Sentinels Take Down 100 Thieves with TenZ at Valorant Masters Stage 1
The Valorant world has felt shakeup after shakeup recently. Astra has made an explosive entrance onto the scene. An invitational LAN event is happening in Reykjavik, Iceland after the League of Legends midseason invitational takes place. Stage 1 Masters is happening right now, and the matches have been top-notch entertainment, sterling displays of Valorant skill. All eyes were on Sentinels and 100 Thieves for their explosive match, and the winner will play FaZe Clan on March 19, in the Winners’ Final of the double-elimination, North American bracket.
The Elephant in the Room
Before we get to the better news here, we have to talk about why and how TenZ has ended up playing for Sentinels at the Valorant Masters event. Sinatraa has been rightfully “canceled” after credible rape allegations surfaced against him from his ex, whose handle is cle0h. Consent is not just “important” or “sexy” or however else it’s dressed up to sell it to frat bros these days. No, it’s mandatory. Sex minus consent equals rape, simple as that.No one is entitled to sex. Consent must be Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic, and Specific, as the FRIES acronym goes. Clearly, the encounter that spawned the audio recording cle0h linked in that doc does not have any of those elements, and it would take a lot to prove otherwise.
I know that a lot of anonymous trolls have crawled out from under their bridges and rocks to say stuff like “he’s innocent until proven guilty,” which is all well and good in a court of law, but that’s not quite the same as allowing likely rapists to continue playing a video game for a living. Yes, yes, there are two sides to every story. That does not mean both sides of a story are worthy of equal respect or validation. Cle0h’s side of the story certainly seems much more credible and likely, given all the evidence she has provided. The last paragraph of the above-linked Google doc sums up perfectly what I’d be rephrasing here, minus the bits about him being funny and charming – that never seemed true to me to begin with. Good riddance, I say. Onto the better news.
The Gospel of TenZ, Chapter SEN
Now, instead of a toxic person and likely rapist being one of the star Valorant players for Sentinels, their new substitute in his place for the Masters Stage 1 tournament brings us to the next chapter of TenZ’s already-storied career. He’s “on loan” from C9 to Sentinels for the duration of the tournament. According to SEN IGL ShahZam, it went down like this: he asked TenZ casually in a Twitter DM if the nineteen-year-old “retiree” wanted to play. TenZ reportedly responded, “I’m down.” Gotta love that – no pomp or circumstance, just a dude who’s down to play some games. With less than 24 hours of being on the team, and basically no practice whatsoever, questions abounded about how the team would work. Who was going to play Jett? Was TenZ going to be able to communicate effectively with his new teammates? Was he really ready to come out of his temporary retirement? Would the old SEN chemistry still come through with this new element?
They answered all of these questions and silenced all of the doubters during their matches so far, after the roster switch. The chemistry is certainly still there. ShaZam and TenZ traded Jett back and forth depending on the map and matchup. TenZ has played either Reyna or Raze and ShaZ has busted out his Sova, depending on which of them was using Valorant’s high-flying Korean knife-thrower. TenZ has so far played Jett more often than ShahZam, but only by one map. We saw both of the TenZ’s other characters in his first match as a Sentinel, and he stuck with Jett for the second. This willingness to switch characters depending on each other’s needs and wants is a big part of why the team’s chemistry has been undeniable since TenZ joined them for the NA Masters tourney.
At just nineteen years of age, younger than most rookies in traditional pro sports, TenZ has already cemented himself as one of the best Valorant players on Earth. His temporary team’s matches in Masters have shown that already, and I have a suspicion that the trend will continue. Their first match with him on the roster, against Luminosity Gaming, featured TenZ scoring 69 kills, the most in the lobby by thirteen. He almost scored an Ace that included an unreal (and really lucky) jump-shot on top of everything else, though SicK stole the fifth kill at the end.
Not only is TenZ’s mechanical skill impeccable as always, but his teamplay has also been on point throughout his brief time in the Valorant Masters tourney with the Sentinels. Let’s look at one of his highlight plays from the the team’s match against 100 Thieves. As of writing this article, I don’t think the official VOD is on YouTube anywhere but the play I’m thinking of is this one, in a curated highlight video.
