Shortly after Team Secret were crowned Champions of ESL One Hamburg 2018 we had the chance to talk to Ludwig “zai” Wåhlberg. He is now at his second stint with Team Secret, and apart from talking about their run in Hamburg and their key moments in the event, we also touched on when and why he decided to rejoin the team nearly three years later.
Hello Zai, congrats on the Championship title here at ESL One Hamburg 2018, it’s been a very long day for you guys, but I guess it was all worth. Game one was pretty much what we expected from your team, however, game two took a bit more than one hour, you always played from behind there and in the end you lost it despite the perfect high ground defense. What was the team mentality going into game three, and what would you say was the winning move after losing game three as well?
That game two was the first Terrorblade draft that we lost to in the series and we realized that he is very hard, very difficult to play against. It was also a ridiculous game because the game was lagging incredibly for both teams. There were too many Phantom Lancer illusions and with the TB Reflection it became incredibly choppy at times, and it’s not that I’m blaming the lag for our performance in that game but it was a chaotic game.
There were moments when we probably thought that we could have turned it around and win but we messed up some executions and made the game even harder for us. So, going into game three I feel like we should have taken more stuff from the previous game, we should have realized that it was part of our strategy that was flawed, but instead, we kept on trying kind of the same thing and we lost even harder.
Ok, so what was the change that needed to be done, what was the spin that enabled you to take the series?
After game four we all knew, I mean we knew and VG knew that whoever gets the first pick will first pick Terrorblade because this hero won every game and there were no answers to the hero in the series. So, we went to the break between game four and five and we said ok, so if they will have the first pick they will pick this, and if we have the first we will do this. We made our plans for both situations, we went into the game, we did the coin toss, they won the coin toss, they got the first pick, they picked Terrorblade and this is when I knew we gonna win because we had this Magnus and Silencer first two picks and we were happy, confident with them.
I’d like to go a bit to the post TI8 shuffle. I guess you knew what’s going to happen with OpTic from the moment the tournament was over for you guys and I’d like to know when and why did you decide to come back to Team Secret after three years since your first venture with them.
It’s a bit hard to talk about the roster changes in general, but after TI was over for us, it was a bit up in the air for me. At some point, after the tournament was over for both me and Clement, he asked me if I want to join and to be honest I was content to come back to Europe after so much time spent in NA. I was in NA for a long time already, I was for a year with OpTic and with EG before that, so I wanted to come and stay in Europe for a longer period of time. That was one of the reasons I felt like Secret was it. As far as playing offlane or support, I really don’t mind which of these roles I’m getting, but he wanted me to play offlane so I said yes, I’ll do offlane, I enjoy both roles equally.
I saw you quite active during the drafts here, and not only you, Midone as well, from the outside it looked like you all talk and have a word to say during the drafts. Is this a wrong impression we might just have from the outside?
Yeah, you know how they say, “the more the merrier.” We all have our input on the drafts and our suggestions, but Puppey is the main guy there. We all have our contribution but at the end of the day he is the guy who makes the final call.
You guys showed a lot of strategies here. The group stage games were a bit different than the playoffs, and even in the playoffs, through the last couple of series you played differently. Today’s lower bracket finals and grand finals stood apart in terms of picks, no more LC supports, no more brown boots on the supports at the start of the game and so on. Do you feel like you showed too much here, considering that the KL Major is very close and most probably will be played on the same patch?
It’s always a bit so and so, because probably what you win with just before a Major is not going to be as viable in the next tournament because people will think about it and will have some answers. But, at the same time, a lot of what we played in this tournament was just experimentation, stuff that we didn’t actually practice before, there were just some fresh ideas we went with on the spot sometimes. I think we are content going into the Major, we will keep adapting as we go on.
Technically the DPC season hasn’t even started yet, but you have already won two LANs, this one obviously and the PVP Esports Championship at the beginning of the month. In both these events you defeated some important Chinese teams. PSG.LGD in Singapore and Vici Gaming here. Given the fact that TI will be in China this year, do you think that the Chinese teams will become even harder to deal with as the season progresses?
Yeah, I think so. I think that although LGD were in Singapore at the PVP event, they were still in kind of semi vacation, they took that tournament very lightly and they weren’t really showcasing what they are actually capable of and I think that they will definitely show up at the Major.
VG already are a very strong team and judging on what we saw here, Team Aster look also very good. I guess we kind of have to wait and see what RNG are doing in the Minor in Sweden this week, but I’m sure they can also be a threat, so yeah, China has a lot of teams this year and it will be just a matter of how they will shape up in the beginning of the season.
Alright it’s close to midnight here in Hamburg and you had a very long day, so I’m going to end it here. Again, congrats on the victory, good luck at the Major and if you want to make any shout-out at the end of the interview please do.
Yeah, shout out to all our fans for supporting us and thank you very much to all the people who showed up here these days in Hamburg.
More Interviews from ESL One Hamburg 2018
– Arteezy: “I feel that all the heroes I play got nerfed and nothing really got buffed”
– Saksa: “After I left Planet Odd I made a lot of bad decisions team-wise”
– Universe: “Moving to SEA was a pretty crazy decision”
– Kpii: “Mineski was the best offer that I had”
– Solo: “ArtStyle had no fresh ideas and he realized this by himself”
– Fenrir: “I and Fy are in fact inseparable”