The Guard qualify for Masters 1: Rejyavik, sweeping and eliminating the tournament favorite Cloud9

After only four months together as a roster, The Guard have qualified for VALORANT Champions Tour 2022: Masters Stage 1 - Reykjavík, eliminating the tournament favorites Cloud9 with a dominant 3-0 sweep.

"I feel like I'm dreaming right now" said The Guard Valyn in a post-match interview.

The Guard achieving the unthinkable

The whiplash Jacob "Valyn" Batio and his Guard teammates are experiencing must be intense. From the time The Guard signed Trent "trent" Cairns back in January of 2022, to running through open qualifiers, and now sending home one of North America's best in cloud9, they've been improving game-by-game. In two short months, The Guard has developed from promising underdogs to representing North America at Masters 1: Reykjavík.

"I don't even know what's going on in my own head," said an emotional Valyn. "It's just so surreal to me to make it this far with my team. We haven't had much time to prep."

Valyn's answer underlines how improbable this result was heading into the season. Majority of North American bestbteams have been together since early 2021. While The Guard entered the season with minimal match repetitions and an unproven roster. 

Letting the game come to him

For Valyn, it's been a process to reach relevance. After some lackluster playoff performances, Valyn met with his coach Matthew "mCe" Elmore to discuss finding his game 

"I had a long talk with our coach MCE last night," said The Guard Valyn. "I felt like as an individual I've been underperforming in the playoffs and letting my team down. And today, it feels so good to show up and take it home" 

Valyn ended the series with a remarkable 1.32 kill-to-death ratio and a 81% KAST on Omen and Viper. Moreover, he let the game come to him on Split and turned in a memorable close-out performance with a 352 Attack Combat Score. For a team with no playoff experience, The Guard showed zero signs of nerves impacting their play. They controlled the pace of play on each map.

The Guard handling C9 on Haven

As for the shocking 13-5 result on Haven, it was the combination of The Guard adjusting their composition to match Cloud9 and staying confident in their execution.

"We took the cloud9 comp after we lost to them, to be honest, and I just want to tell everybody this: we swapped Chamber right before our match. We had no chamber prep," said Vayn. "And we big balls'd it and we went for it and neT is obviously super comfortable with that agent and it worked out."


The Guard's Versatility

Clearly, the versatility of their roster is among the best in North America. Jonah "JonahP" Pulice has played six agents during the Challengers run and pulled out the Breach for the first time on Haven. Valyn admitted to Michael "neT" Bernet pulling out the Chamber last minute and allowing Ha "Sayaplayer" Jeong-woo more freedom on the Jett. It speaks to the teams supreme confidence in their diverse agent pool.

"The biggest thing of why we were able to compete on that map this time is we weren't scared. We took the fight to them," said Valyn. "I was calling three-man, four-man pushes every round. People we're doing it. We were confident. We were not scared of these guys this time around. I think the first time we were playing a little timid and this time we didn't. The better team won today"

Even Cloud9 in-game leader Anthony "Vanity" Malaspina acknowledged the poor play on Haven. A map C9 has been dominant on in group stages with a 5-1 record entering the match. Two of those wins include a 13-2 win over The Guard and a 13-0 victory over XSET.

The Guard roster
The Guard roster

"I think on Haven they just completely outclassed us today," said Vanity in a post-game press conference. "I mean, fair play to them honestly, It was one of our better maps going into this tournament and we just got stomped."

The Guard Looking Ahead to Iceland

Looking ahead, The Guard will play OpTic for a chance at the title of North America's best. However, the ultimate goal is beyond winning the region. Valyn made a promise to his fans to bring pride back to North America on an international scale.

"I promise we're not gonna let you down in Iceland. This wasn't a fluke. We put in the work. Give us more time and we'll beat the international competition as well"

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