ShahZaM: Narratives about differences between NA and EU are wrong

posted by jacpaka,
ShahZaM talks about the new map Breeze, now permanent teammember TenZ and the big rivalry between EU and NA. After emerging victorious from the first global VCT event of the year, Masters Reykjavík, the Sentinels are focussed on the upcoming Stage 3. After their dominant performance in Iceland, all eyes are on the team around Shahzeb 'ShahZaM' Khan.

Not only did his team including former Cloud9 star Tyson 'TenZ' Ngo play the most games in the tournament amongst all participants, but remained entirely undefeated as well. We talked to ShahZaM about the team's plans, expectations and improvements.

What do you take away from the first global event and meeting the teams from other regions for the first time?

It was kind of crazy to experience to play against the different regions. Before this, everything was speculative so it was kind of cool to see how it actually played out. It just feels good, we knew in ourselves that we’re probably the best team in the world and we knew that we were very confident with the way we’re playing in NA and that we’re probably the most consistent team in the region. Being able to actually have those expectations for ourselves and still go to the biggest tournament and perform – it proves that everything you’re doing is good and right. That feels very good.




Before the event, many pro players and fans talked about NUTURN Gaming as the best team at Masters 2. Looking at your matches against the Korean team, they were pretty one-sided in your favour. What was your impression of NUTURN before the event and how did that change after beating them?

I think they did really well, they took down Vision Strikers as well. And we played one practice against them during the quarantine period before the tournament started. They were actually one of the best teams we scrimmed, too. They played completely different from every other team and are known for crazy picks and trap plays to stack abilities onto one place.

When it came to our game versus NUTURN, it was a lot of these preparations in my opinion. I watched a lot of their old games as well as their Challengers and Masters games so I think we had a pretty good idea of what they were going to do. So we just built a gameplan around that. Despite our scoreline and kind of 'dominating them', I still think they’re one of the best teams.


"I think we were really good at handling the pressure – but it definitely exists."



After not even losing one map throughout the whole Masters 2 event, the VALORANT world is kind of looking at you, especially regarding the upcoming events. Does that apply any pressure on your team?

It definitely does. But I think that even before, we were the most dominant team in NA so other teams were looking at us anyway and caused pressure. Before the event, the other teams were doing interviews and would say: 'We want to play Sentinels.' The Brazilian teams said it, the Korean teams said it, X10 and the European teams said it. I knew the teams already had their eyes on us, but I think we were really good at handling the pressure – but it definitely exists.


Has playing on the stage at this big event changed anything for you or is this also a factor of pressure?

I mean there is an excitement, playing offline again. But I also think it made everything feel so much more real. We were winning a lot in NA but were sitting at home, and when we won a tournament we were at our apartments like 'yay, we did it', and then I could just go back to my regular day. But being in Iceland, being on stage and winning is a completely different feeling, everything felt so surreal.


In our last interview with ScreaM, he said that there is going to be a big rivalry between EU and NA but that "NA has it’s limits when it comes to their individual performance" and that the gap between both regions is getting closer and closer. What do you think about that?

I think that it’s impossible to say what NA versus EU could’ve looked like before the teams actually played against each other. Lots of people were speculating and pushing narratives like 'NA is more individual, EU is more tactical' – but I can definitely confirm that as wrong. They actually play really similar to NA and I don’t think it’s definitive to say which region is better just yet. But NA is definitely one of the strongest regions, but EU is also up there. There’s still a lot more to see.





"TenZ is the limit, he's the best player in the world."



Now that TenZ is a permanent member of the team, how do you get along with him and how much do you think you can achieve together?

We found out right after the tournament as well, we didn’t know that before. It’s awesome, TenZ is an amazing player. It kind of just had to happen, it already felt like he was part of the family, not only a stand-in. I think this guy’s the limit, he’s the best player in the world and we are only going to get better, the more practice and structure we build, the more we get creative. As long as we don’t get complacent, we are going to be the best team.




What are you planning on improving in the upcoming Stage?

The first stage is Breeze – that’s the big thing that we need to get down. We don’t want to get cheesed on the map. Also, we’re experimenting with other comps. The game is always changing and you should always change with it. One of the things we’ve been talking about is having multiple comps for the same map and understanding them really well, depending on the teams we’re playing.


Talking about the new map Breeze: have you already tried out strategies or certain comps and do you think the map suits your team’s playstyle?

We haven’t actually played a lot of practice on the map because since we came home from Masters, we’ve been on a little break. We kept our eyes on Breeze and were talking about comps. I do think the map suits our playstyles very much though. I think that people are going to play agents that they really enjoy and it’s just built in a way that will work very well for us. But I think there’s still a lot to learn from the map, nobody has really figured it out yet.


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Photo credit: Riot Games

  • jacpaka

    jacpaka

    Jacqueline Segeth
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