“I love all these guys,” Zellsis on the team effort of winning VCT Masters Madrid cover image

“I love all these guys,” Zellsis on the team effort of winning VCT Masters Madrid

In an exclusive interview, esports.gg spoke with Zellsis just moments after Sentinels lifted the VCT Masters Madrid trophy.

The first VALORANT Masters tournament is now complete, with Madrid setting viewership records. In the Grand Final, it was an Upper Final rematch between Gen.G and Sentinels. It went the distance, and ultimately, Jordan "Zellsis" Montemurro and company lifted the trophy.

After the five-map banger, we got a chance to speak with the "dad/uncle of Sentinels." His words. Zellsis went into detail on the team's expectations heading into the Grand Final, the emotions flowing after winning, and a breakdown of how much he loves all of his teammates and coaches.

Zellsis on just how proud he is of everyone on Sentinels after winning Masters Madrid

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"What a series. Aside from winning the tournament, what are you most proud of from Masters Madrid? For yourself and for the team."

Zellsis: "I'm really proud of everything we've done here. From arriving at the tournament and having a really bad travel day, and jet lag and everything. And we weren't the best of teams coming through that. Then just the resilience throughout the tournament, like all the delays we had.

"Some days we weren't eating and having to play matches. Other days we were getting very little sleep and having to play. It was just a very grueling schedule, and I'm just really glad that my team got through it. Because if you can show resilience like that and then come out and win a tournament, you feel like you can do anything."

"And after losing to Gen.G in the Upper Final, just tell me the team’s expectations heading into the rematch."

Zellsis: "After we lost, I mean, it was kind of a good thing we lost. I don't know if I could say we would've won if we beat Gen.G, cleaner, or easier, or whatever the case may be. But I think it was good for us to lose, because we learned a lot from that.

"And then I think after we lost, we kind of were like, 'We are the better team and we deserve to win.' We just weren't playing like ourselves. We were kind of playing into their game and not really talking to each other and stuff like that.

"So, we just came with a good mentality against Paper Rex, and then we carried it over to Gen.G. We just realized that we can never lift our foot off the gas against teams like that. You always have to be kind of amped.

"Kind of taking the fight to them, rather than them always coming to you and playing so passive. So, I think we just came in with a different mental after the loss and it worked out alright."

(Photo by Hara Amoros/Riot Games)
(Photo by Hara Amoros/Riot Games)

"It was quite the rollercoaster. Trading maps back and forth, going all five. If it was a best-of-three again, Gen.G would have won. So, what do you feel are the pros and cons of a best-of-five series?"

Zellsis: "I mean, if it was a best-of-three, they wouldn't have had a two map ban advantage and then banned two of our best maps, right? So, it's a best-of-five. I think there are pros and cons to a best-of-three. I think there are pros and cons to a best-of-five.

"The biggest thing is, when you have a final like this, it has to be a best-of -ive. And coming out on top of it, it shows that we can play an abundance of maps. Obviously, we had a huge disadvantage coming in and they knew that, so it was really nice for us to trade maps back and forth."

"I’d like to know. Did it not set in until after you won? Or when on Icebox did you feel like Sentinels had it in the bag?"

Zellsis: " I actually thought we were going to win the series on Split. Obviously, the series wasn't won there, but we really clicked at the end of Split. On our attack where our comms were flowing, our energy was flowing.

"We were very amped up at the start of rounds. Johnqt was calling a masterclass, and we were just very amped up in the rounds. Then the rounds would die down until later, and we would just have very clear comms.

"Comming to each other and peeking stuff. So, going into Icebox, we just kept saying that we needed to keep the same energy, have that same movement flowing. We did exactly that and we came out on top."

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

"For sure, and we’ve talked about this before. You were brought on as the substitute player, now you’re hoisting a trophy as a Sentinels starter. What do you think was the turning point that got you in this spot and put the team on track to win Masters?"

Zellsis: "This was obviously a team effort, but the biggest thing for me as an individual, was making sure I'm doing everything I can. Trying to be the best leader I can be, trying to be the best player I can be. Just keep working at it, never giving up, never stopping.

"And I think I did that with these guys. We're always learning, always trying to improve, but I think going from sub to starter, it fit like a glove. When we first played together, it kind of just all made sense. The roles, the voice that I gave to the team.

"The energy I gave to the team, the leadership, everything like that. They really trusted me with that and I'm really grateful for that. I'm really blessed to be here with these group of guys. So, I think that was just kind of the turning point."

"Well, time for a few fun questions. You’re a Masters champion now, the second best-performing team bundle. Do you think this will propel Sentinels to number one?"

Zellsis: "I hope so, man. I've been putting in the work, that if the Sentinels bundle isn't number one after this, I don't know what to do, man. I'm tired, I'm ready to sleep, but I'm going to keep promoting the bundle, obviously.

