Exclusive interview with Dignitas' ApparentlyJack: "I'm playing so well right now" - Upcomer
Dignitas player ApparentlyJack reflects on the RLCS Spring Major and the World Championships in interview
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Exclusive interview with Dignitas’ ApparentlyJack: “I’m playing so well right now”

Can Dignitas step up at the end of the season?

On Sunday, July 3, a new RLCS Major Champion was crowned in a churning Copper Box Arena in London, England. It is a legendary venue where Rocket League history has been written multiple times. This event, however, happened without Dignitas, one of Europe’s representatives at the World Championships in August. Upcomer talked to Dignitas star player Jack “ApparentlyJack” Benton about having to spectate from the crowd, his preparation for Worlds, and more.

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ApparentlyJack reflects on the Spring Major

The Spring Major in London saw some enormous upsets right from the get-go. Title defenders G2 Esports dropped early in the tournament after getting reverse swept twice in a row, while Europe’s top dog Team BDS did not win a single game, going 0-6 against underdogs Team Secret and KC Pioneers from South America and Oceania respectively. The two biggest threats were eliminated, so the title was up for grabs. But with so many top teams still in the race, the road was anything but smooth.

Upcomer: How are you feeling after London? What has it done to your motivation for the World Championships, having been on the sidelines?

ApparentlyJack: I’m grinding so much right now. I’m just playing so much preparing for the next two big tournaments; I just really wanna win. It seems like it’s made me play better. I’m playing so well right now, probably just from watching really, really good gameplay and realizing a couple things where I went wrong. I was realizing it whilst kind of watching, really. I was like, “Oh, okay, these players, these teams are doing that.” I’m seeing what I’m not doing, I’ve implemented it in my game and I’m playing so well. We’re all playing pretty well.

Upcomer: How did you pass the time while you were stuck in the Nando’s toilet?

ApparentlyJack: Oh, my god, man. I was just chilling and I was trying to message my brother ‘cause he was there with me. I was like, “get a manager cuz I’m locked,” but there was hardly any service on my phone. It was 20 minutes. It’s okay. I’m a bit sad that no one realized I was gone, but well yeah.

Upcomer: What are the usual behind-the-scenes reasons a huge team can suddenly fall on any day? 

ApparentlyJack: So [this] is an interesting topic, for sure. I think that we’re getting to a stage of the game where, if there’s a 16-team LAN, I genuinely think that the top four seeds from North America and Europe can definitely win; and then usually the top seeds from South America and MENA can win the tournaments. That’s 10 teams. And it’s very difficult to keep the level that you’re always at, especially when you change environments.

It’s sometimes just on the day performance, like they didn’t play well on the day. And that just sucks to hear, because it doesn’t really give much insight, but other than that, I think that pressure can get to a team a lot without other people seeing, because if you think about it, G2 just came off a Major win, they came off two regional wins in this online split and a second-place finish. Now, that’s very, very good results. If you won the previous Major, you’re gonna be favorites going to the Major. People think you’re gonna win again. Loads of people have and you’re doing well.

Personally, I’ve heard some stuff — it could be false — but I’ve heard some players say this at LAN; apparently, G2 were just overthinking everything and creating loads of strategies to play against Team Liquid in the lowers and it didn’t work, but take that with a pinch of salt, because it could be completely false. There’s a lot of stuff that gets spread around.

But with BDS, similar thing, they brought in Seikoo, everyone thought they were gonna dominate and they did for a little bit. They got two regional wins and a second-place finish; that’s amazing results. That’s, in my eyes, pretty much a domination of the region for a bit — and then you go into the LAN. Everyone’s thinking that you’ll win or will come second, at least. It’s difficult to start off well. If you lose that first game, doubt starts coming into your mind. You’re like, “Oh, if we lose a second game, everyone’s gonna think we suck.” So then you lose, and it’s just [a] snowball effect and it keeps happening.

