SEN SicK: “There’s a problem in Counter-Strike with burnout. But with VALORANT, I’ve never really felt that burnt out.”
Sentinels’ SicK discusses strategies and the overall format of VALORANT Esports after SEN’s playoffs upper bracket win over 100 Thieves.
Sentinels have repeatedly proven themselves as the best VALORANT team in North America and the world. Key to their success is Hunter "SicK" Mims. The duelist main is known for his flexibility, at times appearing on agents like Sage or Sova. And of course, he was instrumental in the team's Masters Reykjavik win.
In Sentinels' latest event, the VCT Stage 3 finals, they breezed through the competition with relative ease. They dropped two maps all event, cleanly winning their Masters Berlin spot. They took down Rise and Envy to book their Berlin tickets, and then beat 100 Thieves in back-to-back matches to secure North America's first seed. SicK also recorded the highest K/D of any player at the event, 1.47. And let's not forget that, on top of all this, they have been guaranteed a spot at Champions - VALORANT's equivalent of League of Legends Worlds - since their Reykjavik win.
SicK sat down with Esports.gg following Sentinels' 2-0 upper bracket finals win against 100 Thieves to discuss strategies and adaptations the team has seen recently, as well as his thoughts on VALORANT's format and meta.
Answers have been edited for clarity and grammar.
VCT Stage 3 Finals: Sentinels, 100T, Envy to represent NA in Berlin
We have our 3 representatives for North America at Masters Berlin. With their win over XSET today, Envy join Sentinels and 100 Thieves in the big event. Meanwhile, a comfortable win puts SEN through to the grand final.
Shawn "Germanicus" Heerema
Can I get your overall thoughts on the match today? (referring to the UB Finals match vs 100 Thieves)
SicK: Honestly, it went how we expected it to. I don’t want to be too cocky about it, but playing 100 Thieves hasn’t been much of a challenge as of late. Even though it’s just a seeding match, we came in expecting to play our best game and just take care of it.
Even though this was just a seeding match, it felt like we saw new set plays and strategies out of SEN this game. Would you say you guys were going all out and showing what you had this match?
SicK: I wouldn’t say all out, the way we play, it's very on the fly. So even though things might look new, it's honestly just us playing off each other really well. Like a lot of our strats that are set, we do very regularly, and most of the time we just play default. So on attack specifically, we just kind of wait for the enemy to make a mistake and then we capitalize off of it; but I wouldn't say we were testing anything new. We just showed up and played our game.
SicK playing in Sentinels' opening match of Masters Reykjavik. Image credit: Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games.
Do you find that there is a difference, then, between these matches and seeding games in regular Challengers events?
SicK: Well, these ones are a bit different honestly, because you’re seeding into the LAN. So getting to LAN with a high seed is actually pretty important, because you could have a pretty easy route to say, maybe like the quarter finals or something. I'm not sure how Berlin’s gonna work with the group stage and stuff. But you know, obviously you'll have more of an advantage doing that instead of just winning seeing matches for Challengers because that’s just a qualifier, and you can get a random seed that is really good. But I think when it comes to LAN you really want to have a high seed because you could get put against a weaker region, perhaps, or something like that. So yeah, these matches are more important and also you get more prize money and stuff too, which is nice.
Over this last month, we've seen Sentinels play dapr much more on Killjoy, as opposed to his usual Cypher, and this match, she's the only agent he played. Why have you guys decided to make this switch?
SicK: I would just say it's because of the meta right now with Skye in the mix. We've found that when people are defaulting, they have the Sova drone, they have Sova shock darts, they have the Skye dog. There's so many ways to break Cypher stuff, but there's not many ways to break Killjoy stuff. So we figured that in this meta, Cypher’s being shut down quite a lot. So Killjoy just works better in most situations in my opinion.
One of those strategies I was thinking of before is the way you guys used Astra walls this series. But I know many pros think that ultimate is just not good. Is there a secret to using that ability effectively at a high level?
SicK: Yeah, the ult is pretty tricky, because there's a lot of ways that it can be countered. But if you use it in situations where your team is ready to go with it immediately, say on like a retake on defense, that’s when it really shines. So honestly, it comes down to zombs. His timing with it has been pretty good recently. So we've been getting a lot of value just because he's timing it well, I don't think we plan to use it a certain way, but he just does it really well himself.
I've been asking pros their thoughts on KAY/O this weekend, and while some have predictably said he's bad, others have a very high opinion, even comparing him to release Astra in the right hands. What are your thoughts on the agent and how 100 Thieves have used him in their run to Berlin?
SicK: Yeah, I'm not so sure about KAY/O. The problem with the game right now is, like, the reason I'm still playing Phoenix is because we need to have really established frontline to entry with, and I feel like when you play these agents like KAY/O and Skye combined, it seems like they don't have much of a frontline. Like they just have Jett dashing in solo, going for fights, and that's not really that consistent in my opinion. So for example, if I switch to KAY/O switching off a Phoenix, I'd have to stay in the backline and flash for my teammates and stuff. But there's only one person I can go in with at that point. So it's just what your team likes, and I guess 100 Thieves likes that slower style. But from what I've seen with KAY/O it's really hard to be in position to help the team.
Do you have any thoughts, or anything you'd improve, about the overall format and structure of VALORANT esports?
SicK: Honestly, I think the structure is pretty fair. If you look at it, I don't think there's too many matches being played right now. The circuit is pretty fair, because right now, there's a problem in Counter-Strike with burnout and stuff like that. But with VALORANT, I've never really felt that burnt out. I feel like there's a nice spacing between each Challenger Series and each Masters and stuff like that, and obviously since it's an open circuit, it gives smaller teams an opportunity to upset teams like us, for example. So I don't know if I would change anything right now - maybe more smaller tournaments, but I know Riot likes to control the amount of tournaments that go on.
Stay tuned to Esports.gg for the latest VALORANT news and updates.
Shawn "Germanicus" Heerema
Editor | Twitter @GermanicusCVIII
A writer from Niagara, Canada, Shawn covers VALORANT, League of Legends, and PUBG. He previously wrote for THESPIKE.GG and is a journalism student at Ryerson University. He has also been accredited press for Worlds 2021 and VALORANT Champions.