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Fnatic League of Legends at their ONE PLUS launch event in Berlin Germany at the team house.
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Rekkles: The King of Europe

Jan 182019

November 3rd, 2018. Incheon, South Korea. Approximately 8 pm local time. After 85 minutes of total game play Fnatic’s nexus explodes for the third and final time. Confetti guns go off and a commotion can be heard coming from the right side of the stage. The left side, however, is silent. The LPL had done it — they were finally bringing the coveted Summoner’s Cup home to China for the first time. After a few moments spent documenting the celebration, the camera cuts from tears of joy on the victorious team’s faces to the solemn face of Martin “Rekkles” Larsson. It lingers there just a moment before cutting back to the winning team’s celebrations across the stage. 

That moment marked the end of Worlds 2018 for both Fnatic and Rekkles. And though his face shown with his initial disappointment, Rekkles was still proud of his overall performance at Worlds. 

“I think I probably had my best international tournament ever. I knew already right after the finals, and right before we played the finals, that I actually made something special happen in Korea.” 

To him, 2018 was Rekkles’ best year yet. An impressive feat for someone who continues to be one of the best AD carries in the world after seven years of competitive play. Even more so when you contrast it with 2017, the year where thoughts of retirement had more than once crossed Rekkles’ mind. 

“Usually each year you have some sort of moment where you’re not able to perform or are not able to be motivated enough to help the team. But last year [2018] I felt that at almost every moment, maybe even every moment, I was present. I was always playing up to my own standards and my team’s expectations so I was really, really happy with pretty much everything last year.”

 

But it hasn’t always been this way. Rekkles’ career has had its fair share of ups and downs. There have been years where Fnatic has failed to qualify for Worlds, moments where Rekkles himself has considered leaving Fnatic — thoughts he made good on in 2015 — and there have even been struggles within himself throughout his long tenure in EU. 

 

Rekkles’ career started all the way back in 2012 when, at younger age than many of his contemporaries, his already impressive skills drew the eyes of the entire European LCS community. Despite him being unable to start the first few games of the 2013 season, Rekkles was signed to Fnatic as their starting AD carry in late 2012. It was risky signing someone who couldn’t play right away to a starting position on the team, but Fnatic trusted in Rekkles enough to make him part of the family. This concept would prove to be something that a naive, cockier Rekkles would fail to understand in late 2014.

 

“I made a terrible choice [leaving Fnatic]. The [new] team wasn’t great, the organization wasn’t great. But I honestly have this belief that if I didn’t make that mistake then and there I would have made it the year after. And if I didn’t make it the year after, I’d make it the year after that. Sometimes you just have to make a mistake. Leaving Fnatic, going somewhere else, seeing what there is on the other side made me realize ‘man, Fnatic’s great!’ I just had to have that realization at some point and I feel very grateful that I had it so early, because having it early meant that I could come back.”

 

While this “experiment” only lasted a single split, and Rekkles was back on Fnatic by Summer 2015, it still weighs heavily on his conscience to this day. This is likely because legacy is something that frequents Rekkles’ thoughts. For Rekkles, the sum total of his achievements must equate to a legacy of greatness. Not just in the game, but out of game as well. That is why every game is important to Rekkles. That is why he can be seen taking losses harder than other players and that’s also why he can be seen celebrating in a uniquely vibrant fashion after a key win. Rekkles doesn’t just want to be the best in that "like no one ever was" kind of way — he wants to be forever remembered in the annals of esports history as someone who was one of the greats. Not necessarily in the Faker sense, though that would be nice, but in a way that makes it hard to argue that he wasn’t one of the greatest people to ever play the game.

 

“I can imagine my legacy to be the best or the greatest of all time in a way where its winning and just generally being a good player, a great teammate, and a great guy. I want to be at a stage where I have the most trophies [individually] and my team, whichever team I play for, whichever lineup it is, is fucking good.”

 

In terms of the immediate, however, Rekkles is rather uninterested in leaving Fnatic anytime soon. Stability, consistency, maintaining a single roster for an extended period of time, and being on the same page with his teammates are significantly more important to him than fame or fortune. Rekkles would rather risk disappointment and spend this coming year grinding through a rebuild with Fnatic’s current roster if it means maintaining the same roster through 2020.

 

But he tries not to focus on the future too much. While thoughts of legacy and future success are impossible to avoid, focusing on the present is much more rewarding. Opting to instead take things as they come, Rekkles takes life day by day and game by game. Though, viewing things through a more realistic lens and taking one step at a time does make him hesitant to set goals for the coming split.

 

“We’re gonna win Summer. That’s a guarantee. But Spring is up for grabs I would say.” 

 

Despite being pragmatic in nature, integrating a new mid laner, for instance, was not something Rekkles anticipated having happen this year. He put his faith in a roster that took the time to become great together and believed in their once shared ideas regarding teamwork and longevity. But despite his disappointment in his former teammate and the uphill climb the coming split might pose, Rekkles has no fear when it comes to grinding out the changes.

 

“I think so far we’ve done a great job but so far we’ve also only worked for like a week and I know from experience that the first couple of weeks are always honeymoon. So once that calms down that’s when the real grind starts and that’s when you have to force/grind your way through. And I think those will be the weeks that decide if we have a chance in the spring or not. But I would say with the players we have and the coaching staff we have, we’re in a pretty good spot.”

 

Experience has also taught Rekkles that once this honeymoon phase is over and the hard work really begins, Fnatic will be just fine. He has complete and total faith in the system Fnatic has built up over the years. Even attributing things like the roster’s overall stability, consistency as a team, and success at Worlds to their current team culture. Both Fnatic and Rekkles know that this year could very easily not go as well as 2018, but that’s not a problem for Rekkles. Meshing as a new team takes time and there will inevitably be growing pains to suffer through this year, but that pain will all be worth it when next year Fnatic remains the same, plays like they always do, and “fucking wins.” So, for now, Rekkles is excited to play with his new mid laner, Tim "Nemesis" Lipovšek, on stage and is confident that this roster can bring Fnatic up to even higher highs.

 

“Ideally I would win both Spring and Summer. As for Worlds, I would say that at this point, if I go to Worlds and say “we’re not here to win,” or I go believing we’re not there to win, then I’m making a mistake. Or I’m letting myself down. So I almost must say we’re going to win Worlds. Realistically, I would say winning Summer, winning Worlds. That would be my goal.”

 

Time will tell if this year and Rekkles’ legacy go the way he wants them to. But with his mind in the right place, a solid team behind him, and his past endeavours as solid as they are, the GOAT status he dreams of having might not be so far off after all.

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