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In the NA VALORANT Champions Tour Challengers 1 semifinals, OpTic Gaming beat Cloud9 before The Guard beat Luminosity Gaming. This means the winning teams, OpTic and The Guard, will face each other in the winner’s bracket finals. As for C9 and Luminosity, they will have to face familiar foes in the losers bracket. With these games done, we know one of OpTic and The Guard will be in the grand finals of Challengers 1.

OpTic Gaming upset Cloud9, send them to the VCT loser’s bracket

The first match of the day showed that Cloud9, much like Version1 in the quarterfinals, can bleed. After losing a map but winning against the Knights, fans saw a weakness to C9 that they hadn’t seen in the group stage. So going into the series against OpTic, C9 fought but couldn’t squeeze through another opponent. It all began on the first map, Haven, where Cloud9 started strong and hit the half up 8-4. However, Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker wasn’t going to let OpTic lose. Off the back of a great map from yay, finishing with a +18 plus/minus, OpTic clutched 14-12.

Map two was a wakeup call for C9, and it showed with their skills on Fracture. Much like how yay took over Haven, C9’s star player Nathan “leaf” Orf did the same on this map. After hitting halftime up 8-4, they didn’t give OpTic an opportunity to come back. With two players on an 89% KAST rating, Cloud9 only lost one more round in the second half. Winning the map 13-5, OpTic and C9 went to map three once again.

For the third map, Ascent, Cloud9 yet again went into halftime with a lead. A bit smaller than the previous two, at 7-5, but a lead nonetheless. Little did they know, as soon as they won their eighth map, that would be their last. OpTic Gaming won the next eight maps in a row, taking the map 13-8 and the series 2-1.

This means that they will progress to the winner’s bracket and face the winner of the second match of the day.

The Guard continue the tournament without a map loss against Luminosity

In the second match of the day, we had two teams that broke expectations but in very different ways. The Guard are still surprising fans across NA VCT with their quick rise to success, while LG recently upset the undefeated Version1 and sent them to the loser’s bracket. With The Guard winning, they continue their great run for their organization’s beginning in VCT. The first map was a battle on Bind, a strong map for both teams. It showed as they hit the half tied 6-6, and the teams kept trading rounds in the second half. Yet, off of some great Operator plays from Jonah “JonahP” Pulice, The Guard edged it out 13-10.

The second map was Icebox, a map that The Guard wrecked Sentinels 13-1 on just the day before. With the slight updates to the map, The Guard were comfortable enough to pick it in their first two matches of their VCT playoff careers. Luminosity started off stronger than Sentinels did, hitting 3-3 early on, before losing the next six maps in a row to hit halftime down 3-9. Much like the day before, Ha “Sayaplayer” Jung-woo continued his great form by leading the lobby in almost every stat. The Guard continued to win rounds that they would go down on, and won the map 13-5 and the series 2-0. As of this game, The Guard have yet to lose a map in these playoffs.

With these games decided, the NA VCT Challengers 1 winners finals will be OpTic Gaming against The Guard. As for Cloud9 and Luminosity, they will face the winners of the loser’s bracket matches of Knights versus XSET and Version1 versus Sentinels. Either way, the victor of the winner’s bracket match will secure themselves a trip to Iceland.

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