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Sentinels Wins Marathon Series to Claim VCT Masters Madrid Trophy

Zakaria Almughrabi

The first international VALORANT tournament of 2024, VCT Masters Madrid, has crowned its champion. Sentinels defeated Gen.G in a back-and-forth five-map series to claim the title. This is a monumental win for Sentinels as an organization. They’re now one of two organizations to win multiple international VALORANT events, this one coming over 1000 days after their win at the first one, VCT Masters Reykjavik, in 2021.

Sentinels win VCT Masters Madrid

Image Credit Riot Games | Colin Young-Wolff

Following their win at the VCT Americas Kickoff, Sentinels entered VCT Masters Madrid as a top seed. Expectations were high for the fan-favorite team to finally return to the world stage. Their opening matches went as well as they could have, with Sentinels beating both EMEA teams to establish superiority against Europe and advance to the playoffs as an upper seed.

The Difficult Road

Once the dust of the Swiss Stage settled, both teams from the Americas and Pacific advanced, with EMEA and China heading home early. The first-round draw resulted in rematches of the regional Kickoff Finals. Sentinels and LOUD faced off for a spot in the Winners’ Finals.

The first map was Split, a favorite of SEN. They easily crushed the Brazilian side 13-4, only allowing them one more round than they got in the Kickoff Finals. LOUD’s response was Icebox. Despite being winless on the map in 2024, Sentinels made a valiant attempt. A huge streak of rounds at the end helped them push it to overtime, but they fell short.

The last up was Sunset. This was a nail-biter the entire time, with the round difference never above three. Interestingly, LOUD was getting far more kills than SEN, up 102 to 84 at the end. This map went to OT again, and Sentinels came out on top this time. Instead of the usual suspects, it was SEN’s in-game leader Mohamed “johnqt” Ouarid who stepped up to topfrag for the team with 21.

In Winners’ Finals, SEN had to face off against Gen.G. Gen.G was the hottest new team on the VALORANT circuit, quickly taking the Pacific region and now the world by storm. They looked amazing, with strong mechanics and undeniable team play. It would be SEN’s biggest test yet.

Unfortunately for the Americas squad, they looked largely inferior on the day. Gen.G shut SEN down on Split 13-5. At the same time, SEN surprised on Lotus to even up the series; Breeze was a non-starter. Gen.G won the third map 13-3 to claim a spot in the Grand Finals.

Running Back the Pacific Rivalry

Sentinels was relegated to the Losers’ Bracket. They went into their match against Paper Rex with no more second chances. PRX had just demolished LOUD 2-0, so they were building momentum. SEN had to dig in their heels to resist the onslaught. And on the first map of Lotus, that’s exactly what they did. Duelist Zachary “zekken” Patrone led the way with a massive 32 kills and 326 ACS as SEN won the overtime bout 14-12.

SEN carried this momentum onto PRX’s Ascent pick. After going into the locker room tied 6-6, the Sentinels pulled out a perfect offense that saw Zekken pull off an even higher rating. Suddenly, SEN had a 2-0 lead and was one map away from a rematch with Gen.G.

Everything thought this series would end on Split, a signature map of Sentinels. However, it was PRX’s turn to pop off on the server. Their Dueslist Cahya “Monyet” Nugraha pulled off zekken-like numbers as PRX dominated SEN on both sides. Suddenly, there was a question of how solid SEN’s Split really was at this level.

Putting those questions in the back for now, SEN went on to Sunset and won the most dominant map of the Playoffs 13-3. PRX simply had no chance on a map they weren’t familiar with. Star player Tyson “TenZ” Ngo made himself known on the defense, topping the server. The 3-1 victory sent SEN through to the Grand Finals.

Handicapped, But No Problem

As the upper bracket team, Gen.G had the privilege of banning two maps, while SEN got zero. This is a huge advantage, as the higher seeded team can not only remove their permaban AND second worst map but also force the other team to play their permaban. Gen.G removed Lotus and Sunset, two maps that SEN frankly crushed Gen.G and PRX on. This left Split open, a map that Gen.G now had confidence in against SEN after the Winners’ Finals.

First up would be Breeze. Gen.G picked this as their sure-win, seeing as SEN had no response before. While SEN did slightly better this time, Gen.G still comfortably took the map 13-8. The 1-0 lead was established, forcing SEN play to catch up.

SEN’s pick was Bind, a map they had mixed results on all season. This was a very scrappy map, with both teams tossing the lead back and forth. After a 6-6 tie at the half, Gen.G had a hot start to their defense with a pistol round win, leading to a 10-7 lead. At this point, SEN locked in on offense and won five in a row to earn match point. The game was in their hands. However, Gen.G managed to close out regulation in their favor with two rounds in a row, SEN’s pick to OT.

Gen.G had a chance to put the series on ice. SEN won their defense round, forcing Gen.G to make a play on theirs. A great fight in B Main gave them a 5v3 advantage in the round. Johnqt traded for two kills while helping retrieve the Spike, turning it into a 2v3 for SEN. Jordan ”Zellsis” Montemurro and Gustavo “Sacy” Silva pulled off the clutch to secure Bind 14-12 and tie the series.

Outlasting Their Opposition

Map three was Ascent. Playing their second-best map, Gen.G had no intention of going down in the series. Despite losing the pistol, they went into the half-tied at 6-6 from the less-favored attacker side. On defense, Gen.G was relentless. Sentinels lost the pistol round and was never able to find consistent avenues. The result was another 13-8 loss, putting Gen.G on Championship point.

Next came Split. This map would be the biggest question in the series. Was Sentinels truly strong on it, or was their weakness exposed by Gen.G and Paper Rex in the previous matches? SEN opened their defense campaign with conviction, earning more rounds in the half than they earned in their previous matches overall. With an 8-4 lead, SEN had built a case to tie the series. However, Gen.G would not let it slip easily. After losing the first gun round, Gen.G light bought and forced a Thrifty retake, launching a steak where they won four of five in a row.

Gen.G was winning every clutch. Momentum was on their side. With their backs against the wall, SEN forced up and pushed to break the streak. TenZ stepped up with a 3K, securing a clutch victory to earn a match point. Sentinels closed out Split 13-10 with renewed vigor to send the series to a third and final map.

Burning Long and Bright

The marathon series would conclude with Icebox. By this point, Gen.G had let Bind and now Split slip from their fingertips. They started the day confident and energetic, standing and waving after clutch rounds. Now, they looked deflated. Meanwhile, SEN looked fresh as could be after pulling the series all the way despite the map disadvantage.

That energy difference was palpable the second Icebox began. The most energetic man on the stage, Zellsis, led his team as they pulled off round after round. They played a retake-heavy style on defense that worked more often than it didn’t, with SEN winning 7 rounds in the half.

On the attack side, Sentinels ran away with the game. Gen.G was unable to resist as Sentinels stormed them over and over. It was a near-perfect offense that ended with Sentinels securing a 13-6 win, closing out the VCT Masters Madrid championship.

Sentinels has become only the second organization after Fnatic to win multiple VCT LANs with this win. The only remaining member from their 2021 winning squad, TenZ, has made his long-awaited return to the top. The rest of the squad has also proven themselves, with zekken and johnqt staking their claims for best-in-their-roles in the world.

The Americas region has now won back-to-back trophies in international VALORANT. They, as well as the Pacific region, have formed a rivalry that will likely be ever-present as the year goes on. With six Championship Points, Sentinels has likely locked in a spot at VALORANT Champions come the end of 2024. The question is how much more this top squad can accomplish until then.