Paper Rex send The Guard back home, continue in Stage 1 Masters
Paper Rex defeat The Guard at Masters 1 2022
Paper Rex defeat The Guard at Masters 1 2022 | Provided by Riot Games.

Paper Rex send The Guard back home, continue in Stage 1 Masters

Paper Rex gets their first ever international series win, eliminating The Guard

Keeping their playoffs alive, Paper Rex eliminated The Guard at the VALORANT Champions Tour 2022 Stage 1 Masters  on Saturday.

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The tale of these two teams involves two number one seeds that lost in their first playoff game. Paper Rex ranked at the top of Asia-Pacific, while The Guard ranked top in North America. But, both teams automatically qualified for playoffs and struggled in their first games, both teams losing in three maps. Now, both teams tried to prove to the fans that they could come back from a tough loss to continue in the competition. Despite reaching an international tournament before, Paper Rex were similar to The Guard in international success. Both organizations had yet to win a series internationally, but Paper Rex were more familiar with standing on a LAN stage.

“We used our time in between DRX and The Guard to rest and heal,” said Jason “f0rsakeN” Susanto. “We just knew that if we tried to counter-strat The Guard, it wouldn’t fit our game. We played for fun, and it worked out in the end.”

Paper Rex start strong once again on Haven

Starting on Haven, a map both teams have good records on, a very early Frenzy kill by  Jonah “JonahP” Pulice was countered by a multikill by Wang Jing “Jinggg” Jie. Paper Rex took the early lead, with Jinggg leading the charge, 7 kills on the first two rounds.

The Guard won their first round afterwards, with Trent “trent” Cairns and Ha “Sayaplayer” Jung-woo winning a 2v3 scenario. The rounds, one after another, were scrappy with both teams trading blows, but Paper Rex continued their lead. Down 5-1, The Guard took a timeout, but the round afterwards was another strong round from Benedict “Benkai” Tan, with a 3k to deny the thrifty.

But, as The Guard finally got an Operator into Sayaplayer’s hands, they got back into the map. After a 3k from Sayaplayer, a flawless puts The Guard only down three rounds.

Momentum swung back and forth, this time with a f0rsakeN 4k clutch, even from a 1v2 position at the end.

Just after, JonahP got a 4k of his own, to put Paper Rex on the final round of the half without a full-buy. Even with that, Benkai gets a crucial flank to put Paper Rex up at the half 8-4.

The second pistol round showcased both teams’ aggression, but Paper Rex once again got on top. Hitting double digits up 10-4, The Guard would need to do what OpTic did to them on Fracture and bring it back. After going down 11-4, another timeout on the side of The Guard came out of desperation.

That desperation turned into a run of solid map wins, a fast plant and great utility to stall out a potential defuse on the first. JonahP continued his strong map, getting a 3k to end off the second map. Then, after going down in a post-plant, Michael “neT” Bernet’s lockdown and Jacob “valyn” Batio’s final kill clutched out another map. After coming from 11-4 to 11-7, Paper Rex took their timeout.

Just when they looked out of it, The Guard were coming back in the series, winning the next round out of the timeout. Yet, one clean round from Paper Rex put them on map point.

A great adaptation from The Guard kept it alive for them, countering an aggressive defensive push from Paper Rex. The Guard, from 11-4 down, hit double digits at 12-10. Two more rounds, and they could force overtime. But, f0rsakeN with a collateral early on ended the map for Paper Rex, 13-10.

Split decides it all

The first pistol of Split wasn’t even a challenge for Paper Rex, getting four picks and planting very easily. The Guard had yet to win a pistol round in the series, which was costing early leads in every half. But, Paper Rex couldn’t win the bonus, and a defuse from trent tied up the series early on.

When Benkai accidentally tripped neT’s tripwire, JonahP gets a wallbang and finished the 3k to give The Guard their first lead of the series, forcing a Paper Rex timeout.

Paper Rex just managed to win the next round, despite a valyn 4k. When The Guard looked to have a round in their bag, both f0rsakeN and Aaron “mindfreak” Leonhart clutched out a win to take the lead. Afterwards, valyn yet again pulled out a 3k and a thrifty win, the series tied again at 4-4.

Just when The Guard needed a big clutch, neT pulled out a 1v2 and a defuse to give The Guard another lead. Just when they could’ve taken a bigger lead, f0rsakeN rules out a JonahP 2k with a 2k of his own, winning the round.

Heading into halftime, Jinggg got an ace by pushing into A site’s high ground to tie the series 6-6.

This time around, The Guard finally won the first pistol of the series, taking the lead. Yet, a thrifty off of the Marshal skills of f0rsakeN just tied it up again, taking the lead off of it the next round.

Paper Rex just consistently used unexpected plays to catch The Guard off guard, developing a lead. No matter how The Guard played, slow or fast, Paper Rex just cleaned the roster up, a flawless to reach double digits. As the map hit 11-7, The Guard looked to be out of gas. Despite winning their first pistol, they couldn’t win another round on attack, taking a timeout.

The timeout proved to be crucial, as Sayaplayer got another 3k to help The Guard stop the bleeding.

Even as The Guard were primed to win, neT got greedy and died before getting a free kill on f0rsakeN. Match point for Paper Rex, and it didn’t last for long.

Paper Rex defeated The Guard 2-0, winning their first series internationally. They will face the loser of DRX and OpTic Gaming.

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Michael Czar
Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.