Sentinels prove to be best VALORANT team in the world at Masters Reykjavík

by Jessica Scharnagle

After a tight grand final match between Fnatic and Sentinels at Masters Reykjavík, the first international VALORANT tournament has a winner.

Sentinels bested Fnatic 3-0 in a match that kept viewers on their toes. Impressively, Sentinels never dropped a single map in the entire tournament, and now they can call themselves the best VALORANT team in the world.

Coming into the grand final, Sentinels had a freight train of momentum after not dropping a single map. Although they were doing well, they had their eyes on Fnatic and watched their lower bracket matches in anticipation.

“After watching Fnatic play both those [lower bracket] games, they looked pretty sloppy, so I knew we had a good chance, especially watching back their matches. We were able to get the information we needed and it worked out exactly as we expected,” Jared “zombs” Gitlin said after the match.

It was an exciting game for fans, who had not only the NA and EU matchup in the final, but also got to see plenty of tight scores that resulted in multiple overtime rounds. Even with Sentinels up by two maps, Fnatic never showed a crack in their resolve and kept their cool throughout the whole match.

Key to the cohesion of the team is IGL Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan, who acts as the coach for the team since Sentinels still haven’t found one.

Read more: No coach, no problem: Sentinels’ ShahZaM discusses taking on coaching responsibilities

“We’ve still been looking for a coach, but it’s also a mixture of, don’t fix what isn’t broken. The dynamic we have right now is pretty good, but I think if we find the right fit it’ll only help. It’ll help with the workload. I don’t mind it. I enjoy prepping for the games. If it works, I’m going to continue doing it,” ShahZaM said.

ShahZaM, center, preparing the team for their match. Photo credit: Riot Games

The matches didn’t look easy, especially since Fnatic sent the match into overtime twice on the first two maps. Neither team looked fazed, and Sentinels were able to close out the third map without overtime to secure their win.

“Even though it was a 3-0, it was one of the most stressful series. They’re a really good team. It was definitely a different Fnatic from the first time we’ve played them. I think this was one of the hardest series we’ve played, but then again, we improved, we have the strongest mental of any team in VALORANT,” ShahZaM said.

Read more: Sentinels, Version1 show NA better than EU in VALORANT, for now

Playing under pressure is one of the best skills a team can have, and although Fnatic also made a great showing of their ability to play well with their backs against the wall, Sentinels still came out on top.

“I think it comes down to all of us having trust in one another,” Michael “dapr” Gulino said after the match. “In 2v2s or 3v3s our comms are really tight. Whenever someone has an idea, we follow through with that. We all give great ideas and we’re just all on the same page. It’s really easy to stay composed.”

TenZ had an outstanding tournament for Sentinels. Photo credit: Riot Games

An integral part of the match was Tyson “TenZ” Ngo, who filled in for the team after Jay “sinatraa” Won was suspended pending investigation due to sexual assault allegations.

Many fans are wondering about TenZ's fate going forward, since there has still been no word on whether sinatraa will return to play competitively with the team. TenZ is currently on loan with Sentinels from Cloud9, where he is signed as a content creator.

“From the beginning, we were super lucky to have Tyson play with us. He’s an amazing player. People rate his mechanical skill, but he’s a great teammate, and we all love playing with him. We’d want to play with him for the future too, so we’ll see what happens,” ShahZam said.

TenZ’s future is certainly unclear, but what is clear is TenZ’s desire to stay with the team.

“Obviously, it’d be a no-brainer that I want to compete with this team. This team is honestly so amazing. I have fun with them. I can trust all of them,” TenZ said. “I would stay if I could, and I really hope I [can], so I’m praying.”

Now, Sentinels will travel home and prepare for the next round of tournaments, but for most members of the team, this win hasn’t sunk in for them yet.

“It’s impossible to describe the feeling now,” ShahZaM said. “I think when I got up and started cheering, I didn’t fully process that we had won yet either. It’s a mixture of emotions. I think it’ll hit us more as time goes on, because right now we’re still in the heat of the moment.”

Sentinels are now the first team to confirm their spot in at Champions, the VALORANT Champions Tour’s end-of-year championship event, which takes place in December. Now that they have the experience of competing on the international stage, and competing on LAN, Sentinels are high on the list of contenders to win what will be the biggest event of the year in VALORANT.

Lead image credit: Riot Games

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