove myself from the computer in general.
AK: Some pros have said that that the attitude of teams are very different from scrims as they are on stage. What do you think about that? Do you think teams should put in the same mentality of not giving up or since it’s practice they can do whatever they want?
JH: I think it’s all based on circumstance where you have a really good, if you have an early game centric comp like, if they run like Rumble, Elise or like Renekton Elise — something like that where they really need to snowball early game or they’re gonna lose — and then they go into mid game with a deficit, I think like one team fight and then if they get a Baron at like 30 minutes, the game’s probably over. So I think ff-ing in that kind of scenario is kind of whatever because the game’s pretty much already done. But I think some teams, I don’t really want to call out teams that are bad scrim partners, but I mean, you can tell by the downward trajectory of FlyQuest that they’re really bad scrim partners, and their downward trajectory was easily foreseeable because of their scrims. In our last blocks against FlyQuest, we 3-0’d them both times and all the games ended in under 20 minutes, so it was like, they would just roll over and then they would keep fighting, and then they would fall further behind, and by the time where 17, 18 minutes comes around, we’re already at like a 10K gold lead and then they just pause. It’s over.
AK: When it comes to entering into the LCS with the amount of passion and competitive spirit that you do, Flame does, and pretty much every LCS player does, do you ever find that boundless competition to be sort of a hindrance, maybe not only to yourself but to your surroundings at some point?
JH: I don’t really see, just in general the life style. I don’t find anything in terms of competition negative because I want having people pushing me because in (last year’s) spring split on Team Liquid, the only person I had was Reignover (Kim Yeu-jin), so every time I was playing against a team that wasn’t Immortals, I was kind of always let down. I felt like it was at a point where I was really a selfish-minded player. If we had a scrim block with a team with a weak jungler that I knew I was going to stomp in the early game and we would snowball and win, I would go into the block with a different — I would feel like it was worthless for me, like I wasn’t learning, like I wasn’t improving because I didn’t have a challenge. I had a bad mentality toward that, but I think nowadays all the junglers have things I can learn from, and I think I’m slowly integrating myself as one of the better ones.
AK: If you could pick out one jungler and say ‘This guy is my Reignover of the season,” who would it be?
JH: Nobody. I don’t struggle against anybody this season. I think the Reignover of this season is still Reignover. I still think he’s the strongest jungler there is in North America. I mean, I think me and him are more equally matched than we ever were before, but I still think me and him are the top two.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot