[Interview] Bwipo talks Fnatic's game against Team Vitality, the pressure of conceding lanes, Fnatic’s ‘identity’ and more.


Fnatic have finally scored a 2-0 week in 2019. In fact, upon beating Origen and Team Vitality, they have significantly increased their chances at reaching the playoffs as they stand one game behind playoff contention with a 5W-7L record.

After their victory against Fnatic, we spoke to the team’s top laner, Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau, about the Vitality matchup, the pressure of conceding lanes, Fnatic’s ‘identity’ and more. Below is the full transcript of the interview.



Since the 0-4 losing streak, you have gone 5-3, and there was some massive development recently. I'm thinking: finally, [Fnatic] are getting into the mindset that they are at top not because they are Fnatic, but because of the hard work they poured in as was the case last year. Let's comment more on that.

Obviously, everyone was working hard. It's just more that we worked on the things we needed to work hard on. You can work hard on things you are already good at, and you can be better at it, but the blaring issues in our gameplay get pretty difficult [to deal with.] For example, one of our issues is the early game. For example, [against Team Vitality] we found a way not to have an issue there!

On stage, we saw that their Level 1 kind of sucked: "let's go invade!" Some people might ask: "Why does [Bwipo] go Doran's Blade on Yorick?" and it's because we're invading at Level 1! There's another great laning item for Yorick, Corrupting Potion is usually a lot better, but it's just one of those things where I feel like: "Our early-game sucks. So, why don't I just pick up Doran's Blade and do their jungle, because we have the stronger Level 1?" It did work out.

Also, usually, Cabochard doesn't like leashing his buff for his jungler, and it gives us a 2v1 advantage if they never see it coming. If they do, then we can just take the buff. [Overall,] that was an example of us improvising on Level 1 strategy like we used to last year. This time around, it worked out, and it was more calculated. We got a pretty big advantage out of it. Our early game, where we usually fell behind, we shored that one up, and the game was much more controlled.

We [also] tried our best to sit around our mid lane and try to cover Nemesis – which was another weakness of ours: we don't actually cover the lanes where our enemy wants to make a play. The past few weeks, we were never really there when things happen, but this time around, Broxah was definitely keen on protecting Nemesis from potential plays. Actually, Nemesis played well: he smelled almost every single gank, and at some point, [those ganks came] from desperation.

In a way, it reminds me of 2018, where we are not necessarily proactive in our jungle pathing, in a sense that we are trying to super push our leads. We got our triple buff and whatever CS lead in the jungle, then we take that lead and translate it into something later. But honestly, 2019 is all about: "When you get a lead, you push it." That's one problem that we still have, that we didn't do today: even though we had a big jungle lead, we didn't translate it into strict river control. [Mowgli's Elise] was able to walk into it despite being much weaker. We need to get better at that. Maybe I'm saying too much by voicing a weakness.

I like that there is progress! You saw [Broxah] be behind the lane they wanted to make a play on, countering the ganks or plays – when [Jiizuke's Fizz] went for all-ins. I feel it worked out pretty well.

All in all, I feel like the game [against Vitality] could have gone either way, but it's better than our game against them on Week 2. Instead of them winning the late-game team fight and game, we did. On Week 2, I remember I was playing Poppy, and the team fight could have gone this way too; we could have won it and ended the game. This time around, it's a coin flip.

I also feel like against Vitality, if you don't mess up and don't int, every time they go for a really overforced four or five-man play, [dropping] CS on the side lanes to group mid. If you don't die on this type of play [as their opponent] and get your gold lead elsewhere, whether it be minion waves or whatever or the fact that they're poorly managing their waves and take your advantage later, the game always ends up in a 5v5. If you're confident that you can win it, you should just wait until it happens. They'll either 50-50 Nashor, or... *laughs*

It's the same story all over again like last year. Every time it comes to the second half of the split, people start to realize that even if they're 4-5k gold up, they're going to end up 5v5ing mid, or ending the game through a Teleport [play], or 50-50ing Nashor. Even this game, they tried TPing to our base after they stole Elder Drake. Even if they didn't steal it, they would try to trade Elder for our mid inhibitor. This is just what they do, and we have kind of figured it out.

I'm not saying that they can't do anything else, they're a good team. All I'm saying is that anything they did this game was not unexpected. Anyone that was watching the game can agree with me that this was a Vitality-esque game. This time around, we won. It's just weird to see that games against them almost always end in that 50-50 team fight. I'm pretty sure, as players, that they like that, because they're feeling confident that they'll win the 5v5, but in this case, we ended up winning it.



I'm also looking at the situation from a broader point: you know that Vitality are going to do things very predictable. It feels less like improvising, and more like using the information to your advantage. But more importantly, you decided to take the risk, the initiative.

Let me put it this way: as a team since 2018, I feel like Fnatic has been like: "If you have a 1k gold lead, you're not going to blow that lead open. You're going to keep it." The way our team functions is that that gold lead is like having money in the bank. Instead of [being in the red], you're just taking from your account. By 15 minutes, if you haven't gone too far in the red, you're probably going to end up winning the game.

