The team struggled to perform up to the high standard expected of them in the VALORANT closed beta
With VALORANT being such a brand spanking new game with an esports scene in its infancy, only a few full-fledged esports rosters even exist to date, with the game launching early the day of this article’s publication, June 2nd 2020. Among those, a couple of teams have posted standout performances and show promise, giving us something to excitedly look forward to, but they were not the rosters we initially got excited about. No, the first couple of times we saw a list of names in Arial on a simple white and red website and truly felt a rush of anticipation was with the star-studded rosters of T1, and Sentinels.
Brax going to T1 was the first player signing ever for a VALORANT team, but with Sentinels the biggest publicity bomb was Sinatraa. The MVP and champion for both the Overwatch League and the Overwatch World Cup in the same year, Sinatraa was on top of the world in another game, and although he was suspiciously less on stage in 2020, showed no signs of slowing down. When the news dropped that he was signed to Sentinels’ VALORANT team, both worlds were shaken, either with disappointment in losing one of the greats, or excitement, to see what the young gun could do. However, Sentinels did not stop there with the star power. Very few VALORANT teams can afford to lure away Tier 1 Counter-Strike talent from the booming game with a storied history, and the best teams in the early stages of the esport scene seem to be made up of the cream of the crop that CS’s Tier 2 scene has to offer. However, Sentinels has managed to score not only SicK but also ShahZaM, both of whom have shown face and even performed respectably in Tier 1 CS events, on the Complexity roster.
They did not let up either, also signing Zombs, their own Apex Legends pro and dapr, yet another Tier 1 CS pro with mediocre results, putting down a roster that on paper leverages the most star power of any other team barring T1. But what has that done for them on the server? Unfortunately, not much. To be fair, every new team needs a short while to get adjusted, and Sentinels have no reason to be any different. Some of the teams that have been performing well, like mousespaz, do have pre-existing synergy from previous rosters, but these aren't the only teams Sentinels have been falling to in tournaments. In fact, they have suffered close losses to streamer teams in the T1 x Nerd Street Invitational and got demolished by mousespaz in the Elite Esports Rivalry Bowl. Some players on Sentinels, such as Zombs and a few of the stand-ins they have had before signing dapr, have also individually shown sub-par performances. Some of this can be attributed to Zombs’ lack of competitive Counter-Strike experience compared to the rest of his team.
The concerning thing about Sentinels’ performance so far isn’t that they decidedly lose to other full-fledged rosters, after all, some teams are just always going to be better than others. The real concern comes from them falling to teams that are simply haphazardly assembled last minute, full of streamers and older, retired pros from other games. Teams who don’t scrim together like Sentinels do, teams with players like Shroud who openly admit on stream that they play VALORANT casually and for fun. To be fair to Sentinels, they are already on the path of improvement. The game is new, and they are new as well, and with every day they improve and put up better numbers. Early on, Sentinels opted to 5 stack in ranked games with every player streaming their own perspective, rather than scrim top teams privately behind the scenes. Now that the scene is more fleshed out, they are able to hone their skills in a more competitive environment, and not risk their strategies being leaked to thousands of viewers online.
VALORANT launched today. As each event gets bigger and bigger, this is where the game’s esports scene goes from fledgling to its first steps at flight. Barring the odd Twitch Rivals event every now and then, streamer teams are getting phased out of the top tier of tournaments, organisations are signing contracts to pick up entire teams from the closed beta, and the players themselves are getting better. In such a rapidly growing environment, to stagnate is to fall behind, and Sentinels are about to be flung into the deep end where they will have to prove that their star talent can back up the big talk, and actually win some important games. On their side, they have some veteran tactical FPS talent as well as some explosive young guns with historically top-tier drive to grind and improve. It remains to be seen if they can leverage these pieces to truly step up their game to match their names.
Images courtesy of Sentinels and CypherCam.org