yay confirms Sentinels approach before Cloud9 stint

Luís Mira
Optic yay points his finger like a gun gangster style at the camera

Valorant star yay has confirmed rumors that Sentinels were interested in his services before he joined Cloud9 for the 2023 VCT season.

Jaccob ‘yay’ Whiteaker entered the 2022 off-season as one of the hottest commodities in the Valorant scene after an impressive year in which OpTic Gaming won VCT Masters Reykjavík, placed third at VCT Masters Copenhagen and finished runners-up to LOUD at Valorant Champions.

With OpTic left out of the VCT Americas League, yay and the rest of the team were on the market during the off-season. Because of their hefty valuation, the team split up, with the core of the squad joining NRG, while yay signed with Cloud9. (Jimmy ‘Marved’ Nguyen took a break at the end of the season and didn’t return to competition until March 2023.)

But Cloud9 were not the only team interested in yay. 100 Thieves were at one point in the race before they signed Matthew ‘Cryocells’ Panganiban, one of North America’s biggest talents. There were also other teams vying for his services, and not just in the Americas.

Sentinels eyed yay in the off-season

Speaking to Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields on the latest episode of ‘Reflections’, yay said that there were “three or four teams” he could have realistically joined in the off-season. One of those teams was Sentinels, who were letting go of every player but Tyson ‘TenZ’ Ngo after a disappointing year.

“There was a chance for Sentinels at some point,” he said. “They were rebuilding their team from the ground up and I didn’t want to do that whole route. I just wanted an established core.”

(Topic starts at 34:40)

Sentinels signed Bryan ‘pANcada’ Luna, Gustavo ‘Sacy’ Rossi, Rory ‘dephh’ Jackson, and Zachary ‘zekken’ Patrone for their 2023 team. In March, the organization also picked up Marved, initially as a backup option before he was handed a starting role.

According to yay, the lack of an established core was also the reason why he turned down an offer from an unspecified EMEA team in the off-season.

“They were trying to do a roster rebuild,” he said. “Basically, they were trying to build a team from the ground up. I’ve done a few roster rebuilds and I’m not a huge fan.

“What ends up happening a lot of the times is that you have to make a whole bunch of changes and it takes a long time to find a good core. Very rarely do you see a roster rebuild happen with very few changes afterward and that is instantly successful.

“Maybe Vitality in CS:GO and LOUD are good examples. A lot of them are just a long process. I wanted to find an established core and a team able to pay my buyout, and Cloud9 were one of my only choices.”

yay’s Cloud9 tenure ended up being short-lived. He was released less than five months into his contract due to what the organization described as role issues within the team. After a month away from action, he joined NA Challengers team Disguised for Split 2 but was unable to prevent the team from being relegated from the league.

As he looks for a team to represent in the 2024 season, yay says he wouldn’t mind making league minimum if that means he can play at a tier-one level again. “I just want to f**king play at this point,” he said in a July 22 live stream. “As long as I can live, I’ll be happy.”

Keep track of all the changes in the Valorant scene with our off-season rostermania tracker.