As Fnatic head into the World Championship Semifinals, top-laner Gabriël "Bwipo" Rau sat down with Blitz Esports to talk about his Swain train, the problem with OP Worlds champs, and this year's rampant inting.
So first off, congratulations on this win. Just a year ago you were playing in a mid-tier team in LCL, and now you're here. Did you imagine that a year later you'd be here?
No, I never imagined it. Being honest, I always had the feeling that I could compete. That's why I wanted to do it. But I never thought that I was going to get this far this fast. I felt like there was going to be a period where I would have to prove my worth on a lower tier team first and then get picked up on a better team, but apparently I skipped some steps, and here I am.
Talk to me about the Swain pick. It seems to be that you're the only one that's picking him, other teams have picked it but only in the mid lane. Fnatic are the only team that picks it in top lane, so tell us about that.
I think most people know what happened in summer: Swain was my most reliable bot-lane pick, and he's a champion that I have always found comfort on. It was one of the first champions I played on stage, next to Sion. So I've always been a big Swain player, and I wouldn't be surprised If Cloud 9 put some priority on that and wants to ban it away, because I feel comfortable playing it, I think he's pretty strong, and he's one of my best champions. I have the trust of my coach to pick one of my best champions, I'll put it that way.
In terms of match ups and compositions, what do you think of Swain?
I don't think he smashes any matchup, really. I think you can play every match up and go even, but I feel like most people aren't as skilled at dealing with Swain as I am at playing him, I guess.
I feel like the matchups I'm getting are generally like favored, or even Sion is favored for me, but then the Kled is like almost unplayable, right? This Kled matchup is really hard, but he just botched it. He fucked up the matchup pretty badly so I was able to take him on anyway.
I feel like I made a few mistakes still, and there's a lot to improve, but he's one of my favorite champions. I think he's pretty strong right now, and I'm pulling results apparently on stage with him, so might as well keep playing him.
I wanted to ask you about the Viktor, which is something that's starting to show up a bit a few weeks ago in Korean solo queue, and everyone has been picking it up. Why did it show up in top lane?
We just needed a blind pick that we were comfortable with. I had a strong enough laning phase to match Shen, because we were really scared they were going to lock in Shen, and we felt like if we picked Shen, it's not good enough for us and our team composition.
So we wanted something that was going to be able to handle the Shen very well, because we expected them to pick it, or had really good scaling and, well, Viktor had both.
So in general, just a good blind pick?
Yeah, just a solid blind pick with some lane strength, and obviously we were full AD at that point, so some magic damage is obviously what we were looking forward to.
People always talked about this Worlds as the year for Fnatic, but did you expect at all that you would be going up against Cloud 9 in semis? And how do you rate them?
I think C9's a pretty good team. I think they can surprise some people in terms of how good they are—I mean they already have surprised, so it's no longer a surprise—but they're pretty good team. I think that 3-0ing Afreeca was kind of a fluke, especially Game 2 and 3. Especially In the top lane department, there was a little bit of issues from C9's top laner. I feel like he kind of got... should I say "shit on"? Getting solo-killed three times and then winning the game, I felt like there was no justice in the world. But soon after I got solo-killed in the Viktor/Shen matchup so I'll shut my mouth. *laughter*
But yeah, I feel like they're a good team, but I don't think it should've been a 3-0. I feel like it should have been a 2-3, maybe 3-1, from what I could tell in the games, but that's just how League of Legends is.
Same went for us, right?
I feel like it should have been 3-2 for us, or a 2-2 and we just see what happens in Game 5, because I feel like Game 3, there was a lot of int from from both. There was just a lot of int the whole day.
Honestly, watching this Worlds, I feel like there's so much int. It's insane. There's so much int everywhere. We're inting, enemy team is in inting, C9 is inting half the time. Afreeca is inting, there's just int everywhere. Then RNG's inting, G2—there's int everywhere. I don't know how to describe it.
It just feels like people are playing worse, individually even. For example, in the fight with the Rift Herald, I randomly stopwatched. I was just like, "What the fuck am I doing? Did I miss click or am I just stupid?" If I just play like a human being, we win that fight every time, and it's just like, ugh, so much int! I'm just sitting there like, "No! Am I stupid or what?" It's just really, really troll. It felt really troll half the time.
And talking about the level of championship teams being down, I wanted to ask you about the fall of Korea as a region this championship. Do you have any personal theory about it?
I feel like right now, in early game, there's way too many OP champions, and if you get your hands on one or two of them, then they can just solo carry the game, as long as you're individually good enough on the champion.
For example, back in the day, Febiven solo killing Faker, in 2015 I think it was, twice? Right now you do that on a champion like Irelia, LeBlanc, Akali, Aatrox, Urgot, you're solo carrying the game. There is no counter play for the enemy team, the champions are too fucking stupid. They're honestly too fucking stupid. And I understand that these teams think they can deal with those champions, and they can, but if it goes wrong, you fucking lost. It's so hard to outplay Irelia. What do you even do? You just die.
So do you think as a theme, a lot of the Korean teams are going for a lot of scaling picks?
No, I think it's more like they were trading OP picks, and if one of the OP picks went off, the enemy team couldn't play. Like Akali, for example. The amount of times I see this champion just—what is the counter play, sometimes? I understand that sometimes there's counter play, and you have specific champions you can play into them, and it works out. But you think G2 would've won the game against PVB if they didn't have Akali stalling for 25 seconds because her shroud is completely unbalanced? No. They wouldn't have won that game. They would've lost the game with a 10k gold deficit, and everyone would have laughed at them because they lost against Vietnam. But they had two really unbalanced champions in Aatrox and Akali and they got away with it.
And I'm not saying that we haven't abused these OP champions, or we might have lost the game where the same would have happened. I'm just saying that I think that's what people are underestimating and not taking into account, in the sense that some champions are just really unbalanced this Worlds, and because there are so many, it looks like it's balanced because there's so many of them, but they're really not balanced.
Final question: if you guys do beat C9 and make it to finals, who do you want to face in finals?
I mean G2, obviously, because we were a 7-1 record against them over the year. I believe it's 7-1, or 6-1. Anyway, I think we have like a 90% win rate against them. I only remember losing the funnel game against them, and that was funnel, so. Of course we want to play against them, because it's just that history dictates we win against them.
And how do you preview that semi-final?
Like I just said, it will be a bunch of OP champions being traded back and forth, and they'll be solo laners trying to flex and style on each other, and if the game goes late or there's no OP champs, I think we'll win. I feel like Hjarnan is a good player and he's fine, but we kind of beat them by just scaling—
Oh, I meant G2 vs. IG.
Oh, yeah. Same thing. Solo laners styling on each other with OP picks, and I think that TheShy and Rookie are not Xiaohu and LetMe, let me put it that way. I think that these guys are fucking insane, and they're a level above when it comes to individual skill, I think.
I have a lot of respect for LetMe, don't get me wrong, I think he's a really good player, but I don't think it's his style. I think Zz1tai would have been a better match for them, in terms of playstyle, picking up the carries, going for carrying alone, that kind of stuff.
But yeah, I think the rest of the tournament will actually be solo laners trying to flex on each other, and botlane is just like, "Please let me get IE, please! 25 minutes, maybe. Maybe one day!" And the solo laners are just trying to dumpster each other, picking insane picks into each other or hard counter picking or whatever. I imagine that's how the rest of the tournament is going to go with the teams that are still in it.
Images via Lolesports Flickr