Nerf: “I couldn‘t picture myself doing anything other than playing PUBG”

Nerf: “I couldn‘t picture myself doing anything other than playing PUBG”

No stranger to competition, Benjamin “Nerf” Wheeler is a familiar name to fans of PUBG Esports, having competed seriously since 2017 and joining up with Cloud9 in August 2018.

Since then the team qualified for National PUBG League — PUBG $1 million dollar league for North America. After the first week of the competition, Cloud9 secured themselves a third place, just behind Why Tempt Fate (ex-OpTic) and Tempo Storm. 

Following their success at the opening weekend of the competition, Cloud9’s Benjamin “Nerf” Wheeler talked about PUBG esports, competing for top spots, and the future of the game.

Who are you? Give us a quick introduction.

My name is Ben Wheeler, my IGN is Nerf. I’ve PUBG since early Beta and have over 4,000 hours in the game.

Your current name, Nerf, is a shortened version of your original name, NerfMePlz. Where does that name come from, and what led to you shortening it?

My name Nerf comes from when I played MOBA games, where the term is more common.

You’ve been competing in PUBG for quite some time, playing with NOVA back in 2017 and through 2018. What was it like for you in the early days, and did you always have a goal of going pro? What is your background in competitive gaming, and what’s the first game you took seriously with the mindset of “I want to do this for a living?

Competing back in the early days of competitive was just me learning as much as I can from mentors or better players. I learned techniques and strategies through playing with many good players, and developed my own playstyle and learned from their mistakes. Ive always played games for fun and never really got competitive in them until the BR genre came out. I instantly fell in love with battle royale style games, and the sense of accomplishment from winning is what made me want to go after the competitive side of gaming.

PUBG was the first game I thought “Hey, I could go pro in this”. It was back when I played the first big qualifier for IEM Oakland and just barely missed out on qualifying. That motivated me to continue to look for a team and play in leagues.

You joined Cloud9 back in August, immediately winning the Hong Kong PUBG World Invitational a few weeks later. Was it strange to be met with so much success instantly? What has it been like for you since you joined Cloud9?

I dont think it was strange to be met with such success after such short time with the team. Ive always felt if I had the right teammates I could do so much more as a player. Ever since I joined Cloud9 it really has turned my life around completely, I am able to stream and play PUBG for them full-time, and for that I couldnt be more thankful to Cloud9 for such an amazing opportunity.

Does your team spend a lot of time together outside of the game?

When we are at LAN, we spend almost all our time together, and when we are at home, we all have friends we hang out and talk to 

How does your family feel about your decision to pursue a pro gaming career? Are they supportive? If you weren’t playing PUBG professionally, what would you be doing?

At the start of my career I wasnt making a salary, and my parents werent even aware of the potential in esports. I think when I qualified for my first LAN in Romania, it was an eye opener for them in realizing that this could be a career I can stick with. They have been supportive ever since and watch all my tournaments online. I couldnt picture myself doing anything other than playing PUBG or partaking in esports in general.

Heading into the NPL as one of the invite teams, were you confident your team would qualify? What type of expectations did you have for other teams, and what were the biggest surprises?

We were confident we would qualify, but honestly our performance should have been better. I think we expected the other invited teams to perform well and what surprised us was what some of the qualified teams could pull off at LAN.

What does it mean for you now that you’ve qualified for the NPL?

Qualifying for NPL means everything to me, every bit of practice. VOD review. and game time all come down to how we perform this phase. I have had many ups and downs as a player. The thing that motivated me to keep grinding was the constant support from friends and other pros. I strive to be the best player and I wont stop until I achieve that goal.

What are your thoughts on the new ruleset? How much do you expect to see the meta change? Do you think teams will still be adapting well after Phase 1?

The new point system and rule changes will make kills more valuable and speed up the overall pace of the game. I think it will be a while before we start to see a “normal” meta.

What is your favorite weapon + scope combination? What do you expect to see the most of in NPL phase 1?

My favorite weapon combination would have to be the Mini 14 with a 4x ACOG Scope. Expect to see some high kill games from teams due to the point changes.

Erangel or Miramar?

Erangel

What are you looking forward to most this year?

I’m most looking forward to seeing what we can achieve as a team

Anything you’d like to say to your fans?

For my fans I would like to thank you for being supportive over the past year of my journey throughout PUBG. I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Credit: PUBG Esports

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Here’s how Apex Legends can remain relevant

Apex Legends quickly broke into the industry and for several weeks kept the leadership in the genre of battle royales. Now the game is gradually losing its audience — developers do not have time to fulfill the wishes of users, who find more and more reasons to return to Fortnite or PUBG.

