Interview With New DIG Heroes Player, Zaelia: "I learn something new from others and try to improve based on this every single day."

We sat down with the newest member of our Heroes of the Storm roster, Zaelia, to introduce him to the world!

Interviews

This Friday the 20th is the beginning of a fresh, new league system for Heroes of the Storm. This exciting new system for HGC will provide many professionals the chance to really focus on playing the game, and we are sure to get some amazing games to watch in the upcoming weeks. To prepare for this fresh start, we got to talk to our newest Heroes of the Storm player, Kenn 'Zaelia' Rasmussen, about his background with gaming and Heroes of the Storm. As well, we asked how he fits into the team and how the change from ranged assassin to melee assasin is working out. Zaelia gives us a positive and confident outlook on how Team Dignitas will perform in this upcoming HGC season.

Welcome to the team! We thought this would be a great opportunity to get to know you before the new HGC season starts. Let's start off with the basics. What is your gaming history?

Zaelia: Thank you, thank you, yes! Hi, I’m Kenn, I got my very own PC in my room when I was 6 years old and oh boy, I could write pages about this, where do I even begin.. Probably somewhere around playing Pokemon on a blue&yellow Gameboy, but I've always just loved games, multiplayer games in particular. Always been a little competitive and I've just found that I enjoy everything a lot more when there is a friend or two around!

Coming from Warcraft 3 with all its joys, World of Warcraft has always been my game, I've been subbed to WoW for probably 10 years by now, doing the arena, raiding, whatever, perhaps my name rings a bell or two if you've been into hardcore WoW raiding recently, yup, it’s me! Also I would always be into either Starcraft 2, HoN or Dota on the side for my competetive kick. I was a part of a few amateur teams in both Starcraft & HoN, attended and somewhat succeeded in a few Danish LAN events, but never really invested myself too heavily.

Until now! - Heroes of the Storm quickly became my go-to side game when I discovered it like a year and a half ago, played it waaay too much, and with time it sort of felt like my inner tryhard was screaming at me to go ahead and grab opportunities if they would arise. I let myself put WoW slightly aside like 6 months ago when I joined Mopsio's team, and I've been juggling both hardcore raiding in WoW and trying to compete on a larger scale in HotS since then. WoW has kept fading away and I'm basically at the point now where I have to part ways and say goodbye to what feels like a big part of me, a whole lifetime of WoW. It’s definitely the end of an era for me, and holy hell do I have some great memories in the bag. Now though, it’s time to jump into the next chapter and I'm sure it’s gonna be just as wild and memorable as the previous ones, endlessly excited for this one!

Most gamers have a story behind their tags, how about you? Where did the name Zaelia come from?

Zaelia: I just saw my gorgeous female Draenei Shaman and I knew she was a Zaelia.

Now let’s talk about Heroes of the Storm. How did you get interested and how long have you been playing?

Zaelia: One day some of my good old friends just lured me into trying out this fun, fast, and furious new moba Blizzard created, and ummm.. Bam! Level 20 Jaina.. I'm probably nearing a year of actively playing and trying to improve now, plus about half a year of the occasional juicy Jaina quick match slaughter before that.

What are some of your favourite Heroes to play?

Zaelia: Originally Jaina and Nova. When I wanted to start playing ranked in the very beginning, I basically only played Jaina, but that didn't work cause sometimes the enemy picked her before me. I found out Nova countered Jaina really hard, so what I did was, I came up with this genius strategy: I pick Jaina every game. If the enemy picks Jaina, I pick Nova and ruin her life so they don't do that again. Wow. MMR gains.

I haven't played Jaina for 10 months now but I still, to this day, have almost twice as many Jaina games than games on any other hero. A few weeks ago the answer would have been Li-Ming & Tracer in a heartbeat, but with all the newly discovered lands, I actually have a bunch of favorites: Zeratul, Kerrigan and Alarak are all lovely ones, oh and Ragnaros definitely has his moments, too.

Do you have any non-meta guilty pleasure Heroes that you play when no one is watching? Or maybe any Heroes you love that don’t fit into your current role?

Zaelia: Don't tell anybody but I had this phase where I would pick Zagara and go Nydus every game because I thought it was OP. Boy does it feel good when the ball is rolling and you conquer the whole map, uff, BUT.. then you meet Hasu "TheFunRuiner" Obs from team Misfits on the other team with Falstad, and he makes it his mission to press Fly on you the second it comes off cooldown. Every. Single. Time.. and as such, the phase ended :)

Now concerning professional HotS, when did you make the switch into the competitive scene and what was the process for being selected to play for Team Dignitas?

