Reckless Rekkles and the Failure of Fnatic

I’ve been wanting to write about Rekkles and Fnatic’s losing spree for a long time, and with the semi-finals tomorrow, and Fnatic potentially being knocked out, now is as good a time as any! I happen to think that Fnatic has the potential to beat Alliance, especially judging from their sloppy loss to Copenhagen Wolves yesterday but just in case, here goes!

Some time ago (Season 2), Rekkles was added to Fnatic, and was hyped as the best EU ADC. At the time, Europe had a strong reputation for mids (APCs as they were called at the time), while North America had the most hyped ADCs. Rekkles was supposed to be the EU ADC that could go toe-to-toe with NA ADCs. Unfortunately, he was too young to play with the team for Season 3.

He returned to Season 4 with a bang, leading Fnatic to a 7-0 record, and not dying until their 4th game. After that, however, Fnatic struggled for a long time, dropping 8 games before they would win again. A lot of things went wrong during those weeks, and it’s certainly not fair to say that Rekkles caused the losing streak; in fact, in many of the games, he was the only positive element.

However, it is interesting to note that while 4 of his first 7 wins were on Jinx, 2 were on Caitlyn, and one was on Sivir, he played 4 games of Lucian, 3 of Caitlyn, and 1 of Sivir during their 8 game losing spree. Did Rekkles do badly in those following 8 games? Not at all. His KDA was 2.67 in the losses compared with 13.29 in the wins, but that’s to be expected. Winning and higher KDA are normally correlated. But it’s important to note that he was not able to have the same impact, despite often winning lane.

In the first 7 wins, Rekkles did a lot of split-pushing, and the high pushing power of Jinx helped immensely with that. Accordingly, sOAZ played a lot of tank tops (3 Renekton, 2 Dr. Mundo, 1 Shen, 1 Trundle) that could join the team and stall while Rekkles split. But in the next 8 losses, sOAZ picked more team-fight oriented tops (2 Lulu, 2 Renekton, 1 Mundo, 1 Shen, 1 Gragas, 1 LeBlanc), and Fnatic grouped a lot more.

In my opinion, certain weaknesses about Fnatic (namely that they tend to overprioritize kills over objectives in the mid-game) came to light because of this shift. Before, Rekkles was split-pushing; he had no choice but to get objectives. And if Fnatic aggressively chased, whether it paid off or not, Rekkles was getting towers. If Rekkles was with them, their pushing after kills was that much stronger. Essentially, kills are best when followed by towers, and Jinx makes that very likely.

The other thing to note is that in the first 7 wins, Yellowstar picked up Annie 3 times. In the next 8 losses, Annie was banned 5 times, and only picked by Fnatic once. Annie is one of Yellowstar’s strongest supports, something Fnatic’s upcoming opponent (Alliance) knows well: Alliance has banned Annie in 3 of their 4 matchups.

Yet another area in which the champion select of Fnatic went off the rails during their losing spree was mid. In light of their 7-win split-push strategy, 6 of their 7 mid-picks brought strong wave clear, disengage, and teamfight ability, with Gragas, Ziggs, and Orianna picked twice each, alongside one LeBlanc pick.

However, in the next 8 losses, we would see 3 slightly different picks: an Ahri, a Syndra, and a Fizz (as well as another LeBlanc).

Finally, in the jungle, Fnatic lost a major teamfight pick. While they ran Vi in 3 of the 7 wins, and Elise in 2, in their 8 losses they ran Vi and Elise only once each, picking Lee Sin 3 times, Pantheon twice, and Wukong once.

It may seem too harsh on Fnatic to pick on their champion picks, but it changed everything about their playstyle. Before, they were playing aggressively for picks, with Rekkles either split-pushing or joining them to push towers after fights. They ran teamfight oriented supports, teamfight/waveclear oriented mids, tanky tops, and pick-heavy teamfight junglers.

On the other hand, in their 8 losses, they ran more defensively oriented supports, assassin mids, AP tops, and a weird amalgamation of junglers who (Wukong aside) had much less teamfight presence than Vi.

Was there anything wrong with their team compositions over their 8-game losing streak? Of course not. In fact, when they broke their losing streak with a victory over Gambit, sOAZ was on Lulu, xPeke was on Nidalee, Cyanide was on Wukong, Rekkles was on Sivir, and Yellowstar was on Morgana. But they first had to learn from their mistakes to play this composition, because their mistakes (chasing and overcommitting) hurt them much more in it. Hopefully, they’ve learned from the experience, and will come out even stronger.

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