Dhokla: “I don’t see us dropping below playoffs this split”

OpTic are going the distance during their final LCS split.

Photo via Riot Games

Three splits into the LCS, OpTic Gaming has yet to have a good season. But in their last split before rebranding to Immortals, Niship “Dhokla” Doshi is confident the team finally has what it takes to reach the playoffs.

The team started the Summer Split with a perfect 4-0 record after two weeks. Although impressive, the team has never made it past seventh place regardless of how good or bad their split started. This summer, however, they’ve consistently beaten weaker teams and now they’re ramping up for an assured spot in the playoffs. And LCS fans are seeing massive improvement from the team. Dhokla credits changes in the teams’ mentality for their newfound success.

“I think our reviews—or general atmosphere during the week has been better, so we’re not like tilted as much after losing scrims or something,” Dhokla told Dot Esports. “We’re all trying to improve and I think in the Spring Split we didn’t have that or as much of it. I think that was the biggest change from spring and summer and previous iterations. We just have a better atmosphere overall.” 

Photo via Riot Games

It can be argued that League of Legends is as much of a skill game as it is a mental one. But having a good atmosphere doesn’t necessarily translate into individual skill development. Dhokla had to work on improving his personal performance in order to keep up with the rest of the team.

“In the Spring Split, I was dying way too much, right,” Dhokla said. “I think it was a big wake up call. I felt like I was the sole cause of why we couldn’t be at our true level. Even though I had some rough weeks in Summer Split, I think I’m definitely just working towards just being consistent and not making as many mistakes. I think I just took the criticism hard on myself and tried to learn from it.”

Like many professional players, Dhokla has experienced burnout and struggled with finding a proper work-life balance. Everyday tasks felt less important because practicing would take over the majority of his day. During the Spring Split, Dhokla realized he needed to focus more on himself. That included a revised sleeping schedule, one of the changes that stuck and has greatly helped him.

“I wouldn’t have much sleep or like I’d have sleep but I’d still be tired in the morning,” Dhokla said. “I think what’s changed over the break is I’m definitely sleeping better. I’m more alert throughout the whole day and that definitely helps with pretty much the whole day. I can learn more and everything, so I think improving my sleep was the number one key.”

With Dhokla better rested and the team in the right headspace, it looks like OpTic’s time to shine. They defeated TSM during week seven, giving OpTic a 2-0 record against them this split. The only other teams ahead of them are Cloud9, Team Liquid, and CLG. And even though they’re 0-2 against Liquid, Dhokla doesn’t find them or any other team problematic. He believes the only thing standing between OpTic and success is themselves.

Photo via Riot Games

“I think all the top teams are pretty strong, but I think as long as we’re playing well, I don’t think it’s too much of a worry for anyone,” Dhokla said. “I think as cliche as it sounds—we’re our own enemy, right? If we play our game, then we should have a good chance of performing.”

Dhokla’s confidence spread past the initial season as well. Not worried at all about the teams below OpTic, he’s certain they’ll reach playoffs for the first time. But he’s staying humble in his estimates of where exactly the team will finish.

“Realistically, TL probably will be number one and then I don’t know if we can catch C9 [or] CLG, but we could end up maybe three or four,” Dhokla said. “I think it’s realistic and outside of that, I don’t see us dropping below playoffs this split, which is kind of a reassuring feeling to have since we missed playoffs so many times. Honestly, as long as we make it to playoffs we’ll be fine, but I think third and fourth is a realistic goal for us.”

In the final week of the split, OpTic will be facing CLG, and Cloud9 once more to finalize their head-to-head matches. And after that, we’ll know if OpTic have realized their dream of making the playoffs.