In the 2016 Spring Split, a rookie burst onto the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) scene that set the jungler position ablaze. With his aggressive playstyle and abundant raw talent, Team Liquid rookie Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett became an overnight phenomenon as he stormed his way into the LCS and earned "Rookie of the Split" handily.
Despite his success on the Rift, trouble was brewing beneath the surface for Dardoch and the Team Liquid organization. Suspended to start the 2016 Summer Split, Dardoch's issues and immaturity would only fully come to light with the release of the Team Liquid documentary Breaking Point. A key cog in a toxic environment that plagued the Team Liquid LCS squad, Dardoch was branded as a problem and promptly traded before he could even finish the Summer Split.
Will probably voice my opinion on the situation and share my side sometime later so you guys can understand more— Joshua Hartnett (@Dardoch) May 27, 2016
Hoping to shake his new label, Dardoch would find himself bouncing from organization to organization over the next few years. While clearly talented, Dardoch never was able to gain a footing in the LCS. Yet, after three years and six different teams, Dardoch has now landed on Team SoloMid (TSM) as a starter for the 2020 Spring Split.
TSM is an organization that has gone through its own share of problems in 2019, especially at the jungler position. Despite reaching the 2019 Spring Split Finals (and falling in five games), TSM failed to find that same success in the Summer and posted a mediocre record. Substituting junglers multiple times in a doomed attempt to find stability or success, it was clear TSM would need to make dramatic changes at the position if they wanted to return to form in 2020.
In Dardoch, TSM may have landed a diamond in the rough. There are few players with as high of a ceiling in the LCS, and his Academy performances have made it clear that when surrounded by the right players Dardoch can still easily carry a game. As an NA resident, Dardoch is especially valuable to teams such as TSM who already field two imports. If he can recapture the greatness that he continues to show flashes of, TSM may have made the best move of the offseason by signing Dardoch as their jungler.
On paper, the TSM roster is stacked with talent at almost every position. Top laner Sergen "Broken Blade" Çelik excited fans with his potential and carry playstyle in his rookie split, but fell hard with the team as the Summer progressed. An entirely new bottom duo of support Vincent "Biofrost" Wang and ADC Kasper "Kobbe" Kobberup should provide a veteran presence along with mid laner Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg that could steady the ship and unlock the team's jungle and top carries. If everything goes well, TSM could easily challenge Team Liquid for the top spot in the LCS this split.
Still, it remains to be seen if Dardoch has outgrown the personality issues that have haunted him in the past. Bouncing from team to team over the past few seasons, it appears no organization has been successful in figuring out the Dardoch puzzle. Luckily for Dardoch and TSM fans alike, TSM is clearly the best opportunity he has been given in years.
If the structure around him at TSM and the veteran leadership provided by mid laner Bjergsen can help reign in Dardoch and harness some of that lingering potential, Dardoch could once again rise to the top of the ranks among junglers in the LCS.
If TSM's experiment with Dardoch fails, he may finally be out of chances to claim a spot on a starting LCS roster. The ultra-talented phenom that became a problem, Dardoch may finally have used up his opportunities at redemption and could be left with only ghosts of what could have been.