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"[The Astralis loss in Charlotte] kinda opened up our eyes": OXG now upgraded and ready for Berlin Major

Oxygen finished top four in Charlotte with a new roster. How far can they get in Berlin?

At the start of 2022, Oxygen Esports were looking pretty good. They had successfully integrated two rookies throughout the 2021 season and were a threat to all who played them. Despite that, following a top eight finish at SI 2022, Leonardo "Kyno" Figueiredo and Evan "Yoggah" Nelson chose to leave for XSET ahead of the 2022 season start.

Drafted in as replacements was another rookie -- Ethan "Nuers" James -- and former Mirage player Mitch "Dream" Malson. While seen as an underwhelming trade for OXG, the team performed well and finished second in Stage 1 of the NAL before making it to the semi-finals at the Charlotte Major.

“Top was great, obviously, you know,” said OXG coach Taylor "Redeemer" Mayeur in a SiegeGG interview. “(But) I think the biggest thing was when we lost to Astralis, I think it kinda opened up our eyes a little bit with our play style. … It hit us like a truck, we didn’t just lose -- we got smoked.”

The loss to Astralis laid bare a key weakness for OXG; a struggle to be adapt on-the-fly and successfully deviate from pre-planned strategies. It’s an issue that they have not been alone in trying to stamp out, but it’s one they believe they’ve successfully done so in Stage 2.

“For us it was like, okay, let’s have our set strats, but let’s find a way to kinda evolve and be able to play on the fly,” explained Redeemer. “That’s kinda how we focused for the NAL this stage.”

While they eventually finished third in the NAL, OXG were the first in the entire world to secure their qualification to the Berlin Major with a 4-2-0-2 record. Redeemer credited the impressive feat to his team’s quality in practice, like how Astralis coach Seth "Callout" Mik did the same for his own team.

“There’s a vibe that you get every week where you can kinda tell how the games are gonna be played out before you play them,” shared Redeemer. “The main focus for us is we have issues in scrims we wanna correct and if those things are being corrected in scrims, it’s gonna translate into the game. … Every single week those issues were being addressed.”

The month-long break between the end of Stage 2 of the NAL and the Berlin Major has certainly given North American teams like OXG a lot of practice, but Redeemer isn’t the biggest fan of it.

“I think the break is… not good,” said Redeemer. “People might not agree with me, but I don’t think a month break is good for any team.”

That doesn’t mean that OXG are taking it easy before the Major, with Redeemer revealing that they are still “playing double every day” and “grinding twice as hard”. Nevertheless, the “level of intensity” provided by official matches is something that Redeemer believes cannot be matched by scrimmages.

“The month break is a weakness,” he finished.

OXG will certainly be eager to avoid any drop in intensity in practice given the group they are in at the Berlin Major. The North Americans were drawn in Group C alongside EUL Stage 2 toppers Wolves Esports, BR6 Stage 2 toppers w7m esports, and APAC dark horses Gaimin Gladiators.

“If you wanna be the best, you gotta beat the best,” responded Redeemer when asked about his team’s chances of missing out on the Major playoffs. “I’d rather play those teams first. … It’s gonna be difficult, but as expected, we’re always expected to get out of groups.”

Catch Oxygen Esports on the international stage again at the Berlin Major, which will run from Aug. 15 to 21, and read up on everything you need to know about the event.