Swedish version

Rekkles: ”I was really unsure about myself entering the finals”

av Tobias Lundgren

For Fnatic’s returning ADC Martin ”Rekkles” Larsson, the LCS finals at Hovet Arena in Stockholm became a memorable moment for many reasons.
In front of friends and family he became the MVP of the whole series, and treated the sold out arena to some big League of Legends plays.
After the win, he tells Aftonbladet Esport about how he got through the tough times in Elements, the boost he got after returning to the team that shaped him as a player – and his expectations for Worlds.
– Maybe you can’t say that we have good chances of winning, but I think we have good chances to perform good in BO5:s against SKT and EDG for example, he says.

As expected, Fnatic crowned their nearly flawless LCS Summer Split with the second title in a row. But the game against Origen turned out closer than most had expected, as the newcomers came out with guns blazing and won the first game of the series. Incidentally, the initial loss in the finals was Fnatic’s first loss of the whole season and Martin ”Rekkles” Larsson admits that they just got run over.
– We had our plan and we knew what their plan was, so we tried to play as good as possible and do our thing. But they simply had a too strong composition. They were much better than us, honestly we got flattened. After a while we realized we didn’t have a chance. Then we started talking about what we could do in the next game, what the problem was. Which their weak and strong sides were. We talked about it even as the first game was still going, what to do in the next game, he tells Aftonbladet Esport after the win.

”I think we handled the losses really well”

Said and done. In the second game, Fnatic turned the table and dominated their opposition in a fashion similar to what they’ve showed during large portions of the summer split. And Rekkles is happy about how his team handled the setback.
– Even if it’s unique for us to lose in competitive play right now, it’s not like it’s the first time we’ve lost a game the last four months. It’s happened before, but it was a new experience to lose a competitive game, and I think we handled it really well.

What did you talk about that you wanted to change?
– It was mostly about xPekes (Enrique Cedeño Martínez, Origen midlaner) champion pool. We had an idea that he was really strong on poke champs, like Kog’Maw and Varus. We tried giving them Varus in the first game to see what they would do, and we got run over. So we thought that we had to ban him, it wouldn’t work otherwise. It worked extremely well in the second game. Then they started adjusting so it was a little back and forth between games, which led to us taking one and them taking one. But I still think we adjusted well between games. We had an idea when we went in, and didn’t just think: ”We’ll see what they’ll do and then we’ll do this”. It was us that brought the idea.

As a player, how much overview do you have during the game, and how much of those decisions are up to the coach who has a bigger picture?
– Mostly everyone has an idea, like: ”I think this was good and this was bad”. And then maybe the midlaner thinks something else. I’m the AD and perhaps I’m watching their AD more, like if you’re a defender in football and you look at the defender in the other team. What he does or what you can do better that he’s already doing. So everyone has their ideas, but you just have to talk about it and share your thoughts. What the opponents are doing badly and how you can use that against them. Then we take those ideas to Deilor (Luis Sevilla, Fnatic coach) and reach a conclusion, and in the next game we have a new game plan and just see how it works.

”I’ve felt like I wasn’t on top of my game”

What probably slipped by most viewers, since Rekkles became the MVP of the series and played out of his mind during parts of the games, was how the star doubted his abilities before the finals.
– I was almost nervous about myself leading into the finals, because lately I’ve felt like I wasn’t on top of my game. I felt that way before the semifinals as well, but that still went well. Sometimes I feel like I expect too much of myself, that I’m always aiming for perfection. If I miss a last hit in practice I get angry and think: ”When I play against Origen I can’t miss that last hit”. I don’t really know where I stand play-wise when we don’t play that much. We had a three week break and then three twenty minute games against Unicorns of Love, so you don’t really know how you measure up against other teams. Because scrims are scrims, and solo queue is solo queue. So I thought that perhaps I wasn’t good enough entering the finals… and then I was.
– I think that maybe that’s a weakness I have, because it’s a lot about how confident you are. But I was really unsure entering the finals, because I know Niels (Jesper Svenningsen, Origen ADC) is damn good. Definitely one of their best players.

How did you feel standing there victorious in front of your home crowd?
– To play on Swedish soil in front of a Swedish audience with both friends and family attending, and then winning the fifth game and getting a penta kill… that was like the icing on the cake. What’s happened to me today feels super special. I might not understand it right now, but in a couple of days I’ll probably be even more proud than I am right now, about myself and my team.

Is it better to win a series that goes the full length, than winning 3-0?
– Yeah, it feels much better to win a five game series. You get more of an adrenaline rush whilst 3-0 is more: ”I could’ve done this but it doesn’t matter. It really feels like you’re taking everything to the limit.

It’s been a couple of years since you played a big tournament in Sweden.
– Yes, the last time was DreamHack 2012 and I had maybe 100 people following me on Facebook, now I have 310 000. So it’s gone from me walking around and doing what I wanted to the point where I can’t even walk into DreamHack. It felt unique to play today, like I had the crowd in my back, which is something I haven’t experienced before. So if it were up to me we will return to Sweden.

”I don’t think I played that bad in Elements”

Your career has been a bit of a rollercoaster the last year. From the defeat at Worlds to the time in Elements and then returning to Fnatic. How has your confidence as a player been affected during all of this?
– To get through the time in Elements, I turned to friends and family. It was a whole new thing with new teammates and a new living situation, so I felt like I really didn’t have a connection to anyone. So I turned to a lot of friends and my family who helped me through it. But even when I played in Elements… I knew that there were problems and that it wasn’t working out, but personally I don’t think I played that bad at all. I thought I was at a good level and brought something to the team. Maybe not on the same level as now, when I’ve matured as a player and feel what I should and shouldn’t do, but still not at a point where I felt like I played bad. So I don’t think I lost any confidence on that front, it was more about my image and how I was perceived as a person instead of a player. I never felt the player side of me becoming worse.

