Tyson ‘TenZ’ Ngo’s late addition to Sentinels for Jay ‘sinatraa’ Won turned heads just before VCT Masters NA. The strategy has worked better than expected, and it’s got the Canadian Valorant star eyeing off a potential return — with a catch.
Sentinels were the leading favorites heading into VCT Masters. Then, things got turned upside down. Sinatraa was side-lined indefinitely over allegations of sexual abuse, leaving Sentinels not just a man down, but losing the core of their identity.
So many thought. The community believed they were destined to doom; yet another event where Sentinels were dealt a low blow right when it mattered. Then TenZ came along, and everything changed.
The former Cloud9 Blue star has lit up Masters with a scintillating performance. While technically retired, TenZ is at the top of his game, leading the ACS charts with a smidge over 300 — 27 more than the next highest, FaZe’s Andrej ‘Babybay’ Francisty.
Yet, in incredible TenZ-style, he was humble about it.
“I got to stand in for a really good team, so it feels good,” he told Dexerto, laughing about how some incredible fate saw him end back up on the stage.
The superstar of North American Valorant downplayed his achievements so far in VCT Masters 1. He managed to jump right into the deep end on one of NA’s best teams with less than a week’s prep, dusting off the cobwebs with every map.
“I feel like there’s certain aspects of my game that can definitely be worked on, but ever since I stepped down from pro play I’ve just been grinding ranked. I don’t think my aim would ever fall off, but maybe my fundamentals,” he explained.
Insane. Surprising. Fun. Those are only a few terms that come to mind when you look at Sentinels’ gameplay with TenZ on the roster. The squad isn’t taking themselves too seriously, and it shows.
TenZ is in his element, just taking aim duels like it’s a game of ranked. The rest of Sentinels are free-flowing with their strategy. It looks too easy, and that itself has surprised TenZ. However, he puts it down to just the insane firepower on Sentinels.
“It’s definitely really fun. We’re not taking it too super seriously, we’re not getting emo about certain stuff. We’re playing, and we’re vibing in our matches.
“It’d be unrealistic to think that with a stand-in we’d just go in and mop the floor with teams. It’s been a surprise to me [though]. I don’t think we would have done bad. My expectations are blown by how good we are doing. It’s just insane.
“All the players are so smart, they communicate so well. On top of that, they can all frag, so it’s so nice to have so many players to rely on to just own.”
The end of Cloud9 Blue with TenZ
It’s a far cry from Cloud9 Blue. TenZ’s old squad floundered for months in the early days of Valorant. Ngo eventually pulled the plug in early January, and speculation was rife about whether his explanation of a “lack of LANs” was legitimate.
That was just one part of a complex decision that primarily boiled down to TenZ needing a break from the high-pressure competitive environment.
“It was already kind of a pain to play online. Where I’m located I have double the ping of all the other players so it can be quite frustrating, especially if I’m OPing. In Valorant, the time to kill is so low that the ping actually makes a huge difference. I have to play a lot more fundamentally than rely on my mechanics as much as I could,” he said.
“When Shinobi got dropped, there was no real backup plan so we were trying to find our identity. Then, obviously, when we’re struggling to find our identity, results might not be as great as you would want.
“I thought about it for a little bit, and really it wasn’t worth committing so many hours in practice to just be there, and not at the top.”
Looking at returning from retirement
However, rejoining the pro scene with Sentinels has sparked something inside of TenZ. The competitive itch has been scratched somewhat, but with someone of Ngo’s nature, you can never really snuff out that spirit.
Succeeding this much with Sentinels, and with a LAN down the line at Stage 2 Masters, the conditions might be right. However, he’s not ready to jump in head-first.
“It’s definitely a start, and it’s really enticing for me, but also when some more LANs open up domestically and there’ll be even more of an offer I can’t let down [then I may return],” he said.
Instead, TenZ is happy to soak in what a blistering 12 months it’s been for him. From the outskirts of CS:GO to becoming the poster boy of Valorant, his fortunes have changed drastically.
“It’s kind of hard to believe where I was a year ago when Valorant didn’t exist. I definitely wasn’t in a good spot in CS:GO. It’s mind-blowing to me — I’m in such a fortunate spot, and I’m grateful for it.
“If I’m going to summarize the year, it’s been amazing. I’m doing well in pro play, my stream’s blowing up, my socials are going wild, and I’m getting a lot of support from the fans.”
There is still one obstacle ahead of him though. One grand finals series sits between him and his first major Valorant trophy. Who’s going to meet TenZ at the top? It’s going to be close between the remaining squads.
“I can see having a rematch in the finals against FaZe just due to their style of play. Maybe for us, it didn’t work as well, especially if people are taking duels against me because that’s what I specialize in and I want them to do that. Maybe Envy could pull through as well, he said.
“I think Gen.G will get eliminated, then it’ll be a close match between Envy and Faze for who we play against in the finals.”
VCT Stage 1 Masters NA continues on March 20.