Zellsis happy with his experience playing for Sentinels at VCT NA LCQ

by Sage Datuin

Both Sentinels and 100 Thieves had a lot at stake in their matchup in the VALORANT Champions Tour North America Last Chance Qualifier.

Both teams entered Thursday’s series with relatively new-look lineups. For 100 Thieves, 2022 has been a complete shift from the roster they had in 2021 and early 2022. Initially built around veteran players, 100 Thieves completely shifted the dynamic of their team and built it around star rifler Peter “Asuna” Mazuryk in April 2022.

Meanwhile, it’s been an even crazier road for Sentinels throughout the 2022 season. Once viewed as North America’s powerhouse, 2022 has not been as kind to the storied Sentinels core. The team struggled to rekindle their 2021 magic and entered the VCT NA Last Chance qualifier with two new players. For Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro, one of Sentinels’ two newcomers over the past month, his expectations were a mix of optimistic and realistic thoughts.

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“I like to be super positive and always hold the mindset that we are always going to win, but realistically we had to look at the reality that we are a new team,” Zellsis said. “We’re replacing two players where I am filling a role and [Michael “shroud” Grzesiek] is coming back into competitive, so we had to take both a realistic and optimistic approach.”

Thursday marked Zellsis’ one-month anniversary since joining the team after a near two-year stint as a prominent member of Version1.

“Making a roster change is really hard on a team in VALORANT because you need to go over so much in the beginning,” Zellsis said. “When you’re replacing two people or even one person, especially major pieces, it can be tough.”

Yet, even with both organization’s struggles to find consistency, they entered Thursday’s matchup revitalized knowing that a win would put them one step closer to representing NA at VCT Champions.

Immediately, Sentinels found themselves in a similar scenario to their very first series against The Guard. This time, however, Sentinels were able to come out of the intense opener on Fracture to go up 1-0 in the series before 100 Thieves came back on the second map to bring it to a final series decider on Haven.

For Sentinels, Haven has historically been the team’s best map, evident by their 76% win rate after 92 competitive matches on the map. Meanwhile, for 100 Thieves, Haven has been a troublesome map for the team. In 60 games, 100 Thieves only boasted a 53% win rate on the map.

Photo credit: Riot Games

Yet, Thursday was a different story for both teams as 100 Thieves dominated the first half 8-4 against Sentinels in the deciding map. Although Sentinels nearly climbed their way into yet another overtime, but 100 Thieves delivered the final blow to win 13-11 and end Sentinels’ 2022 VALORANT season.

After losing to 100 Thieves, Sentinels’ 2022 season is officially over. For Zellsis, there were a few what-ifs. He pondered the scenarios of what could’ve been if the group of five players had just a little longer to prepare. Still, even through a tough loss, it was a positive outlook for what was a very strong performance from Sentinels.

“I think it’s the curse with these guys that they get so close and it’s just one or two rounds that could really change things,” Zellsis said. “Maybe if we had a couple more matches under our belt or we were a team a little bit longer we could’ve pulled it out. Still, I’m super happy with these guys and how we played.”

Read more: VCT Last Chance Qualifiers: Schedule, teams and what to watch

In less than a month, Sentinels looked revitalized throughout the NA LCQ. A big factor was the open and welcoming environment that in-game leader Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan and coach Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty provided.

“I love ShahZaM,” Zellsis immediately answered when asked about adjusting into a secondary calling role in Sentinels. “I was the new guy in the team, but ShahZam and Rawkus gave me a ton of respect and space. I would give my opinion on stuff and they would be extremely receptive to any ideas I had.”

The open and welcoming environment was something that Zellsis wanted to also extend to the Sentinels fans, who surprised him with how receptive they were to his arrival to the team.

“Thank you to all the fans of Sentinels who welcomed me with open arms,” Zellsis said. “I expected to get some hate, but it was nothing but love from the fan base. I hope you guys continue to support me in the future. Also, #WeareZellsis, please make it happen.”

For now, it is back to the “same grind” for Zellsis, who already has 2023 on his mind.

“I just want to keep grinding,” Zellsis shared. “It’s good to take a break. Everyone needs a break, but for me, I just want to keep playing. I want to keep working and grinding. I want to be ready and sharp for 2023.”

Read more: After exceeding expectations, 100 Thieves are dark horse contender in the VCT NA LCQ

Meanwhile, 100 Thieves will move forward into the next round of the lower bracket where they are one of four teams that still have a shot at making it to VCT Champions 2022 as the final representative from North America.

100 Thieves’ next opponent will be Cloud9. They will face off Friday at 7 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, The Guard and FaZe Clan will face off in the upper bracket final on Friday at 4 p.m. ET.

Zellsis is confident 100 Thieves will win the LCQ.

“I actually said that if we didn’t make it, 100 Thieved would,” Zellsis said when asked to predict the winner of the VCT NA LCQ. “I hope 100 Thieves ends up making it.”

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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