As Week 1 of the VCT 2022 Stage 1 NA Challengers Playoffs neared its conclusion, The Guard took on Luminosity Gaming in an engaging best-of-three combat to determine a spot in the tournament's Upper Finals.
In their first encounter on Bind, Luminosity put up a good fight as The Guard claimed the map on a 13-10 scoreline. Once the match progressed to Icebox, a well-executed attacking half from The Guard sealed the outcome in their favor as they dominated Luminosity 13-5.
After claiming consecutive maps, The Guard managed to amass a sensational 2-0 victory over Luminosity in the semi-finals. As a result, the team will qualify for the Upper Finals, where they will contest OpTic Gaming for a spot in the Grand Final, which will automatically assure them a VCT 2022 Stage 1 Masters slot.
trent talks about The Guard's incredible form after their victory over Luminosity in VCT 2022 Stage 1 NA Challengers Playoffs
In a conversation with Sportskeeda Esports' Adarsh J. Kumar, Guard's Trent "trent" Cairns spoke about his team's performance against Luminosity, while detailing their incredible run prior to the start of VCT 2022 Stage 1 NA Challengers.
Q: How would you describe The Guard's performance today?
trent: I think we were a little sloppy on Bind, but we brought it back towards the end. On Icebox, they were shut out. I think we played really well today, but we have definitely made some mistakes.
Q: Prior to this matchup, The Guard faced Luminosity twice in the VCT Stage 1 NA Challengers, defeating them on both occasions. How would you describe their performance this time around?
trent: I think their Bind was better than we expected and that caught us off guard. We all assumed we were just going to walk right through them, so we were a little overconfident and that bit us in the back. But as soon as we got our stuff together, we showed them what we had.
Q: Icebox was out of The Guard's map pool until the updates from patch 4.04 were made available in the VCT 2022 Stage 1 NA Challengers, after which the team found incredible success on the map. What do you think about the changes in the map?
trent: I think we like the changes, and it's good that it's in our map pool now, since a lot of teams haven't had enough practice on it yet. I feel like every team has roughly the same amount of practice as each other if they put the time into it. I think that factor favors us due to how good our teamwork and chemistry are. That's why we like to pick Icebox.
Q: In the same context, what is your opinion on the Agent changes that arrived in patch 4.04, specifically the Controller changes?
trent: I think it makes teams play smarter, especially since you don't have an Astra move on every single map that you can use. You can't have trap plays from all across the map. You can't suck or stun and smoke for somebody across the map. So, I think it really makes teams come together more and have better chemistry. Considering that, it's a good change.
Q: You are the latest member of The Guard's roster, and since then, the team has enjoyed an incredible run in third-party tournaments, as well as in VCT events such as the Stage 1 NA Challengers. How would you describe your experience with the team so far?
trent: I think my experience has been awesome! I think ever since I started trialing with the team, I felt it click, and they felt it as well, so they decided to pick me up on trial and see what I can do. We've been killing it so far and we'll be on our way to Iceland if we win just one more match. It'll be a dream come true if we make it.
Q: The Guard is scheduled to meet OpTic Gaming in the Upper Bracket Finals of VCT 2022 Stage 1 NA Challengers. How confident is the team in emerging with a victory and earning one of the coveted Masters' slots?
trent: I think we can win. I think they are slightly worse than Cloud9, who just didn't have a good day today (against OpTic). I do think we can beat them. We'll be watching their games to see what they're doing, we will give it our all, and hopefully, we will make it to Iceland. That would be unreal.
Q: With 4 out of 5 wins in the Group Stage, and 2 consecutive wins in the playoffs, The Guard has established themselves as one of NA's best hopes for VCT 2022.
Looking back, how would you describe The Guard's performance throughout VCT Stage 1 NA Challengers, and did it match the expectations you had for the team prior to the tournament?
trent: I think we have way exceeded our expectations. We knew we were a good team, but I didn't think we were going to be this good so fast. So, with all of us having boosted confidence that we're in a position to go to an international LAN tournament, I think it's just crazy for all 5 of us and the coach.
Q: The Guard's incredible form has carried the team all the way to the Upper Finals of VCT Stage 1 NA Challengers. How confident are you in securing a spot in your first ever VCT Masters tournament?
trent: I think we can. If we put in the same amount of time and effort that we have in the past couple of months, we'll be considered a top team for a long time.