Sentinels and The Guard went head to head in the first round of the upper bracket. Legendary CSGO player Shroud also made his debut.
It was an historic day in competitive Valorant as Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek made his competitive debut for the Sentinels. The former Masters Reykjavik champions faced stiff competition in Challengers 1 champions The Guard. Here is what went down in series 1 of the North American Last Chance Qualifier.
Sentinels clutch in overtime to take Breeze
Having failed miserably in Challengers 2, The Guard were under pressure from the word "go". And sadly, things did not look to be going their way early. Sentinels were able to convincingly take the opening two rounds without much resistance on the side of The Guard.
It was a team effort from the Sentinels as they raced out to a resounding lead as the half loomed. Nine rounds in and the score was 7-2 in favor of SEN. Across the board, the team was performing well with no player dragging the team down a level. For his competitive Valorant debut, Shroud was performing admirably on Viper and did not look out of place.
The Guard was able to find their footing, however, in what was a much-needed three-round resurgence to close out the half at a 7-5 deficit. The player of the half for SEN was Zellsis, the former V1 player had an ACS of 232 and had two first bloods to his name.
The second half is where business truly picked up in this opening map. After dropping the opening two pistol rounds, Sentinels regained the lead and was staring down the barrel of The Guard with a 10-7 lead in their pocket. A miraculous effort from GRD saw this map go overtime. OT ended with Sentinels taking the victory, the map was capped off by a nice triple kill from Shroud.
The Guard puts up the barricades on Ascent
Those in favor of a Sentinels 2-0 were about to be extremely disappointed. It would in fact be The Guard bouncing back on their map pick, Ascent, to tie up the series at 1-1. The map did start in a rather disappointing fashion for the Guard, it would again be Sentinels racing out to an early lead, this time a 4-0 lead and putting The Guard under all sorts of pressure.
Trent "trent" Cairns was by far the Guard's best player in the first half and he was needed to bring the offence side of The Guard back to a 6-6 score. Trent had 18 kills in the first half with an ACS of 382 which was the highest of any player in the lobby.
The defensive half was where The Guard really shone the brightest. Depending on who you ask, Ascent is a great map for defence and The Guard made sure Sentinels could never get going in this one. The Guard would start by winning six out of the first seven rounds to put them on match point. Despite Sentinels' best efforts, a comeback was not on the cards as this series went to a third and final map.
The Guard sees off Sentinels to hand Shroud first VCT loss
The third and final map in this series would be Icebox. For the third time in this series, it would be Sentinels that comes out of the gates the hottest. The former Reykjavik champs for the third consecutive map won the opening pistol rounds.
This was when The Guard's defensive capabilities kicked in and this map suddenly was not very close. The Guard would win the next seven rounds to put themselves in a great position to win. To ease the blow Sentinels would wrap up the final two rounds to end the half 7-5 in favor of The Guard.
One of the more interesting stats going into this final map was the battle between Shroud and Trent, if it can be called a battle. The young gun had gotten the better of the veteran on every occasion. Coming into Icebox the score was 17-0 in Trents favor.
The second half of this map is where business truly picked up. Both teams put together a string of wins consistently. With the game neck and neck, it was Guard who had the opportunity to win the series. If it wasn't for some heroics from TenZ and Sentinels, they would have.
With the map going into overtime, tensions were high with a spot in the next round of the upper bracket on the line. Sentinels were able to pick up the first round in OT, which was quickly snuffed out by The Guard. The Guard then took a one-round lead as they headed for another match point.
In the end, it was The Guard who was able to see off Sentinels and move on in the upper bracket. For Sentinels, they now must head back to the drawing board.