Leading North America, Sentinels stand at the top, but how did they get there?
After a quiet entrance, the VALORANT esports space cannot deny the Sentinels any longer. With their repeat victories at the PAX Arena Invitational and the 30Bomb Summer Cup, the Sentinels have to be in consideration as the best team in North America. After unseating TSM, not once, not twice, but three times, it’s clear that there is either a power vacuum in North America at the moment or, the more likely case, Sentinels are leading the pack in the discussion for the best team in the region. Starting with their victory over together we are terrific at the Pulse Invitational to secure third place, Sentinels have gone on an impressive undefeated streak when it comes to best-of-three sets, going 12-0 with a staggering 29-5 map score. This all begs the question - what are the Sentinels doing differently in VALORANT?
We’re very familiar with Jay "sinatraa" Won’s shenanigans regarding walls and LMGs. However, Sentinels uses this tactic in multiple ways, not only to find early kills but also to control the map. Sentinels have been developing this style of play for a while now, one of their early showings of this was during the group stage of the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Invitational in their match against Gen.G Esports. Sinatraa is integral in Sentinels Haven Defence as he adds the x-factor needed to cement control of the middle portion of the map.
@sinatraa pulls out the 1v2 clutch as we take Map 2 on Ascent, 13-8. We are heading to the decider map on Haven next!
Often he can be seen floating around B Site with either an Ares or an Odin. This threatens the multiple potential positions depending on which side of B Site he favours. If Sinatraa favours A Site, he can shoot through the wooden door to help control A Short. If he favours C Site, he can quickly rotate towards C Window to limit the angles of the attacking team. On the off-chance he chooses to hold a more aggressive angle on B Site, he positions himself well to punish anyone sitting mid-window.
This allows Sentinels a big switch up on Haven as many teams play the outside sites as their strong sider which baits teams into a B Site execute. However, Sentinels seems to use their control of mid-B Site to force teams to play into either A or C Site, both of which have an entrenched staller who slows the attackers as they push through the narrow choke points.
Both on Attack and Defence, no matter the map, Sentinels are one of the earliest teams in VALORANT to not only abuse the penetration of their guns to find kills but to use the threat of that happening as leverage for map control.
Sentinels can do this because they are easily the most ability-centric team in North American VALORANT at the moment. While most teams rely more on their aim, Sentinels is a marriage between brain and aim. Obviously, as we mentioned before, Sentinels expertly showcase some amazing set Recon Arrows to abuse wall bangable spots like on Haven and more popularly on Ascent. Always pushing with Sinatraa’s Boombots, his Leer’s on Haven, and his Curve Balls on Bind. It’s clear that he is the point man for his team, but they find so much value of his abilities. Using Hunter "SicK" Mims’ Barrier Orb, to not only stymie attacks but also as a creative aggressive tool on maps like Ascent and on Split.
Watching Sentinels VALORANT roster work is like watching a movie on fast-forward. Throughout a majority of their games, they always seem to want to set the tempo in their favour and engage incredibly quickly.
If we ignore the rounds where the defence initiates the engagements, in rounds where the money spent was approximately equal, Sentinels had an average time to execute of about 18.25 seconds on Split against TSM in the recent 30Bomb Summer Cup. To better define this statistic, time to execute is the time it takes a team to both commit positions to a site and begin to expend resources to attacking said site. TSM, on the other hand, had an average time to execute of about 32.25 seconds.
TSM knows Sentinels wants to play quickly and set the tempo of the game, Throughout the series, it was clear that Sentinels is an incredibly aggressive team. Combining all applicable rounds in their match against TSM on Bind, Split, and Haven, Sentinels had an average time to execute of about 22.25 second, compared to the oppositions 29.25. Ascent was ignored due to how often both teams initiated on defence. That said, it was clear that TSM knew that Sentinels wanted to play quickly on Ascent. This is why they constantly get in their way and take aggressive angles on the defence.
It’s clear that Sentinels wants to execute on A Site, TSM not only can glean this from the sheer number of resources put into trying to control the choke, but also from their Recon Arrow. Hearing that SicK is attempting to take the orb near A, TSM pushes into them and the goal isn’t necessarily to find picks, they are perfectly fine with just delaying the push and hamstringing Sentinels aggressive tendencies.
Images via Riot Games