The Sentinels start the Shroud era with a bang, pushing The Guard and eliminating Shopify Rebellion in the Lower Round 1, 2-0.

Hundred of thousands of fans tuned into the VCT North American Last Chance Qualifiers once again to watch Shroud. He didn’t disappoint. He drops a 283 ACS on Breeze and top-frags in the sweep over the former LG roster, Shopify Rebellion.

The Sentinels’ new additions of Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek and Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro have shown glimpses of this team’s full potential. The two combined to beat Shopify by top-fragging on both maps. In the Sentinels’ first win since Open Qualifiers of Stage 2, the newcomers are the ones making the major impact.

Shroud working out the jitters

For any other rookie Valorant player, the debut wouldn’t be a highly publicized event, but for one of the most recognizable faces on Twitch, it’s expected. In Shroud’s first professional event since 2018 with Cloud9 CS:GO, he showed that his signing is not simply for fun, but that he has a long-term outlook for this squad. 

“But, in the grand scheme of things, how much is 2-4 weeks? It’s really not that much. If this is a roster that would stay together, I think it’d be dangerous”

Sentinels shroud

“Honestly, I don’t think we’ve gotten close because yeah, we’ve been here for a month, or, well, we’ve been at Bootcamp for about two weeks. So, we got a lot of practice in, sure. But, in the grand scheme of things, how much is 2-4 weeks? It’s really not that much. If this is a roster that would stay together, I think it’d be dangerous just because the small stuff we’ve managed to do here in these 2-4 weeks, in my opinion, is insane. It didn’t really show in the first BO3, but I promise we have more to show”

Sentinels Shroud shaking the rust off 

Switching attention back to the game, Sentinels had a much cleaner performance against Shopify Rebellion. For starters, the attacking rounds looked improved since The Guard series with the plays being less straightforward and predictable. The retakes and executes were coordinated and the groupings of players were working well off each other. Sentinels were more willing to push areas, and generally less afraid to take map control.

Overall, Sentinels looked as if the nervous energy of the first round had worn off and now they could play more freely. Shroud, after a reasonably sized hiatus from esports, confirmed he needed that first game to get back a level of comfortability. 

“I feel like I needed that one BO3. It’s been like five years, ok? I had some jitters, but I feel comfortable now. Feels good,” said Shroud.

Mike “Shroud” Grzesiek

Sentinels dominate in First Blood 

The main difference in the Sentinels’ win stems from their ability to find the first kill. With Tyson “TenZ” Ngo on the Chamber and Zellsis on Neon, they won the battle for off-angles and kept Shopify boxed into areas. Zellsis alone had a ridiculous 80% first blood success rate on Fracture, winning 12 opening duels in 32 rounds. 

For example, the majority of rounds were won in the first gunfight. Sentinels were +14 in FK, creating a large deficit for Shopify to come back from in each round. Shopify ended up with a meek 6% win rate on 4v5s and an abysmal 0-7 on 3v4s. Zellsis’s Neon on Fracture had five first kills alone, showing Sentinels’ willingness to take duels in unorthodox spots. 

via rib.gg round replays

The Next Step for Shroud and Sentinels

The next step is evaluating this roster and seeing if there’s a long-term future with these five players. Shroud hinted at potentially staying on to build something, but that’s no guarantee. At this point, Sentinels are a legacy franchise with a massive fan base, so franchising doesn’t seem to be far off in their future. However, the roster is floating in limbo with no obvious solution. 

With that in mind and Sentinels facing the loser of 100 Thieves and Faze Clan, it’s less about qualifying and more about evaluating. The top four teams will find more ways to push Shroud’s inexperience in Valorant, but momentum is building among the Sentinels players.

Stay tuned to esports.gg for the latest Valorant news and updates.

Blake Van Poucke -

Blake Van Poucke

| Twitter: @TokyoDown

Blake Van Poucke is a Valorant writer at esports.gg. He found esports through the early days of MLG and the Super Smash Bros Melee scene. He's been competing and writing about esports dating back to 2008. He has written for several publications and wishes to return to in-person esports events in 2022