Ludwig ”Zai” Wåhlberg is probably one of the most famous Swedish teenagers in the world.
The Evil Geniuses support player has, along with his teammates, swept the Dota2 community and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2014 alone.
But still, the young star is hesitant to go all in on a future in eSports.
– I’m not one hundred percent sure I wanna make a whole career out of it, he says.
His road towards becoming one of the top players in the Dota2 scene started when the Evil Geniuses player joined his brother in Dota1. When that scene died out he moved on to Heroes of Newerth and claimed his first title, as a player in Trademark eSports, at only 14 years old. Winning over 30 000 dollars, the now 17 year old Swede had started his journey towards eSport fame and the big bucks.
– I’ve made a lot of cash over the years, but I can’t say that I’ve spent that much. I’ve lived like my friends, the only difference is that I may have more cash on my bank account than they have, he says.
”Hard to balance a life of eSports”
After Dota2 was released, Zai jumped straight in. But even though he quickly made a name for himself, he still maintained focus on his life outside of gaming and is still studying.
– I haven’t dropped out yet. Right now I’m in an english focused education and in my second year there. Of course it’s hard balancing a life of eSports and school, especially when I travel a lot for tournaments and so on.
”Bit early to say how my career will turn out”
In July, when his peers were enjoying their break from school, maybe working some low paying job during the intense heatwave that struck Sweden last summer, Zai and his teammates Artour ”Arteezy” Babaev, Clinton ”Fear” Loomis, Saahil ”UNiVeRsE” Arora and team captain Peter ”ppd” Dager were in the middle of playoffs at The International 4 in Seattle, where the prize pool was well over 10 million dollars. In the end, they walked away with a third place finish, earning just over 1 million dollars. But even though EG is one of the best teams out there at the moment, Zai hesitates when it comes to his future in eSports.
– It’s a bit early to say how my career will turn out, but I’m not one hundred percent sure I wanna make a whole career out of it. I’d rather be involved in eSports, then quit and do something ”ordinary”, he says.
What did you have in mind?
– I’m in an economy class that’s very fun. I enjoy economy.
”Mostly see my friends when I’m in school”
In a community where the economy is blossoming and is only growing stronger, Zai says he feels like he’s missing out on a lot of things his friends are able to do.
– There are some social things I miss. I can’t do all the things that everyone else does. When I’m gone for one week during a month I can miss out on a lot of things, and at the same time my evenings and weekends are filled with practices and games. I mostly see my friends when I’m in school.
Just last week, Zai and his team won the second season of DreamLeague, earning another 43 000 dollars. It was the fifth win for the squad this year, and even though Wåhlberg might be hesitant about his future, right now he’s at the pinnacle of Dota2.