As if rosters were not being shaken up enough, it looks like Golden Guardians and Dignitas have thrown their hats into the ring as well.
Except, as opposed to TSM’s weekly mix ups that appear to have only worsening effects on their already abysmal record, the Golden Guardians switch up might actually be game-changing.
Acquiring a critical piece from the Dignitas roster, GG are now in a position to make quite a splash as the summer split nears its closing. Recognizing their inability to make playoffs with their roster, a last place Dignitas opted to “call it” for the split and invest in developing some of their outstanding academy rookies on the LCS stage instead.
As a part of their development plan, they decided to part ways with their best player— their jungler, River—to have some money going into the offseason. The details of the transaction are not public, but River was, despite being on the most losing LCS team, one of the best junglers in the LCS. With his talents, the price Dignitas set must have put some major money in their pockets.
Because of the obvious loss of what could have been Dignitas’ “franchise player,” this decision has drawn some criticism. However, it appears that Dignitas wanted to give River an opportunity to make playoffs and make a difference for a team that can actually utilize the advantages he provides them.
What Does This Mean for Golden Guardians?
Currently sitting at 7th place with a 4-7 record, Golden Guardians are teetering on the edge of a short playoff run. With eight out of the ten LCS teams qualifying for the summer playoffs, regular season placement is extremely important. The two lowest ranked teams (7th and 8th) that qualify for playoffs have to play from the lower bracket. This means that all of their matches are elimination matches; it is win or go home.
With a significant boost to their roster with their acquisition of River, Golden Guardians still have the time to build a better record and make a run for 6th place. With seven games left in the split, five of those games are winnable assuming River performs at levels similar to what he has in the past. If Golden Guardians are able to go 5-2 in those matches, they will end the split with a 9-9 record.
Cloud9, one of the weakest teams ahead of them by record, has one of the most difficult schedules ahead of them. Having already played Dignitas and GG, the only teams they have left to play are either ranked higher than them or are TSM and Immortals. On paper, Cloud9 should go 2-5, leaving them at 8-10.
If both of these teams play as expected, River’s acquisition could allow Golden Guardians the opportunity to play from the upper bracket and make a difference in the summer finals.
What Does This Mean For Dignitas?
The reactions from the community regarding River’s departure have been very mixed. The two primary opinions are (a) River was Dignitas’ star player and trading him was an awful move for the organization, and (b) allowing River the opportunity to play on a good team is great for him, and the rookies coming into Dignitas’ roster are very promising.
While those who hold the first opinion are right to be concerned about Dignitas losing their best chance at winning, it seems that Dignitas has already transitioned to a development mindset. It is no doubt that River was Dignitas’ best player; however, his talent was better used elsewhere anyway.
The players Dignitas surrounded him with made winning very difficult. With the roster only able to pick up two wins in the split so far, River’s talent’s are best used on a team that can actually compete. Had Dignitas opted to keep River and create an even worse (developing) roster alongside him, he likely would have chosen to terminate his contract early and leave the organization anyway. Selling him now meant that Dignitas could make some money off of his departure and get a head start on developing a new roster.
Besides, Dignitas’ rookies look very promising. Promoting eXyu; Hoon; and Spawn to replace River; Gamsu; and Neo, Dignitas already have a roster that could be competitive when the Spring Split rolls around in February. Alongside the rising mid laner Blue and veteran support Biofrost, these rookies have the environment to become very successful in the near future.
Until then, we look back to the other end of the trade. Will River be able to make a difference on Golden Guardians? To find out, tune in to the LCS on July 30th at 7:30 EST when GG takes on CLG.