One of the oldest teams in League of Legends history – Dignitas – is officially back in the LCS. This news comes in view of a merger between Dignitas and Clutch Gaming, a Houston Rockets-backed team that is already a part of the franchised league.
The organization will play out the 2019 Summer Split under the Clutch Gaming banner before rebranding as Dignitas in 2020. What does this move mean for its future? And how exactly will it affect the North American LoL esports scene?
A former powerhouse
Dignitas is a household name in North American League of Legends. The organization was a part of the LoL esports scene since Septemeber 2011, and its competitive accomplishments earned a seed in the first-ever NA LCS split. Many old-school fans still have fond memories of the iconic Dignitas roster of KiWiKiD, Crumbz, Scarra, Imaqtpie, and Patoy. They always seemed to be in contention for the top of the North American region.
However, Dignitas had a hard time holding on to this legacy.
As the years went, the team struggled to keep up with other endemic organizations like TSM, Team Liquid (known back then as Curse), and even Counter Logic Gaming. This culminated in Dignitas being knocked out of the LCS by Team Dragon Knights in 2016. Dignitas came back in 2017 as a part of Philadelphia 76ers’ efforts to break into the LoL esports scene. And while the team enjoyed moderate success, it wasn’t enough to get accepted into the LCS franchise.
Now that Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets have joined forces, Dignitas gets a third opportunity to cement itself as one of the best League of Legends teams. Of course, getting there won’t be easy. Many top North American players have already signed multi-year contracts with LCS organizations. While some of them will try to look for greener pastures in the off-season, Dignitas will be faced with the unenviable task of waging a bidding war against established LoL esports teams.
There’s also the fact that Clutch Gaming currently stands at the bottom of the LCS rankings. Its lineup revolves around expensive yet ineffective Korean imports and untested domestic players. This leaves Dignitas with a very shaky foundation for 2020. While the team could turn this ship around, it will take a lot of time and effort to put this plan in motion.
A quiet concern
Another thing to consider is the implication this has on the original franchising process. As great as it is to have Dignitas back in the LCS, they were also trying to join the league at the beginning of 2018. Yet for one reason or another, Riot Games went with the newcomers in Clutch Gaming, who are already looking to back out less than two years into the LCS franchise.
Combine that with the fact that another newly-franchised team—OpTic Gaming—is allegedly trying to sell its slot to Immortals, and we can’t help wondering whether it would’ve been better to offer LCS slots to teams that wanted them in the first place.
Whatever the case, the jury is still out on this move. It could very well be that Clutch Gaming becomes a great partner to Dignitas and the two will take over the LCS together. One thing’s for sure, though: if the franchising system is to work in the long-term, it’s in Riot Games’ best interests to ensure Dignitas is here to stay.
Image courtesy of Dignitas