Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett has a reputation for being a difficult player to work with. From this time on Team Liquid, to his swap between Immortals and CLG last year, Dardoch has built up legacy as one of League of Legend's most promising young players, but also one of its most problematic.
Going into 2018, Dardoch is part of Echo Fox's new roster, and he says he's working on fixing that reputation. Dardoch took some time to talk with theScore esports about how he's going to do that, signing with Echo Fox and the importance of the NA LCS Players' Association.
Why did you go with Echo Fox?
The only real condition I had when I was looking for a team this offseason was that I didn't want to join a team that was new to the LCS, just in case they didn't really know what they were doing. I heard a lot of rumors through the scene that a lot of the newer organizations were really behind on rosters and stuff like that, so I didn't want to get caught up in any of that. So I just, I told Liquid112, the owner of TL, that that was my condition and then he lined me up with conversations with Echo Fox and yeah, it was pretty easy to come to an agreement.
In terms of Echo Fox, there's been a lot talk over the years, and maybe this has changed now, but Echo Fox kind of being ahead of the game with resources and stuff, so what has been working with the Echo Fox staff been like for you?
I think everybody on the staff is actually knowledgeable, and it's actually really easy to work with everyone so far, and yeah everyone is just really super easy to work with, laid back and just, everybody just does what they're supposed to do.
I want to talk a little about the roster, then. How do you feel about the guys you're playing with this year?
I think everyone on my roster is actually really, really strong, individually and just historically they've had positive effects on teams they've been on. So I have a lot of respect for each and every one of my teammates and I'm very excited to play with them.
What is like for you working with Fenix again? You guys haven't been together since Liquid. What has it been like working with him again?
Working with Fenix again is always great. Ever since we broke apart from Team Liquid days, we've always just talked about, casually, just the option of rejoining or what would have happened if we stayed together, that kind of stuff. So, having that as an option was really exciting for me.
Is he a guy that you enjoy playing with these days, or enjoy communicating with as a friend?
Me and Fenix are really close friends outside of the game, and we are really, we're just really compatible players in the game as well, so it's just a really natural fit, both in and out of the game we synergize really well.
So you mentioned that sort of, you feel this is a strong roster and you're very confident with the guys your'e working with here, what do you feel are your personal expectations for this roster?
My expectation of the roster is just for us to be a really strong team. I don't think anybody in the League is unbeatable for us and I think we have a level, we are at a level of play where we can comfortably say that, by the end of the spring split, that we should be a playoff contender.
Who's shotcalling on this roster? Or is that something you're going to figure out after you play a couple games on stage?
The main shotcalling goes, generally, I speak for most of the early game and then after laning phase ends and we move more in towards team play it's more so just everyone pitching in.
Is that something, having that kind of stuff primarily on you at the beginning, is that something you're comfortable with?
Yeah, it was my job on CLG. I was the early game leader/ shotcaller, just 'cause the jungler kind of paints the picture of how the early game's gonna go.
Do you have any personal goals for yourself as a player this year?
I don't really have any goals set for myself as an individual player in-game. I just want to prove that these things said about me, or this stigma that I carry is just untrue and that I can work well with my teammates that I have now and bring, hopefully bring a title for Echo Fox.
How do you feel your perception of yourself as a player has changed over the past year or so, if at all for you internally?
I guess the biggest change is just my overall attitude. I'm a lot more laid back and I just don't really, I guess I'm not as argumentative and ... I'm more so just really focused on problem solving and problem prevention instead of just speaking and complaining about the issues I'm having and stuff like that. Instead of brewing up just negativity within the team I just kind of try and — I mean it's really easy since everyone is really positive, but I just try and add on to it.
Was there a particular catalyst for that, or was it something that you just said, "Okay, now this is when this has to happen for me."
It's just been something I've been gradually working on over the past two years of my life, over my career as a professional player. So it just got to a point around, probably after I left CLG for Team Liquid again and opted into playing in relegations. It was a pretty big wake-up call for me.
I wanted to ask you a little bit about other teams. Everyone's changed up their rosters, we're looking at a mostly fresh slate of teams. Who are you guys, or just you personally, looking at this year?
I think most of the split predictions are decently accurate for the top four-ish teams, where I think C9 and CLG, TSM, Team Liquid will all be pretty formidable and they'll have really good rosters. But for the 100 Thieves, the Golden Guardians, Clutch Gamings, Fly Quests, I think they need to prove that their rosters are going to mesh well and they have to perform on stage. But I think only really the top four teams, where they have solidified, world-class players from last 2017 Worlds, that they can only really expect to be in the Top 4.
There hasn't been a lot of talk about [the Players' Association], particularly from players. I was wondering if that's something you've been involved in at all.
Yeah, everyone in the LCS is a part of the Players' Association, everybody has their own voice I guess to speak about issues. It's more so just, we come together whenever Riot wants to implement a new rule or talk about a potential rule change or, you know, something regarding salaries. Anything regarding, essentially, something that would affect every professional player and we kind of band together and give our opinion. If it's something that we're okay with or we agree with, we say so. If it's something we disagree with obviously we speak through our representative that we chose as a group.
I've also heard talk about it being used for player protection. Is this Players' Association, as a way for player [to have a] voice, as a way for players to be protected, is that something that you personally see value in, even if you haven't necessarily used it for those things as well?
It's not at the point where, it's not like in the NBA or the NFL where they made a Players' Association because they had issues. It's more so Riot reaching out to us to let us know we have an option that if there is issues in the future, that we have an avenue to at least speak to Riot about it or speak with someone about it to try and come to a middle ground if we disagree with it, something like that. It's just more like a problem prevention thing instead of a, this isn't a necessity, we don't have issues that we need to directly speak about, something like that.
Looking ahead a little bit, what do you want to be able to look back on this split and be able to say about either your success, your placements, your own personal performance? What do you basically want to be able to see at the end of the day?
I guess at the end of the day, all I really want to see after spring split is just that we're a happy, cohesive unit as five. I'm not really too, I guess I don't have my eyes set on a specific placement or a specific end to the season, whether we're going to be first or sixth or whatever the case may be. I don't really have anything in mind just because the most important thing to me in Worlds and we can meet that in summer regardless. So I guess, yeah, my only goal is that we're happy playing with each other and that we — yeah we just, if we like showing up to practice every day and playing with each other, I'm sure we'll do great things regardless.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.