Interview with DIG LoL Akaadian: "I want everyone to know that they’re going to see high level play"
Wed 25th Mar 2020 - 8:45pm
Jungle is one of the most exciting roles to both play and watch in high-level League of Legends, and when combined with a player as dynamic and exciting as Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham, you know you're in for a good time. Having played in both Academy and LCS teams over the years, Akaadian has developed a confidence in his game that results in some of the most electric gameplay in the North American League scene.
This season, he brings his dominant style to Dignitas, and a string of S+ performances with DIG Academy at the start of the Spring Split has seen him move into the main roster to shake up the competition on the main stage. Read on to see what he has to say about all of this and more!
So, let’s get to know Akaadian a little. In a word, how would you describe yourself as a person, then as a player, and lastly as a teammate?
Akaadian: Hmm, I’ve never been asked that before! As a person I’d say I’m driven, as a player I’m aggressive, and, to put it nicely, I’d say I’m passionate as a teammate.
If you weren’t a League of Legends pro, what could you see yourself doing?
Akaadian: Initially it was just college, and I was a water polo player in High School so I think I would’ve just continued and played that in college… but honestly DJing would be sick. I’d love to be a DJ (if I actually made good music).
How has your time felt on DIG so far, both on and off the Rift?
Akaadian: I would say I’ve felt pretty welcomed on the team, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I spent the first half of the season playing with my best friend, Tanner (Damonte). I think everyone in the organization has been super welcoming, I’ve become really comfortable and my time in Academy really helped me re-find myself. I’ve had a good time on Dignitas so far!
The DIG Academy team has been enjoying a great spell of success in their League, placing them at the top of the ladder at this stage in the Split. Did you see this coming or does your team’s dominance come as a surprise to you?
Akaadian: No, not really. If you want to be someone that’s considered for LCS, you have to be at the top of Academy, so I expected myself and my teammates to be performing at a high level. Before the season I thought we could go without dropping any games, which is mostly unrealistic. You know most teams will drop a game here or there due to overconfidence or whatnot, but I expected us to do at least this well.
What are your personal goals while playing on Dignitas?
Akaadian: I think working on stability is a big thing for me. I have had a lot of games where I was trying too hard to do too many things at once, and others where I’ve been lazy. Becoming a really consistent pro is my main goal at Dignitas. I want everyone to know that, every time I hit the Rift, I know what I’m doing and they’re going to see high level play.
With the introduction of the Elemental Rifts, changes to Rift Herald and the alcoves, what are your personal thoughts on the state of Summoner’s Rift as a Jungler at the moment?
Akaadian: I think the state of Summoner’s Rift is good for the most part. I feel that the game for the last two years has been healthier than it used to be. Riot’s made a lot of changes that have helped bring back individual expression while still allowing the game to rely heavily on team play. I do think the Dragons should be a little stronger; last year, if you got an early game Ocean Drake, it was like, “Oh damn, we’ve got Ocean Drake, we’re a lot stronger in Laning Phase now,” but now the individual buffs don’t feel that impactful… I think a happy medium can be found, though.
How does it feel as a player to have been moved into the LCS starting roster?
Akaadian: It’s pretty exciting to move to LCS again. The level of play is higher, and it’s more enjoyable to win as there’s way more attention around LCS than Academy. I think next Split we’re going to give an even better showing as a region with Worlds on the line too.
What’s been the biggest difference for you when playing on DIG’s LCS and Academy teams?
Akaadian: In Academy, I feel like I had a huge hand in how our team played and was a loud voice in our games. Now, it’s not that I’m playing differently or contributing less, it’s that there are more experienced players in the LCS team that can command the play too. Playing with people like Aphro, Huni, and Froggen who are all really vocal helps me grow as a player and focus on my own game.
Let’s talk about your games on the main stage; although there have only been very few, how have you felt about your performances so far?
Akaadian: I was happy that I played really well in the 100 Thieves game, but I think I could have shotcalled better. Like I could feel it was bad but I didn’t say anything so I was just focused on the Smite and then we all died which was just trolling. It was still only like our third day as a team, and the first Baron fight where they killed us all and stole it from us is a situation that we can definitely navigate better now.
In the GGS (Golden Guardians) game, I think we lost draft really hard and didn’t realise that we needed to make a lot of early plays to contest the game… when that didn’t happen, we just got slowly bled out until we lost and I can’t stand losing like that. Against CLG, we had a much more aggressive draft and played around our champions really well. The players that were supposed to push did exactly that and CLG got outdrafted and outplayed.
We’ve seen Cloud9 taken down by TSM, Team Liquid drop into the bottom half of the table, and all sorts of other upsets so far in the Split. What are your thoughts on the competition in the LCS?
Akaadian: I think Cloud9 this year is better than Team Liquid was last year. They’re a much stronger team than TL in that they make their own plays instead of waiting for the enemy to do something. They draft really well around Mid/Jungle and Blaber and Nisqy abuse that, and their Bot Lane plays at a super high level too so they can just keep the pressure on all game long. In terms of the strength of the teams below them, however, I think last year was stronger, and maybe other teams feel like this, but I think we can take games off nearly any team on any given day.
As a fun question, it would be remiss of me to not talk about your bromance with Damonte. If you guys were a Bot Lane duo, what would be the roles and what would be your perfect combo?
Akaadian: I mean, just because I’m a Jungler and Damonte’s a Mid Laner I think Gragas/Yasuo would be our best combo. In terms of what roles we’d play, I’d probably be Support and Damonte would be ADC. He’d be better in a carry role since he’s already in Mid Lane and I’d be able to Support better thanks to my current skill set.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! Is there anyone you’d like to give a shoutout to?
Akaadian: Yeah, shoutout Damonte, we’re all gonna make it brah!
We'd like to thank Akaadian again for giving us the opportunity to chat, and wish him and the team all the best for the rest of the season! You can catch Akaadian on Twitter @Akaadian to stay up to date with him through the remainder of the NA Spring Split.