The Guard sweep Cloud9 to secure their ticket to Masters 1
The Guard qualified for Masters 1 by sweeping Cloud9 3-0 in the lower bracket final
The Guard qualified for Masters 1 by sweeping Cloud9 3-0 in the lower bracket final | Provided by The Guard

The Guard sweep Cloud9 to secure their ticket to Masters 1

Stand Guard

In the lower bracket finals match on Saturday, The Guard and Cloud9, two of North America’s best VALORANT Champions Tour team, faced off to see who would secure the second and final NA spot for VCT Masters 1. After a sweep at the hands of OpTic Gaming sent them to the lower bracket, The Guard bounced back and took three consecutive maps against Cloud9 to claim their spot in Reykjavik.

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The Guard sweep Cloud9 to secure their ticket to Masters 1

Icebox was up first for this do or die series. The Guard and Cloud9 traded rounds pretty evenly, going into halftime 7-5, in favor of The Guard. The scoreline was even closer throughout the second half and they ultimately went to overtime. It was a slugfest, but The Guard finally managed to pull ahead and took the map 17-15.

The teams faced off on Haven next. It looked like another pretty evenly matched map, but The Guard started to pull ahead, going into the half 8-4. This snowballed in the second half as The Guard continued stringing rounds together. They finished Haven off 13-5, completely steamrolling C9 during their attack side.

Cloud9’s fate was ultimately sealed on Split. They actually started this map out strong, quickly building a lead and going into halftime 8-4. But in the second half, The Guard’s in-game leader Jacob “valyn” Batio seemed to ascend to another level. He finished out the game with a 342 combat score, 3.1 KDA and 29 kills. After their win, valyn was understandably ecstatic.

“IM TAKING US HOME MAP 3 HOLY F*CK I CAN’T BELIEVE IT AM I DREAMING? WERE GOING TO ICELAND I LOVE MY TEAM SO MUCH #STANDF*CKINGGUARD,” he tweeted right after the match.

In a post match interview, he was still emotional, but also confident about his team’s ability to play against the best teams in the world. “I promise we won’t let you guys down in Iceland,” he said. “This wasn’t a fluke. We put in the work. Give us more time and we’ll beat the international competition as well.”

The Guard are the newest squad in NA VCT. They’ve only been playing together as a team for a little over three months, and Trent “trent” Cairns only joined two months ago. They’ve had an almost miraculous run through NA VCT this season, going from open qualifiers all the way to Masters 1 contention. This will be their first chance to stand on an international stage, perhaps ironically beside one of the more experienced rosters NA has to offer in OpTic.

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