The free agency market craze, or “rostermania” as it has been dubbed by the VALORANT community, has finally hit Sentinels. NRG, Cloud9, and 100 Thieves have already signed multiple players, leaving Sentinels with less free agents to work with. Luckily for them, however, a large portion of North America’s second-best team still remained unsigned.
XSET was one of North America’s best teams pre-franchising. They even managed to win a best of five against NA’s best-ever team OpTic Gaming in the 2022 VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) NA Stage 2 Challengers. Their 3-1 victory earned them an appearance at their first-ever LAN at Masters Copenhagen. In an ironic turn of events, their debut on the international stage was cut short after OpTic Gaming got their revenge with a 2-0 victory, relegating XSET to the lower bracket. From there, XSET lost 2-1 to Leviatán, and was eliminated from the tournament.
This was not XSET’s last showing on the international stage. Their win over OpTic in the VCT NA Stage 2 Challengers tournament secured them enough Circuit Points to earn a spot at VALORANT Champions: the largest VALORANT tournament in the world.
XSET made a much bigger splash this time around. Although OpTic once again kicked XSET to the lower bracket, XSET managed to make it to the second round of the Lower Bracket before getting eliminated by the Masters Copenhagen champions: FPX.
Despite their inability to claim an international title, XSET managed to advertise the capability of their players and coaches on the biggest stages. After failing to make franchising, XSET released their staff and players into free agency. Luckily for them, their performances on the international stage caught the attention of a franchised team: Sentinels
This week, Sentinels announced their acquisition of two former XSET players: Zachary “zekken” Patrone and Rory “dephh” Jackson. Alongside them, Sentinels released their Coach Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty, and acquired former XSET Head Coach Don “SyykoNT” Muir to guide their new team.
And One More
Although Sentinels clearly had an interest in XSET, they looked elsewhere for their new strategic coach. Although they do not have any international experience, Sentinels acquired former Ghost Gaming Head Coach Adam “kaplan” Kaplan to join Muir as a part of the new Sentinels staff. Ghost Gaming (GG) also failed to make franchising, but they were a domestic powerhouse. GG won the most recent community tournament: Nerd Street Gamers (NSG): Summer Championship. Although not quite as prestigious as XSET’s wins, GG’s ex-head coach showed Sentinels enough creativity and ingenuity to warrant his acquisition.
Sentinels Moving Forward
Since their latest acquisitions, many rumors have been swirling around the community regarding what Sentinel’s full roster might look like for 2023. Many fans thought Zellsis would rejoin the roster after Version1 failed to make franchising; however, Cloud9 got to him first. Now with IGL dephh and duelist zekken on their roster, the statuses of star player Tyson “TenZ” Ngo and long-time player Shahzeb “ShahZam” Khan have never been more uncertain.
Although TenZ is one of the primary driving forces in Sentinels’ branding, he also plays in the duelist role. With Sentinels singing zekken, it appears that role is no longer open. There are a few options for TenZ moving forward. Option one is that he becomes the teams primary “opper” and fills a role similar to yay and Cryo. Option two is that he leaves the organization and enters the free agency market. Option three is that he retires from professional VALORANT and becomes a streamer for Sentinels. It is unclear at the time which will happen as Sentinels have yet to make any announcements.
ShahZam’s status is a little more clear. Although Sentinels have not yet made an announcement, it is clear that he will be leaving the team. With dephh being signed as an IGL, there is no longer spaXSETce for ShahZam to continue to play as the team’s IGL. Additionally, his contract expires very soon, meaning that he will likely be released into the free agency market. While his status is technically just as unclear as TenZ’s (on paper), the recent series of poor performances combined with Sentinels’ fans calls for his departure likely spell the end of his time on the team.