Rekkles: 'I was about to sign a three-year contract [with FNC], which I've actually put on hold for now because...I haven't been feeling that well personally'

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Flickr

Martin "Rekkles" Larsson has been a starting AD carry for Fnatic for over six splits. Some of those ended on high notes, like the team's summer 2015 campaign that saw them crack Top 4 at Worlds before a 3-0 loss to the Koo Tigers. Others, like the 2016 season, saw the team fail to make Worlds.

After Fnatic's loss to Unicorns of Love in Week 7, Rekkles posted a series of tweets that discussed how he felt about the loss and wanting to end his career on one of those high notes.

theScore esports sat down with Rekkles to ask him more about the team's struggles, the three-year contract that he has yet to sign and whether he would actually consider retirement after this split.

Fnatic is now on a two-week skid, and your last win came against Origen. You've got a couple of weeks ahead of you that your team is expected to win, so how do you maintain the right mentality in situations like that?

Basically, after we got back from the break ... we went home for a week after we played against Origen. Which, in hindsight, was quite a mistake and I went out on Twitter and said that it was one, as well. And actually I made a similar mistake back in 2014 when we were going to play All-Stars in Paris. After the split was done, we had three or four weeks before the event, and I just thought like, this was one of my few opportunities to go home, so I'm going to take it.

After that I remember that I went out and said that it was a mistake, because I ended up not catching up on the patch as well as other teams and I felt like, this time around, it was a very similar story where H2K and other top teams went to IEM, and generally just practiced and got a lot of insight on the international scene more generally. Like, how the best teams in the world play the current patch.

And we were so far behind when we got back, so we just told ourselves that there's probably going to be a lot of games right now, both in scrims and in the LCS, where we don't get the results that we want. And that might actually include playing against worse teams as well. Even though it's not a fun thing to lose against ROCCAT and Giants when you, after all, are a team like Fnatic and you're supposed to be fighting for the top spots in Europe, at least, to begin with.

I guess we kind of just accepted that the situation is what it is, and that we're probably going to drop some games, and we're focusing on just improving as much as we can for playoffs. Because even if we were to lose to ROCCAT or Giants, as long as we get a win or two we'll still be fine and still end up third in our group. We haven't put too much emphasis, and I don't think the panic has struck yet, but if we were to drop a couple of games and if ROCCAT were to win a couple, maybe we would have to reconsider our current goals.

But for now we don't really put too much emphasis on perfecting the patch or anything like that. We're just trying to work out the basics so that we can be the best team that we've been together so far, when playoffs comes around.

How did the vacation come about? Were you hesitant beforehand or did that reaction only come afterward?

We all kind of agreed that we would go home, and practice from there. So it wasn't like we were just home and not playing the game, or not talking to each other for a complete week. We actually just had two days off, I think. One of them was a travel day. We didn't really think beforehand that it would have too much of an impact, but the difference of being here and working together from the office, seeing each other on a daily basis ... to just kind of chilling at home, and everyone not giving it their all.

It just ended up with the practice not being as good as it should have been. We were just sort of playing and going through the motions. And it didn't really feel like we were getting anywhere, and that, kind of, week was wasted. When, as I said before, the other teams were improving at a much higher rate than before, because of IEM.

I've heard from a lot of organizations and players that one of the most difficult parts of the LCS system is that you get into the split, and you have to build chemistry right away. It doesn't feel like there's a lot of time to build chemistry, and in your case, you had the team basically rebuilt around you. Is it as difficult as they say to build that kind of chemistry, and could this be part of the issues we see with Fnatic?

I think it's actually really difficult to build chemistry. We were striving to get it, I guess from the base of it, because we were going for a European roster. We thought it was more likely that we would get a synergistic roster if we were to go for that, rather than just bringing in imports once again and just coin tossing if we were to get motivated Koreans that maybe were there to stay for a longer time, or if we'd just get another couple that would just pass by.

I think, in hindsight, it's actually hard to tell if we made the right choice or not. But at the time it just felt like, going through the year with Spirit and Gamsu — even though they were like legit good players in their individual roles, it just didn't work out together — we thought that, "okay, we'll just build a European roster now and we have this chemistry already from the get-go, so we can work on all the in-depth stuff, and we kind of already have the base in place."

But then, after going into the season and having some struggles and replacing a player, we had to start over, it felt like. Just as it was last year, it was us falling behind and not being able to catch up to other teams, it feels a bit similar this year. And it feels like we're always on the back foot and always a patch behind, if that makes sense. And we don't really know before other teams what is to be played, and what's actually to be done to be a top team.

