It was a hard-fought battle, but Dignitas ultimately qualified to the Europe Minor for Rio. With a successful campaign behind the ex-Ninjas, and their FLASHPOINT debut just a few days away, we thought it would be interesting to dissect what we’ve seen so far from the squad and make some predictions about their future potential.
Yes, this team is the legendary NiP side wearing a Dignitas mask. Even Fifflaren is involved, if only in a coaching capacity. No matter how much stock you put into the veterancy aspect and the experience, there’s a reason why this squad was slowly dismantled as the results faded away. And yet, there may be reason to expect more of them this time around – in fact, you could even argue they’ve already gone above and beyond what they’ve served up in those dark days. Say what you will about the level of competition in the qualifiers (though the Europe Minors are historically always more stacked than the rest, especially now with six top 20 teams present, plus BIG in #21), the same core often failed to make it even this far during their shocking slide after Cologne ‘16.
Teams nowadays are bigger than they used to be, which means the finances and facilities are miles ahead of where they once were. As we’ve seen with the reforged Fnatic side (who Dignitas gave a pretty good game in the tournament), sometimes the same lineup with role adjustments and better personal chemistry, plus a competent coach can go a long way. Though none of these guarantee a resurrection, all of them put together goes to show that there may be a bit more to this project than mere vanity, at least as long as the motivation is there to put in as much, if not more preparation as the youngsters of the field. With all that in mind, one has to wonder what they can bring to the table on an individual level. For what it’s worth, Fifflaren believes this team has better players than Vitality does – discounting ZywOo, of course. But could he possibly be right about this?
There’s a bit of hyperbole at work here – of course he no longer dominates the competition the same way he did in his heyday – but there can be no denying that the wise old man of the famous ex-Ninja core is the most likely to deliver a strong individual showing across the board. With hallzerk, the team now has a reliable AWPer and another source of consistent frags, and it’s quite the indictment of recent NiP lineups that this could catapult Dignitas ahead of them by itself. Judging by the qualifiers, f0rest is still kicking.
It’s worth remembering that he left Heroic on his own terms, not agreeing to a new contract with the organization. He was a reliable part of that side, which was a decent contender in the tier 2 scene with the occasional strong showing against top-level opposition as well. His performances will no doubt have a lot to do with how the roles are defined in this reformed lineup, and first impressions suggest he’ll continue this trajectory: Dignitas’ run through the qualifiers show friberg with decent-to-good stats against lower-level teams and a whopping -32 against Fnatic in an otherwise close series, with him being the notable weak point on both maps which went to overtime.
There was never any question about GeT_RiGhT’s dedication, and his slow slide over the last few years was all the more sad to watch knowing how much effort he was putting into the game. Unfortunately, the sort of dedicated lurker role he once shined in no longer seems to be viable in the game (just ask HappY about the way his career panned out), and the early part of his slowdown featured many gunfights where he tried the same sort of flicks and sprays he could no longer reliably execute. GeT_RiGhT was one of the better-performing players against Fnatic in the closed qualifiers, and in that sense, he could serve as a great complementary tool for his compatriot, but all this realistically means is that they will both play a sort of supporting role and at least one of them will have to turn up on the servers. Fifflaren certainly seems convinced about his teammate's buried potential: it would be a massive turnaround if it were to come to light after all these years.
NiP’s long-standing issues with the fluidity (read: lack of a dedicated role player) with the AWP and in-game leading are well-documented, and it was a big part of why the side kept sliding down over the last few years when only a portion of the original core was left. Unfortunately, Xizt’s Fnatic tenure didn’t inspire confidence (most notably his questionable veto decisions), especially in light of what Golden produced with basically the same squad both before and after his stint with them. As odd as it may sound considering the history of these players, this team still feels somewhat raw.
They allowed a massive comeback on the CT side of Nuke before barely closing out the map versus Nordavind, yet they managed to turn an 11-4 half on Inferno into overtime as terrorists against Fnatic. In fact, the otherwise close match quickly devolved into a stomp on map 3, which was Overpass, where he’s also struggled to get the best out of the Fnatic roster when he was still playing in their jersey. Though it’s been stated that the roles are still somewhat in flux, a squad with diminished firepower requires great tactics to compete, and right now there’s little to suggest Xizt can live up to the task.
Sure, nineteen may not be sixteen, and it’s certainly way too early to get overexcited, but as we’ve discussed in the section about f0rest, the young Norwegian could very well fill one of the perennial holes in this lineup, much in the way of how allu did for a short period of time back in 2015. He dunked on Fnatic on Vertigo and had the occasional standout map in other series as well. In terms of raw potential, he seems like a great addition to this side.
GeT_RiGhT always talked a good game and put in the hours to back them up, which is why his recent HLTV interview about “gambling with his legacy” struck a chord with me. What can this team produce on the balance of things? A top thirty spot, something like the earlier Heroic lineups used to deliver, seems like a reasonable target, and they certainly won’t be as disjointed in the long run as BIG or OG were in the closed qualifier. Anything beyond that requires major reinvention on part of not one, but multiple ex-Ninjas, even with hallzerk looking like a great pickup.
Realistically though, that’s already not bad for a family reunion. Could VP do the same? How about VeryGames from 2013? Considering the top teams of that era, the Dignitas squad probably has the best chance of tier 2 relevancy in today’s scene, and that’s a hell of an accomplishment by itself if they manage to pull it off.