After Sentinels fell to Cloud9 at the VCT Americas LCQ, esports.gg spoke with TenZ to discuss what the team needs to do to win going forward.
Sentinels entered their second series of the VCT Americas Last Chance Qualifier with high hopes. They bested 100 Thieves in what was called the "Match of the Century," but an always game Cloud9 was waiting. Tyson "TenZ" Ngo and the rest of Sentinels had their work cut out for them.
The series came down to the final map, where Cloud9 sent Sentinels to the Lower Bracket. After the close loss, we had the opportunity to chat with TenZ about gearing up for the LCQ. He discussed the improvements Sentinels made and taking on responsibilities outside of his typical Duelist role.
TenZ opens up about the loss to Cloud9, playing mostly Initiator in the series, and more
"We'll start with the state of the team. There were obviously ups and downs all season long. From roster changes to the personal dealings, it felt like you guys on Sentinels were having trouble planting your feet in VCT Americas. So how useful and important was it to settle on this version of the roster and have the time to practice between the league's end and LCQ?"
TenZ: "I think it's really important that we were able to experience that downfall pretty early on, because I mean, once you fall down it only goes up from there. And so just from us playing and seeing what roles we want to play with, what players felt best, and what roles. Just trying to get our cohesion and vibes up.
"I would definitely say that everything has been looking good recently. I think we play a lot better in scrims currently than we do in the matches. And maybe it's just match nerves or maybe we're focusing on the enemy team too much. I'm not really too sure. We just have to fix our problems going into matches, because if we transition our scrim gameplay, we will play a lot better."
"And from a team perspective, what would you say is the biggest improvement you want to make sure you capitalize on in this Last Chance Qualifier?"
TenZ: "I would say our teamwork is pretty good for the most part, especially when everyone's firing on all cylinders. When we're able to hit our shots, but then also communicate together effectively. I think that's probably the most important thing. In today's game against C9, I think we were communicating pretty well, but unfortunately, I wasn't hitting some shots. I know that we were making some pretty critical whiffs. It cost us a lot of rounds."
"This is one of only a handful of times in your recorded VALORANT career where you didn't play a Duelist in the first two maps of a best-of-three series. We can even call it less than a handful if you remove the times you strictly played Chamber. Tell me about your skillset as one of the top Duelists in VALORANT history and how that translates over to an Agent like KAY/O."
TenZ: "Personally, for me, when I'm playing KAY/O, it feels a lot more natural. I don't really think I was ever an entry player and I'm a lot better on a second entry role. I'm able to support my teammates better. I would say the easiest thing for me, I'm a lot better at setting up others than setting up myself. So, playing a role like KAY/O and the flashes, kind of like a pseudo-Duelist, comes naturally to me."
"And how does it help your confidence in a non-Duelist role knowing the Duelist is in good hands with a player like zekken?"
TenZ: "I trust Zach (zekken). I know if I throw a flash for him, he's going to go in and get a bunch of kills. We can also double pop together and we're both really aggressive players. So, I think that's where we work really good in tandem. Maybe what our roster previously lacked was our entry firepower. Where we were playing a little bit too passive, but right now it's Zach and I. The dogs that will just run in and go entry the site."
"Well, the stakes were clearly much higher against 100 Thieves. It was a win or go home scenario. Did you feel a bit more free in this match versus Cloud9, knowing you made the Double Elmination portion of the tournament?"
TenZ: "Yeah, definitely. I think that just playing the match is really, really important, especially on stage. Everything's really important. You have to get used to the environment, you have to get used to just the feeling of playing in front of a crowd, and playing with high stakes. So, for every match that we play, I'm sure that we're going to keep getting better. And hopefully we can look at our performance today, improve some stuff, and improve it for tomorrow."
"Well, looking at how things played out. Each team took the opposing map pick by decent margins. What does that say about the sheer talent and preparation put in by everyone in VCT Americas?"
TenZ: "No teams are easy. No teams are free. I would say every team, you have to respect. Each team has their different skill sets. Some teams have some insanely cracked players that can just take over a game or maybe their teamwork is really on point. So, each team has their own strengths, their own weaknesses, and that's why you can't really undermine any other teams."
"It came down to Split, a map the team has had success on in recent memory. How do you feel Cloud9 approached Split differently than 100 Thieves, allowing them to get ahead?"
TenZ: "For 100 Thieves, it felt a lot easier to take space from them, especially the Mid control. I would say that C9 was definitely playing for traps a lot with their current comp, like Breach, Cypher, and Raze. So, they were able to actually stop us from taking Mid or kill us while we were taking Mid. And I think that's one of the key differences. Mid control on Split is pretty important."
"So, before the year kicked off, there was a lot of talk about this being a powerhouse roster who could take it all the way. And then a lot of your colleagues talked about how scrims were going heading into the LCQ, hyping you guys up. You're not done yet. The Lower Bracket is still there, but if you had to pinpoint any number of things, personally or team-based, what has prevented Sentinels from living up to those expectations?"
TenZ: "It's kind of hard to point out a key reason of why we may be lackluster in some portions. It does feel like some days we can definitely be the best team in the world, especially when we're playing to our maximum potential, and especially with just all the talent on this roster. It's definitely doable, but we just have to put it into motion and find a way to get consistent."
"And lastly, you've got either Leviatán or KRÜ next. One who you faced just before you took your leave and one who you faced right as you returned to the starting lineup. When you know your next opponent is playing immediately after you, do you opt to pay close attention to that match or do you rather turn your focus towards reviewing the series you just played?"
TenZ: "I think it's a bit of both. We definitely have to review the series that we just played, see what mistakes that we have to improve on, and make sure that we don't make them again. They're pretty critical. But also we have to watch the team, we have to see what they're doing, we have to recognize their patterns and try to set up a game plan for them."
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