The veteran top laner speaks about his experience on the LCS broadcast and why League of Legends is so enjoyable.
Team Liquid is starting to peak at the right time, the four-time LCS champions restored some faith after taking down Evil Geniuses. Following their day one victory over FlyQuest, TL Bwipo sat down with Esports.gg for an exclusive interview. Bwipo went in-depth on his experience working the LCS broadcast and what makes League of Legends enjoyable for him.
Pira: To kick things off congrats on the win. How does it feel to have such a huge pop-off Olaf game?
Pira: There you go. Yeah, sometimes it seems like watching Team Liquid when everything comes together –You just crush everybody. Is it jarring sometimes to have games where everything goes super smooth, And then games that just feel like the exact opposite?
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TL Bwipo: That’s like League of Legends in general, right? So it’s not that strange, you know, like, you queue up your smash one game, then the next game, everything goes wrong, you might be feeling a little bit [down]. I think that’s gaming in general, that’s the fun of gaming. What the polar opposites are like, [that’s] what makes it fun. Because even if you have a bad day, you know, in those days, you can still have a pop-off game, if the stars align for you. And I think that’s what makes gaming enticing and fun. Because the difference between gaming and sports is like, if you’re bad at football, it’s pretty much impossible to pop off at a football game. But you know, even if you’re not great at league of legends or any other game for that matter, you still have a chance to have a really good game if things work out for you. And I think that’s what makes gaming so attractive. You don’t have to spend a crazy amount of time getting good at the basics in order to have a good time beating other people.
Pira: And for Team Liquid, the game of League of Legends is definitely a bit back and forth, just like any game can be. But Team Liquid has been in tumultuous form the last couple of weeks. Is this game that you’ve just crushed, kind of a return to form for you?
TL Bwipo: I think tomorrow’s game [vs Evil Geniuses] will determine that. I think that’s what everyone’s waiting for, you know, no one wants to be excited until we actually manage to beat EG this weekend. If we got 1-1 or yeah, well, let’s say we have a really good game and you end up losing at least, it’ll look better, but I still think we need the 2-0 in order to feel like we’ve returned to form fully, but I have every confidence that we’re gonna get them a run for their money.
Pira: Okay, calling it now – is everybody else on the team in agreement with you feeling very confident that you’ll be able to beat one of the few teams that you have a losing record against?
TL Bwipo: You know, I’m just sharing my thoughts, my feelings, I think that you know, I just feel really good about the way we’re playing as a team. And it gives me a lot of confidence to say something like that, whether we will win or not, like in the end. For me, it’s like, whether we win this best-of-one or not, we’re going to have to beat them in a best-of-five anyway. So for me, what’s really important is making sure we get there and we do that.
Pira: Looking ahead to the playoffs is a very important thing. Now let’s talk about those playoffs because seeding is going to be on a lot of people’s minds. You’re a few games back from the top two, but you’re definitely in the top six – So you’ll be in the upper bracket, where do you think you’ll end up going into the playoffs?
TL Bwipo: It’s hard to say – like I try not to think so far ahead and [that’s] fine. You know, I think when you start worrying that weekend is when I start worrying about okay, what’s actually happening with this standings – maybe I shouldn’t be like that. Until we actually get there. I like to play my best [and] just focus on the moment, you know, focus on one match at a time.
Pira: Taking it one game at a time! It does feel like you are a player that really thrives on confidence, and all of TL too. Is that something that you try to [do], keep everybody upbeat?
TL Bwipo: you always try to do it right, it’s a hallmark of any great player – the fact that they can lift their teammates up, right? If you’re just individually strong, you can’t make your teammates around the play better. You know, put in more effort even, I think making [teammates] be more confident and having a more positive outlook, even in life, I think contributes significantly. In the end, it’s all about doing your best and working your hardest.
Pira: For sure, and I think that attitude [you have] always shines through. You did get to share that with more and more people. In the last couple of weeks – you got invited onto the broadcast to do some analysis, shoutcasting and interviews. How was that experience for you?
TL Bwipo: Generally speaking, I enjoy sharing my knowledge. Like I have good fun in sharing and talking to people that are interested in the game, that doesn’t really understand what it’s about, or even – you know, they have a good understanding, but they’re not 100% sure what to look out for, in specific moments. Because obviously, the complexity of the game is what makes it so interesting, and why there’s such a discrepancy in player skill, right?
The difference between someone picking up the game and someone that has mastered the game – no one has really mastered it, which is another part that makes it fun. You know, some of us put in 10 years and as a professional player that is not only huge, but someone that could have played this game for 10 years at a time, your level still can compare to someone that has played 10 years or even three years at a professional level. You know, the thing is – just the complexity of the game is reaching a point where all that really matters is that you can calculate all the variables in the game. It gets so complicated, sometimes you miss the brilliancy of what’s really going on, and being able to break down some things that professional players think about –, the average viewer might not be thinking about, and retracing their thought process and explaining it in simpler terms. I think that that’s something that does great for the scene. Because if you don’t see what’s really going on, and what players are really thinking about, sometimes as a spectator, you can just feel like they’re not, you know, they’re just being dumb, or they’re not trying as hard as they should be.