Is Apex Legends the best Battle Royale around?

On February 4th, EA and Respawn, with no prior warning, released a new Battle Royale in the Titanfall universe — Apex Legends. The element of surprise worked out, and the shooter immediately overtook Fortnite on Twitch, and in the first 72 hours it surpassed ten million players.

PUBG Esports introduce revenue share with the teams

PUBG Esports introduce revenue share with the teams

PUBG Corp is announcing a series of initiatives to support the professional esports teams associated with PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, including profit-sharing on team and league-branded digital items, direct support of team operating costs, and event sponsorship.

This multifaceted approach will help support the growing PUBG competitive scene by lowering the barrier of entry for dedicated players looking to engage with the professional leagues and helping established teams thrive.

“We are nothing without our teams and players, so it’s critical that we develop these programs to support our competitive scene and help teams build their brands,” said Richard Kwon, CMO, PUBG Corp. “In addition to building a popular esport that caters to our PUBG fanbase for years to come, we want to create a financially viable environment for players to sustain themselves and profit from their hard work.”

To directly bolster team participation in PUBG’s North American (National PUBG League; NPL) and European (PUBG Europe League; PEL) leagues, PUBG Corp. will help offset expenditures associated with team operating costs. These expenses will include costs associated with team travel, housing subsidies and local transportation fees.

Additionally, NPL and PEL-specific in-game items will be created starting with Phase 2 of each league. Twenty-five percent of all in-game item sales will go to each of the teams in their respective leagues, further incentivizing league participation and offering fans a way to support their favorite teams and regional leagues.

Financial support will continue with world-class competitions hosted by official PUBG partners later in the year. Each of these events will host top teams from each regional league. To give greater incentives and rewards for participants, exclusive in-game items will be created for each of these global events and 25% of sales will go directly to the participating teams.

Additionally, PUBG Corp. will be matching each organizing partner’s prize pool, effectively doubling the reward opportunity for each of these events. More details for each of these international events will be shared at a later date.

PUBG’s 2019 esports activities will culminate later this year at PUBG Global Championship, bringing together the greatest players from around the world. To celebrate this, PUBG Corp. will create a PUBG Global Championship item. More details on this in-game item will be shared at a later date; however, 25% of its sales will be added to the championship prize pool, raising the stakes for the competition.

Exclusive team-branded items will also be created for each of the participating teams in the PUBG Global Championship, along with a celebratory item for the eventual champion. Once again, 25% of team-branded item sales will go to each of the teams while 25% of sales from the champion’s celebratory item will go towards the winners and all teams from the same league.

National PUBG League will start on February 1st in OGN Super Arena in California and it will feature a $200,000 prize pool. PUBG Europe League will be following closely and will lauch just two weeks later in Berlin. 

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Here’s how Apex Legends can remain relevant

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Is Apex Legends the best Battle Royale around?

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Gaming industry now raking up $110 billion a year in profits

Gaming industry now raking up $110 billion a year in profits

The profit of the gaming industry increased compared to last year and amounted to $109.8 billion — a whopping 11% increase from 2017.

The audience for gaming video content grew by 10% — 850 million viewers for 2018. Analytical agency SuperData published the final report on the gaming industry for 2018.

80% of the profits came from free games — SuperData linked this to the popularity of Fortnite, which brought Epic Games $2.4 billion and topped the rating of free-to-play projects. According to the agency, the success of the battle royale showed the effectiveness of a simplified version of combat passes and limited in-game items sales. Service representatives also noted that $54.3 billion out of $87.7 billion in free games came from Asia.

9-year-old League of Legends still earned more than $1.4 billion this year, even ahead of Tencent’s mega-hit Honour of Kings, which earned $1.3 billion.

The market for paid games grew by 10% and brought $17.8 billion in profit in 2018. Despite the high competition in the genre, PUBG Corp. earned over a billion dollars — 19% more than in 2017. The only project of the studio topped the rating of paid games and bypassed FIFA 18 and 19, GTA V, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2.

Gaming video content brought the main platforms more than $5 billion last year. Of these, 31% earned Twitch — bypassing YouTube in profits but losing by the number of unique users for the year (183 million against 594 million). Together Twitch and Youtube earned 55% of all streaming revenue for the year.

The most popular streamer channel in the world was Tyler “Ninja” Blevins — a popular Fortnite streamer. The top ten most viewed channels included those dedicated to esports as well, like Riot Games, Overwatch League and ELEAGUE.