How was it to then ”return home” to the organisation that shaped your career?
– When I returned it was a boost, and I really felt like I needed to perform more. They had just won the spring split and took SKT to five games at MSI, and then they switch a player after all that success. So I felt I had a lot to live up to. I played as hard as I could and with the people I have around me I thought there was a good chance it would work. Then we won every game, but still maintained the mentality that we might not be as good as we think we are, and just kept going at it.

Since you’ve returned to Fnatic, how do you feel you measure up as a player now compared to earlier in your career?
– I’m definitely better. Since I returned I’ve really gone from being a good ADC to being one of the best. When I look back to what I did last year I don’t think it was good at all and that I could’ve done so much better. It’s not until now that I’ve realized I can carry games, no problem. It wasn’t until I came back to Fnatic that I realized: ”Maybe I’m not as good as I think I am”. Then I took a couple of steps back and started working from there. And I feel like I’ve had a lot of motivation around me, when I’m sitting next to Febiven (Fabien Diepstraten, Fnatic midlaner) for example. It’s his first year in the LCS and he’s extremely motivated to do his best, and that gets me psyched too after being in the league for a couple of years.

”I have four people helping me in Fnatic”

There’s been a lot of talk about you being a passive ADC, but in the finals you showed your extremely aggressive side. How much is that thanks to your new environment?
– It’s a lot thanks to them. Going into the games it’s a lot about confidence. In Elements I don’t think anyone was confident. Nobody trusted each other, so nobody initiated and trusted that someone would have their back. Everyone just waited for someone to make the first move, and then nothing happens. In Fnatic I can jump in and know that I have four people helping me right away, and they feel the same way about me. If you were to put it in terms of levels I think I played at 50 percent of my capacity in Elements and 100 now in Fnatic. And that’s much thanks to the teammates and the chemistry we have.

You spoke highly of your bootcamping in South Korea last year before Worlds, and how their mentality influenced you. Have you felt Huni and Reignover having the same influence here as well?
– Yes, definitely. Even if we’re now playing on the same server, they have their idea on how to play that they brought from their experiences last year. They have their thoughts and we have ours, but it’s really pretty similar and when we play we’re on the same level. Maybe that’s because everyone is so good and performs, or we’ve just been a bit lucky.

”We can win in a lot more ways”

Are they bringing in stuff you haven’t thought of before?
– Well… They like playing more aggressively with a jungle and top combo. That’s something I haven’t felt in other teams, that the jungler and top laner does things together. It’s been more about if the AD isn’t carrying then the mid laner can carry and if the mid laner doesn’t carry you’ll lose. In Fnatic it’s like you can kill their top laner twenty times without me doing anything. It feels like we can win in a lot more ways.

Before the finals, xPeke told us that Fnatic during season three were better mechanically but now the tactical aspect has developed more. What are your thoughts on that?
– I agree. It’s reached a certain point that when I play against Niels, I don’t feel like he’s better than me or I’m better than him. It’s more about who’s making the best choices. It’s gone from thinking about your last hits and how you right clicked a year ago, and now it’s: ”What decision should I make here, what will he do?”. It’s more like a game of chess, so I definitely feel that part has developed fast in Fnatic. We’re winning every game and there’s only so much you can do in terms of last hitting, for example. Then there’s a lot of thinking: ”What should I do here and there?”. And I think that part was brought in by the coaches. They’re needed for the western scene, for us to compete against the koreans. Without the coaches we don’t stand a chance, because the koreans are much better strategically.

”We’ll give SKT and EDG a good fight”

According to his teammate Bora ”YellOwStaR” Kim, Fnatic will be bootcamping in South Korea leading up to Worlds. But when asked, Rekkles doesn’t reveal that information, even though he confirms a bootcamp is happening.
– Honestly, I know we’ll be bootcamping but I don’t know where. The plan is to bootcamp and Korea last year was incredible for everyone in the team so there’s a good chance we’re going there again. I think it would be great for everyone.

And going into your second Worlds tournament, what are your expectations?
– Maybe you can’t say that we have a good chance of winning, but I think we have a good chance to perform good, get out of groups and play good in BO5:s against teams like SKT and EDG for example. Even if it doesn’t mean we’ll take them 3-2 like with Origen, but we’ll give them a good fight. For me, Worlds will be incredibly fun. Especially going from town to town in the different phases, like they do during the World Cup in football. So I think it’ll be great. We’re just gonna practice really hard the month before Worlds and then we’ll see how it turns out.

”Watching League doesn’t appeal to me”

On Sunday, another Fnatic squad won their third World Championship as the CS:GO team were victorious during ESL One in Cologne. And before the interview is concluded, Rekkles reveals something people might find surprising.

Do you follow any other Fnatic squads and their games?
– Mostly CS:GO. Did they win tonight? I watched parts of that tournament. I always compare CS:GO to handball, that it’s fun to watch. There’s a lot of action all of the time, whilst League is more related to (European, editor’s note) football. It’s slower and there’s not much going on, then there’s a teamfight and it’s over. Like in football, one goal and the game is over. In handball it’s back and forth, minute after minute.
– If I hadn’t played professional League I wouldn’t watch the game, it’s not something that appeals to me. I think CS:GO is great fun to watch. It’s something special, even though I don’t play the game myself. But if you’re a pro in League you have to watch it and see what the others are doing. I don’t watch fun League streams, I watch the games from Korea and China. If I want to watch fun streams I watch CS:GO streamers and the tournaments they play.



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