This is your first time in the Finals since 2015, has that been weighing on your mind?
Rekkles: Yeah. I think in 2016 I didn't mind too much. I was upset that we weren't successful, but I felt like I had so much success in the past that it was okay to have a year without perma-winning, perma-MVP, all that stuff that people expect from me. But, when we weren't successful in 2017, I felt really disappointed and even a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to be a really good player or a superstar once again. I was really stressed out this Split because I felt that if I didn't win something now or this whole year, then maybe I just can't become great again. Maybe I'm just supposed to be a Semifinals player but not able to reach the top.
I've been doubting myself for quite a while now.
I was kind of stressed out today, very nervous– I didn't think I'd be so nervous but I could barely sleep last night. Doing the MVP interviews today, I was shaking. It kind of confirmed to myself that I was still in the upper tiers of play. I was very relieved because I just reassured myself that I'm actually a really good player, I can actually build a team and carry that team, not League of Legends-wise but as a person. I feel like I just proved a lot of people wrong but mainly myself, because I've been doubting myself for quite a while now.
Do you ever feel like you're suffering from impostor syndrome?
Rekkles: Yeah, I just try to keep my feet on the ground if that makes sense. I know I'm a really good player. Pretty much wherever I play, I'm always contesting or winning. I think there's very few players in the world who I've played against that have completely showed me that I'm not good enough. I've known since the beginning of my career that I'm a pretty good player. It was just up to me to set up guidelines as to what I can do and can't do to maintain being a good player. For example, I make sure that every day I play a minimum of five Solo Queue games alongside scrims. I make sure to spend a maximum amount of time in the office so that I can't avoid working. I have a lot of guidelines that kind of force me to remain a good player.
But, at the same time, I don't want to become one of those cocky guys either. I think there are a lot of players that talk way too much and that's not who I am so I never tried to show it either. I know that I'm good but I never try to show it off. At some point I also realized that, for someone like Perkz who talks as much as he does, it actually inflicts fear in his opponents. So, this Split, I tried to find more of a fine line between being humble but also confident in what I can actually do. There were some specific interviews where I said straight-up what I think about things and actually felt that people were more scared of me because of that.
I think there are a lot of players that talk way too much and that's not who I am.
Is social media one of the things you've set guidelines on?
Rekkles: Yes. Social media was one of the first things that I set a limit on because I felt I was spending way too much time on it and I was talking to way too many people. I just kind of took a step back from my personal life, if that makes sense. I kind of just accepted that being a pro player is a lifestyle, it's not just five hours a day and then the rest of it, you're a normal 21-year old. I realize that it's really just a lifestyle so I cut off basically all of my personal life. I don't have a girlfriend, I don't talk to people from home any more. I'm just completely zoned in on winning and making sure that the team is at its best. Mainly, on a personal note, I think player-wise it's kind of always going to be fine because, at this point in League of Legends at least, there's so many good players. So I know, regardless of who I get on my team, I'll always have a good enough lineup to contest at least for Europe. Worlds is a different story then, you really need to be next level, but for Europe I feel like regardless of who I get, I'll always be just fine.
being a pro player is a lifestyle, it's not just five hours a day and then the rest of it, you're a normal 21-year old.
I've been trying to put a lot of focus on making sure everyone feels happy on a personal note. We become friends, we hang out, we do stuff together outside of scrims and actually talk to one another which is what a lot of my previous experiences lacked. I was really trying, once I cut out my actual personal life, to just move that into the team. I think it's much better now. Last year, I don't really think I was helping with the way I was acting so I think I was probably the main reasons we were so slow to progress as a team. The beginning of the year we were similar to at the end of the year. Meanwhile, this Split we've made more progress than in comparison to the entirety of last year so I think I was kind of holding the team back but I didn't realize until recently. It's been a big transition for me.
What is your relationship like with the rest of the team?
Rekkles: I think me and Caps have actually always been good friends, I just didn't realize it in the beginning. As I mentioned before, I was kind of withdrawn in terms of my personal life. In scrims, for example, we'd have a lot of fun together but afterwards I didn't really have any interest. I thought the best way to be a professional player was not to have a personal life. I realize now that's not the answer, the answer is to have a personal life within the team. So I don't think I picked up on the Caps friendship until sometime at the end of last year, maybe even this year, but we were always quite close in a way.
As for Broxah... Broxah and I respect each other a lot because we actually think very similarly on how we should lay out our lives. We both go to the gym a lot, we always wake up early, we eat healthy– We do a lot of similar things, but we're also such similar people that neither of us really approaches the other. For example, Caps is a very outgoing person so he comes to me often and I'm kind of just reciprocating, but me and Broxah are both sort of waiting for someone else to approach us so we don't really approach each other. But we're still really good friends who respect one another a lot.
Bwipo is very similar to Caps in a way. He's young, very outgoing, very outspoken. It's easy for me, as the person I am, to be cool around him.
I think the hardest one for me is probably Hylissang. When I brought him on board, I knew that he was not the most chill of guys judging by his Unicorns experience and the people that he worked with. I asked some of them and they said he was a really good player but he's also very stubborn and very hard to get to. He doesn't say much and, very often, he doesn't go to anyone. He just talks to his girlfriend and that's it.
