Soligo on Proving Doubters Wrong, Flipping the Script
Very few teams are able to pull off a comeback victory from as far behind as Dignitas was against TSM in the fifth weekend of the LCS, but the young roster managed to pull a miraculous win from the jaws of defeat. We sat down with Max “Soligo” Soong after the game to discuss playing with your back against the wall, dealing with different expectations, and learning from his veteran teammates.
Hotspawn: First of all, congrats on that win against TSM! Before jumping into specifics, how’re you feeling after that game? Bit of a rollercoaster, with you guys coming back from a huge gold deficit.
Soligo: Yeah, it was very relieving to win that game, to say the least. I think throughout the entire game we felt mentally that we were on the back foot, and even at the end when we looked we were like 7k down at the end. Once we won the final teamfight, it was like “wow, we actually just won.”
Hotspawn: How much of that were you expecting going into the game? Nobody plans for a 7k gold deficit, but you did have what looked like a late game-oriented draft.
Soligo: We were very confident at least in our team composition being able to fight theirs in 5v5, although the gold deficit made it a little bit hard of course. We were fairly confident that as long as we kited back away from the Hecarim and Shen engage we would have the upper hand if we survived the initial burst from them.
Hotspawn: You said before that you felt like you were on the back foot the entire time. What’re some of the things you do in seemingly hopeless situations like that when you have your back against the wall? I know playing games from that far behind is tough, both strategically and mentally.
Soligo: Especially when we have champions that scale well such as Orianna and Gangplank, it’s easy for us to stay focused on that late game win condition that we have so we can just continue to farm and continue to grow, and as long as we don’t keep inting them more kills [laughs] we’re eventually gonna reach that point, right? Yeah, it sucks to be on the back foot, not being able to do anything proactive, but I think at that point all of us understand what we need to do in order to have a chance at winning the game.
Hotspawn: Makes sense. Even though Dignitas continues to win folks keep doubting you, coming up with different excuses for why you’re at the top of the standings. And yet you keep proving those people wrong— how does it feel to be near the top of the leaderboard at this point in the season?
Soligo: It feels really good. I know a lot of people didn’t have very high expectations for us, and there’s still a lot of doubters. I think a lot of that comes with the narrative of me and FakeGod in particular playing in the past in LCS and how poorly we performed. It’s kind of to be expected, but this split is all about turning around that story and proving that we’re good players.
Hotspawn: You mentioned that you feel there’s a stigma against you and FakeGod specifically. Has it been difficult coming to terms with that narrative you mentioned, and the criticism that comes with it?
Soligo: It’s a lot easier for me now since the expectation that the community and other players have for me is not very high. In that sense, it’s easier to just focus on myself and on improving. In general, I’m very open-minded and open to keep on improving and listening to what other people have to criticize about me.
Hotspawn: Have you found that having less pressure on you affects your performance in game?
Soligo: Not particularly in game. When I’m in game, I tend to just— I dunno, I’m just in the zone, you know? I’m not taking into account all of the external factors. In terms of practicing and scrimming and all that, I think it does affect me a little bit in how stressful it can get sometimes. Stress I think is at a very healthy level right now, and the [expectations] that other people place on us aren’t very high. I think we personally want to get a lot better as a team, and know that we can be a lot better.
Hotspawn: We’ve talked a lot about the external expectations that are being placed on you, but what were your personal expectations coming into the split?
Soligo: [Laughs] Well I knew I still had a lot of work to do, so I was just focusing on improving little by little. Honestly, I’m a little surprised by how well we’re doing so far [laughs], but at the same time, I’m obviously really happy with where we are. I still think that we can be playing a lot better than we are in a lot of our victories, especially our last game. I still personally have very high expectations for what we’re capable of.
Hotspawn: You mentioned your focus on personal improvement right now. What are some of the specific things you’re working on?
Soligo: I think the main thing right now is being very confident in what I want to do on the map. For most of the split, the rookies— me, Neo, and FakeGod are relying on Aphromoo and Dardoch to do a lot of the shotcalling and a lot of the micro. Eventually, I think an endpoint for our team is us rookies being able to make those decisions for ourselves and to find plays that they’re not able to see themselves. I think that’s one thing that all of us are really working on to get to a point that we can take the next step as a team, and get to the next level.
I was on Academy with FakeGod last year, and all of our teammates generally had the same level of experience as us. For the most part, we were just learning things one by one, trying to figure things out by ourselves, whereas with this new roster I think Dardoch and Aphromoo do a lot of the teaching and guiding us in the right direction.
Hotspawn: Most of the rookies I’ve talked to have told me about the huge jump in the level of play between Academy and LCS. What’re some of the biggest differences you’ve experienced?
Soligo: I think the biggest difference is how the macro is conducted between Academy and LCS. I think in Academy there’s a lot of random things happening around the map that are really not supposed to happen, and the way people respond to those situations is completely wrong too. You end up having a lot of people trying to cover for each other’s mistakes, which is kind of what I felt like I was trained to do. In LCS, you really can’t get away with doing that kind of stuff. I’d say that’s the biggest difference.
Hotspawn: I think that’s all I have for you! Thanks again for taking the time to do this. To close us out, do you have any words for the Dignitas fans out there?
Soligo: Thank you for supporting us, and I hope we will make you guys proud!