The Guard: North America’s real hope at VCT 2022 Masters Reykjavík
VALORANT’s first international LAN event in 2022, VALORANT Champions Tour Masters Reykjavík, is on the way. The occasion will start on April 10 and feature twelve best teams from all around the world. From Latin America to South Korea, every representative has one goal: making its region proud and leaving a mark in VALORANT history.
Each region has different storylines coming into this event. While some of them aim to do the best they can do, others, like North America, will try to reclaim the throne. After the disappointing run in the VALORANT Champions 2021, the region is sending the hottest team of the season: The Guard.
Zeroes to Heroes
Unlike the many teams that participate in the tournament, The Guard don’t have an outstanding background in VALORANT. Established in November 2021, the team wrapped its latest version following the addition of Trent “trent” Cairns in January.
When the young player with no prior experience joined the squad, the roster’s most prominent name was Ha “Sayaplayer” Jung-woo, the ex-Overwatch star and the player that T1 VALORANT wasted. Even though the rest of the lineup – Michael “neT” Bernet, Jacob “valyn” Batio and Jonah “JonahP” Pulice – had some appearances in the scene, they were young and they weren’t able to find success until then.
Firstly, The Guard managed to qualify for the VCT 2022 North America Stage 1 Main Event under these circumstances. Their victories against Luminosity and Akrew in the open qualifier got everyone’s attention at a short notice. However, everyone thought they were only a new challenger in the group stage that won’t survive among the sharks.
The people were wrong.
The young bloods shocked everybody by defeating Luminosity 13-1 and right after 100 Thieves with 13-0 in the first two weeks of the season. Regardless of the hype surrounding them, members of The Guard didn’t lose their focus and made it through the playoffs, losing only one series to Cloud9 in the regular season.
The new contender’s first opponent in the Playoffs were long-time kings, Sentinels. Guard(s) didn’t hesitate to send Sentinels to the lower-bracket with a quick 2-0.
It was just the beginning for The Guard. After beating Luminosity, they got their first loss against OpTic Gaming, but recovered from the lower-bracket by beating Cloud9 3-0 and got into the grand final against OpTic to get their revenge.
The happy ending for The Guard
At the end of the action-packed best-of-five grand final, The Guard reached the well-deserved trophy with a 3-2 and became North American’s first seed at VCT 2022 Masters Reykjavík. Trent, whose name was mentioned a lot on social media, led his team with 1.15 rating while undertaking the initiator role in the team. On the other hand, Sayaplayer played a huge role with his total 88 first bloods throughout the event.
There are many factors behind this success, but the most important one is the individual talent that The Guard have. Each player is capable of popping off in any round or outperforming his opponent easily. This specialty provides more than enough confidence to the players and they can reflect this feeling into strategies.
The current meta of VALORANT suits the players well, so they can bring out their aggressiveness whatever side they play on. In fact, The Guard’s unexpected plans on the defensive side catch their rivals off-guard, which put them in an advantageous position many times.
However, the North American representative has one big obstacle to solve. Not having a LAN experience and being one of the youngest squads at VCT 2022 Masters Reykjavík might affect them in a bad way. If they will be able to overcome this situation and actually manage to benefit from it, The Guard’s chance of winning the tournament is pretty decent.
Besides, starting the event in the playoffs as the reward of being the first seed of NA gives them a lot of time to prepare for their upcoming opponents. Remember, VCT 2022 Masters Reykjavík starts on April 10, while The Guard make their debut after April 14.