The last time Niship "Dhokla" Doshi was a starter in the LCS was in 2019 on OpTic Gaming, but in the two games since being promoted to Counter Logic Gaming's LCS team before the start of the 2022 Summer Split, the top laner has impressed. Dhokla was a major factor in CLG's 2-0 start to the summer split over Dignitas and TSM on Yone and Jayce, respectively, and thus far, it looks like the 2022 LCS Academy League Spring Split MVP was ready for a return to the big leagues.
After Counter Logic Gaming's first win of the 2022 LCS Summer Split over Dignitas, Dhokla spoke to Inven Global about his return to the LCS, his growth since his last starting LCS job with OpTic Gaming, and the top laner he's looking forward to playing against the most this split.
Welcome back to the LCS, how does it feel to return on a win?
I was really excited to play again, so I'm happy that I got back to the LCS with a win.
This wasn't you getting carried, either — you locked in Yone and had control of your lane essentially the entire game. You said in your postgame broadcast that you could have played anything into Gamsu and you would be fine. How did he live up to your expectations?
I mean, we have faced off a lot in Academy. In that sense, I have a lot of experience playing against him. I generally knew what to expect and I knew that he wasn't going to do anything to carry the game. The only way DIG is going to win is if River has a good game. After we won the bot skirmish in the early game, I didn't think they could win.
Can you tell me a bit about finding out you were going to be the starting top laner for CLG's LCS team?
I found out near the end of our split on CLG Academy. We played Proving Grounds and I was told maybe a week or two after that I would be playing in LCS. There were other teams interested, but, eventually, I decided to stick with CLG. After that, we went to Korea to boot camp and started practicing.
Was this something you looked at as a must for this summer in terms of returning to the LCS, or would you have been okay staying in the LCS Academy League?
Coming into this year, my mindset was to just be confident in my gameplay. I do believe in myself and that I'm a lot better than I have previously played, so I just need to showcase that. This past spring, I had a really good split and that got recognized, so I'm looking forward to showing that in the LCS as well.
You had a fantastic start to the year on CLG Academy, but this is the first time we've seen you start in the LCS since your time on OpTic Gaming. How have you grown as a player since then, and how much of that was due to your own personal progress and/or the Academy system itself?
Honestly, I wouldn't say it had much to do with playing League. I think the biggest aspect of growth I experienced was mainly confidence. I think most young League players — there are exceptions, of course — will lose a game or something, and then they will be mentally blocked or in negative feedback loops all the time. They'll get in their own head and they won't play as well as they could.
That still happens to me as well. It's not like I'm immune to it, but I think I'm able to get over that hump a lot faster and accept that that isn't the way to go about improving. In competition, you're bound to lose, so how can you improve from your losses rapidly?
I think that was the biggest learning curve because no one is really teaching you that or talking to you like that from a coaching position. I think that's the biggest issue with most players in terms of what they need to improve on and that's what I've been working on for the most part. On the rift, I've obviously gotten better over time, but I think the biggest improvement I made was my mentality.
Were there any significant improvements to the way you play specifically, or was it just your aforementioned change in mentality and perspective?
It was both. I was playing better and it was like a positive feedback loop. I'm playing better because I'm actively thinking positively about the game and, in turn, I'm looking for more opportunities and see more angles in the game. I'm not trying to say that everything was just mental — I definitely played a lot, spammed Champions Queue, and watched a lot of VODs during the offseason. I still played a lot of League, but I think the biggest change was utilizing that information and applying it.
Despite not being an LCS starter since 2019, you actually still have more LCS experience than nearly all of your teammates. Are you looking at yourself as a leader in this team due to your experience, or are you more focused on your own gameplay?
I think we're all good friends on our team. I don't really see myself as a leader or anything like that, but we all have roles in our team and we all get along pretty well.
You were the only change to CLG's LCS roster after finishing 8th in the Spring Split. In situations like these, players tend to either feel a lot of pressure to improve their team or less pressure because the expectations are relatively low. Do you at all relate to either of these feelings in the current dynamic on CLG?
When I was on CLG Academy in spring, I was still watching the LCS and playing against these players in Champions Queue. I had a feeling for how good everyone was, and in spring, I thought I would have been a top 3 top laner if I had played in the LCS that split. There's no real pressure for me — getting back to the LCS was goal number one, and getting to Worlds is now my personal goal.
Is there any specific top laner you're looking forward to playing this split?
I want to play against Impact. I don't think I've ever beaten him in the LCS. I think we came close on OpTic, but we threw that game. I just want to beat him, at least. *laughs*
Is there anything you want to say to the CLG fans and/or the longtime Dhokla fans now that you've returned to the LCS as a starter?
I'm very different as a player and a person compared to when I last started in the LCS. I hope people can see me in a new light and judge me on what they see now instead of preconceptions from before.