We sat down with #DIGHeroes Support player Kenn "Zaelia" Rasmussen to talk about the upcoming Western Clash in Katowice and how the Support meta has evolved since Gold Club World Championship.
In GCWC, we saw you shine on Support even though it was a brand new role for you. How do you think you’ve improved since then?
Zaelia: I think I had very few Supports that I was comfortable on. But now with time, I’m comfortable on basically everything. There’s a lot you need to know about how you want to follow-up on Malfurion, for example, or how you want to jump in with Monk. These were small things I had no idea what to do with at the Gold Club, I think I’m just more integrated with the team.
Have you studied other Support players to improve in your new role?
Zaelia: Not really. I don’t necessarily look at Supports as Supports, I just look at them as Heroes and I make my own idea of how I want value out of this Hero and these abilities. Of course, you notice when someone does something on the Heroes you play, but mostly I just build my own ideas.
Do you think you have more, less, or the same amount of impact on games as Support compared to Solo-Laner?
Zaelia: Sometimes I feel like I have more impact. But then some games you just kinda play the Medic or you just kinda heal people. But most of the games your ultimates and your cleanses are super important, and if you don’t play with the team you don’t get the maximum value so it’s super important. It’s kind of a different impact that you have as Support, but it feels more team-oriented than soaking all the time. I think I enjoy it more, like playing with the team in the 4 or 3-man compared to just sitting on the solo-lane and trying to win that.
With how well the team has been performing, what are some of the keys to the team’s current success?
Zaelia: In the beginning, we could feel that we all had strong roles and that we had good Hero pools. So there was basically no weakness when it came to individual players. The initial weakness for us was rotations and POILK not having the best experience when it comes to just overall team play and rotating around. So usually, in the beginning, we would do some weird rotations and randomly fall behind in experience. But now, we’ve kinda learned our roles on the map, as well as on the team. So when we draft, we draft Heroes for certain lanes and set-ups, and everyone knows exactly what they are doing, and they’re really good at what they are doing. Now we just kind of have an all-around team that knows exactly what to do by themselves. And then you have Wubby, very calm, just lays out the plan in the early game and everyone follows it, but not like some kind of dictator, dictating everything in the game. So as long as everyone is on the same page, it will look good.
If we look at the series against Zealots, it was very different to the rest. It felt like there was some kind of disconnect between us. We relapsed to where there were two parts to the team, where 3 people wanted to do this, and 2 people wanted to do this. And because we’re so used to making individual decisions and doing them, where you naturally make a decision and it’s usually on the same page, and then all of a sudden people start to think differently. I don’t know why, it was maybe that the drafts were a bit different than we are used to? Then, all of a sudden it looks bad again, because people make split-second decisions all the time, and against Zealots, we just weren’t all on the same page.
Does the team still have a lot of room for growth and improvement?
Zaelia: It’s about getting consistent. When we are good, we are really good. Everyone is making these split-second decisions together, but if it’s not consistent then it might look a bit bad. It feels like there is a lot of room to grow. Lately, we’ve been practising specific things and you can really feel that what we practice in scrims make a difference in the actual games. It feels like the way we look at the game now and the way Wubby sees things, we’re growing. Every time we play a scrim and try something new, it feels like we’re growing and it feels good.
Snitch mentioned that the team is not focusing on things like not dropping maps or being perfect, but more on end goals. What are the team’s goals for the Western Clash and the rest of the season?
Zaelia: To win the Western Clash, for sure. That’s just based on results. If we didn’t do that well in Part 1 we probably wouldn’t hope for 1st place. But right now all the eyes are on us and people kinda expect it so we kinda expect it as well. And I’m sure we will be disappointed if we don’t do well. But let’s say we place in Top 4 and we lose in a good series, everybody played well, the other team had some great ideas and we got slightly outplayed, I don’t think anybody would be sad with that loss, necessarily.
BlizzCon is the big goal, but we’re still a new team, so inconsistencies will probably be there. We lost against Zealots and it was embarrassing and it was disappointing, but you know, shit happens, we’re a new team still.
At GCWC we saw a lot of Lucio play from you, but now we are seeing a lot more Uther and especially Malfurion. How has the Support meta shifted and who are the strongest Supports?
