“The fan base for Sentinels is very loving, but also very toxic,” Zellsis on representing the org in VALORANT cover image

“The fan base for Sentinels is very loving, but also very toxic,” Zellsis on representing the org in VALORANT

Esports.gg spoke with Zellsis of Sentinels after their opening match of VCT Americas Kickoff, breaking down his and the team’s performance.

Sentinels had a very strong off-season, but came out with a loss in their first VCT Americas Kickoff match of 2024. They fell to LOUD, an always dangerous opponent. After the match, we caught up with Jordan "Zellsis" Montemurro, who found himself a starting role on this roster.

The scoreboard shows a 2-0 defeat, but Sentinels definitely had their opportunities to pull ahead. Zellsis explains what didn't go right for the team, how he fits with the organization, and more in an exclusive post-match interview.

Zellsis on the Sentinels fan base and rebounding after defeat

(Photo by Reece Martinez/Riot Games)
(Photo by Reece Martinez/Riot Games)

"Let’s start with the lead up to the season. Back on Sentinels. Originally announced as a sixth man. Was this your number one pick in terms of where you wanted to be for 2024?"

Zellsis: "After we lost in playoffs for C9, I think early on, we kind of knew that we weren't going to stay together. There was a chance that some players may have stayed, but we weren't all going to stay together. We knew that for sure.

"Then for me, I was kind of fielding all offers from every region. Sentinels was definitely the number one priority for me. I think I just mesh well with the organization. I mesh well with the fans. Sentinels has always been a world-class org. They want to win.

"I'm late in my career, where I want to win as well. Really, really badly right now. So, it just kind of made sense. I had a couple other offers that I was entertaining, and they were up to par with Sentinels. But I think with the state of esports and everything, SEN was my place to be.

"And I ended up talking with Rob, Charlie, and more of the Sentinel staff. And I think it was just, you know, kind of like a welcoming home for me to come back to Sentinels. So, yeah, it felt good to rejoin them for sure."

"That leads right into my next question. SEN is definitely an org that trolls on the social media channels. Tell me about your brand and how does it fit here?"

Zellsis: "I'm kind of just a troll. As a professional, what we do, you have to have fun with what you do. And I think gaming is an outlet for a lot of people. My socials, obviously there's a level of professionalism that you have to follow. But if I can be that jokester, make people feel good and entertained.

"Because at the end of the day, we're professionals, but we're entertainers at the same time. It's like watching athletes play sports. So, I mesh a little bit of both, with my tweets and how I act on streams, stuff like that.

"On stage I'm a little bit more occupied with playing, so it's not as troll. It's more just emotionally looking out for my teammates and having fun, making sure they're joking and everything's calmer and more relaxed for them. Pulling their head space out of the stress levels."

(Photo by Tina Jo/Riot Games)
(Photo by Tina Jo/Riot Games)

"Does that quote unquote clout-chasing do anything to your mental or set any weird expectations, knowing the fan base can be a bit rabid and unforgiving at times?"

Zellsis: "Depending on who you are, the fan base for Sentinels is very loving, but also very toxic. They just want the best for the organization and the players. They're just diehard fans, like sports fans, where they want the best for their team. They want the best for the players, so they're ruthless.

"I don't really care that much. I've been around a bit. I've gone through my young phase of really caring about what the public thinks, and reading comments and stuff like that. And I don't really do that anymore. It doesn't really get in my head. As long as I know I have my teammates, that's all that matters to me.

"For me, it's just all love with the Sentinel fan base, win or lose. You're going to lose. You're not always going to win. Even the best teams lose. It's just about how hard you care, how hard you grind, and how you get back up when you do lose.

"There's always going to be chances to win and sometimes there's a chance you lose. I get that as a player. Obviously, the public is a little bit different, but all we can do is our best on the day we play. Then we go back to the drawing board if not."

"Well, looking at the off-season, you guys seemed primed and ready to go for this kickoff tournament. Were there any major changes between that ATV tournament and now?"

Zellsis: "There weren't really many big changes. I think we kind of amped up the practice a little bit between ATV to now. More scrims, more VOD reviews, stuff like that. We really wanted to make sure that we were prepared for Kickoff. It's not like a season.

"It's kind of a gimmick tournament where teams are going to come with weird comps. They're going to come with weird plays. You're not going to be able to do prep, and I think we're a very prep-based team. We're trying to just do our best.

"Obviously, the LOUD loss, we didn't win our map pick, we didn't get that little buffer. They beat us on our map pick, they won their map pick, it's just kind of how a series goes. If you lose your map pick the series gets 80% harder.

"We were a little flat the first map. Second map, we amped up the energy, we amped up the comms. I had a few mistakes on Ascent, but it was definitely a hard series. I've never beaten LOUD, so I'll definitely be looking forward to, maybe, a rematch. Assuming how brackets play out."

"You said it yourself. LOUD is never going to be an easy challenge for anyone. You guys kept it close, though. We’ll begin with you personally. In hindsight, what would you like to have done differently?"

Zellsis: "On Split, we lost a couple ecos. I think I could have been a bit better on controlling the pack from a lurk position. I wasn't really getting lurk timings. They were punishing me on their defense with their util. So, it was kind of scary for me to take lurk timings.

"I think I could have controlled the pack better, maybe made sure the guys were more aping together, as they say. Just going together, trading, stuff like that. Then on Ascent, I think I just lost those two, really important rounds of.

"Again, ecos. They force bought. I was caught off guard a little bit by the Phoenix and Breach util. I threw away a couple rounds. That's really bad, obviously. If it wasn't for that, maybe the series would've gone different. Maybe we could have been a little bit better. But I definitely failed a little bit on the micro level today. for sure."

"And as a team. What’s your immediate reaction to how the team played and any early tweaks needed heading into the elimination match?"

Zellsis: "After we talked, we were just kind of like, you know, obviously everyone is sad, a little bit mad. We thought we were in the driver's seat for a bit. We just all recognized that this is our first match back in a while. We had some visa issues at the start, after ATV.

"Coming back to LA, practice was a little wonky. We put a lot of time into the practice level playing, rather than getting that match feeling. I'm sure most people can attest to that. First match jitters back, which, sucks in a kickoff tournament where every match counts. But I mean, it's not an excuse, it's just how it happens."

(Photo by Tina Jo/Riot Games)
(Photo by Tina Jo/Riot Games)

"We’ll end things on the positive end of the spectrum, what do you feel went right for you guys that you’d like to see more of?"

Zellsis: "Positively, I liked that we came back on Ascent. Energy-wise, we didn't really get down. We're all still in pretty high spirits. We all are ready to still win. It's not like we're like giving up or anything like that. So, I think that's the most positive thing.

"Most teams or most players, they'll lose one, and they'll get in their head. But I think for us, it's just holding the confidence. And I think we've all realized that. We're just going to go back, play ranked, VOD review tomorrow, and make sure we're prepared for our next match.

"I think with this group of guys, we're just not giving up. I'm making sure that I'm ready. The guys are making sure they're ready. We're just all reminding ourselves and each other that the tournament's not over, right? Every match matters."

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