Every analyst is surprised to see Immortals sitting at the summit of the NA LCS following an unpredictable start to the Summer Split. A year on from pitching arguably the strongest line-up ever to grace competitive North American League of Legends, many fans now question Immortals motivation to reach the World Championships.
Following a perfect start to the split with victories over Phoenix1 and reigning champions Team SoloMid, Immortals dropped their first match of the split to Team EnVyUs at the beginning of Week 2.
In the build up to the second round of fixtures, Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett – Immortals’ jungler for just a single split – explained that he made the decision to leave the organisation after it became clear that the organisation did not share his ambition to reach the World Championship.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Yahoo eSports, Dardoch revealed the primary reasons for departing Immortals:
“Me and Immortals did not have aligned visions of where we wanted the team to go.
“They’re not setting out to say: ‘we want to make Worlds, we want to win playoffs, let’s just do the best that we can.’
“‘If we don’t get to playoffs, if we don’t get to Worlds, it’s fine – we’re building for the future.’
“I wanted to make Worlds, Immortals didn’t really care too much about it, so I wanted to join a team that would get me there”
Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett
Despite signing a three-year deal at the beginning of the year, Dardoch made it clear that he felt neither the Immortals organisation nor his former teammates had the drive to reach the World Championships.
It’s not the first time that this criticism has been lobbied against the Immortals approach to competitive eSports.
Immortals roster for 2017 forms an integral part of a rebuilding process. After an astonishing season debut saw IMT jump straight to the summit of the NA LCS, a devastating failure saw the team fall short of their World Championship goal in the summer.
The majority of the star-studded line-up jumped ship during the 2016-17 off-season. Immortals management took the team in an entirely different direction, opting to enforce further changes after a disappointing Spring Split, acquiring Jake “Xmithie” Puchero to replace Dardoch.
Immortals CEO Noah Whinston is keen to emphasise the organisation’s vision of ‘long-term planning’, something he perceives to be far more important than immediate success. Though Immortals currently sit in a strong position to reach the World Championship after two rounds of fixtures, Worlds seldom enters Whinston’s rhetoric:
“Realistically, we have a long split to go, anyone that knows their Immortals history knows that the regular season is not the most important part of this given split, it’s the playoffs that count.
“Just because we won these two games doesn’t mean we can ride and coast on our laurels for the rest of the split.”
Critics of the Immortals organisation naturally side with Dardoch, highlighting that as a venture capitalist organisation, Immortals primary goal is to market themselves. Winning – of course – helps to achieve this aim, but it is not a priority.
It’s interesting to note that Immortals completely shifted their messaging after failing to reach Worlds in their debut season. Where the emphasis had once been on building a competitive team and reaching the World Championship, suddenly the entirety of the team’s focus was moved to building a sustainable fanbase.
With only four games under the players’ belts, its impossible to judge whether Immortals have the will-power to launch a legitimate World Championship bid. Certainly as far as Dardoch is concerned, the organisation will not be too hard on themselves however, if they fall short at the end of the summer.