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MSI

Bwipo: "It's the people that want you to fail who motivate you the most."

As a substitute, Fnatic’s Bwipo experienced their MSI Semifinals loss at the hands of Royal Never Give Up from a unique perspective. Opening up to us after the match, Bwipo spoke about the struggles of international play and standing in the shoes of sOAZ, a top lane giant.

How are you feeling after that series?

Doing interviews like this helps me realize there are thousands of people who want to hear from me, and they want me to do well, and that helps me cope with losing. That's why I like doing interviews when we lose because I realize that, when I'm talking to you all, you're the proxy between me and all of those people that actually care and want me to succeed. I've played enough Solo Queue to know it doesn't matter how much you lose as long as you get back up and start winning, and you'll get better from it. Hopefully I can show that in the Summer Split.

I've played enough Solo Queue to know it doesn't matter how much you lose as long as you get back up and start winning.

Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau

What was your preparation like heading onto the international stage?

We stayed in our gaming house in Berlin, so there wasn't a change of scenery that you'd normally expect going into an international tournament. For me, the Group Stage really felt like going to the EU LCS so it was very similar to me. Those first games didn't go very well, we had a rough first day. Those games were just like, "Okay, I'm used to this, I can just keep doing this and we'll be okay." So, all-in-all, the Group Stage was really mild for me in terms of the feeling of being part of an international tournament like MSI, but here in Paris it was definitely something else. I felt like we were playing against players who, if we were to beat them, I'd truly be proving something.

I felt like we were playing against players who, if we were to beat them, I'd truly be proving something.

Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau

I felt that, in EU LCS and even in Copenhagen, winning those games didn't prove anything for anyone and that was always a little sad for me, right? Even if I played really well, people would just acknowledge it then move on to Caps and Rekkles. That's fair enough– They're really, really good and I feel like I disappointed them here at MSI and even in the Group Stage, there were a lot of games where I could have made the difference and I just failed to do that.

For me, personally, it's been a great experience and I always try to get the most out of my losses. Losing like this means I can go over each of my deaths and determine which mistakes I've made and how I can never make them again. I can just keep learning from that, but it's really selfish because I dragged my teammates down with me. It's not like I didn't try to win, I tried my hardest and played my heart out, but it would have been a lot better if I could have given them that.

bwipo_2

How did you join Fnatic?

I was playing Solo Queue a lot in Season 7, I was always around top 25 or top 10 in Solo Queue. I was trying really hard to make sure that I was noticed because, before that, I joined amateur teams but that didn't really work out for me because I didn't get the exposure that I needed. When I got into Dark Passage, a Turkish team, I realized that my rank means something. So I kept grinding and grinding and grinding. Eventually, I got in contact with Dexter and, through him, I started talking to Fnatic. Even for Summer 2017, for Worlds, I would have been sub for that summer if they had room in the house but they didn't.

So many big names and I'm just this guy who's played Solo Queue for two years trying my hardest to get on a team.

Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau

The funny thing was, I ended up joining a Split later. After that Worlds Quarterfinals run, it was really up in the air whether or not I was going to join because they weren't sure if they wanted me or a different sub. In the end, I hadn't heard from them in two weeks and thought it probably wasn't going to end up happening, and then suddenly I woke up one day and they were asking me to sign a contract. It was really special and I'm really glad that I got signed. Even back then, I looked up to all of the players like Rekkles, sOAZ, Caps– Hylissang also, because by then I also knew Hylissang was going to be playing. So many big names, right? And I'm just this guy who's played Solo Queue for two years trying my hardest to get on a team. All of the sudden, I'm getting into Fnatic and living in their house.

The thing about an in-house sub as opposed to a regular substitute is, oftentimes, substitutes just stay home until they come to international or big events like Finals. But being in-house, I was allowed to live with them and practice the same routine. Obviously, I wouldn't play as many 5v5 games but I would be able to see all the scrim footage and learn from that. It's helped me a lot, and getting the chance to prove myself has meant a lot to me.

I want to thank sOAZ especially because he was the one who pushed to get me some scrim time. Not because he wanted to see me play, but because he wanted to see his own team play and try to understand what was going wrong. Thanks to that I got a chance to prove that I was a good player myself and so the team didn't feel the need to find a replacement when sOAZ was injured. That was what gave me a lot of strength going into the Finals and the Semifinals of the Spring Split. They said, "Good thing we have you." There was nobody that made me feel like they stayed up at night worrying thinking, "Oh, we don't have sOAZ, we're not going to win." Everyone was equally confident and never made me feel like a liability.

Coming into MSI, I learned that I am in fact a liability, and that was painful for me

Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau

Coming into MSI, I learned that I am in fact a liability, so that was painful for me especially toward my teammates, because I would have preferred not to be. I know I can be better and I know I can be a merit, but I didn't get to show that at MSI and, even in the games that I looked good, it was mostly because of my teammates rather than my own gameplay. I hope for Summer Split I can show that I can be a better player.

How does it feel to have an entire stadium of fans chanting your team's name?