I knew it would be tough but I also knew he was a really good player and I always hated playing against him so I thought that, if I got that on my team, I would have a great advantage before the game had started which is what the entire Split was all about. I think my laning phase is pretty good, but his laning phase is extreme so we came out as a really good bot lane. After a while, Hylissang kind of let go of his shield and I let go of mine, and now we're really good friends and look out for each other. I think I made the right choice when I brought him on board.
Today was one of my best days in my entire life.
How has having the support of your family impacted you?
Rekkles: Well, it's always nice when my family comes but they always say that they will come for Finals so it's been two years or so without them even seeing anything that I've been doing. I think the last time someone did something was in Paris with my dad and his girlfriend, but other than that, for the past year and a half before that, there was no one. So this was the first time that they came around– My mom, my dad, my sister, their partners, my grandparents were here as well as some cousins of mine. It was the whole family, like actual family.
My family's not that big, usually when we have a birthday for someone it's just me, my mom, my sister, my grandparents and maybe one or two cousins, so we're usually six or seven. The fact that I had twelve people here supporting me and some of them even watching for the first time was really nice. I was happy that they got to see a good side of me as well. I've had to deal with a lot of losses in the past and I know that a lot of people criticize me for the way I act around them, but today was one of my best days in my entire life. I guess they got to see a very good side of me.
With MSI coming up, who are you most looking forward to playing against?
Rekkles: Well, I wanted to play against Deft but I saw they lost today so there's probably going to be KZ from Korea and from China, I don't know. I have honestly no idea what's going on over there. I know for NA, Team Liquid are huge favourites tonight so I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up against Doublelift once again. I don't really have anyone in particular I want to play, I feel like I'm more interested in seeing how good I actually am with a good team because I don't think at Worlds we were that great of a team. It was really hard to do anything on an individual note. It felt like the only advantages I could get was through cheesing the enemy, going for plays that nobody else goes for which was my strength last year, but I don't think that was a way to win a Championship.
So now that we have a more solid team plan and we're actually a really good team, I would personally like to see how we match up against other regions. For example, after watching all of them, we should be able to contest anyone, even Korea. KZ is one team, they've been dominating everyone, but other than that Korea hasn't been that impressive so if Afreeca wins then maybe we have a chance. I think other than Korea, we're just fine.
Do you think Fnatic will make it to the Finals like G2 did last year?
Rekkles: I think G2 making it last year was really random, to be honest. But, at the same time, I understand it because as I mentioned, there's not really any clear second after Korea. If you're lucky enough to not face them in the Semifinals, you have a good chance of making it all the way. As soon as you get put up against a Korean team, though, there's a high chance that you don't go further. If we're lucky enough to avoid KZ until the Finals, then I think we can definitely make it. It also depends on which team China sends.
I think G2 making it last year was really random, to be honest.
I think Team Liquid should be a decent match-up for us but also they're just looking good so I'm not sure, I think there's two or three teams that are really good. The Wildcards are usually quite explosive as well, so I don't take anything for granted. I'm going to go home now, maybe take a couple of days off, but then I want to go to Korea if possible. If not, at least start practicing early if we can so we're actually prepared for the event and not taking anything for granted.
Can you describe the moment you lifted the trophy today?
Rekkles: Lifting the trophy was really amazing. I feel like every event is amazing, there are so many people and everyone is cheering for you. It's hard to not enjoy it at its fullest. It just flows through your entire body, you know? It's amazing. I think, for me, it was mainly relief that I felt. I felt so stressed, I had a hard time sleeping, so after we won it felt like the burden I'd been carrying for so long just fell off my shoulders. It was easy to walk up those stairs. Everyone was cheering. It's something I won't forget– Stockholm is something I still remember to this day so I think this will probably be the second best of my career.
After we won it felt like the burden I'd been carrying for so long just fell off my shoulders.
How was it to wear the Swedish flag around your shoulders?
Rekkles: Well, at first I was thinking that I should probably get the flag and wear it. But I wasn't sure, because I didn't know how many Swedes would come around and also I didn't want to steal the spotlight from my teammates. I wanted them to have as much as possible because I know I get a lot of attention as is, I don't really need a spotlight. I appreciate it and it's very nice, but it's also nice to sit there and watch my friends get it as well. I didn't want it to make something specific for this event, I just wanted to focus on the game and get my MVP award but not really say anything too fancy or get too much hype.
After the game a Swedish guy gave the flag to me and I realized throughout yesterday and today, especially during yesterday's fan meet, that there were a lot of Swedish people here. I felt proud in a way. It was really cool when he gave the flag to me– He knows me but obviously I don't know him, but he still gave me the flag. I thought that was really cool and I tried to wear that with honour.
Do you have any closing words for your fans?
Rekkles: I saw on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and even Weebo that people were voting for me for MVP. I know the MVP vote is from players, journalists, and Riot if I'm not mistaken, but I still saw so many people voting for me as MVP. I was really happy when I got it because I felt like it wasn't only because of other teams and the casters and the media, but also because a lot of fans liked what I was doing this Split and what I've been doing for the past year. I was really happy to share my MVP moment with everyone. It was also a little different because this time around, the Finals really meant something to me so I didn't want to get too emotional or into the interview either. I tried to just think about the game as much as I could and keep my cool. For me, Paris was always about MVP while here was all about the Finals but I still appreciated such an award a lot. It also opens up the opportunity to get a third one in a row, which I would be the first player to ever obtain. That would be pretty hype.