The problem in our losses was that we didn't have money in the bank. Our early game usually sucked, and we just went into the minus. By minute 15, we got too much debt to actually win. This year, we haven't been able to get better at [snowballing leads.] Rather than having 1k gold in the bank and investing it to get more money, we're just trying not to bleed. By minute 15, whatever happens, we're going to try to play a controlled game. I feel like that's mostly how respectful our players can play. For example, I dropped a lot of pressure in the top lane even though I was stronger, and we were stronger 2v2, because it was unnecessary.

The [mantra] that describes Fnatic's gameplay is: "don't do unnecessary things." Don't go for more when you don't have to. Sometimes, I disagree, and that's why I've tried to find myself.

Honestly, this year has been pretty tough, because Caps was very much about doing the unnecessary thing, and in that sense, we lost a bit of that sense. Nemesis goes more with the flow: he makes a decision based on every single game. It's not like every time he gets an opportunity, he goes for more turrets and more kills; he'll play more controlled and smart. For the way we end up playing the game, that's good. But it's difficult because, basically, you have nobody pushing Broxah. In the past, it was Caps pushing him [to take fights], but that person is gone. When no one is pushing him to fight, sometimes it looks like our early-game kind of sucks and we aren't doing anything. That's how I feel.

That's just the way we are now, and I think it's fine. But whether I'm happy with it, I don't know. If we end up winning another split or go to the Worlds finals again, I can't argue. But that's how it feels: we went to the Worlds finals with this idea, and we got smashed. It was awful. I can tell you right now: if we went to Worlds finals right now again, the exact same way, I'm not sure I would be happy about it knowing what I know now. Would I take it? Every day of the week. If you tell me right now that I'm going to the Worlds finals and losing 0-3, I'm signing that right now. But–


You would still be losing 3-0.

Not even about losing 3-0. It's just about knowing what I know, and going about it the same way. It wouldn't feel good. Not for me.

Okay, gears are grinding in my head.

I said a lot of things! That's what I do in interviews: I saw a lot of things that people should know but don't, because I feel like they don't pay enough attention. There's a lot of weaknesses that I can see in our team just watching us play, and if other teams haven't seen them, good for us.


But I mean, just like you saw Vitality have that predictable aspect to them, other teams could go: "Fnatic have this-and-that." That's also possible, not necessarily fear, but maybe bothersome to you?

It's not, it's more of a personality thing. I feel like I've basically conceded my lane two games in a row now, and I'm probably going to end up conceding my lane in the next few weeks. It's not something I feel good about doing, but it's just something I feel is necessary because we are not good enough at facilitating leads in the top lane nor creating them. Whether I will or not is something I will see next week: it's something very much based on my own feelings.

It's just the way [Fnatic] plays. It's the reason why sOAZ, for example, has been considered that guy that gives up his lane and gets praised for doing that. But in the end of the day, does any player feel good about doing that? I don't think any player is happy to do that. You'll take winning over looking bad, but it's not something that you're like: "Hell yeah! I'm going to go 50cs down again and take all the pressure." It's not something you want to do; you want to match the pressure almost every case, especially if you're a confident player.



I think a change of pace is always good, and I guess sOAZ no longer has to systematically concede and be on an island. I think something similar happened with Odoamne last year even. Are you recognizing the signs that maybe it's your turn?

No. It's not my turn. Obviously, if you're insane as a player, and you carry every game, you get a carry champion, and your team is going to play around you. This is fact. Huni is a good [example] of when Fnatic were like that.

It's just easier [at the moment:] your top laner doesn't have to be insane at the game, and your jungler doesn't have to learn how to play around top side, because Fnatic has always played around bot side. [Changing to a top-side focus] is not only about me: it's also about Broxah and Nemesis, and having the general idea of where to go. Our bot lane has to relearn how to do everything. It's a completely different way of playing the game.

If you go top-side, the enemy team will go bot, much like what happened this game – Vitality went top, we went bot side. I died – I should have just conceded, I know that much. Is it worth it to learn that for the summer split because it's going to be a better thing? You don't know that, because the game changes almost always. That's why that's good if you're a team that can do both.

That's been one of the reasons why G2 has been doing so well and considered to be the best by far: they don't have that crutch, or an asterisk that says: "We can only play around this lane or these two lanes." They have an asterisk that says: "We can play around all five roles."


Asterisk that also says: "Jayce flex, what up!" Just because.

I feel like any team can. Schalke 04 can flex Jayce on three roles. I think we can do it if we want to, but it's just a matter of: the flex is only good if you can play around it. The same goes with Yasuo. Imagine if [G2] pick Yasuo next week and flex it over three roles. I wouldn't be surprised, because they can play around all three lanes. And it's not that other teams can't – they prefer not to because of X reason.


Considering the topics we've visited, there has been a LOT that has been said. But what would you add to the Fnatic part that I didn't cover?

I think we're putting a band-aid on the biggest problems. It's working out, and I think we're going to continue doing it. I don't think it's necessarily going to fix it on a large scale. We'll have small fixes – smaller band-aids rather than bigger ones, let me put it that way. It's not like I have to play Ornn or Sion every game and [hard-concede], I can pick Yorick and still be useful later. That's a much better idea, I guess.

We would like to thank Bwipo once again for his straightforward and candid answers regarding Fnatic and himself. The team will be facing Schalke 04 and Rogue on Week 7, and they might move even closer to a playoff spot that seemed out of reach early on during the season.


(Photos credit from Riot Games)

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    level 1 Derryck_Larsson

    Great interview, thanks for the insightful article! :)

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