We start with a great double spray-down from ShaZam, hitting Asuna in the head through nitr0’s body and keeping his bullets on target afterward. Steel, who entered the window before these two teammates could, takes down Zombs between ShaZam’s two kills. Zombs then, no doubt, calls out Steel’s location. TenZ responds immediately, taking down Steel before he can steal Zombs’ gun. With just a small purple cloud denoting Ethan’s teleport, TenZ then lines up a perfect headshot through his own smoke before eagerly dashing toward the A site. He gets taken down by Hiko but that intel, and a smart Cypher cam by Dapr, are all the Sentinels need to secure the round. That was just one of their thirteen rounds compared to 100T’s two on Map 1 of their set.
That clip demonstrates fantastic teamplay, positioning, and awareness on TenZ’s part, skills that he did not leave behind when he (temporarily) left C9. TenZ has his fair share of highlights outside of the great timing against Steel and the unreal smoke shot against Ethan. ShaZam secured more kills in that particular round anyway, of course. But it shows that even Jett (a character whose usual playstyle is reflected in her dejected post-loss quote, “I hate to say it, but… we should probably play as a team”) and duelists in general are designed to assist their teammates, not just to increase their own frag counts. And even moreso than that, it shows that TenZ is more than capable of adapting to new teammates, and that SEN still have explosive chemistry after this roster shakeup.
Some of TenZ’s other highlights from the Masters match against 100T included moments at 13:04 and 15:45 of that highlight video. The former is a heart-pounding post-plant scramble situation with a great Op shot and some clean Jett knife work. The latter showcases his knack for disorienting foes with Jett smokes and using just a brief moment of sight to line his crosshair up with their heads. This moment also shows off how good TenZ is at avoiding fire with Jett’s dash, nimbly juking Nitr0’s Vandal fire just a moment after reloading. Dapr plays excellently behind TenZ, taking advantage of this juke to end Nitr0 and the round.
TenZ certainly had the biggest share of the spotlight for this match and the tournament, but we can’t ignore the other nine people in the server.
A Tale of Two Teams… and Two Maps
As previously mentioned, Map 1 of SEN vs 100T was… convincing, as the FGC would say. 13-2 is the single biggest round differential we’ve seen so far in the Valorant NA Stage 1 Masters tournament. 100 Thieves’ slower, one-duelist style puts a lot on Asuna’s shoulders, especially on heavily Defender-sided maps like Ascent. Hiko also clearly feels a lot of pressure as an Initiator, especially when a writer like me could insult him with lies like “Ah, you see, the old man just doesn’t have it anymore.” I don’t think that’s true, of course; I think everyone has off days. It’s just a fact that just about everyone has been at the bottom of the scoreboard before. Hiko has clutched more “impossible” rounds in both CS and Valorant than just about anyone else, and he’s got a lot left in the tank. He’s still going to do work in the losers’ bracket. 100 Thieves’ run is not yet over. Stay tuned for more updates from us and more wild plays from the veteran.
Ah, but where were we? Ascent. 100 Thieves just didn’t ever seem able to get an economic foothold, and had a huge degree of trouble with both taking and holding sites. Round 9 was their highlight, with an impeccable execute onto the A site. This featured a great Ethan lurk, which punished TenZ for a poorly-positioned Op reload from mid arch. With the kills “just a flurry in the site” from 100T, Dapr had little chance to take A back. These plays gave the Thieves their second round.
But 100T just couldn’t seem to get any momentum (and didn’t get any rounds at all) after that execute. With SicK shot after sick shot from the other members of SEN, an economic snowball and mechanical clinic were put on full display.
Map 2, Haven, was a different story. This game was much more in line with what we were expecting – a long, drawn-out slugfest with multiple Overtimes. It was looking rough again for 100T on Defense, as they fell down 8 to 3. In Round 12, three kills from Ethan and a Hunter’s Fury by Hiko were enough to stave off a 9-3 deficit, leaving 100T in the game as they shifted to Attack on what is perhaps the only Attacker-favored map in Valorant.