Zaelia: With Blaze coming in, he brings his own Bunker which acts like a Divine Shield kinda, so you can get away with playing Malf almost every game. With the reworked Tyrael and the Blaze, the meta kinda shifted away from having heavy Supports. Lucio or Rehgar really save people with their ultimates, but it would be at the cost of sustain or CC lockdown. But now you can take Malf or Uther, especially since Blaze not only has Bunker and he is a super sustain Tank. If you jump into the Bunker you can cleanse Lunara poison, Dehaka Isolation, and many other things. This enables Uther a lot as well because he needs a little help in the sustain department and Malf needs a little help in the burst healing part. So Blaze and Tyrael really help out and naturally, these two will rise to the top, in combination with other heroes. I think that’s always what Supports are going to be about: what Heroes are good and what Heroes compliment those good Heroes.
Would you say that you dictate the Support meta in EU?
Zaelia: I wouldn’t say I dictate anything, maybe as a team? I’m not sure that’s the case. I think all teams have their own idea of what’s good and what’s not. You see a lot of teams play a lot of Rehgar because he’s the stable all-rounder, he has good wave-clear, he has the cleanse and Ancestral, he’s quite good all around. And a lot of people just like a stable Support and then they just try to draft a stable composition. But we might see Rehgar as too standard, too easy to play against, so we would like to play with Lucio, Malf, or Uther, who all bring a little more depth to what you can do. I don’t know if we shape any metas… Maybe the Malf/Tracer, but that’s probably about it.
Team Dignitas went to Katowice in 2016 to compete in the EU Championship and ended up winning the tournament. In 2017 the team returned as defending champions and took home the trophy from the first ever Western Clash. What makes Katowice so special?
Zaelia: The first Western Clash was kinda magical in a way. We were 1 map away from losing in the Loser’s Bracket, then we come back with a reverse sweep, somehow, we bring out the Tyrande/Ragnaros meta and pick it all the way to the Grand Final and somehow win it in the last map. I remember last year because it was my first tournament ever as part of a big team, so I was under a lot of pressure and the stress was quite high. I have a feeling this year we are just going to go there, we’re going to relax, I mean we’re not gonna relax in a way in that we won’t win, I just think everyone is experienced now, we’re all kind of veterans now. Gold Club was very hard to go into right out of the gates of a roster change and I think it shaped us as a team quite quickly. So now going into the Western Clash, we’re gonna have fun.
HGC NA has seen some major upsets to the top teams in Phase 1 Part 1. Do you think this means that NA has become more competitive, or is there still a gap between the different Regions?
Zaelia: When I look at NA, I see 5-man melee drafts, I see triple ranged drafts, I see a lot of weird stuff. I can’t really explain why it’s working over there. I look at it and think, “if this was playing against any top team in EU, we would punish it, we would find a way pretty quickly,” but still Tempo Storm is mowing over everyone else with heavy melee comps. It’s hard to tell if it’s good because it’s nothing like EU or Korea. NA is kinda a mess, to be honest, so it’s really hard to know where they stand. I would expect them to come out strong and I would expect Tempo Storm at least to have a good showing. At least Top 4 for sure.
What teams are you looking forward to playing against on stage?
Zaelia: Oh, Tempo Storm for sure. That’s gonna be the EU superteam against the NA superteam. It’s going to be a blast. I can’t wait to face the wrath of the quadruple-melee. I expect them to have a lot of strats, they seem to really like their melee Heroes. They probably have other things up their sleeves but just haven’t really needed to pull them out.
Team Dignitas is one of the top contenders to win the Western Clash, but how far do you think you can take it? Have you watched HGC Korea? How do you think you stack up against the Koreans this year?
Zaelia: I certainly hope we can stack up against the Koreans. Gold Club was a good sign that we would do well internationally. I can’t tell really the strength of the Koreans right now. It’s kinda the same deal with NA, they have a little different meta, they play a little differently, so I’m super excited for the Mid-Season Brawl. The goal is definitely BlizzCon with a good finish.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Do you have any shoutouts?
Zaelia: Thanks to Team Dignitas, thanks to the 76ers, and our sponsors: Mountain Dew, Meta Threads, WD, Alienware, Buffalo Wild Wings, and HyperX. A big shout out to all the fans and all who support us, especially you guys over in the #DIGscord. It’s amazing finishing a match and looking at all the passion from everyone watching and supporting. I can’t wait to play at a LAN again. It’s going to be a good one!