Road to Masters Reykjavik – Sentinels
Brandon "Mothman" Moore
5/17/2021, 9:07:08 AM
The road to Masters Reykjavik has been a grueling one for teams across the globe. So grueling, in fact, that the majority of them with hopes of heading to Iceland were left sorely disappointed. One team, however, was a shoo-in from the start. Ups, downs, and all arounds left question marks surrounding the future of Sentinels. However, as we know, they took those question marks and turned them into exclamation points.
From the start of competitive Valorant, Sentinels has been a powerhouse. No one expected them to perform badly on their way to Masters Reykjavik. On the other hand, no one expected them to be as dominant as they had been with a slew of updates, meta changes, and overall bad luck the team faced. Still, they persevered and maintained their top status. Sentinels became the first North American team and the third team overall, after Team Liquid and FNATIC of EMEA, to clinch their Iceland adventure.
A handful of situations could have easily sent Sentinels down the ladder of NA Valorant rosters. The first was the controversy with Jay “sinatraa” Won. He was suspended from the organization and from competing by Riot Games while an internal investigation occurred. As of now, that is still ongoing. At the last minute, Sentinels had to find another player to join the team in order to continue their fight through the Valorant Champions Tour. More on that later, however.
Early on in 2021, a large portion of the country was faced with an unforgiving snowstorm. That snowstorm saw millions lose power for days and even weeks in some locations. The entire Sentinels roster was affected by the power outage. Thankfully, Riot Games postponed the start of Stage 1: Challengers 2 to allow anyone dealing with outage issues to be ready. With virtually zero practice in the days leading up to the tournament, Sentinels still managed to place 2nd, punching their ticket to the first Masters event.
The final hiccup came in the form of Built by Gamers. After only dropping one map on their way to victory during Stage 1: Masters, Sentinels found themselves needing to qualify once again. The Stage 2: Challengers 1 qualifier was going smooth for SEN until the Round of 16. In a 2:0 series, BBG sent SEN to the following open qualifier with only one more chance to make it to the North American Challengers Finals. This was, of course, a huge upset, but not much more can be said about the randomness of competitive Valorant.
The team’s triumphs are even more impressive considering the obstacles that were placed before them. The core of the group has been together for over a year with only Michael “dapr” Gulino joining a bit later to round out the original roster. Circling back to the team losing sinatraa, they were lucky enough to come across none other than Tyson “TenZ” Ngo. The former Cloud9 pro stepped back from competing to focus on content creation. The opportunity to play with SEN on loan from C9 was too good to pass up, however.
Stage 1: Masters was the return of TenZ and what a return it was. He ended the tournament with the second highest kills, the highest ACS, tied for the highest first blood kills, and most importantly, a victory for his new side. Going into Masters, FaZe Clan looked to be the hottest Valorant team in the NA region. They only fell to Sentinels in the Upper Final and were set on avenging that loss in the Grand Final. That never came to fruition as Sentinels put them down once more with a 3:0 beating.
From there, it was more or less off to the races. SEN were defeated by Andbox in Stage 2: Challengers 2 Main Event, but battled their way through the Lower Bracket to another 3:0 Grand Final finish, this time against Cloud9 Blue. That storyline would only heat up further as TenZ‘s former team looked a bit like the aforementioned FaZe Clan. It turns out that the only squad who could stop them was Sentinels. And that they did.
The NA Challengers Finals was where Sentinels truly set themselves apart in the Valorant Champions Tour. They lost their first map of the tournament as Version1 had a dominant showing on Ascent. After that, the dominance was all Sentinels. They only allowed V1 to gather nine more rounds for that opening series.
Following that was what many believed to be their toughest match up on paper. It turned out to be that way in the server, too. Haven almost saw 100 Thieves come back to force overtime which could have gone either way. 100T then decimated Sentinels on Icebox. SEN returned the favor on Bind. If Haven had gone any differently, who knows where Sentinels would have ended up.
In the Upper Final, it was another contest against Cloud9 Blue. Many believed a rematch would take place in the Grand Final no matter the victor. Well, another Haven came with another comeback falling short for the opposition. Then, Sentinels were held to just one round on Split. No one saw that coming and it appeared Icebox would be their downfall. Instead, Sentinels wiped the floor with C9B and advanced to the Grand Final.
Instead of Cloud9 Blue being their Grand Final opponent, Sentinels were faced with a hungry Version1 team that they had bested prior in the tournament. Yet again, SEN took the Grand Final with all the gusto in the world. 3:0 was the final count of the series. Not only did they ensure a trip to Iceland by beating C9B, they proved they are currently the best Valorant team in North America.
Throughout Challengers Finals, Sentinels were very vocal in interviews about how they felt with a chance at Masters Reykjavik on the line. After besting 100 Thieves in the Upper Semifinals, Run It Back spoke with dapr about his feelings on the team’s chances to advance to Iceland.
Run It Back: Do you feel Iceland is basically a lock for Sentinels now? And what are you looking forward to most at Masters, if or when the team qualifies?
dapr: Nothing is ever guaranteed in this game. I try to keep it very open. I know anything can happen. I’m not saying it’s a lock now. I am confident in our chances. We obviously have a better chance than anyone else in the regional final right now, but nothing is locked. I’m not booking my flight or getting my suitcase, anything like that. If we actually make it, I’ll be so happy to play on LAN and against these other regions. To see how we all stack up and give NA a good name in this game.Read the full interview here.
TenZ, following the team qualifying for Masters Reykjavik, was asked to share his feelings regarding that fact. His answer was short, but sweet, touching on Sentinels being a period of winning that has shown no sign of stopping.
Run It Back: First and foremost, how in the world does it feel to be the first North American team to advance to Masters in Iceland?
TenZ: For me, I feel proud of both my team and myself. I think we have been playing well in recent tournaments. We won Masters 1 and Challengers 2. So, going into this tournament, we were in that winning period. We are just winning a lot.Read the full interview here.
Once their first match of Challengers Finals concluded against Version1, Run It Back spoke with Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan. He was asked about what teams he would want to go up against or what region he wanted to play most if Sentinels ended up qualifying for Iceland.
Run It Back: Lastly, are there any international teams you want to call out or simply state your excitement to play against if or when Sentinels qualifies for Iceland?
ShahZaM: The goal is to represent NA in Iceland. I think the EU teams are going to be a pretty interesting match up. They are very strategic and rehearsed. I was watching some of the games today (Thursday) and both teams were running Brimstone on Bind. They were playing heavy post plant with the Brim mollies and the Viper mollies. That is just a completely different way of approaching the map compared to NA right now. I’m excited to play versus their meta and see which play style is more dominant. I’m confident in the way we’re playing, but I’d like to learn some of the stuff they are doing and how to play against it.Read the full interview here.
The team certainly achieved their goal of being able to represent North America in Iceland. Masters Reykjavik will take place May 24 through May 30 with eight of the best Valorant teams from NA, EMEA, JP, KR, BR, SEA, and LATAM. The contrast of styles is going to make for one of the most interesting Valorant tournaments thus far. Sentinels will do everything in their power to prove their style is superior.
Stay tuned to Run It Back as the Road to Reykjavik continues!
Brandon "Mothman" Moore
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