No pressure for Sentinels at VCT LOCK//IN, says Valorant coach

XSET SyykoNT shushes the Valorant Champions crowdColin Young-Wolff/Riot Games

Sentinels coach Don ‘SyykoNT’ Muir has guaranteed that his team has no pressure on its shoulders heading into VCT LOCK//IN.

Sentinels face a tricky test in the first round of VCT LOCK//IN, having been pitted against Fnatic, the team’s grand final opponent during their title-winning campaign at VCT 2021 Stage 2 Masters – Reykjavík.

With Cloud9, Evil Geniuses and NRG already out following the conclusion of the Alpha Bracket, Sentinels and 100 Thieves are the only North American teams remaining in the tournament. Still, SyykoNT rejected the notion that his team is facing increased pressure because of that.

“I don’t think any of us are feeling pressure here,” he told reporters at a press conference. “We’re just focused on qualifying for [VCT Masters] Tokyo and winning Valorant Champions. This is just one step along that process.

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“We’re trying to get as much experience as possible, scrimming and competing against international teams while we’re here to prepare for the league when we get home.”

A much improved Sentinels team

For many of the teams attending VCT LOCK//IN, the event in São Paulo marks their debut on LAN. But that’s not the case with the Sentinels roster, which attended the Ludwig x Tarik Invitational in Los Angeles last month.

Sentinels player TenZ during his walkoutLance Skundrich/Riot Games
The new Sentinels roster will take on Fnatic on February 24

With barely any practice, Sentinels finished third in the four-team tournament. According to SyykoNT, the team have grown in leaps since then and should give a much better account of themselves.

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“At the Ludwig x Tarik Invitational, we had about four or five days of practice,” he explained. “Obviously, we’re completely different now. We’ve had a full month now to get everybody situated in LA. We’ve really fleshed out our protocols and our communication, punched through the language barrier with our Brazilian players, and started developing our strategic depth.

“I think we’ve done a great job so far. I’m excited to show what we’ve been working on in these upcoming matches.”

SyykoNT added that he is anticipating a tough match-up against Fnatic, who added Leo ‘Leo’ Jannesson and Timofey ‘Chronicle’ Khromov in the off-season, noting that he hopes to draw from the experience of beating Fnatic in the quarter-finals of Valorant Champions 2022 while coaching XSET.

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“They’re a pretty well-rounded team,” SyykoNT said of Fnatic. “They took 5th-6th at Valorant Champions, like XSET did. We finished alongside each other, even though we beat them in the head-to-head.

“I have a lot of respect for those boys, a lot of respect for Boaster as a caller. For us, it’s less about weaknesses and more about identifying tendencies and reactions. We know how these guys like to play, we understand how Boaster likes to play, and we hope to lean on some of those things in the match.

“They’re looking pretty sharp. It’s going to be a good match-up, possibly the best first-round matchup of the tournament. It will be one hell of a match but we’re feeling very confident.”

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