zai and Team Liquid at The International 11


Zai Talks About Taking on a Leadership Role for Team Liquid

Rakshak Kathuria
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During an interview at The International 12 (TI12), Team Liquid offlaner Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg talked about taking on a leadership role for the team in 2023.
Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen took up a similar role last year, but when he left, zai increased his responsibilities beyond merely being an offlane player.
Zai also remarked that throughout his career, he has been on teams with some of the most illustrious names, and as a result, he has always had to fit in, but after Secret, it was time for him to move on.

Team Liquid’s offlaner Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg, the most experienced player in the team, has taken on considerably more responsibility in 2023 and established a leadership position in terms of drafting and putting the team together. The 26 year old discussed how this change has transpired during an interview at The International 12 (TI12). According to zai, Lasse "MATUMBAMAN" Urpalainen took on a similar job last year, but when he left, he expanded his responsibilities beyond just being an offlane player. Zai also discussed how, in past teams, he had worked with some of the strongest Dota 2 personalities, such as Clement "Puppey" Ivanov, and learned from them, but that now, with Liquid, it was time for him to step up and take on such a position for himself.

Zai speaks about taking the leadership role from MATUMBAMAN and past team experiences

During a segment at TI12 before Liquid's series versus Evil Geniuses in phase 2 of the group stage, zai remarked that MATUMBAMAN assumed a leadership role towards the end of his time with Liquid. He added value in different ways in this new role, which has been taken up by zai after MATUMBAMAN's retirement.

“I’d say that last year the role that Matu kind of figured out for himself towards the end of his tenure is something that I have kinda carried that torch a little bit this year I think. Kind of stepping into a leadership kind of role. Obviously, taking care of drafting and stuff like that but also kind of trying to get our team on the same page and just focus on playing the way we want to play. And I think that was something that Matu is very good at. He’s very good at playing his own style of Dota.”

Last year, Liquid progressed significantly in the second half of the season and peaked at TI11, finishing third. After the event, MATUMBAMAN retired.

Zai went on to say that throughout his career, he has been on teams with some of the most distinguished names, and as a result, he has had to fit in every time, but after Secret, it was time for him to truly lead the wagon.

“The first teams I played on in my career, I had very strong personalities, playing with ppd, playing with Fear, playing with Artour, SumaiL. And obviously Team Secret, the second team playing with s4, Kuro, and Puppey as my second team. And there wasn’t room for anymore. So, I think I early on learned to adapt to the space and try to mold myself into the group.”

At the same time, zai has a lot to learn from his former captain at Team Secret Puppey, who he said has a unique approach and perspective on the game.

“I think Puppey has probably been the…the way he sees the game is just way different. There are lot of good Dota players. There are a lot of good competitive Dota players as well but not many of them can establish that kind of touch on the game and maybe that’s something I haven’t been able to do as much but I think when it comes to leadership and captainship stuff, at least I will try my best to step up to the role.”

In his new role, zai has proven to be a valuable resource for Liquid, who was the top seeded team in the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) 2023 and is currently doing well at TI12 as well. Liquid is in the upper bracket of the playoffs and will face Talon Esports next week.

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As a passionate Dota 2 fan for eight years, Rakshak has indulged himself completely in its esports circuit for the past two years as a professional. In addition to covering major news developments, he takes a keen interest in understanding team strengths and player personalities.

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