Sentinels claimed their second Challengers title with a victory over Version1 and enter Masters Reykjavik on a high note.
Sentinels once again proved that they alone belong at the top of North American VALORANT, winning their second NA Challengers title. Perhaps more importantly, this final victory over Version1 granted Sentinels the top seed to Masters Reykjavik. Given the talent from qualifying teams across the globe, this could be a substantial benefit for Sentinels. Though with a 3-0 sweep over their only remaining rivals, Sentinels made it clear that they will be a force to be reckoned with in Iceland after this performance in the NA Challengers Finals.
Teams limit test on Bind
The drama in the NA Challengers Finals largely left after both Sentinels and Version1 qualified for Masters. The draft in map one made it clear that this series would focus around testing the limits of the team's respective rosters.
The selection of Bind by Sentinels set this tone early. Undoubtedly their worst map, where they post only a marginal 55% round win rate, Sentinels were likely getting in reps to refine their fundamentals before their foray into international competition. Version1 followed suite with an interesting draft, opting for a Viper mirror matchup and Anthony "Vanity" Malaspina's off meta selection of Yoru.
Some of these risks panned out better than others. Michael "Dapr" Gulino had an impressive game on Viper, a pick we seldom see him play as she makes up less than .01% of his picks career wide. Dapr ended with 20 total kills, 152 ADR, and 100% entry frag rate that granted them total control over the map.
Though ending the game with impressive stat lines, Sentinels trailed for most of the game. Tyson "TenZ" Ngo blew the game open for his team though with an incredible pistol round that ultimately led to Sentinel's 13-8 win.
Sentinel's Haven status quo
Sentinels followed up with game two on Haven, their signature pick which NA Challengers has only cemented further. Alongside their best map, Sentinels also ran with a more traditional composition centered around their duelists. Version1 were able to decently challenge Sentinel's typically unstoppable attacker side. Version1 ended the half with only a 4 round deficit and some highlight reel plays.
Sentinel's fundamentals on Haven proved too much for V1 ultimately. Per usual, TenZ was able to take winning fights mid that opened the map for Sentinels countless times. Though the acquisition of TenZ may still be fresh in the minds of many, this iteration of Sentinels by far had the most competitive experience in the NA Challengers series.
ShahZaM shines on Icebox, claims NA Challengers Finals title
Fortunately for Version1, after suffering two harsh losses on Sentinel's map picks, they finally made it to their half of the map picks. Icebox was a strategic pick by V1 as it is by far their best map with an incredible 63.7% round win rate. Perhaps anticipating a Sentinel's favored start to the series, Icebox was certainly where V1 saw the tide turning. Unfortunately for Version1, Icebox was dominated by Sentinel's IGL, Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan.
Sentinel's consistent Jett Op presence on Icebox, ShahZaM's incredible play saw the best individual performance of the series. A constant, looming presence in every round, ShahZaM ended with 31 total frags, 1.41 KPR, and an impressive 213 ADR.
With the qualifiers finally finished, Sentinels ended with an clean display that bodes well for Sentinel's run in Iceland. As for Version1, while they may have had a disappointing finish it should not subtract from their impressive lower bracket run that claimed them the second seed.
Ultimately, both teams showed the ability to experiment while maintaining their tried and true playstyles on dominant maps. With Masters being on an entirely new patch and including Breeze for the first time in competitive play, this willingness to embrace change may be NA's best asset.