In move that felt like fan casting, Sentinels added former professional Counter-Strike player turned streamer Michael “shroud” Grzesiek as their final player for the North American Valorant Champions Tour Last Chance Qualifier tournament.
While the move skyrocketed their social media numbers and got “SEN Shroud” trending in the gaming section on Twitter, I don’t think this move will give the team more of a chance to qualify for Valorant Champions.
Sentinels have been struggling in 2022 after their successful 2021 and 2020 campaigns in which the team won the first VCT Masters tournament ever in Reykjavík, Iceland and traded tournament wins with a bygone TSM squad.
They have gone through roster changes and have been relatively middling in VCT Challengers Stage 1 and 2. Sentinels finished Stage 1 with a 3-2 groups record and bowed out of the playoffs in the first round, and followed that up with a 0-5 record in Stage 2’s groups.
In all fairness to the team’s performances, the squad seemed to be dealing with some behind the scenes issues as Hunter ‘SicK’ Mims had to sit out a few games in Stage 2 due to an “ongoing family matter” and won’t return for NA LCQ, hence the need for shroud. Tyson “TenZ” Ngo, their star player, missed one game due to illness as well.
The team was also switching around roles with the introduction of Eric “Kanpeki” Xu to the team after they benched Jared “zombs” Gitlin on April 22, which could have also added to their poor run of form.
The team also re-signed Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty as their coach after previously parting ways at the start of the year.
But is the introduction of yet another new player, one that hasn’t competed at a professional level in esports in years, the answer to their problems?
LCQ will be a gauntlet
Sentinels won’t get fairness or the benefit of the doubt come LCQ and whatever kind of “bootcamp” the team will have between now and the start of the tournament won’t matchup to the months of experience other squads at the event will have with each other.
While Sentinels, still with their original roster from Masters Reykjavík, struggled to find the same immaculate form from 2021 in VCT Stage 1 of this year — teams like The Guard, NRG Esports and Shopify Rebellion were creating chemistry and bolstering their playbook.
I don’t doubt that shroud can come into competitive Valorant mostly cold and get back into some form of fighting shape in time for a bought with the best of the best in North America, but anything worse than his peak might not cut it. Against teams that have been spending their entire year with one goal: Valorant Champions, shroud may find a level of drive in other teams that he couldn’t have cultivated streaming Diablo Immortal and Rust to thousands of viewers just months ago.
Most of the players he will go up against don’t have a job in streaming to fall back on if they don’t make it to Valorant’s year-end tournament.
Sentinels are used to bold swings
Sentinels as an organization are known to take bold swings, whether its spending seven figures to acquire super star TenZ from Cloud9, or attempting to bring back alleged sexual assaulter Jay “sinatraa” Won to their main team. So far they are one for two, and this one looks like another miss on a move built more for hype than function.
It wouldn’t be the first time their organization had concocted a narrative to bring in more viewers. And with Riot Games’ looming international league partnership decision, I could see the org pushing the envelope to stand out amongst the crowd.
But this is real life, and shroud will play Controller for Sentinels at the NA LCQ. That fact will probably top whatever does end up happening at the tournament for Sentinels.