“Worlds games played THE part in promotion”: An interview with Fnatic Rhuckz
Jan 22, 2023
On the back of Fnatic’s close opening day defeat to Team Vitality, we spoke with rookie Rúben “Rhuckz” Barbosa. The Portuguese support was recently promoted from academy Fnatic TQ to the LEC starting roster after impressive substitute performances at last season’s World Championship.
WIN.gg: You tweeted about taking eight years to reach the LEC and have done so at the age of 26. Do you take that in your stride, showing that it’s never too late to get there?
Rhuckz: I think that the fact that I’m 26, and people don’t really get to play in the LEC for the first time at this age, kind of gave me a little more energy to keep going because I don’t believe that my age has anything negative towards my gameplay in the LEC. So I just wanted to prove a point, not only to myself, that if you do the right thing and if you improve every year then it doesn’t matter what age you are.
How did you actually come to get the spot on Fnatic’s LEC roster? Did the Worlds appearances play a part?
I think the Worlds games actually played the part in getting promoted. I think that before Worlds I would say that my chances of getting to the LEC were 1%, 2% maybe, since my Summer split was actually the worst in my entire career when it comes to results.
Coming from seven finals in a row, with some wins, and even EU Masters finals the year before, I would say my chances were pretty low [after last Summer’s performance], but I think the Worlds thing really helped a lot and I think that’s the reason why I’m here mostly.
Were any other teams interested after those Worlds games?
I didn’t really explore my options. My contract was about to end with the academy team and I just signed a new one before the old one ended, so I didn’t really get to explore the market.
You’ve moved up alongside your Fnatic TQ coach Gonçalo “Crusher” Pinto Brandão. How helpful has that been?
I think the fact that he knows me pretty well helps me adapt to the team and connect, and also the experience at Worlds helped because I was with these guys, mostly the top side, for 20 days. I lived there with them so I know how they are, how they feel, how they want to do things… So I think that, in general, I only need to adapt to Rekkles because he’s the only one I actually didn’t know. With the other teammates it’s actually pretty easy because I spent a lot of time with all of them.
How has it been getting to know and playing alongside Rekkles?
I think it’s been pretty good, he’s very very very very experienced and he will always have something positive and productive to say. It’s kind of good, even though I’m not a rookie, I can still learn from people like him who’ve won the LEC multiple times and that’s always a positive thing.
Is there added pressure playing alongside Rekkles, or perhaps the opposite because you can trust in such an experienced teammate?
After Worlds especially, where I was playing with Upset who was considered by most as the best AD carry in Europe, I think that that pressure actually doesn’t really exist. I feel like it’s just the lane partner that will help me a lot to adapt to this new thing, the LEC, and I think we can help each other a lot.
Moving on to the loss to Team Vitality, are there positives to take away from the fact that the game was in Fnatic’s hand at points?
I think we played pretty well until the Baron fight where I actually believe that I went too far and kind of baited my team into following me, and they did. I think until that point we played pretty well on the map, very coordinated, and we played pretty well through our strong sides and defended our weak sides well. One mistake kind of destroyed the game, but I think that we can take 90% good things from this game and this 10% that unfortunately lost the game. I think that there are good signs and it shows that we’re a good team.
Next up you have G2 Esports and KOI, which rounds quite a tough weak considering the three opponents. Do you prefer having these earlier on or would you have preferred an “easier” week 1?
I think that facing them now or facing them later doesn’t really change too much. So if we’re going to face them all in the same week, I think it’s good. I think we’re playing well and I think we can beat anyone. We can also lose to anyone, I think that showed this game [against Vitality], mistakes were made and that’s how League of Legends works.
Against G2 specifically, is there extra motivation within the squad given that Wunder and Rekkles both have history with the team?
I think that for them there is, but for me it’s more the history of G2 and Fnatic that I lived very closely because I was in the academy for the last two years and I’m already used to it — we also had this battle in the academy. I’m kind of hyped to play this match because I think it’s going to be a banger.