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In the upper bracket semi-finals of the VALORANT Champions Tour 2022 North America Last Chance Qualifiers, The Guard swept Cloud9 2-0 to stay undefeated. After both teams won their first match of the tournament, they kept the two maps close. In the end, The Guard closed both maps out strong to sweep the series and go to the upper bracket finals.

Cloud9 stumble after a strong showing

Heading into this series, Cloud9 seemed to be the team to beat. This mainly revolved around their 2-0 win over Shopify Rebellion, the only sweep out of the first four NA LCQ matches. The maps remained close in that series as well, but the team clearly showed confidence in that win. This is what made it all the more surprising when they went from sweeping to getting swept.

“I feel like we’re not trusting each other, which is disappointing after the last game,” said Anthony “vanity” Malaspina. “It was just a poor game out of us. We’re hesitating more often than we did against Shopify and we just got to put more trust in each other.”

Ironically, after winning their opponent’s map pick for the first time in the NA LCQ, The Guard did the same to them on Fracture. Despite a comeback to end the half strong, a decision made by both teams favored The Guard more.

“I think some of the key issues for us is that both sides were playing slowly,” said Mitch “mitch” Semago. “Especially with us playing Neon, it bit us in the butt not playing as fast as we could’ve. We got picked too early on the attack side too often.”

Cloud9 are still in the running for the final NA spot at Champions, but will have to fight through the lower bracket.

The Guard get on an early hot streak

Especially after their close win over Sentinels, it was hard to judge how good of a team The Guard were. While the game was neck-and-neck, Sentinels are a newly modified roster. Heading into this match against Cloud9, they would have to step up. Luckily enough, just like the third map against Sentinels, The Guard showed off how each player on the roster can deliver.

“I feel like having five great players is important for any team in any tournament,” said Trent “trent” Cairns. “Having a team that has at least one player stepping up every game is needed so that everyone’s morale can get boosted and everyone can be playing their best VALORANT.”

Trent was one of the best players in that The Guard/Sentinels match, and in comparison, he wasn’t as much of a force against Cloud9. He still got some important clutches and helped his team win, but his teammates all stepped up. For example, the round that essentially won it for The Guard was where Michael “neT” Bernet got three kills with a Sherriff to help Ha “Sayaplayer” Jung-woo clean up with the team’s only rifle against a Cloud9 full buy.

“As soon as that round ended, we were all screaming,” trent said. “We knew as soon as we won that round, we won the series. Everyone was super hype, it was a great moment.”

With this win, The Guard have secured a spot in the upper bracket final next weekend, on Aug. 12. They now only have to win two or three more matches to secure their spot at the VCT 2022 Champions tournament.