Many times it feels like we're tripping on the finish line, in a way. It's definitely a frustrating feeling, especially for myself. And that's actually connected to the stuff I commented about after our game against Unicorns. I went from basically being Top 4 at Worlds in 2015, and having so many expectations going into 2016, to having a pretty lacklustre year all in all. Even though we had an IEM performance, we just really didn't reach our expectations.

And then going into another year, it's pretty much the same, it feels. It feels really tough and really frustrating, because we're all putting our complete lives into it. There's not much else to it than sleeping, eating and playing the game. So it's definitely frustrating to not feel like we're getting anywhere, or like, feel like we're getting a step ahead of the others, and always on the back foot.

This is your sixth split starting for Fnatic, and you've been with the organization a while. Certainly you have a legacy in this game, and you spoke in your comments about potentially ending on a high note. Was that just frustration on Twitter after the loss to Unicorns of Love, or are you legitimately considering retirement sooner rather than later?

Honestly, at the beginning of the year, I thought that I had a lot more to give. So I was about to sign a three-year contract, which I've actually put on hold for now because, as I mentioned as well on Twitter, I haven't been feeling that well personally. I've been having a lot of individual struggles, and a lot of this frustration that's coming from the team side of things as well, it's kind of just adding up. At some point throughout the split now, where things weren't going my way, I kind of just like, wasn't able to hold up the individual wall anymore. Usually that's how I try to explain it.

Usually how I try to see it is that there's a wall of how much I can take, as a person. And on one side of the wall there's all the team stuff, you know, like all the issues you're having as a team and how things are just generally working at your job, I guess, if you want to make it simple. And then on the other side, there's your personal life. Even though there's not much to it, there's always you giving yourself some space at times. And it felt like many of the issues that were on the team side of the wall kind of went around it, and started influencing my individual life. And I guess at that point I wasn't able to keep all the balls in the air, any more.

And I kind of went into a slight depression, I would say. I went through a similar thing back in school, where I also spoke to a therapist, and it felt very similar in many ways. And it kind of scared me, and also went as far as me putting the contract on hold, actually, because I wasn't sure if I was able to continue any longer.

Obviously I would never leave my team behind, and I would always finish this split out no matter what. Even if I were to feel the worst ever, I would still finish it out, because I wouldn't be able to live with myself, giving up on my teammates and letting them finish out the split by finding a random AD from solo queue. So that was the only thing I was sure about, that I wanted to finish out the split at the time. And I kind of just told myself that I'd do that first, and I'll just take one thing at a time. And then once the split is over, I'll reconsider if I want to continue or not.

But it's definitely getting better by the day, and I'm actually meeting up with a therapist on Thursday, which I have really high hopes for. If things go my way, I'll get out of this in one piece, and I'll actually get stronger from it. But there's always the possibility that I'm not able to pick it up again, and that's why I decided to not lock myself in under a three-year contract which I might not be able to fulfill.

But I didn't really have any plans at the beginning of the year at all, actually, at quitting. I thought I had at least three years, or even more, to give. I wanted, as I said on Twitter, to end my career on a high note, in a similar fashion to how for example our 2015 run was. And just seeing last year and this year, I don't think I'll ever feel satisfied or proud to leave that kind of mark on my career behind.

So to clarify, the three-year contract was an option at the beginning of this split, and you decided not to do it?

It still is, actually. Basically I have the contract ready to sign, because we were negotiating a lot between the seasons. Since we were home early last year we had a lot of negotiations and talks with Fnatic on what we wanted to do together in the future. And equally as much as they wanted to work with me, I wanted to work with them as well. And yet to this day I wouldn't see myself going to any other team.

Regardless of how things work out in the end, I want to continue playing for Fnatic for as long as I'm at least playing the game.

If you were given an opportunity to end on a high-note somewhere else, like a top-tier NA team or even in the LPL, would you go? Or are you determined to finish with Fnatic?

I'm pretty determined that I want to finish with Fnatic one way or another. Leaving at the end of Season 4 was a mistake as it was, and I learned from it, and I don't want to repeat it again. They have been really good to me pretty much throughout my whole career. So I don't want to let them down one more time, and I want to end things here.

