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'Confidence on entry is more important than aim, mechanics': Nuers, Oxygen prepared to take high-octane Siege to Charlotte

Oxygen are one of the Major's favorites.

Image via Ubisoft/Eric Ananmalay 

Ethan “Nuers” James came out of nowhere. 

In a year of exciting young players who are finally getting their shot in NAL play, Nuers was the least known quantity – at least to the public. Jacob “sweater” Bravico, Damian “Surf” Medina, Emma "Marmalade" Peterson, Kyle "Whimpy" Anderson, and Arthur "GMZ" Oliveira are all rookies as well, and came into league play highly touted. 

Nuers didn’t even play Challenger League, and his current team had reservations as to his legitimacy when he first scrimmaged against them. 

“It gives me an edge, honestly, that people think I'm so good I have a third party app helping,” Nuers said in a direct message to SiegeGG that has been edited for grammar and clarity, when asked what he thought about rumors that he was cheating that percolated after a tryout. “I'm already in their head before the match starts. Just like the teams that ban Finka only against me.”

Nuers wasn’t Oxygen’s only off-season addition. Hard support Mitch “Dream” Malson is another important piece to the puzzle that was signed after the conclusion of the Six Invitational 2022. “Dream brings the glue,” Nuers said. “He's the reason we come back from games on matchday, he's the reason nobody can lurk around the map, he's got it all handled.”

The bold, brash Nuers took the first half of the stage by storm. He and the revamped Oxygen squad beat the brakes off anyone they played, including eventual league-leading Astralis and a solid beastcoast squad. A loss to Spacestation on a bizarre, played-live-but-not-streamed playday five signaled that maybe Oxygen, and Nuers by extension, had been solved a bit. 

However, a 7-5 victory over Soniqs was the ultimate humbling for Nuers, who posted a server-low SiegeGG Rating at .45 with only three kills to his name. Nuers says the moment was a turning point. “Yeah that week was rough, but after that week [I] got back on it … Definitely was an ego moment for me, and then doing that bad one week was like ‘Wow I got to calm down.’”

Nuers says that Oxygen got a bit unfocused after the strong start, but is still in consideration for best team in the world, if not the best team in the world. A good entry rides the edge of confidence and arrogance, they must be able to walk the tightrope without falling off. 

“Confidence on entry is more important than aim, mechanics,” Nuers said. “You have to be able to walk in a room and think you are the best player in that room no matter who’s in it, and just off that mentality you can make a play that works super well.”

This mentality and type of player is essential in the current meta, which hinges on being flexible with attacker repick, fast pushes, and overwhelming defenders with throwable utility, especially frag grenades. Nuers slotting into this role has been an outstanding foil to Frankie “VertcL” Cordero, who took home NAL Stage 1 MVP honors from the league for his efforts. Dream’s addition has put Davide “FoxA” Bucci back on Sledge and Mute, and Gabriel “LaXInG” Mirelez has much more room to work with from his flank watch position. 

At one point, Oxygen looked like a lock to be the overall Charlotte Major favorite. They were blowing up great teams, even if they were in best-of-ones, and looking nigh unbeatable while they were doing it. Not only were they great, but they were also doing it in what many consider one of the most competitive NAL fields of all time. 

The slump shows that they aren’t invincible – their stellar play when they’re on shows that they’re to be feared. Many teams say this about themselves – but this iteration of Oxygen’s worst enemies might actually be themselves at the Charlotte Major. If Oxygen can stay out of their own heads, they'll have more than a decent shot. 

“Being able to be down rounds and still win the game, apparently on the last team if they were down the game was kind of over,” Nuers said when asked what the biggest improvement in the team has been this season. 

All the same, Oxygen comes into the Charlotte Major as one of the clear favorites in the event. Their map pool hasn’t changed too much, the core of this roster is historically one of the best cores in the world, they have a solid coaching staff, and they just added two pieces that perfectly strike the meta. Don’t look now – behind their new additions, Oxygen isn’t just setting their sights on a title – you should expect them to be one of the contenders.