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Drainys: “It’s been two years and the game is still the same laggy mess”

Drainys: “It’s been two years and the game is still the same laggy mess”

Former Natus Vincere PUBG player Svyatoslav “Drainys” Komissarov shared his opinion on the state of the battle royale game, the professional scene, and why he left NaVi.

About the state of PUBG

“It’s hard to say, because the game doesn’t change at all. On the competitive stage, everything is also doubtful: cheaters, PEL-leagues from PUBG Corp … That is, they made a separate league for pro-players and closed all tournament operators — be it ESL, GLL and everyone else. It is not clear whether PUBG is alive anymore.

Why I think that it is more alive than dead — there is nothing else to play. There is Fortnite, and there is PUBG. There is no alternative. There is no game you enter every day, and it delivers fun. Fortnite and PUBG are two games that really bring pleasure. Therefore, despite all the problems of PUBG, including technical ones, this game is not dead — it lives. But as soon as an adequate good alternative appears, there will be tough competition. <…>

I would like PUBG to be made by some other developer, like Valve. But it is unreal. It seems to me that the Korean team and who are responsible for the development of the game they just kill the game more and more. All that is possible, they spoiled. When the game had HYPE — remember the same Gamescom — at this tournament there was a lot of crashes, a lot of lags.

All the same things that didn’t allow this game to move further as an esport. In the end, it all became so ridiculous that people simply turned away from the competitive part of PUBG and went somewhere else. The same can be said about streamers. It’s been two years and the game is still the same laggy mess.”

NaVi PUBG

About salaries in PUBG

“If in Counter-Strike we have wages of about $10-20 thousand in top-shooting teams — that is, a lot of money — then in PUBG the salary of the top player in the European top-tier team can be $1,500 USD. That’s good money, but it is not big money.

One and a half thousand, that’s it. Some maybe get more. Maybe FaZe Clan , Team Liquid or Pittsburgh Knights, maybe they can receive $3,000 but I wouldn’t bet on it. I have no information here. It seems to me, either way, not much at all, compared to the likes of Counter-Strike and Dota 2.”

About Natus Vincere

“I don’t know if it was a positive experience overall. In fact, we did win in a few tournaments but there were a lot of difficulties within the team, within the organization. Therefore, I would say that this is a more or less a neutral experience. It’s great, of course, to play for a big org. Understand how this all works. But objectively it was hard. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. There were difficulties, but experience is experience.

In fact, I cannot objectively answer the question why I left NaVi, out of respect for the team members and the manager. I can say that there were difficulties both within the team and with representatives of the management team. As elsewhere there are difficulties — this is all part of the ride.”

You can watch the full interview in Russia here.

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Here’s how Apex Legends can remain relevant

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Is Apex Legends the best Battle Royale around?

On February 4th, EA and Respawn, with no prior warning, released a new Battle Royale in the Titanfall universe — Apex Legends. The element of surprise worked out, and the shooter immediately overtook Fortnite on Twitch, and in the first 72 hours it surpassed ten million players.

Iroh: “I always get called a cheater in every FPS game I play”

Iroh: “I always get called a cheater in every FPS game I play”

After successfully qualifying for PUBG’s $1 million Europe League, Team Random’s Omer “Iroh” Develi is most happy about proving to the world that his cheating allegations were wrong.

The 20-year-old player from Turkey has been struggling with cheating accusations since the day he entered competitive PUBG. 

Forming Team Random and qualifying for PEL — also known as European Pro League — was his way of convincing the doubters. It didn’t hurt that the league comes with a $1 million prize pool either.

The Turkish team convincingly secured their spot in the LAN qualifier, earlier this month in Minsk, Belarus. Team Random finished first overall in Group B and 8th in the grand final, securing the highly coveted spot.

Omer “Iroh” Develi talked about what qualifying meant for him, what are his plans for the future, and how hard was it for him to deal with the cheating allegations.

First question – was it difficult to advance through online qualifiers, group stage and to reach the final stage?

Of course, it’s difficult, because every team has its ups and downs, but they’re all good teams. It was challenging, but we worked harder and everything went well for us.

Do you believe that your team was able to make it to PEL due to intense team trainings or due to high individual skill level?

Individual performance is important, but being a team is much more important. We worked hard as a team and analyzed the other teams as well. All these efforts helped us get to the top easily.

How do you analyze as a team?

We get together in Discord and have a video call together under our IGL. We share different situations and timelines to discuss about what we could have done better and then create a solution to that problem altogether. That’s how it works for us.

Is it easier to play together at LAN or online?