But it's been a tough couple weeks for sure, and this whole three year contract has been on the table ever since, and it's still going to be on the table between the splits but I just don't want to put them in a position where I sign a contract for them, but I'm not able to fulfill it. Like I would rather talk it out again, and perhaps even shorten it to be sure that we don't end in an awkward situation where I'm not going to continue playing and they are having me under a three-year contract.

Very few players I've interviewed have been as candid about topics like depression and mindset issues as you're being right now. Is this something that players are starting to talk to each other about more? Have you spoken to other players about these sorts of things?

Not necessarily, no. I think I've just kind of matured over the years, and I feel like I'm more accepting toward the truth, these days, and toward my own feelings. Rather than, back when I started playing, where I would just kind of like force myself to feel away, rather than actually feeling the way I feel, and saying the stuff I have on my mind.

I think I just kind of matured in that way, and I feel more mature and more able to move forward, I guess, and improve. Not only on a professional level, but also on a personal one.

For example, take the step to actually talk to a therapist when I feel like I'm in need of one.

It feels pretty difficult in esports for someone to say, "I was in a place where I just couldn't keep going, and I needed someone to help me." It feels like more often the mindset is "just power through it, you're living the dream, you have to do this." It feels like this kind of conversation is a change from what we've seen in the past.

Yeah, I think as I mentioned, at the beginning of my career this would never have come into question. I would never actually accept that I didn't feel 110 percent, and I think that's how many players feel as well. They kind of just like, come into it, and they "live the dream." They're so extremely motivated that they're almost shaking from it, you know?

And it would never come to mind that they don't feel 110 percent. So I don't think it's until the later parts of your career, when you've played the game for a longer time, that you will actually face these issues. Where it's more realistic than in the beginning.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.

Rekkles on ex-teammate Febiven: 'He was definitely one of the most inspirational people I've ever worked with'

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Flickr

Speaking with theScore esports during the first part of our interview, Martin "Rekkles" Larsson talked about some difficult things: building Fnatic's chemistry on the short LCS timeline, how he wants to eventually end his career and how he has matured as a player.

In the back half, things got a bit more light-hearted. He talked about his all-time favorite teammate during his time with Fnatic, the carry champions he'd love to be playing, and why he recently decided to sign with talent and management agency Orlando John, which counts a number of other big names in Swedish esports among their clients.

During your long time with Fnatic, who has been your favorite teammate, and why?

It's actually an easy answer, but I want to make sure I word it correctly.

Most people would probably expect me to say Bora ["YellOwStaR" Kim] here, but I feel like Fabian ["Febiven" Diepstraten] has actually been the best teammate I've ever played with.

He's one of these rare people who, no matter what happens, always lightens up the mood. I don't know exactly how to explain it, because I know it's not intentional from his side. It's just the way he is. But he's just such a positive spirit in the room, he always lightens up the mood no matter what.

I think, especially during last year when we were going through so many tough times, I [would] never have got to where I am today [without] him. He always made it easy to go through the days, it was a joy to play with him because he was the player he was, and he's even better to this day.

In a way I actually regret letting him go, but it's just a part of it. It always changes between the years, and you have to just make the best out of the situation. But he was definitely one of the most inspirational people I've ever worked with, even though I'm sure he doesn't actually realize it for himself. I'm sure many people feel the same that have worked with him.

In an ideal world, are there any champions that you'd love to play in the current meta?

At least for AD carries, I pretty much hate all of the ones that are being played right now. I think the meta would be much more fun if it was kind of like, Twitch, Tristana, Lucian, maybe some Kalista as well and some Jinx. All these champions that can go off and get those pentakills, but can also ... for example Twitch, you know he unstealths and he just gets one-shot.

I like these kinds of playstyles where it's like, kind of high-risk, high-reward. It feels like you can play the perfect fight but get zero kills, but then you can play a suboptimal fight but because you are doing something outside the box you can get a pentakill. I think it's just much more fun to watch, and much more fun to play.

Meanwhile the current ADs that have been around for pretty much the past one and a half, two years have been not so fun to play and not so fun to watch, because they're very linear. And there's not much room for the extra percentages at the top.

For example it would be a huge difference between a good Twitch, and a really good Twitch. Meanwhile a good Ashe, and a really good Ashe ... it's hard to tell, actually, if you're playing or watching, who is [which].

