Bwipo: “If something works for me I’m going to keep doing it until they prove me wrong”
Team Liquid are undefeated after the first week of the LCS Summer Split 2022.
Team Liquid went undefeated in the LCS Week 1 Summer Split after taking down Dignitas, Immortals and Cloud9. The team's Spring Split defeat was a wake up call for the team as they adjust their focus for Summer. Esports.gg's Piratechnics spoke with Team Liquid Bwipo after their win over Dignitas. The 23-year-old player talks about the team's mentality and his individual approach to the game and mentality.
Pira: Congrats on the win. 2-0 to kick things off this split. How's the mood in the Team Liquid camp after starting off strong?
Team Liquid Bwipo: Very good. I think everyone is pretty confident. I think we're all taking it very seriously, to win as many games as we can. We're taking it one by one. Like I mentioned earlier on the broadcast, I think losing Spring was, in a way, the kick we needed to set things into overdrive. Not to say we're going all out, it's a marathon not a sprint. That's what a lot of people tend to forget about [Summer] Split.
"Defining what the bare minimum is, is very good. And then pushing that bare minimum higher and higher and higher every time you go into practice"
Bwipo on Team Liquid's practice process
Just because you have a good Week 1, 2 and 3 doesn't mean you are going to win the Split in the end. That being said, it really helped us identify some of the issues we had as a team. Issues don't necessarily have to mean bad things, it can just be not optimal, not the way it should be. I think that defines a lot of our split in Team Liquid, it just could have been better. I think we are all striving for that ''could have been better' in Summer Split.
Pira: You obviously had some time missing in the finals and MSI to be able to work on whatever changes in team approach and identifying stuff in the meta, etc that you want to as a team. Could you go into detail about some of those things you focused on as a player and as a team to change up?
Team Liquid Bwipo: I think individually assigning more roles for everyone. This is what you are going to be expected to accomplish rather than going into every game like 'This is what's possible, this is what we're looking for, this is what you could have squeezed out in this situation `had you played perfectly or read the map perfectly'. It's more like ‘if you do this it's good enough’. And we'll be able to work with that and get a win.
Credit: Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games via ESPAT
Defining what the bare minimum is, is very good. And then pushing that bare minimum higher and higher and higher every time you go into practice is like 'OK, this is what we expect from you. You can't be dying in these situations or you should be squeezing out more in those situations'. I think that that line of practice is much more efficient for a long term split like this. Trying to get the best out of the team individually and really getting people used to what they're expected to deliver.
Pira: It's like refining a practice process and more clearly defining the roles that you each have in the team. I know you spoke in the post-match about how your team in the previous split very much played a versatile style where you could play strong side bot or weak side flexing with yourself on the top. And now you're focused on being more, I think you said, a rock for your team. Do you want to elaborate a little bit on that?
Team Liquid Bwipo: If you look at our lineup I think that's a natural way it should go. That's where we started when we had all this success in the middle of the Split back in Spring but then we felt like we needed to be able to play more styles.
I personally think that we'll leave that for the bootcamp when we get to an international event. Missing out on an international event with a team like this made me realize. Our team was good enough to adapt in a matter of 1-2 weeks if we really put our minds to it and that's what the meta demands.
That's actually something I realized in the Korea bootcamp. Bootcamping there and scrimming there made me realize "Oh s***, our team is really f***ing good. We're really f***ing good individually. But having proof of 'We bootcamp for two weeks and a weekend, we're already able to adapt to the styles these Asian teams are playing. Not only can we match their picks, but also match the tempo of the game they're playing’.
They're playing faster and smarter in a lot of cases. Being able to adapt and play a similar way is something that's quite nice. That was really a big confidence boost for me, seeing that my team is capable of doing that and maybe reassure that 'Maybe if we need to be a bot centric team to win in NA, let's just do that first'.
When we got to the Korean bootcamp, I am confident that my team is able to picking up the pace with Asian teams. Get our asses kicked for a week maybe, sure. But by weeks 2, 3 and 4, we'll be able to compete with them. And that's what matters at Worlds right?
"Usually when I mess up and I don't find the right fights, I still have the tools to go again and I have the confidence to go again. I think that's a very important trait for an initiator to play": Bwipo
Credit: Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games via ESPAT
Pira: It seems like you have all planned out. And I think despite the fact that you are focusing as a team on the bot side, you still get to play a lot of aggressive play-making picks. We saw Olaf yesterday, we saw Mordekaiser today. It does feel like you're very comfortable on Champions who can knock people around. Is that a hold over from your jungling days?
Team Liquid Bwipo: Well, I didn't have that long of a jungling time. But I think that's always been my style, playing Champions that are always able to turn it on and off when I feel like it. I have always been very good at figuring out when I should pick a fight and when I shouldn't.
