Written By ArmandVanHelden - 2022-04-08
The top seed of North America, The Guard, pulled out incredible surprises to attend VCT 2022 - Stage 1 - Masters Reykjavík and they showed the importance of chemistry and teamwork during VCT 2022 - North America - Stage 1 - Main Event. Out of 11 teams that attended the main event, The Guard managed to climb their way to the top from the lower bracket in the playoffs and now here they are!
The Guard’s VCT 2022 journey started from the bottom, VCT 2022 - North America - Stage 1 - Open Qualifier 1 where they had to prove their worth from scratch. Luckily, they started their run strongly with a 2-1 win over FaZe Clan. After taking down Luminosity Gaming and Pittsburgh Knights, they faced XSET but failed to defeat their opponent and instead got swept. Matthew "Cryocells" Panganiban’s notorious Jett came in handy for XSET as they reached the main event instead of The Guard. According to the tournament format, The Guard’s run continued from the lower bracket where they faced Akrew to reach the main event of the NA circuit. It was a successful qualifiers attempt for the North American organization and interestingly, their gameplay improved day by day. It also meant the chemistry between players was improving in the meantime.
The North American team’s group stage run started with a confident 2-0 win over Luminosity Gaming. The Guard demolished LG on Haven with a score of 13-1 in their first-ever group game this year and their performance was a sneak peek of what was coming for the other teams. Secondly, they took down 100 Thieves to win back-to-back games in Group A. It was time for revenge in the third game as XSET had pushed them out of the upper bracket challenge during the qualifiers. However, this time they faced a different team as The Guard kept on improving their gameplays throughout the tournament. After grabbing another win in the group, this time against Cloud9, it was time for the giants to collide. The Guard’s last opponent, Cloud9 also had four wins before coming up against the second undefeated team in Group A. Unfortunately, The Guard’s win streak came to an end after C9’s dominant win, 2-1. Although they won the first map, Cloud9 stepped up during Ascent and Haven to close out the series in three games. The last two maps ended 13-4 and 13-2, respectively.
The North American giants, Sentinels, came up against The Guard in the first round of the playoffs. With Ha "Sayaplayer" Jung-woo’s dominant Raze and Jett performances, The Guard swept their opponent without facing any difficulties. The South Korean duelists had a solid 1.62 rating and a 2.35 K/D at the end of the series. Secondly, they faced Luminosity Gaming in the upper bracket semi finals and completed another sweep with Sayaplayer’s dominance once again. Unfortunately, the fairy tale came to an end after the upper bracket final as OpTic Gaming showed no mercy, reaching the grand final with a clean 2-0 sweep. The second map, Bind, ended with a score of 13-4 and the South Korean duelist, Sayaplayer, failed to impress the fans in the series. Once again, they continued their run from the lower bracket and surprisingly, swept Cloud9 in the lower bracket final, taking their revenge of the group stage loss. Apart from their South Korean duelist, Trent "trent" Cairns and Jacob "valyn" Batio had monstrous performances on various agents to help complete the sweep.
Finally, it was time for the grand final game. Even though their Iceland tickets were already guaranteed, grabbing the champions title was very important both for the reputation and for getting the top seed priorities at VCT 2022 - Stage 1 - Masters Reykjavík. After a very close five-game series, The Guard took the trophy home as well as the top-seed title by taking down OpTic Gaming. The competition was at the highest level possible and despite losing the grand final, OpTic Gaming still made it to the Masters as a group stage participant.
The Guard’s most and also the most successful map is Icebox for sure. They have picked the map five times during VCT 2022 - North America - Stage 1 - Main Event and they are yet to lose a single map. The Guard players know how to execute their strategies and use their arsenal both on the defending and attacking sides. Apart from Icebox, they have also shown supremacy on Haven in the opening games of the main event against Luminosity Gaming 100 Thieves, and XSET with three straight wins.
The notorious duelist of The Guard has put up incredible numbers throughout his VCT 2022 journey. He is currently holding a 1.19 rating on Jett and a solid 1.36 K/D to support his team’s success. Besides, Sayaplayer is sitting at 25.6% in 1vX clutch situations. He has also been the main firepower source of his team with 247.22 ACS on Jett. He has played Jett 23 games and Raze 14 games for the past two months. Looking at his Jett statistics, it is possible saying that his Jett abilities are much better than Raze or maybe the strategies and such are easier for him to execute on the South Korean agent.
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