Sentinels recently lost a series to Team Liquid on Day 4 of the Valorant Champions by a 2-1 score. The VCT Stage 2 Masters Reykjavik winning team are now pushed down to a decider’s match, where they will face the winner between KRU Esports and FURIA Esports.
Sentinels have dominated the Valorant esports scene since the beginning of the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT), but after their defeat in VCT Stage 3 Masters Berlin quarter-finals, they had to go back home.
Valorant Champions 2021 Berlin is the last chance for the team to prove their worth and dominance in the Valorant global esports scene. However, other teams seem to be giving the Sentinels tough competition in the tournament, which could make their dream to achieve the first-ever Valorant Champions title difficult.
The NA Valorant team is headed by Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan, as their in-game leader (IGL). Previously, he was responsible for guiding the team with strategies during the matches, but now Shane ”Rawkus” Flaherty has taken over the responsibility as their coach. The team has had time to gear themselves up for the Valorant Champions since the VCT Stage 3 Masters Berlin ended.
Sentinels’ ShahZaM opens up about the team’s performance against Team Liquid and their struggle in getting a good practice before Valorant Champions 2021
After their match against Team Liquid, Pratiti Dhang of Sportskeeda Esports talked to Sentinels’ ShahZaM about the match and where his team was currently struggling. Moreover, he was questioned about Sentinels’ sudden Bind pick in the match, and him playing with Skye instead of Sova in Split.
Here’s what he said.
Q: It was a tough match today. Team Liquid just handed you a loss in Valorant Champions. How was your experience facing them for the first time?
ShahZaM: We knew they were a good team. We practiced for scrims when we were in Europe and they also matched up pretty well versus us. I think it was a pretty even battle in skills.
Q: Today, Sentinels initially dominated Breeze as defenders, but you lost all the attacking rounds. What went wrong for Sentinels after the switch, which ultimately made Team Liquid take this map down from you guys?
ShahZaM: I'd say we have some of the right ideas on the map, but it's like a lot of bad comms that really cost us the game.
Q: Breeze is considered to be Sentinels' best and strongest map. However, the team didn't win a single match on Breeze yet in the Valorant Champions. What has made the team yet to achieve a single win on the map in the tournament?
ShahZaM: I'd say it's because it's been three months, which is a long time since officials were played, so there have been some meta changes. When we were playing Breeze very early on, people were still figuring out how to play it. And now that people are trying to figure it out, they just get better at it.
Q: Sentinels are not seen playing much on Bind. The last time the team was seen playing it in an official tournament was in the VCT Stage 3 Challengers Playoffs Grand Finals against 100 Thieves. Why did you guys go ahead with picking Bind today?
ShahZaM: I mean, I think we found out really good roles for us on that map, and in practice it's going well. I'd say Rawkus has helped us figure out the map is like a comfort pick for us.
Q: You picked Skye in Split instead of your regular picks like Sova or Jett. What made you pick her today? Where does she stand in the current Valorant meta according to you?
ShahZaM: Sova doesn't seem that efficient as a character on the map and so we figured we still needed some sort of agent that could take space, like, similar to Skye’s dog (Trailblazer). And then with the way we want to approach the map, which is kind of how the meta is running, and we think Jett is still the strongest duelist. We figured we'd put TenZ on Jett, and then I would just pick up on the initiator roles.
Q: After winning the VCT Stage 2 Masters Reyjavik, Sentinels had to go back home in Stage 3 Masters Berlin. Tell me about the team’s atmosphere after that and how you guys prepared yourself for the Valorant Champions.
ShahZaM: I don't think we were too disappointed. We're obviously sad, but we knew that we still had the lock-in for the Champions. So it wasn't the end of the world. And since then, it's been hard to find practice because of the way the circuit is, only the teams in LCQ (Last Chance Qualifiers) are practicing. And then after LCQ, we were in kind of like a rebuilding or dead days. So it's more so just like scrims here and there. But when we got here in Europe, we got to scrim a lot and really get our stuff together.
Q: This is the first tournament you are playing under the guidance of Rawkus as your coach. What are the key things that he has preached to the team? How impactful has he been in the Valorant Champions?
ShahZaM: He brings a lot into practice. He gets a lot of input, takes notes to review stuff and hold people accountable, as well as during matches. We're finally calling time out, which is good to like, reset after a certain round, or if he's got a really good idea. You know, sometimes when you're playing the game, you get really tunnel vision on what you see, but the coach can see, like, the bigger picture. So it's been a really good contribution.
Q: Currently, the Valorant community is divided into different opinions on the Riot handing Vivo Keyd a penalty for exploiting the Cypher bug. This has also resulted in a lot of resentment in the community. What are your thoughts on this situation?
ShahZaM: I think that no matter what the situation is, having one map taken away from you is a pretty terrible feeling, and I feel bad for them. It's kind of weird that they made a decision and now they're reviewing it, but it sounds like a good precedent, and hopefully there's a solution or compromise for both parties.
Q: No teams from NA have made it to the playoffs as of yet when all EMEA teams in Valorant Champions have qualified for the playoffs. Do you think that EMEA is gradually surpassing NA and other regions, and becoming the dominating region in Valorant esports?
ShahZaM: I'd say the region is obviously really strong. I don't know if they're like, for sure, surpassing NA yet. It's still really early in the tournament, but obviously they're really strong. I also think there's a whole lot better quality scrimmage here in Europe. As I said, it was really hard for us to find practice, and then they put the circuit. But I guess since the European Valorant teams are playing Red Bull and other stuff, it was easier for us to find practice, even outside of the teams of Champions.