And before you know it, you’ve only played about 40 minutes, and you’re already out of the tournament, you’ve lost six games, you know? So yeah, it goes very fast. You can almost black out and just play subconsciously, and it happens in front of you and you’re like, oh, what the F just happened that series. And you know, sometimes that happens. I think both teams are completely fine. I think they’re gonna do very well at Worlds and they’re gonna bounce back.

ApparentlyJack’s future

Before the World Championships in August, Gamers8, a controversial $2 million tournament in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia takes place on July 14-17 with an unusual format. Teams will start off in a 3v3 match, but the loser of that match gets to choose what’s next: a 1v1 game or a 2v2 game. Following that, the mode that’s left over will be played. The rest of the best-of-5 will go through the modes once more where the loser chooses the next mode. For a team like Dignitas, which has three phenomenal 1v1 players on the team as opposed to some other teams that only focus on 3s, Dignitas is a dangerous opponent.

Upcomer: What are your expectations for the Gamers8 tournament?

ApparentlyJack: I want a minimum of a top four, but I think we can win to be honest, because the format is obviously very good for us. We’re all good 1s players. We’re all good 2s players. We have some quite strong, solid lineups, we’ve been scrimming teams in this format and we’ve been pretty much dominating. I don’t want to sound like I have an ego, but that’s what it’s been like. We’ve been doing very well on the 3v3 part, we’ve been making improvements in that regard. And obviously, me [with] Joreuz and Scrub [with] Joreuz have been doing great in 2s … also me and Joreuz have been smashing people in 1s. So it’s looking good right now. So I wouldn’t say I expect us to win, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I do think a win could be possible. Definitely.

Upcomer: A lot of people are still rating you guys quite highly and as a team with huge potential, do you agree and what kind of effect does that have on your own expectations?

ApparentlyJack: Yeah, I do agree with a lot of people saying that. I mean, you’ve gotta have confidence in yourself at the end of the day.

But even if I didn’t, I think it’s clear to see that we have potential as individuals and as a team. We’ve showed it before in previous tournaments, we did very well in the first two splits on the online portion. And you know, a top-eight result of the first LAN and not so good top 12 at the second, but it’s still not that bad.

We went into both the LANs as the second seed from Europe, it means something, it’s only the last split which we didn’t do too well. And so it doesn’t mean that we’ve completely lost it. It doesn’t mean we’re washed, it’s just one bad split. You know, most teams had it throughout the season, so I rate ourselves really highly. And what it does to us…. I mean, you just have to handle the pressure. It’s something that you learn whilst going through the pro scene. So it’s not too bad. Sometimes it does get to you, but overall, I think we handle it pretty well.

Upcomer: Do you think you can reach it at Worlds, or is it going to take more time?

ApparentlyJack: I think so. I think so. I think we’re all grinding, especially me. Well, I know myself, I’m grinding. I do know my teammates are grinding. There seems to be a lot of motivation on the team right now. Since we brought on Nick, our coach, we have a lot better of a structure, everyone’s really willing to grind, not only individually, but as a team; we’re looking at lots of replays doing lots of like training impacts to work on what we realized we need to work on and we seem to be making loads of improvement. I think it’s gonna go good.

Upcomer: You’ve always played without a coach but now you guys have taken on Nick as a coach, who formerly coached Queso [now Moist]. What does Nick add to the team?

ApparentlyJack: I do wanna praise Nick. He’s been amazing. He’s very adaptable. That’s one thing I like about him. He brought in a style to the team that he used with his old team [Queso]. At first, there were some things we liked and some things we didn’t like, we told him what we liked to tell him what we didn’t like, and he’s completely changed to accommodate towards our needs.

And that’s what a good coach does, and he also adds his own twists to it. He’s been amazing. He keeps up the hype, makes sure we’re grounded and makes sure that we’re doing what we’ve been talking about. He’s just a great coach, to be honest.