There's a lot of champions I would definitely enjoy playing ... oh, I forgot to mention Vayne as well, holy shit! Vayne is in there as well, she's one of those. There's so many of them I would enjoy seeing in the meta but I definitely understand why they're not, because they bring so little to a team, you know. You can be completely invisible, as I said. You can have these fights where you unstealth and just get one-shot, and you just bring nothing to your team. You have no CC, no lane pressure, no wave control, nothing. No objective control, no sieging.

But those are the champions I dream about at night.

As you were rattling those off, it felt like a lot of those were hyper-carries, like maybe you want to put the "carry" back in AD carry.

Yeah, I miss Season 4 in many ways, because that's when AD carries were played this way. Season 5, I guess to a certain extent it was pretty much okay, like at Worlds you saw a lot of Kalista and Tristana, but pretty much the entirety of Season 6 was mostly utility carries. Especially toward the end. And Season 7 hasn't been even something to remember.

So I'm definitely hoping that they make some changes, but it's looking patch-by-patch that they're not planning to do so. If anything, it's kind of weird. They always mention at the beginning of the patch that they want to address the marksman issue, and I always have these high hopes as I'm starting to read it, like, "Oh finally, I'm getting something," but then they actually end up nerfing everything, so I'm not really sure if there are two different people writing the stuff, and then actually making the changes? But it's always so demotivating when you go through it.

You're looking for the buffs to Vayne and Jinx and Tristana, and not finding them...

Yeah, and you have like lethality buffs, the Deathfire nerfs and the Varus nerfs in the same patch. So they just kind of take away the actual playable heroes from you, and you kind of have to just figure your way around it.

But the patch so far is actually looking a little bit better. The AD carries are not more useful, but at least they're more fun to play.

We did see some changes to Lucian in the patch, and I'm wondering if you think that makes him playable even though he doesn't really fit the description of a utility AD carry.

I think he is playable. I mean he always kind of has been, but he's just very, very specific in what matchups he can be played in and what styles he can be played in. I don't really think that changed. But I think he's more smooth now, and especially with both Warlords and Deathfire falling out of the meta a little bit, Fervor AD carries like himself are kind of rising up.

I think he will see some play this week, actually. I wouldn't consider him a top-tier pick or anything, I just think he works into specific matchups that he wouldn't work into before because of the Deathfire, Lethality stuff going on or the Warlords hyper-carries.

He has a place now, but he's still far from optimal, I'd say.

Are there are any other carries that you think we might see this week that we haven't seen a lot of, or has there not been as much of a shakeup?

I think there's going to be a lot of changes to AD, actually. But as I said, I don't think the ADs that are going to see play are going to be more useful than previously. I actually think Varus and Jhin were quite overpowered on the Lethality patch, and I don't think that these ADs that are seeing play are as overpowered. They are much more Season 4-style but in a worse way, where they are invisible for the majority of the game and then they kind of pop off later on, but at least have the possibility of doing so.

So I think we will see some more kind of hyper-carry comps style of play this week, so if the stars align, maybe some Twitch, maybe some Tristana, even some Jinx. Who knows.

We saw Stixxay go off on Ezreal last week, and it felt like maybe we had traveled back in time.

Ezreal will definitely be popular on this patch. As I said, Fervor AD carries are rising, and he's always been kind of like, the Fervor AD carry. He will definitely be an extremely high priority this patch, if not the highest. I would be surprised otherwise, at least.

I wanted to ask about getting an agent since you recently signed with Orlando John. Did you have an agent before?

No, I've actually always worked by myself, ever since the beginning until the beginning of Season 7, basically.

So what made you decide that now was the right time to get an agent?

I've not only come to realize that I've been around for a while now, and have quite the brand, and perhaps so many years left under my belt ... but also that there's a lot of opportunities out there that I haven't even realized exist yet.

And after seeing some other professionals pick up agencies, not League of Legends professionals necessarily ... but for example [Emil "HeatoN" Christensen] had been working with [Orlando John], and I saw a lot of stuff he had been doing. He was on Swedish television, all these kinds of things, and it looked super cool and kind of the stuff that I wanted to do, though perhaps a bit more international.

And I was just like, kind of inspired in a way. And I wanted to check around for possibilities, and then they actually at the same time approached me at DreamHack, so it was kind of just like, both parties thinking the same way. So it was kind of just perfect for me, because I figured once I'm done with my career, I'll have to do something anyways, and going back to studying is sub-optimal.

So having something on the side like an agency, who can help me out with possibilities like the ones HeatoN is doing currently, would be the dream actually, and something I'd really enjoy doing I think.

Whenever you decide to retire, do you have an idea of what you want to do when you decide to do stop playing?

