The Guard defeated Cloud9 in the NA VCT Challengers One Lower Final and will represent North America alongside OpTic Gaming at VCT Masters One Reykjavík.
Cloud9 and The Guard faced off on Icebox in the first game of the best-of-five series, which was an intense battle of attrition. The Guard led the first half with a 7-5 scoreline, although Cloud9 made them work for every round win. Cloud9 tied the first half in round 10, but JonahP and neT secured round 11 with their team after JonahP killed two unsuspecting enemies from on top of B Yellow, ensuring their team regained the lead.
But Cloud9 won the pistol round in the second half without losing a player, showing how they weren’t ready to bow out just yet. They also won the next three rounds, including a beautiful retake in round 15. The Guard won rounds 17 and 18 to avoid letting Cloud9 run away with the victory.
Round 19 came down to a one-vs-one between xeppa and valyn, which ultimately went in Cloud9’s favor. The Guard won the next three rounds, taking the game to match point, but Cloud9 tied the game in round 21. Cloud9 narrowly avoided defeat in round 23 as Xeppaa defused the spike. Xeppaa once again clutched a round for his team in round 24, winning a one-vs-one against Trent to keep his team alive on Icebox.
The first map of the lower finals went to quadruple overtime, where The Guard finally won the brutal back-and-forth map 17-15, putting them one step closer to qualifying for Iceland.
Cloud9 secured the first two rounds on Bind, and The Guard’s Sayaplayer helped them slightly by falling to his death on A site. The Guard answered back by winning the next four rounds until Cloud9 stopped the bleeding in round seven. But The Guard only dropped one more round in the first half, and neT pulled off a triple kill for his team in the final round of the half.
Sayaplayer put his team on his back in the second-half pistol round, killing four enemies as The Guard took C site easily. The Guard continued to bully Cloud9 in the next two rounds and won their bonus round in round 15. Cloud9 failed to hold C site again in round 16 as The Guard won the round without losing a player, taking the game to match point.
C9 finally won a round in the second half in round 17, but The Guard finished the job in round 18 and achieved a 2-0 series lead.
Map three on Split started in The Guard’s favor, bringing them the first two rounds. Valyn killed four players in the second round, helping secure an early lead. But Cloud9 answered back by winning the next seven rounds and only allowed The Guard to take two more rounds in the first half.
The second half was a much better experience for The Guard, who won the first three rounds to slowly close the gap. Trent won a one-vs-two in round 14, although Cloud9 stopped them from pulling off a full-on comeback in round 16. However, The Guard won the next four rounds, which included another triple kill from valyn that helped their team gain the lead.
Cloud9 only won one more round before The Guard closed the map and series with 13-10, securing their spot.
The Guard secured their spot in Masters One Reykjavík alongside OpTic Gaming and will face them in the Challengers One Grand Final tomorrow at 3pm CT.