Fnatic is officially the best Western team to ever be assembled in League of Legends, following their World Championship Finals berth. Both Europe and Fnatic haven’t been back to the Worlds finals since 2011, but Fnatic flipped the script this year and will be playing against Invictus Gaming on November 3rd in Incheon, South Korea.
Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau stands as one of the representative players of Fnatic — a new face that proved that anything is possible — and is looking forward to the final. We had a chance to chat with Bwipo about his growth as a top laner, his thoughts on Invictus Gaming, and his dream as a player.
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Fnatic is clearly the most successful Western team, but this has to be huge for you. What are your thoughts on your own growth?
This is all really proof of my growth. MSI was when I was a rookie. I made a lot of rookie mistakes… my gameplay was very sporadic. I started a lot of fights when I shouldn’t have. Now, I feel like I have much more control and much smarter about how to play the game. I feel like, now I have the experience to make the right judgement calls in the right situation.
A lot of people describe you as the more aggressive laning top laner on Fnatic… It’s kind of like you’re the sword and sOAZ is the shield, if you will.
Ah yeah, a sword and shield. Something like that.
Do you think that’s accurate?
It’s kind of right. I feel like, in general, a lot of Fnatic’s playstyle centers around that. We’re fine giving our top laners a bit of a harder time in the draft and putting them on the backfoot. I feel like that’s our identity. Personally, I feel like when you’re in a bit of a worse matchup, knowing when you can contest is really important to actually stay at an even level in the matchup if that makes sense. I don’t disagree, but I think both of us know how to contest the lane if the opportunity is given. Yeah, maybe sword and shield, but we’re both flexible enough.
In your matches against iG, you approached them a lot of different ways. You and Broxah actually hard-focused bot lane in a matchup they had no pressure in, for example. What do you think of them focusing really hard on solo lanes when you guys can pivot to hard focus bot?
I think iG did a much better job of focusing Caps in the mid lane and that was a really big hit. I’m really Caps was able to stay level-headed and that we were able to communicate fine and get back into the game. I think their gameplan of going through mid is the way to go. Playing through mid in League of Legends is a pretty good way of playing it. I feel like with early matchups, I understand why they focus early to get more pressure in the solo lanes.
Overall, I think their game plan was solid and ours was… we just went straight bot because we could kill them and it looked really good. I think the most important thing about our games against iG is that we didn’t rely specifically on Caps getting ahead to allow us a good mid-game situation. We were able to bring him back into the game and lift him up rather than have him drag us [along], as he had been for the past few months.
Yeah, now that you bring that up, you guys have grown a lot and become a lot more balanced during the year. A lot of people labeled you guys at the Western hope and that is officially the case. How does that feel?
I think this tournament has given everyone an idea how strong we can be. Invictus was a really strong team in the early game, but they were super lackluster in the mid-game and made a lot of bad, aggressive calls that were relient on outplays. For example, we had the fight mid where Duke outplayed us and got the double kill. On a better day, Duke just dies there, they drop four people for zero, and the game is just over. They get overeager and take really bad fights.
How does it feel to be on top of the world and really be performing at the top of your game?
Funnily enough, two years ago or a year ago, there was an AMA I made on reddit when I hit rank one on EU, right. I read it yesterday and one of the questions was: When will you make EULCS? I said it was my dream. And now I’m here at Worlds, performing against some of the best top laners in the world. Duke and TheShy are really strong players and I’m really happy to be able to compete with them. I’m not going to say that I can beat them or do anything spectacular, but I will show a good performance against them and that feels amazing. Now, that I got to prove it to myself, and everyone else, that I can compete against the best… It’s my dream come true.
Photo: Riot Games