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Good Guy Rekkles: The Importance of Personal Branding in Esports

It’s about that time of the year for League of Legends, where Worlds is getting into the final matches and most pros are winding down for a nice vacation. But there’s one more international event before a few lucky pros can take their leave: All-Stars. A yearly tradition for most established sports, the All-Star event is a chance for the favorites to let off some steam and play some casual exhibition matches with other pros from across the globe. Traditionally, the most popular players from the most popular teams are always voted in; Bjergsen, Doublelift, Perkz. It’s never been a problem in the past since there was a cap on the number of players allowed from the same team. But this year the rules changed. Instead of having a full “All-Star” team from each region playing at the event, Riot is only allowing two pros per region. This turns into a problem when you consider who’s making it to All-Stars this year. Now that there isn’t the requirement of one player per role, we’re only going to see the two most popular players from each region: Sneaky, Doublelift, Rekkles, and Caps. Three iconic and ancient veterans and Caps, the star youngblood. This gets to be a problem when you consider a player’s individual brand.

When you’re a professional gamer, athlete, streamer, anything, you have a brand. Your face on a specific product can make or break that product. Think about Air Jordans. Now consider that in the League-sphere, Bjergsen is a Redbull athlete, Doublelift is the face of u.gg, a pro builds site that seeks to rival op.gg, and Rekkles is so tied into his personal brand that he has his own name tattooed into his arms. These are seasoned veterans who have lasted for years while others came and went. Now with new pros taking the stage, they need the exposure and the opportunity that their predecessors got. And All-Stars is the perfect stage for a rookie to strut his stuff and build up that personality that takes a pro from a player to an icon. And if Bjergsen is taking up half the slots for NA players at All-Stars, that’s bad news for the rookies.

But Rekkles, among other things, realizes how much this means for the futures of his teammates and co-workers. He knows that rookies deserve a chance, especially his younger teammates who deserve a chance to shine after spending so much time behind the legacies of himself and sOAZ. 

Rekkles’s actions speak to a level of self-awareness and maturity in this older player. He’s had his time being a personality and building his brand, and now he’s still hailed as the Best ADC in the West. He’s recognized that his time to be flashy at All-Stars is over and that its benefits are best reaped by a young new player who needs to make his mark on a scene. That’s not to say that Rekkles is only sacrificing something, however. He’s smart: this is a win-win for him. Not only does he get the massive PR boost that passing the baton is sure to give, but he also gets to skip out on All-Stars. Rekkles has been very vocal in the past regarding All-Stars, which hasn’t been exactly positive. Shifting the vote from himself to one of his younger teammates is a one-two punch of success: not only does someone like Bwipo get to flaunt his expressive personality where the world can see, but Rekkles gets to take a much-deserved vacation.

The actions of Rekkles speak to a greater maturity and understanding from the veteran players than the hot-headed egos we’ve seen in the past from old players trying to remain relevant and in the spotlight, but unfortunately, the fans didn’t listen. The final tally of All-Star votes found Caps and Rekkles representing EU, not quite fulfilling Rekkles’s dream of having two of his younger teammates at the event. But if Rekkles chooses to drop out of the event, the third place vote would take his place, who happens to be young FNC Broxah. In NA, the old guard won out and we’ll be seeing Doublelift and Sneaky in Las Vegas in December.

Finally, I’m sure you want to know my votes for All-Stars. For EU, sticking to my guns, I voted for Bwipo and Jiizuke, trying to get some flashy rookies into the public eye. For NA, I actually voted for Wildturtle and Sneaky. Wildturtle, although a veteran of the NA LCS, had fallen out of the spotlight this year for such a storied player. Flyquest didn’t perform well this year, but Wildturtle made a comeback with his public image. His Korea vlogs and coverage of Worlds was genuinely enjoyable and that, I believe, earns him a spot at All Stars. For Sneaky, on the other hand, my reasoning was a little less pure. I just wanna see the boy dressed up like Xayah alongside Bang’s Rakan.

David Kaucic

Author David Kaucic

David “Vid” “KauCix” Kaucic is a writer, caster, and player for the OU Esports League of Legends team. He’s a support main who likes dry humor, pseudo-factual personal anecdotes, and abusing Brand support in SoloQ to pretend that he’s useful.

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