Guangzhou Charge made waves to qualify for the play-in stage. Prior to Stage 4, teams ran the GOATS comp which relegated many DPS players to playing Brigitte. A huge part of the Charge’s success is their star DPS player, Charlie "nero" Zwarg. nero did not see playing time until Stage 4 due to not turning 18 until Stage 3. Qualifying to play on stage did not mean playing time for nero in Stage 3 due to the viability of DPS heroes. When Stage 4 came around, the Charge unleashed nero.
The Birth of a New Career
A lot of gamers tend to play various genres. For nero, with the help of his family, he was introduced to FPS games and knew this was the genre he adored.
“I got into gaming through my brother. He's like 5 to 6 years older than me so he got me into Call of Duty at a young age. That made me want to compete. When I started playing Counter-Strike, I just knew I loved to compete. It was Call of Duty, then Counter-Strike, then came to Overwatch. I just love playing FPS games in general.“
When Overwatch came out, he was not intrigued by the game at first. In fact, Counter-Strike was the first game he devoted time to go pro in. He watched CS:GO tournaments and admired Fnatic, who at one time, was the best team in the world.
“I looked up to Olofmeister because he was the best player at that time I was playing. I was a huge Fnatic fan - I had all their gear like the keyboard and mousepad.”
But, there was something about Overwatch that attracted nero to continue playing.
“My friend told me about this game at the beginning - he gave me an open beta key. At first, I didn't like it a lot because I was trying to go pro in Counter-Strike. I don't know what it is about Overwatch, I like the fast pace of this game. It intrigued me a lot.”
The Journey to Going Pro
nero continued to play, improve after wins and losses, and eventually found his stride. He would become one of the top players after Season 2. This is the beginning of nero’s journey as a pro.
“Genji, Sombra, and Pharah were characters I often played. When I first started at the game, I played Widowmaker a lot since I was an AWP specialist in CS. After Season 2 of ranked, I finished top 10 on the ladder. I thought I had a decent amount of potential. I watched a lot of pro games back then. It was basically all day, no matter what region.”
Many fans who are into the games they devote time to learn to improve by watching pro games and adjust their playstyle to players they idolize. For nero, he not only observed DPS pros, but also veteran Support player Jehong "ryujehong" Ryu.
“I looked up to players like Ryujehong, WhoRU, and Agilities. I thought they were super good at the roles and they still are today honestly.”
nero got his big break into the pro scene after trying out for Immortals, a team he looked up to. He took advantage of the opportunity in trying out for Immortals, gaining vital feedback from former Immortals coach, Zac "Chance" Palmer.
“Chance, who was the old Immortals coach, gave me a chance and let me spec and play in Immortals' scrims. I feel like that helped me progress a lot in my play. He wasn't the only person to help me improve, but he was the first. It was the first big step in my career. He gave me feedback on how I should play like positioning and communication in VOD review every night.”
The Big Break
nero would play for teams such as Toronto Esports and Uprising Academy, eventually landing a role with GZ Academy.
“I played in the BEAT Invitational in October and my team won that. My manager, Axel, reached out to Guangzhou because they were having trials then. I got the opportunity and I guess they liked my mechanics so they offered me a contract in a week. Also, I spoke some Korean so I think they liked that also.”
When nero mentioned that he spoke Korean, that fact intrigued me. It was something I wanted to press him about.
“I've been on a team with Koreans for over a year. Like, I was on a team with Shu since last February so I have a lot of experience with Korean players. I just caught on with the language. It made Shu and I good friends.
During games, I don't really communicate in Korean, but if the other Korean players talk in Korean, then I can understand. We mainly speak in English, but if they can't say a word in English, then they say it in Korean.
In general, all of us just hang out together. I feel like we're close in and out of the game.”
Now that nero finally made it to the Overwatch League stage, he faces many challenges from pressure to playing in front of the crowd to striving to get better with the current meta.
“I have to learn not to underestimate the pressure of playing on the stage. I'm thinking in my mind that I'm not going to be nervous. When I go up there, it's a different story from what other players are telling me. When I play on stage, I try to give my full attention to the game. I'm not going to try to look at the crowd, I'm going to try to treat it like scrims."
His teammates aid in relieving any stress from playing on stage and give him continuous feedback.
"My teammates don't usually talk about how they feel after the game. They just tell me to take it one game at a time.
Other than that, they've given me feedback about how I play. For example, they tell me how to communicate better like keep sentences short and not speak too fast. They have a lot of insight given their experience from Korean Contenders, where I feel like the skill ceiling is a lot higher.”
Following his Stage 4 performance, nero is here to stay. He has one last message to the fans that give him all their support.
“I'm going to give you all my effort. One day, I want to be on the World Cup team! I want to add that I am happy I'm not playing Brig anymore!”
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