"And I think we get it in the shop now, unless Leo's lying, so I hope he's not. I think we get it on the front page of the shop, so that should help boost our numbers a little bit. And if you don't own the Sentinels bundle, now's your chance to own the Sentinels bundle, so buy it."

(Photo by Hara Amoros/Riot Games)
(Photo by Hara Amoros/Riot Games)

"That leads me right into the next question, and you kind of answered it already. So, with all the promotion you’ve done, and as you said, the bundle promoted directly in the VALORANT client after winning Madrid. Are you going to take a break?"

Zellsis: "Yeah, I think a lot of things I'm going be asked is, are we going to fly home and take a break or whatnot? But I don't think I am. I think I'm going to kind of amp up the schedule a little bit. I'm going to keep going to the gym, keep playing the game, maybe do a little like soul finding here or there before the next split starts.

"We're going to have a big target on our back now, so people are going to be watching us. We're going to need to adapt and really put in the work. I think split one starts so soon. So, yeah, it's going to be the Sentinels' way, where we don't get the easy road. We don't get a break and, I mean, we're going to come back and show resilience as we always do."

"So, there was a lot of emotion shown from everyone after winning. You all cried just a bit. Happy tears. When was the last time you cried before that?"

Zellsis: "I honestly can't remember. As sad as it is, I don't really cry that much. I can't really pinpoint a time I last cried, to be honest. So, I mean, I'm sure I've done it recently, or sooner than I've probably thought.

"But those were definitely happy tears. It felt like a relief, after everything we've been through and done, and all the work we've been putting in. So, yeah, it feels really good."

"That's awesome, but for real, all we’ve heard about is how much of a brotherhood the team is. Take a moment for me, go one by one, your teammates and your coach, tell me their contributions and what they mean to you."

Zellsis: "TenZ is kind of the other jokester of the team. He's the big old clown. He'll change our gear or he'll move our sensitivity higher or lower. He'll change our skins, He'll troll us a little bit.

"And as talented as he is, he's also fun outside the server. He just has that X-factor. He is very creative in the server. He really enjoys the game, so it's a blessing to have him.

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"And zekken, I mean the stats show for himself. That kid, he is the best in the world, the best Duelist for sure. Probably the most skilled player in the world, I can confidently say. He's been carrying us through thick and thin.

"I don't think a lot of people realize the amount of pressure he puts on his shoulders. Even in the game, he's always comming, he is always calling. He is commanding things and he is also dropping 30 kills a map. So, he is a young prodigy for sure, and we're super grateful to have him.

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"Johnqt, this is his rookie year, but he pulled out a Masters. He had an absolute cinema masterclass calling in this final. I can't remember the last time I saw an IGL just put in so much time before games, and have such reads on the game to be able to call stuff like that.

"So, I call him Besto Friendo. He's my Besto Friendo. I love him. Shout out to you John. Thank you for having such a masterclass finals. We appreciate it.

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"And then Sacy. There's a thing where I'm like the dad of the team, but Sacy kind of grounds me as well. I'm always trying to learn from him. He is very smart, he's a very good player. He's kind of the dad and I'm the uncle, I would say. It's like a 5/ 50 relationship thing within the team.

"But you know, he's our very serious guy, who keeps us grounded all the time. He still laughs and has fun, but he's always making sure we're getting prepped, getting in the right mood, and the right mindset when we get into game, in freeze times, we're talking about the game, stuff like that.

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"Then for Kaplan, I don't really know what to say. He is a bundle of joy. He cares so much. I think there's so many times where we get out of practice, and we all go home and we eat, we relax, we go to the gym, whatever. And then we stream or play the game, do whatever we do.

"But he's always working. Always working. From the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep, I feel like he is just working all day long, every day. Without him, we would not be here. So, yeah, I love him a lot as well. I love all the guys, but Kaplan, he deserves a really big pat on the back. This win is for him. We wouldn't have won this without him.

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"And Drew. Drew is our assistant coach. He has also done a lot. He's very smart, putting in a lot of work, same as Kaplan. He really grounds us, reminds us of all our prep that we need, makes sure we have all our strats and lineups, and that we're doing everything we have to. Dry runs and things like that as a team, as a collective.

"He is making sure we have all that before games, checking on everyone. When we're in the player ready room and he's making sure we have everything we need, from strategies to lineups. If we need to run a three-man dry run thing through, he makes sure we check on that. So, yeah, a very team-collective effort, and I love all these guys."

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"Lastly, as previously mentioned, Stage 1 of VCT Americas is soon and you'll have that target on your back. Having won Kickoff and Masters, what is it going to take for the team to maintain that success and prevent that target from being struck by the rest of the teams in the field?"

Zellsis: "I think we've just got to stay hungry. We won one trophy. Now let's go for the second one. This career is very fun, it's very fulfilling, and it's very grueling. We just need to stay hungry, stay grinding, and make sure we don't get complacent. And I think we'll be okay."

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