Zai Talks About Drafting for Team Liquid With Coach Blitz
As one of the most consistent teams in the league this year, Team Liquid has not only dominated the regional leagues with two top finishes but has also stolen the show at international events such as the Lima Major 2023 and the ongoing DreamLeague S19. Following Liquid's win over Shopify Rebellion in the DreamLeague S19, offlaner Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg discussed how he works in a unique method with coach William "Blitz" Lee to produce elite drafts for the team. Despite Blitz's focus on bans, Zai explained that the overall strategy involves both of them coming up with their own plans and then discussing them.
Zai explains how Team Liquid drafts
During zai's post-match winner's interview following Liquid's 2-0 win over Shopify in group stage 2 of the DreamLeague S19, Jorien "Sheever" van der Heijden asked him about a discussion she had with Blitz at the Lima major. Blitz, as Sheever pointed out, works on initial bans while zai works on first picks, and they create strategies for different players on the opposing team.
Using an example from the series against Shopify Rebellion, zai then explained how this process works.
“I mean we discuss our plans together. That’s usually the first step in preparing for a team. We look at what they have done before, we look at the openers and what we think they are going to do. For example today, we knew they (Shopify Rebellion) were going to first pick Doom and probably Invoker on the 8th if we go with Lesh so that was kind of in our plans already.”
Zai stressed the importance of covering all angles when drafting, adding that he and Blitz are constantly becoming better drafters.
“I think he focuses a lot on bans making sure we tick all the boxes and we don’t miss any heroes that we should be playing against and that we also protect our own heroes. It’s a good synergy. It’s working pretty well and I think we are getting better at it.”
In Liquid's case, the process is unique, but zai clarified that he has been a part of many teams where multiple players contribute their ideas and draft together.
“At the same time, for most of the teams I have been a part of, the drafting process is usually a shared kind of thing. I think you always try to form some understanding and things to build towards. And a lot of the ideas and stuff that you have developed over time as a team. So, maybe the way we work is special to us but I am sure people have similar relationships with coaches and similar players who are drafting in general.”
In the wake of Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen's departure from Team Liquid after The International 11 (TI11), Zai has had to take an increasingly active role in drafting.
Liquid will be hoping to win the DreamLeague S19 and start the ESL One Berlin Major on a high note with strong drafts coming in along with top execution.