Pretty good. It makes you realize that all of these people want us to do well and it's really hard to put in to words. It's my first time against a Chinese team, an international team, so I actually had the feeling like we were the home team and we had home field advantage. People wanted us to win and were doing what they can to make sure they were heard. I think that's really amazing.

bwipo_1

Sion is a Champion you're known for. How was it to play him at MSI?

He's Caps, he ends up carrying and if you get him in a good situation he'll do crazy good stuff.

First off, the reason we picked Sion was because they picked the Irelia. Sion's a very bulky top laner, he's very good into carries, he's the main reason we didn't see carries for a while in the top lane. Sion would just be locked in and your only option would be to pick a tank. They ended up playing Vladimir into me which was a relatively good match-up for me. I think I had a fairly good early laning phase, I had a lot of pressure, but the problem is that he outscales you. From my perspective, I was on a clock so I was really trying to get into mid lane and get Caps activated and get him around the map.

Sadly, I think we had one play that we lost– We had the big fight, 3v3, at level 4-5. We traded two for two but it wasn't too great, right? It wasn't very good for Caps either, which was really the goal. I really wanted him to profit from that play because he's Caps, he ends up carrying and if you get him in a good situation he'll do crazy good stuff. From my perspective, I was trying to enable mid lane and then go from mid into bot lane and play with the duo carries.

bwipo_3

Sion was the best Champion to be able to blind pick and can just do that– Push down top lane then move down river and, whenever there's a fight, you'll be there with your Ultimate. Caps facilitates a lot of the strength that Fnatic has and allows me to support him easier. I think that's why I ended up defaulting to Sion. We weren't expecting the Irelia pick. They locked it in and we knew she was a good Champion. I play her a lot in Solo Queue so I understood her strengths very well, but I didn't know if he would play top or not. Do I lock in the Swain, something I'm more comfortable on? They pinched the top lane pool, banning Camille and Gangplank which are real comfort picks for me, so I decided to go on my other comfort pick.

The first game, in a nutshell, was to try to play through mid. We messed up on the 3v3 and then the 2v2 as well. There was also Teleport play where I had Teleport up in five seconds but they ended up forcing right in that window and I was really sad, it made the game really hard. We were setting up a snowball but we weren't able to decide the early game.

bwipo_8

What were comms like during Game 2?

1

I think the problem during that game was that we felt very pressured. We felt like, if they used Tahm Kench Ult on me, we needed to do something or get something out of it. The first answer that's always there is Baron Nashor. The Baron. You need to get Baron when they go bot lane, it's the age-old rule of League of Legends, right? If they go gank bot lane after 20 minutes, you go rush Baron. Sadly, for us, it was not the right call. I feel like I didn't communicate that I was safe. The only time I died was when I actually jumped into Caitlyn and died. As soon as I used E, as soon as I hit the Hookshot, I knew I threw the game. If we had waited and I'd had gone with the team, I think we would have won that game. So I'm very, very sad that I didn't.

And even, despite this mistake, when I took the Inhibitor and I almost took their base, I bet I could have taken the tower without minions and then backdoored. After we killed Vladimir, instead of just beelining it to their base and hitting their Nexus turret and trying to end the game... If I had done that, RNG would have had to come back with all four to stop me. Then my team would have been following as well, so the worst case was that we'd back off and get Elder. But I choked. I didn't go for that, I tried to escape but I died anyway. I didn't buy us enough time to get Elder either. I feel like that game was completely on me. I made two or three crucial mistakes that ended up losing us the game. Whilst I did a lot of good things, the mistakes were too heavy, too big. It was a really high-pressure situation.

as soon as I hit the Hookshot, I knew I threw the game.

Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau
bwipo_4

We have never seen you play Singed before. How did that game go?

Singed has always been in my back pocket since EU LCS Finals. Since then, I have always been ready to pick Singed. Now, the reason why I prepared it was because I believe he's a good match-up against Ornn and Shen which I wasn't able to show as well as I would have liked. I remember around level 7 I was ganked and died, and I could have survived that through a simple interaction. If Ornn calls the Forge God, you can use the goo and he can't ram it– It's coded as a dash. I never got to show that interaction and that was what I wanted to show. The other one is, when he uses Bellows Breath, you can flip him. It redirects his damage, so he doesn't end up getting the Brittle mark and does significantly less damage. So Singed just walks into the minion wave, Ornn uses Bellows Breath, and you just flip him and continue on. I did that a few times.

There was no reason to play with me if I was going to copy what sOAZ was doing.

Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau

That game was very difficult, we were really tunneled on trying something new. Singed has always been my best performing Champion. Back then, a throwback to January, we'd decided there was no reason to play with me if I was going to copy what sOAZ was doing. There was no reason to put me on all of these Champions because, quite frankly, sOAZ is just better than me at those Champions. So we decided to play what I play: the Singed, the Camille and the Gangplank.

