[VCT NA Masters] Sen ShahZaM: "We proved that we could make it work with TenZ."

Source: Sentinels

The Sentinels won their match against Luminosity Gaming on Friday to advance to the semifinal round of the VCT Regional Masters NA tournament. Sentinels are widely considered to be one of the best VALORANT teams in the world, but there were some questions coming into Friday's match about how well the team would work with a last-minute substitute player Tyson "TenZ" Ngo.



Inven Global sat down for a post-match interview with Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan, In-game leader and sniper for Sentinels, in which ShaZaM discussed playing with TenZ, what his role as IGL of Sentinels entails, and the importance of constantly reinventing your strategies if you want to succeed in professional VALORANT.

What were your expectations coming into today’s match, especially given the last-minute addition of Tenz to the roster? 


I knew we could win this match. TenZ is an amazing player, and I knew if we could plug him right into things that our previous teammate did, we can make it work. I feel like we proved that we could make it work with TenZ, and it gives us confidence moving forward that we can continue to do this and still be the favorites in this tournament. 


With Tenz subbing in on such short notice, how did that change the dynamic of the team play? Were there communication challenges you faced as a result?


We went over a lot right before today's match, in a really fast session of going over every map, saying “this is what we do, this is what we do”. But sometimes during the match, we had to say “oh, we call this spot this thing” when it might be different than what people call it in ranked. 


So there was some improvisation going on in today’s match?



You had some incredible moments in today’s match and contributed to the win in so many ways. As a sniper and IGL, how would you describe your role on the Sentinels?


Because I am the IGL, I feel like I have to play a little bit more selfless than being an AWPer like I was in CS:GO, where sometimes I can’t just pull out an Operator and sit in the back and go for kills, or be a little selfish. 


So usually on attack I don’t really AWP, unless it’s a direct counter to whatever they are doing, like if they are taking some sort of fights or disrupting our default. So usually i’ll rifle and try to take space for us, whether it's smoke and dash in, or just be the first one to go in and trade, since my utility as Jett isn’t the greatest for post-plants as well. Smokes are pretty good for getting map control at the start. Pretty much I want to be the one taking space, so if I get picked off the round is still possible.


On defense is where I mostly will Op and try to get early pics and reset up, or move around, and make it easier for my teammates. My team will be like “maybe you can Op B-Main, they keeping taking control here pretty dry, they aren’t using utility.” As soon as I Op there, for the rest of the half they are going to have to use a flash or smoke, or something to take that space. So I can use my sniper rifle to condition the enemy team to use utility, since they are scared of an Op  everywhere.

You have beaten Luminosity in high-pressure games a number of times over the past few months, what do you think gives the Sentinels the competitive advantage over LG?


I think we have a really good read on the way they like to play. They were really good at the start, but they haven’t really adjusted the way they play, they stick to the same style of Thief taking fights as Reyna, or you know, just the raw aim duels. So we have a pretty good read on how they play. It's up to them to now adapt, adjust, and come up with new stuff. And I am sure the next time we play them, it will be more difficult.


What does that adaptation look like for Sentinels?


We are constantly reinventing the way we play. Our best map has rotated so much, from Ascent, to Split, to Haven, to Icebox. We constantly adjust how we play individual sites, we talk about it in practice and our whole focus is “how is the meta, how are people playing, how can they counter us, and how can we adjust so they can’t do this.” It's like a game of chess almost.


So the Pro VALORANT meta is very fluid?


Yeah, it's always evolving from tournament to tournament. Its a lot of work to stay on top of it and be one step ahead.


The VALORANT meta changes a lot more than the CS:GO meta, as a pro who has played in both esports which type of meta do you prefer?


The VALORANT meta has far more changes, with the game adjustments, constant updates, the character buffs and nerfs. Those individual changes, as well as people figuring out how to play the game more. 


Counter-Strike the game never changes much. The meta would shift as people found out different ways to counter and new ways to use utility. But in VALORANT you have those factors playing in and it being a new game, so its constantly evolving.


I prefer VALORANT. It makes the game exciting and gives you always something to do. I feel like high-level CS, the pro teams were all doing the same things, it was just about timings and doing things correctly. But in VALORANT, there are so many unique ways to play the game, there is no right way, and you can make all these different comps work. It makes it exciting as a player to think about.

Who do you expect to face in the next round, immortals or 100 Thieves? 


I think  100 Thieves is a strong team, despite the recent roster change. They have their core fundamentals down. So I expect them to win and to face them. But you never know, Immortals always find a way to upset a match or get deep into a tournament, despite their revolving roster. That will be an exciting match for sure.



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