Written By PeeKay - 2022-05-19
An interesting week 1 of VCT 2022 - North America - Stage 2 - Main Event saw two straightforward results followed by a big upset that has changed the power dynamic of Group A. NRG Esports and XSET got clean 2-0 wins over TSM FTX and Ghost Gaming respectively, while The Guard surprisingly fell to a 0-2 defeat to a much improved 100 Thieves. Let’s see if NRG and 100 Thieves can keep up their good form in this Week 2 Group A preview.
There is no sugarcoating the fact that The Guard struggled to perform against 100 Thieves last week, with everyone on the squad looking lackluster other than the Chamber of Ha "Sayaplayer" Jung-woo, who dropped 38 kills and a 1.33 rating. It is a similar story for Ghost Gaming, who looked impressive in the Open Qualifiers but just couldn’t close it out against XSET despite Marki "NiSMO" Tayar’s best efforts.
It’s not all doom and gloom for The Guard, however, as they were forced to play on their weaker maps, Bind and Fracture, against Brenden "stellar" McGrath’s side. This time around maps like Haven, Icebox, and Ascent will most likely make their way into the veto, and that’s where key players like Trent "trent" Cairns have shined brightest before. While Ghost themselves are quite good on those maps, the sheer quality and firepower of Jacob "valyn" Batio and co. should be enough to see The Guard take the series.
While Sayaplayer does deserve most of the plaudits, trent will be key if The Guard want to take hold of this matchup. The American was the fifth highest rated player at VCT 2022 - North America - Stage 1 - Main Event with a 1.15 rating, and has proven he can frag out against domestic opposition. If he can perform close to what he did in Stage 1, trent will be the man to watch and The Guard should be firm favorites against Ghost.
While 100 Thieves looked really good in the Open Qualifiers, few would have expected them to improve fast enough to take down The Guard in such convincing fashion. After taking down one of the harder opponents in the group, stellar and co. now set their sights upon a TSM side that looked fairly competitive even despite losing 0-2 to NRG.
It was undoubtedly great to see Anthony "gMd" Guimond could still perform well after so much time on the sidelines, but the fact that Ian "tex" Botsch shut down Johann "seven" Hernandez consistently throughout the series last week is a real issue. Things will not get any easier for the young Chamber main as he now has to face off against William "Will" Cheng, who has looked deadly now that he has a better structure around him.
Add to that the fact that 100 Thieves’ map pool has expanded very quickly from just Haven to Fracture, Breeze, as well as a lethal Bind attack side. TSM FTX can match up against them on Icebox and Ascent, as they did just a few weeks ago when Yassine "Subroza" Taoufik led his squad to a 2-1 win, but considering how much better 100 Thieves have become in a short period of time, it is quite likely that scoreline flips on Saturday.
We’ll certainly be keeping our eye on Peter "Asuna" Mazuryk this week. The American’s comfort levels feel so much higher now that he can play a flex role instead of being stuck with Jett, and he is combining really well with Will to put on a show. He was the team’s best performer against The Guard with a monster 1.37 ACS and 38 kills over two maps, and there’s no reason to think he can’t do the job against TSM.
This matchup is perhaps the hardest one to call this week in Group A. On the side of XSET, the team has been consistently good in VCT 2022 with a 4th place finish at VCT 2022 - North America - Stage 1 - Main Event and cleaned up Ghost Gaming last week. As for NRG, they’ve had a resurgence after the addition of ex-100 Thieves man Ethan "Ethan" Arnold which saw them race through the Open Qualifiers and then pull off a 2-0 win against TSM FTX in week 1.
Both teams have fairly expansive map pools and the veto will be an intriguing one. We might see the likes of Breeze, Fracture, and Haven being played, all of which both squads have looked good on as of late. Much like the result of this match, the veto is a hard one to determine and let’s see where the teams take us.
What’s not difficult to determine is Matthew "Cryocells" Panganiban’s impact on the server. The highly rated OPer has taken to Chamber as of late and continues to perform, with a 1.24 rating and 250 ACS over the last three months. However, he was a bit muted against Ghost, and if tex is able to replicate his impressive performance from last week, that might be enough to give NRG the edge they need.
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