With the new European LCS season on its way, some interesting results have already emerged. While last year the general agreement was that Martin “Rekkles” Larsson was the best European ad carry, he may find his position challenged this year. As Erik “Tabzz” van Helvert is not a member of any LCS team, Konstantinos “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou is the most obvious contender.
If based the analysis solely on results up to this spring split, Rekkles would by far. But Rekkles entire body of work up until this split has been as a member of Fnatic, alongside all-star players like xPeke, sOAZ, nRated, Cyanide and YellOwStaR. On the other hand Forg1ven’s only competitive experience so far is with Copenhagen Wolves, a team plagued with inconsistencies and below-average players.
The process of deciding the best ADC in Europe is a tricky one. For some, Rekkles’s body of work is enough to make the argument. But in my opinion, there exists enough uncertainty for an argument to be had. For starters, Fnatic was arguably a better team in Season 3 before Rekkles joined the starting lineup than they were in Season 4 after he joined; even if the decline in performance wasn’t necessarily his fault.
In the end, it comes down to a matter of opinion. Rekkles has a passive play style predicated on his ability to stay safe and farm until the mid and late game when he transforms into an efficient killing machine of the highest order. Forg1ven is an aggressive play maker that nevertheless excels at farming while forcing the opposing ADC to fight for every single CS. This aggression frequently leads to impressive CS leads which he snowballs into a definitive advantage for his team. In team fights, Forg1ven is calm, collected and ruthless, and is somehow able to deal maximum damage while remaining just out of reach of harm.
The way each player views the role and the game as a whole is vastly different, but used in the right way each has the power to win games.
Rekkles – the wonder boy
When Rekkles joined Fnatic in the fall of 2012, nobody knew what to expect of him. Under the careful guidance of nRated, his support at the time, he quickly made a name for himself when he helped Fnatic take down CLG EU and win DreamHack Winter 2012, followed by a second place finish at IEM VII – Cologne. His youth and success against the very best competitive League of Legeds had to offer, brought Rekkles a lot of recognition, and everyone looked forward for when he would be able to rejoin Fnatic in the LCS.
Rekkles spent almost a year with the Copenhagen Wolves, helping them qualify for the LCS before returning to Fnatic just in time for the Spring Split of the 2014 Season. Rekkles and his new Support, Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim, experienced almost immediate success, dominating each and every opponent they faced. His style could be described as risk adverse, focused on farming and staying as safe as possible, allowing him to have a great impact in team fights.
What most impressed everybody was his amazing mechanical skill and ability to play seemingly any champion for his role. A part of his success must be attributed to YellOwStaR, who at the time had grown into one of the best supports in Europe. With a more aggressive mindset, YellOwStaR was able to prepare fights in which Rekkles could shine and put himself ahead.
After an amazing 7-0 start, things began to fall apart and Fnatic started to lose. It was during this bleak period for his team that we got to see the dark side of his style. At a time when his team needed someone to single handedly carry games, his passive style was a major drawback. While he almost always came out of their matches with a positive record, he was unable to bring Fnatic a victory. With their back against a wall, Fnatic needed someone to step up, take some risks, and put the team on his back, but Rekkles was unable to do it.
It was at this time that cracks began to appear in his relationship with his teammates and the Fnatic organization in general. Resentment built up from what he perceived as a lack of dedication and passion from his teammates, showcasing the difficulties a roster with disparate personalities can face. Rekkles, filled with youthful ambition and a desire to prove himself struggled to fit in with a veteran lineup used to the ups and downs of competitive League. It’s likely that Rekkles perceived their stoutness as laziness. Eventually, after a botched World Championship, he decided to move on and join Elements (formerly known as Alliance), a team he saw as being more in line with his work ethic.
With a less aggressive support at his side, and a less aggressive team overall, it’s probably no wonder the very first game he lost was to the relentless aggression of his old and revamped team, Fnatic. His transition to Elements might be a good thing for him, as they are used to peel for the carries and are known for their great team fighting ability. Rekkles has what it takes to be the best; all he has to do is embrace a more aggressive play style and all that he desires is there for the taking.
Forg1ven – player two has entered the game
He first joined the professional scene by replacing Rekkles in the Copenhagen Wolves roster. His first achievement was getting them into the LCS by defeating Meet Your Makers in the Promotion Tournament. Already known in the solo queue challenger ladder, where he occupied the first place at multiple times, there was no telling how he would perform on the big stage. Setting for themselves very high expectations (aiming for top 3, by Forg1ven’s own admission) there is no telling how disappointed they were when at the end of the regular LCS season they were in the last place.
Being a very vocal player (and that could very well be an understatement), Forg1ven was quick to start assigning blame for the state of the team. The relation with his teammates quickly deteriorated and after re-qualifying into the LCS for the Summer Split he was replaced.
Forg1ven is the kind of player that likes to have a team that plays around him, capitalizing on the confidence he has in his skills. He is the kind of player that likes to play with Lucian or Graves not because they have dashes that can help them escape, but because those dashes can get him closer to the enemy and secure kills. This is a style that requires the rest of the team to be on the same page as he is. The fact that Unlimited, his support at the time, played champions like Annie, Karma and Leona for the most part meant that there was little peel for Forg1ven, and thus most people saw his aggressive style as a weakness.
His almost “all in” mentality towards the game often made him look bad, but whenever he had the backup of his team he was single handedly carrying the game. Nevertheless, the Forg1ven of the 2014 LCS Spring Split looked as an overall inconsistent player. As expected he placed most of the blame on his team, pointing out the lack of commitment and willingness to improve.
Picked up by the SK Gaming organization for the 2015 season, Forg1ven never looked as good as he does now. With nRated as his lane partner, and probably mentor, he looks unstoppable. His aggression is much more calculated, he trust his teammates, is more patient but also has the flashy plays we expected from him. While last year he was trying to force the team to adapt to his style, he now seems to be the one that has adapted to his new team. His synergy with nRated has transformed his game, as he is learning to rely on information about the enemy team’s movements that is not driven necessarily by deep vision.
There can be no debate that Forg1ven joining SK Gaming was the best move, not only for his career but also for the SK organization. With strong and reliable players for all roles within his team, he is now able to play to the best of his capabilities, and is surely a real contender for the “best European ad carry” title.
So who is the best?
The case can be made for either of them being the best. Rekkles has the domestic and international results on his corner, while Forg1ven has his style, mentality and desire to be the best. With the first game between them fast approaching it will be very interesting to see how it all goes, but in the end it will be their performances throughout the entire year that will help us make that decision.
Overall they are both a step ahead of all other ad carries in their league, and undoubtedly Europe’s best chance of challenging the best ad carries at the international level.