It’s definitely easier to play together at a LAN environment. It’s easier to communicate and understand each other when you can see your teammate. For us, it’s better to play at LAN.

Do you plan to start a bootcamp to practice?

We’ll set up a bootcamp if we get signed by an organisation. But as of now, we are still not very well-known so it is difficult for us to bootcamp.

You have 2 players from Turkey and 2 players from USA. How did you make a team together?

The two guys from the USA are Turkish and they have dual citizenship. They have played with two other Turkish players before, then they split up and picked us [mertgungor and Iroh] from Turkey. We made a team ten months ago and competed at all three seasons of GLL. We qualified to the GLL Grand Finals S3 and then we came here, to the PEL LAN Qualifiers.

Do you all speak the same language then?

Yes, all of us can speak both Turkish and English.

Now that you have reached PEL, what goals do you have for yourself and for your team?

First of all, we want to get into an organisation and play professionally, getting paid and training even harder. We want to make this a career for us. That’s our goal – to improve individually and as a team.

Were you playing PUBG as a hobby before PEL?

No, we did not take it as a hobby. We were trying to break through into the scene, prove our names, and become a top-tier team.

Do some of your players have daytime jobs?

No one from our team has a job at the moment. Two players were working before, but they quit their jobs to fully focus on PUBG as our team improved over time.

Is your team interested in making any roster change?

Although I am not thinking about big changes at the moment, it is a possibility for me to leave the team if I get a good offer. I’m not interested in joining a team that did not make it to PEL. However I may accept if I get an offer from a PEL team with good organization and solid roster.

Is your main goal to play at PEL?

Yes, it is. 96 LAN matches and huge prize pool are the top level for the PUBG esports as of now. Playing at PEL is the most important thing for me right now.

Some of the teams have already hired coaches and analysts. Will your team hire coach or analyst in preparation for PEL?

We are thinking about it. We’ll hire if we find the right person for our team.

How do you like the idea of creating a massive league, like PEL?

Creating a big league is a really good idea, because you gather up all players and give them a clear goal. The players have to dedicate themselves to make it to the League. I like the idea of having a league, because players have more time to improve themselves within the League and get new players from the qualifiers where a lot of new talents will be coming out, climbing to PEL.

I guess it will look like a real sport, like football and basketball. A League system is pretty good for the game and will provide extensive experiences to the players

Can you share your thoughts on pros and cons of having a league?

I guess the disadvantage would be having to stay in a different country for two months. It will be difficult to set up a gaming house without an organisation. Both options of weekly travelling or living in a gaming house in Germany are going to be difficult no matter what.

Do you think living together for a long time will affect your game style or teamplay? Would it bring more arguments and miscommunication within the team?

It’s possible. Living together makes you closer to your teammates but may bring some issues. You may not like your teammate’s personality, even if he’s a very talented player.

On the other hand, it’s a great opportunity to play in 96 LAN matches with high prize money so I’m fine with living with my teammates.

Do you think 96 matches is too many games?

I think it’s a good number. One phase will be played out in 8 weeks. I’m also fond of having 4 games per day.

Have you tried the new winter map?

Yes, I did. When we were at the GLL LAN, I had the chance to download the test server and play couple of matches and I liked it.

The ambience noise is pretty good and I like the idea of the footsteps staying on ground after walking so you can track down enemies. I’m fond of the overall atmosphere of the map.

What is your opinion of having seasonal maps, such as snowy Erangel or springtime Miramar?

I like the idea, as long as it does not affect the gameplay and does not get played in competitive games. For esports, it has been difficult to see other characters in previously introduced weathers, like sunset. Seasonal maps can be interesting for the casual players.

Does that mean you do not want to see Vikendi in the competitive games?

I’m not sure. Vikendi could be good for competition if the map is adjusted to better suit competitive play like Erangel and Miramar.

Do you expect Vikendi to be played competitively in the future?

That could be the case for some invitational tournaments and show matches in about half a year. I do not expect to see Vikendi in PEL because PEL is a very serious league.

What do you expect from PUBG in the upcoming year?

The game itself is really good and PUBG Corp. does not have to make a lot of new additions to the game. Polishing and stabilizing the current state of the game will be the best move for PUBG.

Some players have been accused of cheating before the PEL LAN Qualifiers, and they have proved themselves at the tournament. Can you share your thoughts about this incident?

It’s easy to be doubtful of people in the internet, and I understand this. I always get called a cheater in every FPS game that I have played since I was a child. I understand where people are coming from, but I have proved myself at a LAN.

Does it feel like a compliment when this happens?