Usually when I mess up and I don't find the right fights, I still have the tools to go again and I have the confidence to go again. I think that's a very important trait for an initiator to play. Even though I don't think Mordekaiser is a real big playmaker or anything crazy like that, it is a champion that I enjoy playing. He is bulky and does a lot of damage.
I guess I identify well with Juggernauts and I think they are champions I am very good at. I make them work on the big stage even though many other players don't think they are good or shouldn't be played. That's kind of where I'm at. I regress my own perspective in order to understand others rather than adding them to my own perspective I mimicked. I'm kind of done with that. I think I was always at my best when I was playing my champions.
I was always known for playing Swain, Zac in the past. When I found new and original picks I played them and I was confident in them. Those champions align with what I'm best at. Rather than playing Lucian and other ranged top laners that I'm not so great at, I'm just like - 'Look I can play them. I'm not terrible, might be better than most in the LCS even. But I'm strictly the best Olaf player in the LCS. Why wouldn't I just play if I can get away with it everytime.
I think that's always been my style, playing Champions that are always able to turn it on and off when I feel like it
Liquid bwipo on versatile top lane picks
That's not to say you can't counter pick these champions. It's just the reality of the LCS is you're playing against a set composition and adapting to the composition is, in any sport, a huge tool. It's a skill.
That's why it was funny. I saw some criticism of me blind picking Mordekaiser today. It's like I don't think anyone in the competition is going to win the game doing that. Are they going to beat me in the lane? Yeah. Am I going to go down 20 CS? Yeah. 30? Maybe. But if they're going to win the game doing that? I highly doubt it.
And that's the type of confidence I've always had where it’s like I just don't view top lane blind picks as [the] matchup. If I can survive and I can reach a point where I can use my champion, I feel like I can pull it often. If you look at my Champion pool, Aatrox is a very weak early game champion. Ornn and Gangplank - well.. Gangplank is quite strong in that he's quite strong early. Ornn and Aatrox are good examples of Champions I've always used that are not particularly strong early game.
You get the value once the game starts and you get going. That's always what I've identified myself with and I then do that.
"I think ultimately, I am my own biggest enemy. I don't think there's any player I can't keep up with, at the very least if not just outclass" : Bwipo
Pira: Honestly, the approach, it's worked so far. It continues to work. Until it all stops working, why change it? You did mention the competition in the LCS, especially in the top side, you playing against Gamsu who's going back into pro play. Tomorrow you'll be up against Fudge back in the top lane. What do you think about some of the newer or maybe returning faces to the top lane in the Summer Split?
Team Liquid Bwipo: Not much. I'm only focused on myself. I think ultimately, I am my own biggest enemy. I don't think there's any player I can't keep up with, at the very least if not just outclass. And I speak internationally, from experience. I've played against plenty of LCK and LPL top laners. They are very very good at the game and I've never played that I couldn't keep up with them if I tried my hardest and played the Champions I was good at in the matchups I know I can pull off.
What's most important for me is rather than worry about what other people are doing, be happy with what I'm providing to the team. And have my focus fully on that. That is really the number 1 thing I want to focus on coming into this split. No matter what other peoples' opinions are or what they say, if something works for me I'm going to keep doing it until they prove me wrong.
Credit: Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games via ESPAT
This is one of the lessons I learned. I played Aatrox twice in the Spring in the playoffs. No one else is playing him and I won two games. I kept second guessing myself about this Champion when in reality I should have rolled it all the way to the Championship.
Until people stopped me from playing it, because it was a Champion that I play very well and I get results on and that is what I'm going to focus on. Just be smarter about who I am as a player and as a person and use that to the strength of my team.
No matter what other peoples' opinions are or what they say, if something works for me I'm going to keep doing it until they prove me wrong.
Team liquid Bwipo
Pira: It sounds like you're somebody who's very in touch with your intuition in regards to your Champions and your playstyle. Is there anybody out there in any of the leagues that you do look at and take inspiration from in the top lane or elsewhere?
Bwipo: Not currently. Like I said, I am really looking within to find what works for me. Obviously, there is a plethora of very strong top laners all around the world that you can learn from. And I do learn from them. In some matchups I am just way worse than them.
And if I have to play those matchups in order to be able to draft the way my team wants to draft, then I will absolutely look at their VODs and study and understand what I'm doing wrong. There's a lot of top laners that kicked my ass when I was in Korea. I had a lot of learnings there.
Both LPL and LCK, I'm not saying I'm better than them, I just know that I can give them a run for their money if they're not careful as well. I feel like I can make the game interesting. I don't think I can ever get rolled, if you will.
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Contributor | Twitter @PiraTechnics
Devin "PiraTechnics" Younge is a League of Legends PBP caster who rose to prominence during his time on the EU LCS from 2015 to 2017. Since then he has also branched out into other esports titles. He is currently a caster for Riot Games' PCS 2022 Spring Split.