When you think of Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, you think of trophies and highlight reels. You think of a diligent work ethic, razor-sharp mechanics, and exceptional teamfighting presence—three vital components that make up one of the most accomplished League of Legends players in the West. And—lately—you think of champion pool issues.
It seems almost unimaginable that a player with over six and a half years of competitive experience under his belt would suffer from this. Yet, as /u/Shonzo pointed out on the League of Legends subreddit, it’s hard to argue with numbers. The beginning of the 2019 LEC Spring Split strengthened the narrative that Rekkles only has a handful of effective picks at his disposal—and the main reason behind this isn’t stubbornness or some bizarre inability to learn.
It’s his mindset.
In the post-patch 8.11 era, the bot lane was overrun with mages and bruisers. During that time, Rekkles sat down with fellow professional players Perkz and Doublelift, and an independent content creator Travis Gafford to discuss the state of the meta. He made an off-hand comment that it takes 500 games to master a champion. When later Perkz challenged him saying he doesn’t need to have complete mastery over a champion and bringing out 90% of a champion’s kit is more than enough to select that pick on stage, Rekkles didn’t share this sentiment. He wanted to do more. He wanted to be more than a player that gets by in lane and pulls off basic combos in teamfights.
FNC Rekkles on what it takes to learn a champion.
This exchange provides a glimpse into Rekkles’s mindset.
He’s a grinder. He has to invest time and effort into a champion before he feels comfortable pulling it out on stage, and 90% isn’t nearly enough. He needs to be at a hundred. At first glance, this mentality is admirable—after all, why would any competitor want to be anything less than the best version of themselves? But there’s a dangerous pitfall hiding behind it.
In a different interview, his teammate Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau mentioned that Rekkles generally has a very small focused champion pool that’s optimal in most scenarios. Fnatic's ADC makes a conscious effort to limit his arsenal to a couple of weapons, but these are the weapons he wields best. It’s easy to see how a combination of these philosophies can put Rekkles into a tough spot—especially when he has to play champions he isn't actively practicing.
There’s also a problem of playstyle.
Throughout his career, Rekkles shined as a mechanically proficient teamfighter. Sure, you could point out brief periods when that wasn’t the case like his splitpushing Kennen performances in the 2017 EU LCS season. But for the most part, Rekkles made a name for himself by playing crit marksmen that take over games through teamfights and skirmishes.
Unfortunately, this playstyle is ill-suited for the current meta. Nowadays, League of Legends has more early game action than ever before, and crit ADCs simply don’t provide enough bang for the buck. Combine that with the fact that Fnatic lost their early game pillar in Caps, and there’s even more pressure on Rekkles to perform, even more pressure to bring out his best.
So, will his champion pool issues get better?
Probably. Unlike with patch 8.11, marksmen are still the most dominant role in the bot lane. It’s just not the marksmen Rekkles excels on. However, these champions should be all-too-familiar to someone with so much experience in the ADC role. They share similar traits, trading patterns, and teamfighting mechanics with the picks Rekkles is known for, so it should take him way less than 500 games to master them.
There are also signs that Riot Games is planning to slow down the pace of the game. Signs like Baron buff nerfs or turret durability buffs. Perhaps crit marksmen will come back into the meta, and Rekkles will once again be in his element.
The only question is whether he and his team can afford to wait for it.
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