I sat down with Fnatic member and rising star Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau to discuss League of Legends and his recent games on the LCS Stage. Joining the team a few months ago as a substitute, his consistent play and desire to improve earned him two starts in the last two weeks. Don’t miss Part 2 later this week as he talks about his path from a kid playing World of Warcraft to being on stage for the top team in the EU LCS.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me and answer some questions!
“Of course, no problem. What would you like to know?”
You recently started two games for Fnatic. What was your most memorable moment from your first experience on the LCS stage?
“Everything about being on stage was memorable, the entire experience – the Fnatic experience I’ll call it – was memorable, because just the way the team plays feels really nice; I feel confident. The most memorable for me is when we went into Game 1 and I saw the draft, I knew we were going to win. I was confident, and that basically killed all my nerves. After seeing that draft, I was like “Yup, we’re going to win this game guys.” I knew that I would be able to prove to people that I am good at this game, and I knew that my teammates were going to have my back.”
What part of your game did you want to focus on most?
“Consistency, by miles. I think I have very high highs, and that’s also visible in the scrims I’m playing. At the moment I think I am performing well, and that’s why I even got any stage time. When I signed on, there was no intention – at all – to give me any stage games. A grand total of zero.”
You mentioned on Twitter that you got to play in Week 9 thanks to sOAZ, even thought you weren’t scheduled to. How did that happen?
“The first game I played, it was decided two weeks ahead of time, so even if we went 0-2 the week before, we would still play me. To avoid the feeling of sOAZ getting benched, we made sure that we agreed that this was going to happen. It was to make sure that there were no hard feelings about me playing. Then, in Week 9, the coaches went up to sOAZ and said “Look, if you want to play the last two games, that’s fine, that’s what is on the menu, but if Bwipo can play one of the two games, I think it would be good to give him extra experience going into playoffs in case anything goes wrong.” And sOAZ was like “Yeah, I think it will be good if he can play, I think it will be good for him.” So that’s what ended up happening.”
How has playing with Fnatic helped you improve as a player?
“Fnatic is one of the strongest line ups, everyone on this line up is really insane. I think individually we have the top 2 at the very least on every role. I make sure that I’m taking the feedback from what the coaches tell me, the feedback that the players are giving me. It’s often indirectly. I have to pick up on the visible cues I get from them. If the team is winning by playing through the top lane often, and my team is OK with playing through the top lane, then it makes sense for me to make more calls to play through top.”
What is it like learning from a veteran like sOAZ?
“It’s difficult for me to say what I’m specifically learning from sOAZ, because I’m actively trying to do the opposite of what he’s doing, so that I’m actually a merit to the team. Because at the end of the day, if I’m just basically Mini sOAZ, or sOAZ Version 2, then I’m sOAZ Version 2, and he’s just better than me at what he’s doing. So why would I be sOAZ Version 2 instead of being my own player? So that’s why when people say “am I learning from him?” Absolutely. But I’m also, in a way, making sure that I’m not “him.” I’m basically taking the good elements, or what I think suits my play style from him, and adapting it to what I think works for me.”
“So the biggest thing I learn from him is the creativity I think. Creativity is a big part – the thing where sOAZ is in every bush, ya know? – mind games like that pay off. They can really give you a very big advantage that shouldn’t exist, but it exists. It’s the small things, creating advantages out of nothing that is really a big part of his game play. For example, that Sion game I played on stage – I played far up. I knew he would beat me in a trade if I contested him, but I played up front in the lane anyway. I got the push when in this match up I shouldn’t get even get the push against Shen. If you watched Ssumday versus Impact, Impact was really crushing Ssumday in this match up, and that’s how the match up should be going, and that’s why they picked it also. But if you just apply the mental pressure of “I have Taliyah and you have Kassadin, and if you trade with me, my teammates are going to come and kill you,” they don’t even attempt to trade.”
Who is the champion you most enjoy playing, regardless of the current meta?
“I think it really depends on my mood. I have a few champions that I circulate depending on how I’m feeling. If you asked me six months ago, I would have said Jayce, no question. Now, I’m not sure if it’s Gangplank, or maybe Darius, but I think Jayce and Gangplank are the safest bets. I like to play whoever is stronger because I like winning.”
How did you become a Top Lane player?
“I started playing in the Top Lane because of the champions that are played there. I didn’t main top because I wanted to play top, but because I wanted to play Gangplank, I wanted to play Darius, I wanted to play Hecarim. At the time those were the Top Lane meta champions, so I was like “Well, I guess I’m playing top lane.”
Who is your current solo queue ban and why?
“I’ve always hated Fiora, I’ve genuinely never enjoyed playing against that champion. I am currently must-banning Kha’ZIx because I don’t enjoy the idea of the enemy Jungler being invisible for so long. He could be behind me and I would have no idea and I don’t like that. He could lane Gank you and you wouldn’t know until he jumped on you. I don’t look forward to that when I press play on the client.”
What do you enjoy doing other than playing League?
“Well the cliche answer is to watch League, but I enjoy other games as well. Hearthstone and World of Warcraft. I’m not too big a fan of just watching things, like watching movies or T.V. series isn’t something I do very often. Actually, we’re playing a board game at the Fnatic house very often that I really enjoy. It’s called Werewolves, I don’t know if you know it? It’s like Mafia, but instead of the Mafia that you have to find and kill, its werewolves, or aliens, or vampires. There are several variants that we’re mixing around. We play that together as a team for extra team bonding, and its just a good time. We’re all enjoying playing that a lot.”
Is there anything you would like people to know about you that I haven’t asked about?
“I just want to make sure that people know that I’m very grateful for the opportunity to play for Fnatic. If you look at social media, I’m getting recognition from all the Fnatic players, and that’s a wonderful thing. Hylissang did an interview and said that Fnatic should keep me from other teams, and that’s a huge confidence boost. The fact that the team is really investing in me. I really try to invest myself in the team, and now I feel like its coming back, and the effort has paid off, so I really want to thank the entire team, the coaching staff, and everybody involved with the League of Legends team for Fnatic. The organization, and everything entirely – I want to give them a big thanks for giving me the room to grow.
It’s magical, you know? I’m sitting in the same place as names like Rekkles and sOAZ, and these players are giving me validation. They’re like “this guy is good” and I’m like, who am I? I’m this rookie guy, and they’re these proven veterans that have gone to worlds year after year, and pulled results there. They’re really fucking good. Same with Hylissang, and Broxah, and Caps. It’s really incredible. I want to make sure that people know that, that I’m grateful for that, because, holy moly.”
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Featured image courtesy of Fnatic