My favorite moment came in Round 21, with an impeccably well-timed Curveball from SicK, prompted by audio cues. SicK trades himself out with a headshot through the box, and then Dapr just mows down three Thieves before Zombs finishes the round with an unbelievable wallbang. The tension built for thirty seconds, with no one dying before 100T set foot in Garage, and the round was over in less than fifteen seconds after that. Incredible stuff.
That great round put SEN up by three rounds, on match point. But 100T did not go gentle into that good night. No, they clawed their way back to Overtime with three C plants in a row – a bold strategy after what happened in Garage in Round 21. But it worked out, and we got to see some high-stress, wins by two of the top Valorant teams in the biggest-ticket match the Masters Stage 1 tournament has seen so far. 100T was poised to win 14-12, but an excellent last-minute C hold by SEN, featuring two quick, close-range Op shots by TenZ and some great rifle play by ShahZam and Zombs.
100T went up yet again after taking the A site and putting TenZ into an impossible 4v1. A 3K from SicK came through in the next round, sending us to a second OT. With the Spike down for SEN on A, Hiko went down in a smoke to SicK, making the retake extremely difficult for 100T. SEN then showcased an impeccable defense of the C site in the final round, with TenZ scoring three kills, including a ludicrous Op shot through a Cypher cage, Omen smoke, and Hiko’s face. SicK cleaned up the other two members of 100T to end the match.
It would’ve been interesting to see what happened if we made it to Map 3, but the match we got more than lived up to the hype surrounding the Valorant NA Masters Stage 1 tournament.
The Other Side of Winners’ Bracket
Don’t worry, Envy or FaZe fans. I watched their match too, and it was another good one. Not quite as much hype, and no Overtime here, but we did get to see one of the best Frenzy plays yet to happen in Valorant, by Rawkus in Round 1 of Map 1 – two quick kills from above to cap off the round with a 3K. This put FaZe up economically, an advantage they carried for most of the half.
Round 7 showcased the strengths and weaknesses of the two Sentinels that were picked in this match without the SENtinels. Killjoy’s Ult, deployed by FNS, pushed FaZe way back out of the site, but only for a matter of seconds. Like Sage’s wall and slow, this Ult is primarily a stall tactic. There’s only so much a player using a Sentinel character can do to keep the Attackers out – you’ll run out of utility eventually. And that Icebox A site is notoriously hard to hold on Defense. A round win there put FaZe up 5-2.
Envy didn’t get their third round until a wild scramble in Round 11 saw ZachaREEE get detained by FNS’s second Ult of the half before taking down FNS himself. Crashies, meanwhile, just stuck the defuse, keeping his team in the game. A 3K from babybay’s Jett knives in the next round put it even further out of reach, though.
Food managed to cap off an unlikely 3K after the odd moment pictured here, leading to a decent momentum swing for his team. Envy clawed their way back to 11-6, but couldn’t get another round after that. Marved did Sage mains everywhere proud with a lurk, flank, and three kills in the final round of Map 1.
Map 2 was more of the same, this time on Bind. FaZe showed once again how important winning the pistol round is for a team’s economy, snowballing both halves. Envy kept the first half respectable, narrowing the gap to just 5-7. FaZe then put on an incredible Attack, with Envy winning just three rounds as the Defenders on Bind. FaZe displayed dominant teamplay, aim mechanics, economic decisions, and utility usage, but Envy still has a shot in the lower bracket.
The Near Future
So, this brings us to the current state of the bracket. On March 19, we’ll see the next round of matches. 100T plays Gen. G and Envy squares up against Luminosity. The NA Stage 1 Masters Winners’ Final features what may just be the biggest match yet in Valorant – Sentinels vs. FaZe Clan.
These are all sure to be good matches, though. On March 21, we’ll crown our North American Masters Stage 1 champions. Get ready to catch it all live on Twitch, and check back in here shortly after that for our coverage and takeaways.