Upcomer: What has the Dignitas mental coach been able to provide?

ApparentlyJack: We have a psychologist, we still work with him. For the LA Major he took on a bit of a coach role. We wanted him behind us, see what he could do there. But now we’ve got Nick, we’re gonna kind of do what we have been doing before we did that.

And just have him doing psychology sessions with us and working on our mental side. He’s been helping a lot with confidence, helping a lot with playing under pressure and just in general, keeping our minds healthy, because it’s very important to do that, especially in an environment where you are inside all day and you’re quite isolated from people.

It’s very important to have that person that you can talk to about anything and they understand what they need to say to help you. So he’s been doing a great job with all that stuff.

Upcomer: You’ve talked about your mental state quite a bit, more than most players. Is normalizing talking about mental health important to you?

ApparentlyJack: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, like I said, I think what we do as players is actually quite bad for our health. It’s not the greatest thing that you want to do if you want to live a completely balanced life. You know, you’re inside a lot, you’re working unsociable hours, you have to pretty much work all time, ’cause you’re always playing to keep up with everyone else. And you are also, let’s be honest, earning way too much money for your age. And a lot of players can’t handle that. They don’t have the correct support systems to understand where to even start with that stuff. Luckily for me, I’m very fortunate that my parents do help me with that side of stuff, but it’s very difficult to overcome this, the kind of lonely side or the natural side of being inside all day.

That is very tough. So I think it’s very important that it’s not a bad thing to talk about. Personally, I’m not awkward at all talking about it, because people go to the gym to work on their physical side. There’s nothing really that you can do that’s outright out there to work on your mental side, which is, in my opinion, more important if you’re not happy. “What’s the point?” you know what I mean? So, yeah, I’ve previously talked about it. I previously tweeted about it.

Everyone knows that of course, I have some down moments. At the moment, luckily, I’m very happy, to be honest. I’m doing well. And I would say so if otherwise, so everyone knows I’m not lying there, but like everyone, just as many down moments and I’m sure there are pros out there that have way more than I do and just don’t talk about it. So yeah, I think it’s very important.

Upcomer: If you could team up with 2 players from a different region, but they can’t come from the same region, who would you team up with?

ApparentlyJack: Ooh, Trk and… okay, I was thinking of Yanxnz, because I think he’s amazing. And then I realized that you still got NA. The best player in NA is probably clearly better than the best player out of the other two regions, in my opinion. I’d say Trk and… Beastmode. So the thing is with Beastmode, right? Is that, I think he’s an amazing individual player, but I do think players like Atomic from G2 are slightly, slightly better for me, but Beastmode’s shown absolutely crazy play recently.

But I think the thing about Beastmode is that I’ve been talking to a few players. Apparently, he has a very good mentality in the team environment. I think that’s very important. I’ve not seen what Atomic’s, like, so I’m gonna pick [Beastmode] in that regard. I think Trk and Beastmode. They both have good mentalities and they’re obviously both incredible players.

Upcomer: Final question: When are you going to evolve into DefinitelyJack?

ApparentlyJack: It might have to make an appearance. If I win Worlds, it’ll make an appearance for a couple weeks, for sure. I think there have to be a few more evolutions though. Like you can’t go from “Apparently” to “Definitely”, you gotta go to something else before, so maybe, “Probably”. “Probably” is probably the next one. If I win Saudi, then maybe ProbablyJack and, after “Probably” it’s “Likely”. Win Worlds once [I’m] “Likely”, you know, “he might have been a fluke,” and then if you win Worlds again, I’ll win a major, [and it’ll be] “yeah you’re DefinitelyJack.” So yeah, we’ll see how it goes.

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Michael Kloos
Michael Kloos is a Dutch esports journalist and enthusiast with a particular like of Rocket League and VALORANT. He is also an avid fantasy/sci-fi reader and writer. He spends most of his time trying not to be in the real world.