Zaelia: It was at the time of just grinding the ladder trying to get the #1 MMR, thinking about joining a team, around May 2016, when Mopsio approached me with his ideas and goals of a new team he would lead to the upcoming regional events. I didn't really know a lot about him or anyone else in the scene, but he definitely had the motivation and experience to convince me to give it a shot, so I did! I became a part of team CrowingCocks and actually managed to qualify for Dreamhack Valencia on my first attempt, it was wild! This eventually turned into team Excelente Eleccion and managing to qualify for Gamescom aswell.

The announcement of the new HGC league system arrives and we try to qualify as team EE still. We fail to do so in the first qualifier, then the second, and then the third. Ouch, no HGC for me. Or so I thought! - until James Baker, the Bakery, hits me up with one of his stored pickup lines: "Hey, would you be good at melee?" and with great use of wit and charm from my side, it ends up with a trial for me. We play like three days of scrims, one thing leads to another and all of a sudden a week later I'm taking snaps of myself in a shiny Dignitas hoodie putting the Irvine California filters on the pics, hooly what happened!?

You were one of the highest MMR players in EU even before you went pro, so you probably play with most of the top players in the EU scene on a daily basis. Are there any players you look up to or feel like you could learn from?

Zaelia: Always always, there are so many people doing exceptionally well on certain heroes. It doesn't have to be pros, it can just be that first-pick-Butcher-main guy on your team, he'll definitely teach you a thing or two about Butcher. A few other things I find myself looking for mostly, and being impressed by, in pro players, could be their mindset, work ethic, their ability to work together, to handle pressure, or just their raw mechanical skill or knowledge of the game. A few names come to mind: Rich - the consistent mechanical overlord with insane knowledge of the game to back it up. JayPL - Hero League, scrims, Blizzcon Final, doesn't matter to him, he'll play the same if not even better with all the pressure that comes from being on stage with an audience watching and his career on the line. I learn something new from others and try to improve based on this every single day for sure.

So you’re known predominately as a great Ranged Assassin player, but with moving to Team Dignitas, your role has changed to Melee Assassin. How are you adjusting to this change?

Zaelia: I'm playing as muuuuuch as possible. It's definitely a big change, especially since it comes with a brand new team to work with too. The faster I get comfortable on all my heroes, the faster I can start creating the right ideas, integrate them with the team, and make the necessary plays every time. So, it's a grind.

In the past year Team Dignitas has worked on playing more aggressively and learning from the Korean teams. Do you think that a dedicated Melee Assassin is the last push they need to accomplish this?

Zaelia: I've definitely learned that the melee position has a very strong pull in deciding whether a play happens or not. It’s a role very much in the zone of making plays rather than following plays, so yes, it could be "the push", but one way or another, I will become "the push". That’s the goal.

You've probably known the guys from playing the game together online, but recently you all got to hang out together for the Heroes summit in California. How was that? How are you fitting in with the team in game and outside of the game?

Zaelia: Aw, that was hella great, they're all beautiful. James brings the classical music & lunchables, Snitch the colors & laughter, Mene the muscle & spirit, Jay is smart, and I was the man to enjoy it all, just wonderful. Oh, also I was the middle man in all the group pictures we had taken, I fit right in! In-game is where the real work is at, my position in general as a member here sometimes calls for me to say a lot, sometimes very little, it's just a learning curve like many other things, we've already come super far from the first few days, and I would say it’s looking bright. I definitely see potential for some real good synergy between us. Oh, and tons of fun too, potential for that, which is nice.

So, what are your thoughts on what HGC 2017 has to offer to the competitive HotS scene? Are you excited to compete?

Zaelia: Oh, it’s amazing, I'm super excited, it’s finally reaching that level where everybody can, with peace in their mind, sit down and just play, play their hearts out in pursuit of becoming the best, competing, while somebody makes sure that you're taken care of, and if you feel taken care of, you play better, you play more, you try harder. It sort of ensures higher quality games, and hopefully it'll all just snowball from here, bigger, better and more of everything.

And finally, the roster looks great, the new league system is exciting.. How far do you think Team Dignitas can go this year?

Zaelia: Real far.

Thanks so much for your time, and we wish you the best of luck. Do you have any shoutouts to your fans and sponsors?

Zaelia: A big thanks to everybody supporting me and the team, I appreciate you all, I very much hope I can make you proud. And of course thanks to Alienware, WD, TP-LINK, Twitch and Killer for, well.. sponsoring? Being awesome!!!

Interview With New DIG Heroes Player, Zaelia: "I learn something new from others and try to improve based on this every single day."
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