Of course, it is a compliment. If professional players call you a cheater, that means you playing really well. This gives me confidence and demonstrates that I’m doing the right thing and I need to keep performing. Sometimes the comments do become too toxic though.

Does it boost your confidence to prove yourself at LAN?

Of course. I was really excited on GLL Finals because it was my first chance to prove myself as a player. Unfortunately, I played bad, and the whole team played bad, which was a bit stressful. But I became relaxed after the first stage at PEL LAN Qualifiers. In the end, I was not nervous at all and was just relaxed and focused, which was great for me.

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Here’s how Apex Legends can remain relevant

Apex Legends quickly broke into the industry and for several weeks kept the leadership in the genre of battle royales. Now the game is gradually losing its audience — developers do not have time to fulfill the wishes of users, who find more and more reasons to return to Fortnite or PUBG.

Is Apex Legends the best Battle Royale around?

On February 4th, EA and Respawn, with no prior warning, released a new Battle Royale in the Titanfall universe — Apex Legends. The element of surprise worked out, and the shooter immediately overtook Fortnite on Twitch, and in the first 72 hours it surpassed ten million players.

Ban wave hits PUBG, over 16 pro players banned

Ban wave hits PUBG, over 16 pro players banned

PUBG Pro League set to experience turbulence before it even starts, as game’s recent ban wave hits multiple professional players, including those qualified to the $1 million dollar league.

Yesterday’s ban wave, that came alongside PUBG’s update and newest map — Vikendi — quickly became known as VACendi in the competitive scene. Reportedly over 30,000 accounts were banned in the recent wave, among them a few competitive players.

According to unofficial reports, the recent wave hit those using radar hack — a cheat allowing its user to see other players on their map. This particular cheat went undetectable by PUBG Corp. for over 14 months even though its existence was well known. What made the hack so difficult to track was its external use — to abuse the system one didn’t have to install or alter any of their game files, they could run the hack on a secondary computer or even their smartphone.

Users of two biggest radar hack developer groups confirmed bans for the usage of the previously undetectable hacks.

Radar hack is particularly difficult to spot while spectating someone as well. Unlike aim assists or wall hacks, it can be nearly impossible to tell if someone is using it. Coincidentally, based on the nature of a battle royale game, knowing the location of your enemy at any given moment gives one severe, and possibly even game-winning advantage.

PUBG Corp. is yet to release a statement, however keen fans already started noticing bans on some of their favorite player’s accounts.

Draedon, TEXQS, Krama. Photo via Adum0n

The biggest surprise ban hit Can “TEXQS” Ozdemir, a player for the Pittsburgh Knights. The player joined North American organization nearly a year ago and since then earned over $36,000 USD in prize money. 

Ozdemir’s Knights were also one of the six teams that got directly invited to the European Pro League — PUBG’s $1 million dollar league that is set to launch early next year. Both Ozdemir and Knights refused to comment.

Among other banned players are Copenhagen Flames players “Hoffmann88” and “Player Jones”; “Cageman“, who’s best known for his short trial stint at Method; Simon “Beecube” Kongelstad from Meet Your Makers, as well as many others.

In South America, former Team Secret and Kaos Latin Gamers members Americo “PAPAYA” Quintero and Vladimir “Smitty” Venegas both were banned as well.

Aleksandr “S1D” Sidorov, a member of the Russian Red Diamonds, successfully qualified for the European Pro League just days before receiving the ban. Interestingly, the player announced retirement from the game just hours after the ban wave. He did not, however, admit to cheating, nor did he deny it.

Kevin “sezk0” Guerra and his teammate “Houlow“, both ex-members of the French power-house Millenium, successfully qualified for the EU Contenders League with Sans domicile fixe. Vincent “Steph” Fayon, one of their teammates, came out and admitted to knowing his teammates were cheating.

According to the post written by the French player, his teammate and well-known streamer Nicolas “THZ” Debytere, who knew about the hacks all along, told them to “shut up and listen to the calls”. The French team remains the only one to break the silence after the ban wave.

As it stands, two teams in the European Pro League — Knights and Red Diamonds — have banned players on their roster and at least one more team in the Contenders.

How PUBG will handle this situation is yet to be seen. This might put PUBG’s first serious attempt at an esports league in serious jeopardy before it even starts. 

Update: Pittsburgh Knights released a statement on social media, stating TEXQS will be suspended while investigation is ongoing.

Update #2: “Player Jones”, previously of Copenhagen Flames, admits to cheating in a statement. Confirms that the ban is for using a radar hack.

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