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Dota 2: Zai returns from retirement to become general manager for Tundra Esports

While retired Dota 2 players returning to the scene is nothing new, most of them choose to take on coaching roles, making zai's decision to return as general manager a novel one.

Dota 2 veteran zai has returned from retirement in order to become the new general manager for Tundra Esports. (Photo: Valve Software)
Dota 2 veteran zai has returned from retirement in order to become the new general manager for Tundra Esports. (Photo: Valve Software)

Dota 2 veteran Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg, who has played for illustrious teams like Evil Geniuses (EG), Team Secret, and Team Liquid, has returned from retirement in order to become the general manager for Tundra Esports.

Tundra announced zai's entry into the team on Friday (23 February) alongside an interview where their new general manager talked about his decision to enter into this new role.

"It's a very different kind of role for me. Obviously, I've just been playing and have been mostly involved in Dota as a player. So, it's kind of a brand new thing for me and also maybe that's part of the reason why it seemed interesting," zai said during the interview.

"Because, to be honest, coming back as a player or even as a coach, I didn't really have much of an interest in that."

While retired Dota players returning to the scene is nothing new, almost all of them choose to take on coaching roles where their game knowledge and experience can still be used without being a player. Zai's decision to take on a general manager role is groundbreaking, especially for a player of his caliber.

Zai also explained that he found his new role to be an interesting challenge, citing the different responsibilities it entails from being a player or a coach to be exciting prospects for him.

"It's slightly different from a normal manager job. My responsibilities are more about the roster itself, like the Dota division as a whole with the day-to-day stuff and more overarching [aspects]," said zai.

Zai announced his retirement during The International (TI) 2023 last October, where he and Team Liquid finished in 5th-6th place after losing to rivals Gaimin Gladiators.

Zai is widely considered one of, if not the, greatest players in the history of Dota 2 to not have won TI.

After starting his esports career in Heroes of Newerth, zai's decade-long career in Dota 2 saw him play key roles in many illustrious teams under the banners of Evil Geniuses (EG), Team Secret, and Team Liquid.

With EG, zai finished third in TI4 in 2014 and in TI6 in 2016, notably playing as a position 4 support instead of his usual role as an offlaner.

With Secret, zai played as the offlaner and finished 7th-8th in TI5 in 2015, 4th in TI9 in 2019, and third in TI10 in 2021. He also won three Major championships in the Chongqing Major, the MDL Disneyland Paris Major, and DreamLeague Season 13.

Zai joined Liquid in November 2021 and helped the team finish third in TI11 in Singapore despite coming all the way from the Last Chance Qualifier. Last year, he also helped Liquid finish second in the Lima, Berlin, and Bali Majors.

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