Sentinels VALORANT coach explains why he changed his mind on tremendous role changes
There’s not bad ideas if they work.
Photo by Tina Jo/Riot Games
Sentinels needed a spark heading into the VCT Americas 2023, and they fittingly got one via an audacious suggestion from team analyst DrewSpark. While it paid off in the form of a close opening week victory against 100 Thieves, Sentinels head coach Don “Syyko” Muir admitted it took some convincing before it was implemented.
In their series versus 100T, Sentinels strayed from convention by moving their two reigning world champion ex-LOUD players into almost completely new roles. Sacy, after playing all of 2022 as initiator, played most of the series on controller, while former controller pANcada played most of the series on Killjoy.
While moving former world champions into different roles seemed like a bold choice, Syyko explained to Dot Esports why he felt he had the pieces to make it work.
“We noticed [pANcada’s] ability to play on an island and be a really impactful lurker was just phenomenal, and it was being wasted on the controller role. Controllers last year were a bit more lurky in the Chamber meta, but now that sentinels are back in play, they fill that primary lurk spot. So with pANcada’s skill in the role, combined with the fact that he doesn’t have to comm as much when he’s on his own, it seemed like a no-brainer for us.”
“From there,” Syyko added, “it was just a matter of moving the rest of the pieces around.” To make the new Sentinels composition work, the head coach explained that he wanted to get in-game leader dephh back on initiator agents like KAY/O and Breach, which means someone had to play smokes. That’s when the coaching staff turned to Sacy.
“As much as he is an amazing, incredible world champion initiator player, he’s more than that as an amazing world champion VALORANT player and great leader; somebody who learns very quickly and is a veteran player. So asking him to pick up another role was really easy for him, he was great about it. He’s just been phenomenal.”
But while Sacy took little to no convincing when it came to switching to smokes, the same can’t be said for coach Syyko and the broader role swaps altogether. Syyko praised his coaching staff in the interview, but admitted he shot down the suggestion when he first heard it.
“The Sacy-to-smokes [idea] was a DrewSpark proposition that at first I shot down. I thought ‘no we can’t do that, he’s an initiator player.’ But the more work he put in, and the more evidence he put in front of me, we agreed to try it out and it looked great.”
The team as a whole looked far improved from the one fans saw at VCT LOCK//IN. The trio of players in new roles looked comfortable, TenZ looked brilliant as always on Jett, and after a poor showing against Fnatic in São Paulo, zekken had a much stronger performance, more in line with the breakout star potential he has. Syyko noted that he worked on mental ‘course correction’ with Zekken after LOCK//IN, and that exercises they’d worked on during the offseason were key to his resurgence in the second half of Ascent versus 100T.
Sentinels has another tough task ahead of them in week two of VCT Americas, when they face NRG.
About the author
VALORANT lead staff writer, also covering CS:GO, FPS games, other titles, and the wider esports industry. Watching and writing esports since 2014. Previously wrote for Dexerto, Upcomer, Splyce, and somehow MySpace. Jack of all games, master of none.