North American’s No.1 seed, Sentinels, settled in just fine to kick off VCT Stage 2 Masters Iceland. They made it to the Upper Bracket Finals without dropping a map, and Hunter ‘SicK’ Mims explained why it’s only getting better from here.
A former CSGO talent, SicK, has been shaking off the rust since landing in Iceland with his team. He explained to Dexerto why going from online play to an international LAN event has been sort of a transition for him.
Getting used to differences in peeker’s advantage, for example, in an offline setting is bound to have its hurdles for pros. Though, it’s safe to say that the Sentinels have been coping better than most.
“I think a lot of the things we do online aren’t working as well on LAN,” SicK told Dexerto. “A lot of our peeks that would normally catch people off guard online can’t be done on LAN just because how tight the gameplay is.
“But I think we’re slowly getting away from that and we’re playing more tight and not giving up these early kills and not losing a man-advantage.”
SicK is warming up to the moment. His team has predictably been one of the strongest groups at the tourney, and now find themselves one match away from the VCT Stage 2 Masters Grand Finals.
The 22-year-old American’s performance on stage has only been getting better, and easily made him a player to watch going into Day 2.
He struggled in the opener against Fnatic. He bottom-fragged for Sentinels through two maps with a 9/15/7 scoreline on Icebox and followed it up with 13/18/4 tally on Haven.
Luckily for the team, Shahzeb ‘ShahZaM’ Khan and Tyson ‘TenZ’ Ngo managed to carry the series to a 2-0 finish. But it didn’t stop the team from playing their style of measured aggression as they got used to the offline environment, he said.
“I think the first day caught me off guard a bit,” he noted after their 2-0 win against Team Vikings. “I have LAN experience, for me Valorant LAN just felt a little bit more tight. You can’t take the kind of peeks you normally do.
“I think on the first day it took me a bit to get used to. But in this game [against Vikings], I got some of my confidence back playing LAN Valorant. I think I’m super confident going forward in the tournament.”
Sentinels were about 20 minutes faster in putting away Vikings than they were in sending Fnatic to lowers. SicK improved to 15/9/3 on Icebox and 19/9/4 on Haven, leading his team with 1.89 K/D throughout the series.
With at most three matches left for the Sentinels in Masters, he expects the NA hopefuls to keep improving from here.
Sentinels still out to prove themselves in Masters
Sentinels have a lot going for them. They beat Fnatic, who run a fast but structured game, and won against Brazil’s Vikings who, SicK says, plays an even more aggressive style of Valorant than NA.
Still, there are some critics that say Sentinels are too ‘puggy,’ as in they’re playing a more loose style than would be feasible in pro play.
— Valorant News (@ValorINTEL) May 26, 2021
It’s been a recurring theme despite their successes and failures, but SicK thinks there’s a larger point that goes underappreciated.
“I think it’s a fair criticism to say that we play more puggy,” he explained. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re worse in that regard.
“There are some benefits from [having a looser playstyle]… I think a lot of the people, analysts kind of discredit how adaptive we are. Sometimes that can be better than the super strategic style that EU plays.”
The fast and furious NA tempo and mindful EU stratagems can both work, he noted. While Sentinels typically lead with their guns firing, they generally have a way to shake things up should things go sour.
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So far their game against Fnatic managed to show us how they adapt to adversity. Depending on what happens against NUTURN Gaming and Version1 in the Upper semis, Sentinels might have to adapt again.
SEN are 2-0 against V1 all-time, 5-1 in maps played, and have never played against a Korean team. It can go either way, but that still means the undefeated team will either be playing against one of the most explosive teams at Masters or a highly inventive NUTURN org.
Whatever lies ahead, SicK is looking forward to the challenge.
“We’re definitely one of the better teams here, but at the same time I’m not going to get super cocky about it like ‘for sure we’re going to win.’
“I think it’s always good to go into every match with the same mindset of ‘this team can beat us’ or whatever. I think we’re going to be gunning for number one but we’re not going to get cocky about it.”
Sentinels play the winner between NUTURN Gaming and V1 in the VCT Stage 2 Masters Upper Bracket Finals on May 28 at 1 PM PST / 4 PM EST / 8 PM UTC.
Reporting by Dexerto’s Andrew Amos.