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In reality, they’ve got so much going on, that there’s a lot of stress involved: they are in their own head about certain things, and especially in the game you can lose a lot of confidence very quickly. Being able to explain why that player lost confidence and why he opted not to do that, or at least attempt to – I think that’s the privilege of being a third party, where you’re not sharing any feedback, you’re just speculating, oh, it’s alright. So even if I hit the nail on the head, and I described exactly why he did not play [correctly], doesn’t mean that my word is why he made that play, right? It’s just speculation until the player that I’m talking about confirms that.
That is a way for me to, you know, share very intuitive knowledge about the game. And yet still, not only educate but also help people enjoy the game more. I think when you watch games, and you watch entertainment, sports, and you start talking about plays, as soon as you start saying the players are just bad – and sometimes they are, don’t get me wrong – As long as the focus is on that, I really think that it sucks the enjoyment out of it because the only thing you’re really looking for is bad plays.
Pira: So your takeaways from doing all that, particularly the analysis, did it change any thoughts, any perspective on how you approach the game or thinking about the way that casters and analysts approach things?
TL Bwipo: No, I didn’t go so deep as to change what I believe in or change my point of view on these things. I generally kept it simple. You know, I just enjoyed it as an experience. I didn’t go so deep as to change the perspective, I think generally speaking – like the way I do the analysis, and the way I see interviews is what I found interesting, like in the interview I did with Fudge. I actually thought it was really cool that, you know, they used Kayle + Zeri and Kayle + Taliyah as a comp I’ve never seen – literally, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen the pairing of those with them going in. And it actually makes a lot of sense that they can do that. And I thought that was really awesome. That was something that they seemed very practiced on, even if they didn’t look like they were. And I think that’s the stuff that’s awesome.
Generally speaking, when I do my analysis, I just explain what I see on my screen, and I explain why it’s cool or why I thought it could have been better because I think making the distinction between this is uniquely bad [and] this could have been better.
Pira: The last question I wanted to ask you, then, based on all that, it sounds like you have a lot to say about analysis in general – is this a path that you would ever look to go when/if you decide to stop playing professionally?
TL Bwipo: I think I’m very privileged. I think that the way I ended up growing up, everything basically aligned in my life to a point where I feel like I can choose what I want to do when it comes to League of Legends. I can be a caster, I can be an interviewer. Like, I think hosting is probably the only thing I might struggle with, but I think I will pick up on that pretty quickly. And the point is, like, I can pretty much [do] anything when it comes to competitive league. I think I can be a coach, can be a caster, I can be a player, I can do the broadcast. I think I got really lucky with that. And that’s why for me, I’m not really thinking about my retirement, because I will just do what feels good for me because I just personally feel I kind of have all the options from a personal perspective, right?
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And I really don’t want to for now because I really enjoy making people enjoy the game for what it really is – you know, it’s a diverse game with so many options. Look at any other game, you know, and the only thing in the game you can really compare when it comes to options is Dota, right? And I feel like that game, whilst it could be great and maybe people like playing that game instead of league – I just don’t think it compares to League of Legends.
I think League of Legends is much more simple on the surface level. And that makes it much easier for people to enjoy it for what it is. You know you pick a cool character, you play it, you have fun, you know? One of the reasons I [started playing] League was there were so many characters to choose from and some of them really stuck out to me and I was like wow, these are awesome! Look at these champions like Gragas and Mordekaiser – because I thought wow Morde looks awesome. You know, for today’s standards, maybe it didn’t look so awesome in 2012 but nowadays it looks really awesome. Like, I can tell you right now like I was a warrior player in World Warcraft and I love like heavy like metal plated armour gear – and you know characters that were really bruised up and did a boatload of damage.. And whether they were mobile or immobile, I didn’t really care.
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[In League] You have all these options – you know, you have bruiser characters that are very mobile, do a lot of damage but are weak against CC, you have mobile characters that do a lot of damage but are weak against CC, etc. You have champions that are very beefy, mobile, don’t do a lot of damage, but are great against CC. You have every option you want in my opinion: you can play squishy characters that throw spells from long range and do a lot of damage, you have squishy characters that get in there and do a lot of damage in short range. You have ranged characters that have boatloads of DPS, you have range characters that have boatloads of burst. You know, like, as I’m saying these archetypes, these ways to play the game, I’m just thinking of all the different champions and options, you can play and I think that’s awesome.