Bwipo is a captivating player.
His charisma both off and on the rift is engaging for fans. When a moment happens — such as a player attempting to dive him and failing — the camera immediately turns to him for his reaction. He’s well-spoken when it comes to the game of League of Legends and his ability to hold a conversation in front of a camera continues to be a rare skill.
But he isn’t perfect. He’s a flawed star.
Prior to joining Team Liquid, the last time he was in the top lane was 2021 spring. It was arguably the worst he performed. He topped top laners in most deaths on the season, was averaging laning deficits and while producing decent damage numbers, was struggling to convert into kills. Fnatic was turning to him to carry and he simply wasn’t doing that at times.
He also brings baggage. Notably last season, his personal life became tangled with his work life as Fnatic teammates and their partners became headlines. And sometimes, a large personality doesn’t come off well when struggling.
In a weird way, his temporary move to the jungle role saved his reputation. It could be argued that he was better as a jungler than a top laner. Constantly pressuring the map was his forte. His ability to be everywhere at once was a dream. And given his vocal nature, he excelled and controlling the state of the game. While blunders were still there, it didn’t necessarily ruin a game as it could as a top laner.
It also helps explains why he finds comfort as a top laner on Team Liquid.
When revealed that he was joining Team Liquid, it was met with mixed reactions. European fans were upset that they lost a beloved figure. Fnatic fans were in a panic as they felt the face of their franchise was departing. And North American fans felt they were getting a potential flop given how things ended for him.
But Team Liquid carefully constructed a balanced “super team” line-up. With relatively passive members filling in the jungle, mid lane and marksmen roles, it would be a battling of the minds in the top and support lane position. And with Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in’s reputation, respect was already established.
Playing into Bwipo’s flexibility has worked fairly well for Team Liquid. He’s played fourteen unique champions this split. He’s averaging laning leads, outputting the second most damage per minute among top laners (501). And while he makes up 26.2% of his team’s overall deaths, he has the fourth-lowest overall deaths among top laners.
Being able to overcome some of the weak moments in his gameplay is something he hasn’t necessarily experienced. In a performance where he basically made it ten times more difficult for his team on Shyvana, the team carried him across the finish lane. Being able to laugh about it in a post game interview rather than having to give the “I f***-ed up” speech is a new feeling.
He hasn’t been able to silence all of the critics just yet. While likely to be in consideration for an All-Pro team appearance, it hasn’t necessarily been the inspiring performance fans were searching for. Especially when he replaced another incredibly talented top laner, he’s met expectations so far.
But this line-up wasn’t built to win domestically, it was built to contend. And one of the key pieces that needs to find the next level in their play to get Team Liquid on that level is Bwipo. He’s fallen in line. Can he find that right balance?