Eventually, my Gangplank and Camille got pretty good. Those were my Champions, the Champions that they knew I'd be running if I were playing. Singed... I was running every day because I only got one game, so it was my Best of 1. For me, it was like playing my EU LCS. I got to play with the team and I got to prove myself. I had to win and I had to tryhard. I would always call for Singed because they'd always pick Ornn or Shen but I wanted Singed to carry these games.

I just think I made a lot of basic mistakes across this series. It's just disappointing, I could have had a much better showing and been a much better player but, sadly, I was not.

It's just disappointing, I could have had a much better showing and been a much better player but, sadly, I was not.

Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau

What was it like to play in front of such a large audience?

I think I was really okay with it. I didn't play any worse, I think it was just inexperience and riding on such a high-pressure game. I just made very bad calls, maybe. It's difficult for me to say. I need to check what I did wrong and why I did it wrong. Right now it's the "why" that's getting me. Was it actually a mistake? When you play Solo Queue, it's very obvious what you do wrong. When you're playing 5v5 with a team, oftentimes it could be that someone else told me to be there. You just never know.

And that's the thing. For me, it's never rough because I always take responsibility. That's the most important thing for a player is if they take responsibility for their mistakes. When I make this many mistakes, I'm going to start taking responsibility for other peoples' mistakes so they can keep focusing on the game. The age-old "my bad". You just say, "My bad." And everyone just refocuses.

bwipo_5

Do you feel pressure from the fans to perform?

The biggest thing that helps me realize what position I'm in is, whenever I do well or poorly, there's always people supporting sOAZ. It makes me realize that, no matter what, they want him to succeed. That fact alone excuses everything the fans tell me. When they flame me for being bad, when they tell me to go back to being a substitute, when they tell me I've played well but they hope sOAZ can play again soon... It doesn't matter if they're reinforcing me or flaming me. It's not pressure, it's just the idea that regardless of my interaction with the fans, at the end of the day they want me or him to do well. Most often both.

I want to show them that they motivate me to be as good as I can be.

Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau

So instead of feeling pressure, I want to give back to these people because they take the time out of their day to watch us play or leave a nice comment. Even flaming me, they do it because they want me or sOAZ or the region to do well. I believe they're not just trying to bring me down, they're trying to get something out of it. Rather than pressure, instead of leaving Twitter messages I'll just try to win the game. I want to show them that they motivate me to be as good as I can be. When you lose, you don't get that opportunity.

What is your relationship like with sOAZ?

We're friends. I get along with everyone, but it's not like we have a particularly stronger bond because we both play top lane. That also means that it's not like he pulls me aside and gives me special coaching or mental help. I think what a lot of people misunderstand about our relationship is that he's not my personal coach. He doesn't invest extra time in me, he invests just as much time in me as in the other players. We give and take from each other all the time because that's what a relationship is, especially between all the teammates.

We're on good terms, but there was always that question of whether or not I deserved it? Does he deserve having that happen to him? And all of this stuff... that's always been a really difficult thing to swallow. I can't just step up to him and say "Yo dude," because I don't feel like it's appropriate. I'm not sure how to put it... what happened to him, that's really unfortunate. And off of his misfortune comes my fortune, so it's difficult for me to give back to him. So instead I try to stay happy, transfer that energy over and keep the motivation high on the team for practicing and grinding. I think that's one of the biggest reasons why Fnatic has been successful. Of course, we lost here but I think top four is still pretty respectable.

We give and take from each other all the time because that's what a relationship is, especially between all the teammates.

Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau
bwipo_6

Any plans until Summer Split starts?

I think what's important is I keep my Solo Queue up. I'll be growing a mustache because I lost a bet. Me and YoungBuck will show up at the next EU LCS broadcast with a three-week mustache. Other than that, just try to be with family. Just try to meet people and talk to people. One of the reasons I love doing interviews is because I get to talk to you! I wish I had more time to just talk to people at Riot, the people who work here. All of these people are working towards the same common goal of allowing me to play my game and I think that's wonderful. I wish I could thank all the people with a proper conversation, a proper thanks, and talk 1-on-1 with each of them and show them I appreciate what they're doing for us. There's really no awards for them, when you think about it.

bwipo_7

There's hundreds of people here in this stadium trying to get us to play our games and make sure things run smoothly and we're comfortable. I want to thank people for all of the support. It's important for me to realize that, at the end of the day, I'm pretty lucky. I'm lucky to be here. I'm lucky to spend time with all of these people who care about me, who want me to succeed, even who want me to fail. At the end of the day, it's the people that want you to fail who motivate you the most.

Over the break, some more League of Legends. Though, over the first week, I think I might just take it slow. Be with family because I'm not sure if you know but my mom is a really big part of my success. I quit school for two years trying to go pro and my mom supported me through that. I'm just trying to get as much time in as possible, to try and thank her for what she did for me. My mom is just the best, and I wish I could spend more time with her and show her how much I appreciate her and everybody else around me. The fact that you're here wanting to interview me, wanting to spread the message, it's just great. Thanks so much.

At the end of the day, it's the people that want you to fail who motivate you the most.

Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau

Show Bwipo and the rest of Fnatic support at @Bwipolol.