In the North American region of the VALORANT Champions Tour, The Guard have made a mark on the scene with their quick rise to prominence. They’re performing well in game with a 4-0 record at VCT NA Stage 1: Challengers, but they are proving just as successful as an organization. General manager Brenda Suh couldn’t guarantee that, but it was the hopeful outcome of the organization’s plans.
From the first time fans heard about the team on Twitter, those at The Guard had started thinking about how to make themselves the next popular NA VCT team. The first step was to partner with popular co-streaming group Plat Chat around the time Champions 2021 began. In retrospect, that was a perfect place to start The Guard’s rise in popularity.
The Guard from The Guard
“The promotion with Plat Chat was a natural fit,” Suh said. “We loved seeing how the community embraced the Guard from The Guard. It really helped give our brand an extra bit of character while we ramped up our content.”
The Guard from The Guard was a bit the Plat Chat team incorporated into their Champions content. After a team left the competition, a purple-clad knight wearing a cloak with The Guard’s logo would walk on screen, the Plat Chat cast would say some words about the fallen team and the knight would smash a cake representing them. It was a staple that each member of the team would swap into the role of The Guard from The Guard, changing voices daily.
When this partnership peaked, The Guard only had three players on the roster: Michael “neT” Bernet, Jacob “valyn” Batio and Harrison “psalm” Chang. Along with head coach Matthew “mCe” Elmore, the team eventually added more to complete the roster. After singing Jonah “JonahP” Pulice, Ha “Sayaplayer” Jung-woo and Trent “trent” Cairns, the team formally entered NA VCT.
The general vibe around The Guard was vague, with casters and analysts knowing pieces of the roster without seeing how they would come together. In a video The Guard posted recently, casters such as Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson and Alex “Vansilli” Nguyen talked about their feelings on The Guard heading into 2022 VALORANT season.
“You have neT and valyn. You’ve heard about them in the tier two scene but they haven’t had that chance to stand out in competition yet,” Vansilli said. “I still believed in the veterancy of psalm, and naturally, after seeing Sayaplayer join over from T1 and JonahP from Immortals, it started to look pretty good.”
Expectations for the future
But when psalm went inactive and Trent joined the roster, that’s when the team truly took off. The Guard shattered everyone’s expectations by starting off Challengers 1 undefeated at 4-0. That may have been a surprise to those outside the organization, but Suh knew what the team was capable of from the start.
“My expectations haven’t changed,” Suh said. “When I was building the roster, I kept telling folks this team was going to be something special, and the only surprise is the expedited timeline in which they’ve been able to make a splash. I just need them to stay hungry and keep their egos in check while we earn our way to Champions.”
Champions 2022 is far away, but the team’s start shows their potential. The Guard, from the players and staff to Suh herself know their plans have led them to this VALORANT success story.
“We built this team to be championship contenders and scouted staff and players who believed in it and agreed on the roadmap to get there,” Suh said. “A piece of that roadmap requires every single person from our leadership to our players to play an important role that lends to our success. It’s that dedication to the culture and dynamics of the team that led to where we are now.”
About the Author
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.