The LCS off-season has been full of surprises.
Former Clutch Gaming mid laner Tanner “Damonte” Damonte will be playing for Dignitas Academy in the upcoming 2020 season. The organization announced the current rosters for its LCS and Academy teams on Twitter and fans were surprised to see Damonte’s name under the list of Academy players. He was also joined by another veteran, jungler Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham.
“For real, Akaadian and Damonte should be in your LCS team and not in the academy team,” one response to the tweet said.
When Dignitas merged with Clutch Gaming in June, LCS fans expected the organization to build on Clutch’s foundation. The team improved throughout 2019 and managed to qualify for the 2019 League of Legends World Championship, where it posted a solid performance.
The Clutch players seemingly shared this assumption, as Damonte told WIN.gg in July that he wanted Dignitas to be proud to “have us as their players” going into 2020.
Instead, Dignitas shocked Clutch Gaming fans by dumping the entire roster except for top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon, who they signed to a $2.3 million contract. Given Damonte’s successful season and continued popularity with fans, many wondered why Dignitas had decided to move forward without him.
Some were frustrated by the move, but most expected Damonte to find a new home without issue. But as the weeks went by and LCS teams completed their rosters, it became clear that Damonte would be on the outside looking in on the LCS at the start of 2020.
When Damonte was announced as an Academy player, many fans responded with cries for the mid laner to be added to the main roster instead. But with his fate sealed, other fans were just relieved to see Damonte on a team at all. Others were excited to see him play alongside Akaadian.
Still, his situation reinforces LCS fans’ frustration over the league’s fixation on signing veterans from Europe and Korea rather than developing and emphasizing local talent.