OpTic Gaming get revenge on The Guard at Stage 1 Masters quarterfinals
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Off the performance of Victor “Victor” Wong, OpTic Gaming defeated The Guard 2-1 in the VALORANT Champions Tour 2022 Stage 1 Masters winner’s quarterfinals on Friday.

The battle of NA just so happened to be one of the first playoff games we saw at Stage 1 Masters. Just like at the end of NA Challengers 1, we had the experience of OpTic versus the rookie confidence of The Guard. But, OpTic had to fight for their spot in the playoffs through the group stage, while The Guard were just waiting for their first opponent. That challenge of contending against a powerful and familiar team with no previous full team LAN experience showed throughout the series.

“I would’ve rather play any of the other seven teams,” said Trent “Trent” Carins. “Since we’ve faced them three times out of our last four matches. It feels a bit too much.”

Icebox puts OpTic in the lead

To start off the series, The Guard’s attack on pistols was quickly countered by OpTic, specifically Victor with the Ghost. On the next round, Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker got a quick ace when The Guard tried to push onto B site. With those two rounds, yay’s Operator on round three just kept the momentum going for OpTic.

When The Guard went down 0-4, they took an early timeout. In their best attack so far, three different swings ended up with Jonah “JonahP” Pulice winning a 1v2 to get their first round. After a crucial mistake by Jimmy “Marved” Nguyen, The Guard won their next round to build some momentum.

Alas, Victor continued his great form alongside yay, both putting OpTic in a great position on the map. A flawless on map ten was just another show of force as OpTic hit the half up 9-3.

With The Guard on their attack, they won a needed pistol round for an attempted comeback. As the rounds went by, the value of the Omen pick from JonahP kept winning rounds for The Guard. Despite OpTic planting the spike consistently, they also couldn’t win any post-plants until round 16, where The Guard chose to save their guns after going down two teammates.

After their first round win on defence, Marved lurked to the opposite side and clutched a 1v1 along with The Guard’s buy round afterwards to put OpTic on map point. With an Austin “crashies” Roberts 2k, OpTic secured the win on The Guard’s map pick, 13-7.

Haven brings The Guard back into contention

To start Haven, The Guard got two picks on the two best players from Icebox in Victor and yay, leading to a pistol win. Victor tried to follow up that round with an aggressive Neon push, but it didn’t work out. OpTic got the bonus round, but The Guard got the next one with a full buy, giving them the lead.

Just as it might’ve started getting away from OpTic, yay and his Tour de Force won an important thrifty to make it 2-4. Just then, Victor wins two rounds in a row for OpTic, one from rushing in and the other from a lucky lineup to tie it at 4-4.

After that tie, an early pick from Ha “Sayaplayer” Jung-woo on Victor leads The Guard to a thrifty of their own and another lead, leading to an OpTic timeout. OpTic then pulls off the rare thrifty flawless, off the back of a smart position from Victor by B site. Even with that play, a 3k from Trent “Trent” Cairns put The Guard up 7-5.

On the first two rounds of the second half, early aggression from Sayaplayer onto yay leads to The Guard staying in the lead. Sayaplayer, much like yay on Icebox, just kept his hot form on Haven, highlighted by a Jett dash into ultimate on C that just ends the round within seconds.

After an OpTic timeout down, the team manages yet another thrifty win to start a potential comeback at 6-10. The next round, despite a good rush that baits an ultimate, OpTic fall. Despite a couple more round wins from OpTic, a Michael “neT” Bernet 4k put The Guard on top, 13-7. A good first map win for The Guard at an international event, on OpTic’s map pick, with Sayaplayer standing out with 318 ACS.

Fracture sends one NA team up, one NA team down

Much like these teams’ final match in Challengers 1 and the other Stage 1 Masters match on this day, this series also went down to the final map. On Fracture, a great blind from Trent caught the entire OpTic team. Sayaplayer continued his form from Haven to get two Marshal kills and helped secure the first three rounds.

The Guard built an early lead off their strong defense, using the money to get Sayaplayer an Operator.  After a timeout, OpTic used a lot of ultimates but finally won their first round at 4-1.

The next round proved to be a crucial one, as every player traded until it was a Breach 1v1. Pujan “FNS” Mehta then made a quick weapon swap in a crucial moment to win it.

After OpTic started to build a comeback, off a Sayaplayer close range 3k, The Guard went into halftime up 8-4.

In the second half, The Guard run to A site back-to-back, winning to get to double digits at 10-4. Sayaplayer wasn’t slowing down, keeping his from from Haven. However, Marved pulled out a clutch to keep OpTic in it, helping them get to 10-8 and forcing a timeout.

The Guard were forced to save, lost a round, but finally stopped the bleeding after a long tech pause, but Victor pulled OpTic right back and OpTic tie it at 11-11. The Guard had to win back their lead on a thrifty, and just couldn’t, putting OpTic on series point.

Off the back of Victor, The Guard lost a 10-4 lead to lose the map and series to OpTic Gaming. Now, OpTic Gaming will face DRX next while The Guard will have to face Paper Rex in the lower bracket.


Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.


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