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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