The 2022 Team Liquid roster is the latest super team to grace the League of Legends Championship Series. Headlined by accomplished veterans like support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in, mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg and top laner Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau, it’s no wonder the expectations are higher than ever for this iteration of the team. With their impressive 2-1 start to the 2022 LCS Lock In group stage, it looks like they are on track to live up to those expectations.
Despite immigration complications with CoreJJ and bot laner Steven “Hans sama” Liv, which necessitated both players splitting time with their Academy counterparts, Team Liquid look like a team to be feared in Lock In. Academy bot laner Sean “Yeon” Sung and support Bill “Eyla” Nguyen played confidently in their LCS debuts, and it didn’t go unnoticed.
“They’re doing their best to complete their counterparts,” Bwipo said. “Obviously they have big shoes to fill, but I think that they’re doing exactly that.”
After a fearless performance on Graves in TL’s shutout over CLG Sunday, it’s clear that Bwipo hasn’t let off the gas since leaving Europe. With a new team and fresh start in North America, TL’s Bwipo has everything to prove, but for now, his focus lies on doing the best he can for himself and his teammates with the opportunity he’s been given.
“I’m just excited to be here, you know,” said Bwipo. “I’m just very happy to be a part of this and doing my best to make everything the best I can.”
A new challenge for TL’s Bwipo
At this point in his career, it would be hard to argue that Bwipo hasn’t earned his place amongst some of the best world-class top laners. League of Legends World Championship finalist, European champion, All-Pro top laner and All-Star 1v1 champion are only a few of the titles he holds. 2022 marks Bwipo’s first foray into a new region and while his mind is still set on winning, he’s entering the year with a set of holistic goals for himself.
“I’m just making sure I spend a lot of time focusing on what’s important for myself,” said Bwipo. “I’m just making sure I’m in a good mental state, and I’m taking as much time and space as necessary in order to do that.”
Between building synergy with new teammates, assimilating to an entirely different role and an unfortunate finish at the Worlds, Bwipo’s 2021 with Fnatic was full of ups and downs. After a hectic offseason, Bwipo emphasized the importance of maintaining good mental health in order to be the best teammate and best version of himself that he can be.
So far, Bwipo has already gotten a chance to flex his versatile champion pool. He’s played three different champions, Sion, Gwen and Graves, across his first three LCS matches against Evil Geniuses, Dignitas QNTMPAY and CLG. Those three lineups also happen to boast a wide range of developing talent native to North America, and as Bwipo continues to feel out the competition, he couldn’t help but give a nod to the region’s rookies.
“I was surprised with how decent the laning phases are,” said Bwipo. “They say NA doesn’t have talent, but I really don’t notice it that much. That’s what surprised me. The players on average are not that much worse compared to what everyone else is saying.”
The marathon begins
With this weekend’s results, Team Liquid now sit in second place in Group B, right behind the only team to hand them a loss so far in LCS Lock In: Evil Geniuses. If the team is able to maintain their momentum and get settled on stage, they’ll be in a good position to slot into knockouts and contend for the title.
As the season continues to play out, Bwipo’s in-game goals for the year may be centered around performing to the best of his abilities with his teammates, but out of game he mentioned that there is also a personal factor fueling his motivation this year.
“There is something that I’m incredibly focused on for my own purposes and I’m doing absolutely everything I can to do it the best way possible,” Bwipo said. “It’s been important to me for a very long time, and now I feel I’m ready to take everything in my life to the next level.”