Fnatic player Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau has reached a verbal agreement to play for North American squad Team Liquid for the 2022 season, sources confirmed to Upcomer on Tuesday.
The news was initially reported Tuesday by LEC Wooloo. Team Liquid declined comment on the potential move.
Bwipo, who has played multiple positions for Fnatic, is expected to play top laner for Team Liquid, sources said. The 22-year-old joined Fnatic in 2018 and helped the squad to a League of Legends World Championship final and most recently led the team to an appearance at this year’s Worlds. Fnatic dropped out of that competition during the group stage.
According to sources, the Belgian player was open to offers as a bot laner, top laner, mid laner and jungler, though he prioritized his native top role. The role with Team Liquid opened up due to the reported departure of top laner Barney “Alphari” Morris, who is expected to join Team Vitality alongside Luka “Perkz” Perković for the 2022 season.
The move is one of many Team Liquid are sifting through in an effort to improve on the League Championship Series team’s Worlds group stage exit this year. Liquid are also reportedly interested in signing four-time LCS MVP and former TSM mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, who announced he is returning to pro play in 2022 after a stint as a coach for TSM. The prospective move has seen Team Liquid test out current mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen role-swapping to AD carry and playing alongside former world champion support Jo “CoreJJ” Jong-in in the bot lane.
Bwipo began his career with Fnatic as Paul “sOAZ” Boyer’s substitute on the top lane, then swapped to the bot lane during Season 8. Following sOAZ’s departure from Fnatic in 2019, Bwipo remained as the starting top laner. In the 2021 League European Champioship summer split , Fnatic underwent a restructuring and once again swapped Bwipo’s role, this time making him the full-time starting jungler.
The swap paid off as Fnatic turned around and qualified for the Worlds. However, the team lost starting bot laner Elias “Upset” Lipp for the tournament because of an “urgent family matter,” and the team spiraled from there, finishing with a 1-5 record in their group despite an admirable performance from substitute AD carry Louis “Bean” Schmitz.