Team Dignitas have had a shaky start to the North American LCS season, tied with newly promoted Team 8 for eighth in the table. The instability began in the offseason, with the team losing Darshan “ZionSpartan” Upadhyaha to CLG and Michael “Imaqtpie” Santana to the lure of streaming.
After mixed results to begin the season, the team collectively agreed to one more change: Parting ways with jungler and captain Alberto “Crumbzz” Rengifo, who had been with the team since May 2012.
With the season underway, Dignitas had to act quickly, bringing in Stephen “CloudNguyen” Nguyen. He played in six games for the team—of which they won half—and seemed to be settling in to the team. Then on Feb. 25 Team Dignitas announced that the player’s “try-out” had been unsuccessful and it was going to bring in TSM Darkness jungler Andrew “Azingy” Zamarripa for a similar try-out in the sixth week.
The move caught many by surprise, and some questioned Dignitas’ motivations. After his last appearance, a win against Winterfox, Nguyen was interviewed as part of an LCS broadcast and said some things that didn’t paint the team in a particularly favorable light.
“There’s no coach” he said. “So when we have a difference of opinion… there’s no person to, like, settle it. So when this conflict comes up we don’t know how to deal with it. Eventually it can lead to players, like, offending each other because they think they are better than the other player, saying that their opinion is better.”
“The hardest part was communication,” he continued, responding to a question about how he had settled in the team. “I was on a challenger team and we all had like really good communication. Then I come to Dignitas and they use the most basic English and I’m like ‘uhhh’ and sometimes I can’t even hear them because they are pretty quiet people.”
While many fans praised Nguyen’s refreshing honesty, especially as they came during an official LCS broadcast, many also called them out for negativity. Nguyen was replaced for the following week, it looked like the interview had prompted the organization to make a change for someone with more media savvy. Now Team Dignitas owner and general manager Michael “ODEE” O’Dell has reached out to the Daily Dot to clear up what he says is a misconception.
“With Crumbzz standing down at this point in the season we have had no other option but to live trial, which isn’t ideal” O’Dell explains. “After analyzing our performances the team and the coaches felt Cloud wasn’t what we were looking for moving forward. We’re happy to give Azingy a try-out because he’s keen and well practiced.”
He added: “We weren’t impressed with that interview as, with most things reported in esports it doesn’t show the whole picture.” Regardless, he said the interview was not a deciding factor in the organization’s decision to bring in a new jungler.
“The change was not decided because of that interview. We had already decided on the Sunday we needed to make a change. The coaches and management had all agreed that if we’re to secure our LCS future then tough decisions were going to have to be made.”
O’Dell said there were no hard feelings. “I feel sorry for Cloud, because to get to this level is incredibly hard. I hope he gets another shot with someone in the future.”