If you asked me this question half a year ago, I'd definitely say that I want to be an analyst for League of Legends. But I think, the later I come into my career, kind of the more tired I become of the game. Not necessarily even the game, but like sitting in front of the computer and watching VODs, and all these kinds of things.

I think I want to be out there more, do more things. And I'm not sure if analyst work would bring me that. For example, when I saw HeatoN taking part in [Mästarnas Mästare], in Sweden it's quite huge, where all the legendary professional athletes compete against one another. And he was able to be part of that as an esporter, it was like, the biggest thing ever that has happened to it in Sweden at least.

Thinking for myself, can I be that guy in a couple of years, it sounded at least in my head more motivating and fun rather than spending another couple of years watching VODs and kind of doing what I'm already doing today.

So you don't want to leave esports behind, but you want to do more than what you're already doing?

Basically, because then I might as well be playing, right? That's kind of how I feel right now. I don't think playing is that much about playing anymore. I think we've come to a point in League of Legends at least, where most of the professional players are around the same skill level. It's not as in Season 4, where the skill level between certain players would be so big that they can just win the game by themselves; this doesn't really exist anymore. And I think it's much more even now, these days.

So it's actually more about watching VODs and having the strength of mind in comparison to the guy next to you, rather than just physical possibilities. I think, for example, if I were to retire and go into analytical [roles], then I might as well keep playing because I think I would be doing the same job.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.

NicoThePico parts ways with Fnatic

by 4d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Fnatic /theScore esports

Fnatic head coach Nicholas "NicoThePico" Korsgård has left the team, the organization announced Monday. Team manager Finlay “Quaye” Stewart will step in as the team's interim coach until a replacement is found, while Michael “Garki” Bolze will take over as manager.

NicoThePico was previously Origen's head coach before being replaced by Alvar “Araneae” Martín in July. He himself replaced Luis “Deilor” Sevilla as Fnatic's head coach in August.

"After joining Fnatic at the end of Summer Split 2016, I got the chance to build a new roster together with the FNC management for the upcoming season. We started off looking good and had apparent synergy and meshed well together, both in and out of game. As time went on we started facing challenges on the inside. As a result, problems occurred that I could not foresee beforehand and fix in due time," NicoThePico said in a statement.

"As I have been unable to provide the needed remedy, I feel that someone else with an outside perspective on the team and its issues, in both draft and gameplay, might be a better solution than what I was able to provide. I’ve decided to step down as Head Coach of FNC effective immediately."

Fnatic are currently in third place of Group A of the 2017 EU LCS spring split with a 4-6 record. They face Giants Gaming on Mar. 25.

"I am of the belief that we have a truly talented group of players capable of far more than where we currently sit in the standings. I will do my best to give the players a better structure and the resources needed to succeed," Quaye said in a statement. "Together with remote coaches, analysts and our players, we will make sure to give ourselves the best chance at playoffs and making it to Hamburg. The situation is far from ideal but we strongly believe that we are moving in the right direction.

"I'd like to thank Nico for all his hard work and wish him the best of luck in the future."

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Esports Ink: Fnatic's sOAZ on his anime-inspired tattoo

theScore esports Staff

At their core, tattoos are about expression.

They can be a symbol of emotion, commemorate a person or event, or simply be displays of art.

For Fnatic top laner Paul "sOAZ" Boyer, his ink represents something personal. With the original idea coming from a Japanese anime called Zankyou No Terror, he wanted to keep his tattoo as authentic as possible by getting it done in Japan.

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Match highlights: H2k-Gaming vs. Fnatic

theScore esports Staff

Infographic: What if NA LCS and EU LCS were still best-of-one?

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Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports

While Riot Games abandoned the best-of-one format for the NA LCS and EU LCS back in 2015, theScore esports wanted to see how the current standings would stack up if the leagues still used the format.

Though Team SoloMid are currently leading the NA LCS with a 12-2 match record, counting only the first game of each match, TSM would actually be tied for third place with Echo Fox, Counter Logic Gaming and Immortals, each with 7-7 records. Interestingly, even with best-of-one, Cloud9 would have the same 11-3 record.

In Europe, across both Group A and Group B, league standings would actually remain largely the same counting either first game record or match record. The primary difference would be G2 and Misfits being tied for first in Group A with 7-2 records. G2 are undefeated in the official standings with a 9-0 match record.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter, it'll be great for his self-esteem.

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