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Sentinels Secures Final Playoff Spot at VCT Americas League Kickoff

Zakaria Almughrabi

The VCT Americas League Kickoff has reached its final stage. After 10 days of VALORANT action, the eleven teams have been cut down to our final four. With the three group winners decided earlier in the weekend, Sentinels outperformed MIBR and G2 Esports in the Play-In to claim the final spot at the VCT Americas Kickoff Playoffs.

Sentinels VCT Americas Kickoff Playoffs

Image Credit Riot Games | Marv Watson

Brutal Group B Draw

Sentinels’ VCT Americas Kickoff journey began in Group B. This group was terrifying on paper. Not only did it contain tournament favorites LOUD, but it also featured a rebuilt and revitalized Leviatán and the sprightly 100 Thieves, now led by world champion IGL Kelden “Boostio” Pupello.

Right off the bat, Sentinels found themselves against LOUD. Their map of choice was Split. Sentinels played admirably, taking the Brazilian giants to the brink. In the end, though, SEN got stopped at the door by LOUD at the final step. Up 11-9, SEN lost the last four rounds in a row to fall 13-11. Sentinels tried their best to bring the series back on Ascent, but a nearly flawless defense from LOUD secured a 13-9 win and the 2-0 opener.

For Sentinels, every game from here on out would be an elimination game. Their next test was 100 Thieves. SEN showcased their Lotus to an impressive 13-5 win. After losing 100T’s Bind just as quickly, the series came down to Split. With the entire team posting a 1.08 rating or higher, SEN cruised to a 13-8 victory to stay alive.

Finally, the Group B decider match featured Sentinels against Leviatán. The Argentine org made multiple blockbuster acquisitions in the off-season and looked dangerous. SEN’s Split was up first, which they won most decisively so far, 13-3. LEV equalized with a similarly dominant Breeze 13-6. It all came down to Bind. It was Zachary “Zekken” Patrone who led the way for SEN. His nearly 300 ACS, over 200 ADR, and 23 kills propelled Sentinels past their opposition.

Strong Showing in Play-Ins

With the Group Stage now over, the VCT Americas Kickoff had three of its Playoff teams confirmed. NRG didn’t drop a map on their way to winning Group A, and LOUD put away two top-level opponents to secure Group B. In Group C, Evil Geniuses used their defending champion seed to quickly sweep G2 and make Playoffs with only two maps played.

Three teams were left with only one Playoff spot available. They would play a one-day round robin to determine who earned the chance to play for a trip to Madrid for VCT Masters. In the first match, Sentinels met up against MIBR, the runner-up from Group A. MIBR were heavy underdogs, having upset Cloud9 to get here. The Brazilian squad’s luck had run out now that SEN was in the server.

In the most one-sided match from the entire VCT Americas Kickoff, Sentinels crushed MIBR on both their Split and MIBR’s Ascent. This was incredibly important, as Maps and Rounds won would be a critical factor in determining tiebreakers for this round-robin. Zekken averaged 296 Combat Score over the two maps with the entire team earning over a 1.00 rating. S.EN was truly firing on all cylinders.

In the next match, G2 faced off against MIBR. SEN’s advancement condition would change depending on the outcome of this match. Though, their 2-0 map score and +13 round differential gave them many favorable outcomes. In the end, MIBR showed the form that allowed them to sweep Cloud9 previously. The Brazilians took down G2 Esports 2-1 in an upset win.

Earning their Place in the Playoffs

With this result, all Sentinels needed was a single map against G2 in the day’s final match. MIBR was eliminated due to “dropping a map” in their win, meaning that getting swept was the only thing that could keep Sentinels from Playoffs. The match opened on G2’s Sunset. G2 had already played the map four times in Kickoff, whereas this was SEN’s first time. That said, this SEN roster had plenty of Sunset experience against top teams at the AfreecaTV VALORANT LEAGUE a couple months ago.

When the teams took to the server, it initially seemed like G2 had something going. After the first five rounds were split, G2 won six of the last seven on defense, five with successful retakes. Their 8-4 lead actually had G2 as the favorites going into the second half. Though, that all changed when the teams swapped sides.

Sentinels one-upped G2’s defense, not allowing a single round. They successfully retook sites seven times on their way to a flawless second half. Zekken, Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro, and Gustavo “Sacy” Rossi all clocked in at 19 kills, earning Sentinels a 13-8 win and locking their spot at the VCT Americas League Kickoff Playoffs.

Sentinels have joined the ranks of NRG, LOUD, and Evil Geniuses at the top of VCT Americas. Each of these four teams is now just one match away from qualifying for the first VALORANT LAN of 2024, VCT Masters Madrid. For Sentinels, it’s been over 900 days since they last played on an international stage. While every team playing wants that chance, Sentinels are going to want it just a bit more. The question is if they can make it happen.

The VCT Americas League Kickoff Playoffs begin on March 2.