FaZe Clan earned a crucial victory over Sentinels, keeping their playoff hopes alive and pushing the Sentinels VALORANT Championship Series Closed Qualifier losing streak to seven games and officially eliminating them from VCT North America.
After the Sentinels played with two substitutes a week prior against OpTic Gaming, the team announced prior to the FaZe series, Hunter “SicK” Mims will be taking an indefinite hiatus, citing a family emergency. In his place, head coach Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty took the reins. A former FaZe player was Sentinels last chance to save their 2022 season and couldn’t come through in an impossible situation.
Moreover, even with Tyson “TenZ” Ngo returning from his sickness, it wasn’t enough to stifle the explosive firepower of Andrej “BABYBAY” Francisty and FaZe. With FaZe needing a win to stay ahead of Cloud9 in VCT NA Group B, it was important to beat a discombobulated Sentinels roster and beat them by a large margin. For Sentinels, it was another tough loss in 2022 characterized by underperformance for the former Masters Champions.
Chasing the clout
In terms of unadulterated clout in the VALORANT scene, Sentinels stand alone. From Jared “zombs” Gitlin baiting the Brazilian community, to getting constantly called out by other professionals for a lack of scrimming, or simply having the most recognizable player in the world in TenZ. Sentinels drive headlines and views for the VCT and them falling down the rabbit hole to seven straight losses sits in stark contrast to their 2021.
Outside of the endless loop of dramatics that follow this team, the play itself has been lackluster. The addition of Eric “Kanpeki” Xu from Akrew brought a renewed vision, but the play in the server hasn’t impressed. The main issues being a lack of drilled executes on sites and failing to adjust appropriately to the Chamber meta.
Questions around TenZ and the Jett
For one, TenZ has been reduced to the one-trick Jett main. In a meta where teams are looking for their first points of contact on Chamber or Raze, TenZ is forcing the Jett. It’s not as if TenZ has struggled to make an impact (265 ACS in 201 rounds), but that he’s not as oppressive when pushing sites or holding corners. It’s no longer a guarantee that TenZ will out-duel his opponents, leaving much more of the onus on his teammates.
Reversing the clock a year to May of 2021, TenZ puts up the outrageous stat lines on ACS, Kill-to-death ratio, ADR and kills per round against the worlds best at VCT Masters Rejyavik. It was a sensational individual performance that no player might ever be able to match moving forward. Fast forward to today, Sentinels are barely surviving open qualifiers and despite admirable performances from TenZ, the numbers are down across the board against lesser competition.
That’s not to put the blame falls entirely on TenZ. He just serves as the most public face of the franchise and most prominent player. Along with Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan, who is having an equally disappointing year, not reaching his 2021 highs. Add on the rash move to excuse zombs coupled with the downward trajectory of their play leading up to that decision was a recipe for disaster. Kanpeki was tasked with developing the same rapport in only a matter of weeks and the team has since crumbled.
Moving Forward for the Sentinels
The Sentinels' collapse has been slow and steady. As the teams form dipped at the end of 2021, culminating in a loss to KRU Esports that sent them home early at VCT Champs. It’s been a slow crawl to get to this point. With their 2022 season being virtually over after the Faze loss, it’s now time to decide whether or not this previous Champions level roster can compete.
The status of SicK is still very much in the air and wholesale roster changes could be the next potential step. With a flurry of free agents set to be available, it might be time to finally test the free agent market and see where improvements can be made. For now, with the VCT calendar rather barren leading up to Last Chance Qualifiers, the organization will take a moment to regroup.
The current state of the team is unacceptable, according to their standards. Whether it be the constant clout carnival surrounding these players or a failure to match the meta, changes need to come swiftly. In the meantime, don’t harass players or make them feel worse about the situation. As ShahZaM states on twitter, it’s been a tough couple of weeks for the team. He goes on to emphasize the fact that these are people playing VALORANT, not robots.