The Reykjavik Rundown with Sliggy: The West
Going into Reyjkavik and the Masters tournament, everyone will be watching NA and EU. These two regions sit as both fan and analytical favorites to win the whole thing and the teams from these regions are easily the most known.
So naturally, this section begs a bit more depth.
It helps too that Sliggy had even more to say about them since he has friendships in both regions. Sliggy looks at NA in particular with a lot of excitement—eager more to see what their real level is than to reignite the transatlantic rivalry that exists in most esports.
In EU he sees a versatile region where Fnatic and Liquid have needed to adapt on the fly to make it Iceland. In NA he sees two talented and hard-working teams with a lot of firepower and a growing sense of the meta.
Sentinels have booked the flight to Reyjkavik off of skill, shotcalling, and insane aim duels. They’re known for their star player Tenz and for their stellar individual plays. Version 1, on the other hand, mounted a massive dark horse run into Iceland through reading the meta better than arguably any NA team and working hard to adjust the strat books before anyone else.
Fnatic entered into the Masters meta well-suited—being one of the best teams at using Viper before she got buffed into a necessary pick. Liquid adjusted just in time. Both teams were helped by a mix of strong strategy and firepower and may be the most well-rounded squads in the world for having to endure competition from Turkey, CIS, and Europe.
Heading into Masters, everyone has an eye out for the battle between the West.
I’m pretty curious about Version 1. They’re an interesting mold for NA and interesting because they were the upset team. How surprised were you to see Version 1 go to Iceland?
So, obviously they have a coach from the UK, right? Immi—and I speak to him on a regular basis so I kind of knew everything that these guys were doing. Even in the qualifiers where they were changing their rosters a little bit but it still was a similar core, I was watching a lot of their stuff. I was actually really impressed.
I could tell that Immi himself had been putting in a lot of time and the players themselves had been putting in a lot of time and, in my opinion, they were always the dark horse. I watched them a lot on my streams cause I was like, “I think they’re gonna upset [someone] today.” And they never really upset [anyone]. Then this tournament they just upset everyone, so it finally came to fruition.
But yeah I think they’re really good, I think they have a good understanding of the meta. They’re using a lot of Viper, they’re trying to combo Viper and Sova a lot with the Shock Darts and double damage.
This game, with how fast it changes, to be really strong in your region you have to put a lot of time in and that’s what these guys did. Honestly, I’m super proud of them because you can tell how much effort and work they’ve put in so I’m actually really happy for them. They’ve got some super nice guys on their team.
I’m excited to play them. Definitely a big loss for them losing wippie cause of visa stuff but I still think they’re gonna be really strong. Yeah man, their run they had in NA was great. So many teams underestimated them and they showed that they have a really good understanding of the meta for sure.
It sounds like it but do you have a sense of camaraderie in particular with Version 1?
Oh for sure. Especially, I know how much work Immi puts in and then in terms of Zellsis and Vanity and then I know a bit about effys past and how much work he puts in—I feel like there is a collective there of guys who put in a lot of work. I like hard workers. I admire hard workers. I think that hard work gets you places and I’m happy that they kind of proved that.
A lot of what you’ve talked about here is work and catching up to the meta and understanding it well. I’m curious, how much of their rise do you attribute to being on top of the meta and how much of it do you attribute to other NA teams not changing enough or falling off?
Oh I think it definitely played into their hands. They used Viper on a lot of maps for sure.
But again, I do think when it wasn’t a Viper meta they were strong and I was watching them for upsets as well. So I knew they were a very good team and they could cause upsets and then I think having the Viper buff in and having people that were working so hard, it definitely played out well for them.
I think it was a mix of both, right? They were on the brink of being a team that would cause a lot of upsets and then the meta switched and they just embraced it.
On Sentinels, on the overdogs, how true [chuckles] how true do you feel the “Tenz and friends” meme is for Sentinels?
[chuckles] The core of the other 4 is so important and like ShahZam—he must do so much because they don’t have a coach, right? So this guy must be doing so much work.
I do feel like when I was watching their stuff a while ago it was a little bit predictable and then they started adding in new stuff that they were doing. Which means that he’s working hard. They have a lot of officials all the time.
Obviously Tenz is incredible. He’s great at making space and he does some big plays—like he’s a big part of the team—but I do think the actual core [is great]. And I definitely have to talk about ShahZam cause I can just see how much work he’s putting in and it’s really paying off.
He had to move off agents, learn new agents in a short amount of time, and they’re still the best in NA. Yeah they’re a really impressive team, like 5 really good individuals and ShahZam, in my opinion, is the glue holding it all together in terms of calling. Again, I don’t know the insides and outs and how much time everyone’s putting in but I can at least tell from watching that he’s putting in a lot of work.
Does Sentinels have extra room to grow as compared to other teams because Tenz is a relatively new addition?
I feel like they have extra room to grow because they finally now—and this doesn’t happen in NA as much because they have so many officials that it’s hard for them to change stuff up—they now have about 2-3 weeks of pure practice where they can go and create completely new stuff that people haven’t seen. For them, with their individual skill, that’s quite scary.
I’m also curious, Tenz vs. ScreaM, is this the most hype duelist matchup in your mind, for the tournament?
[Chuckles] Yeah I think so! I—and a lot of people in Europe—rate him as the best player in the world and most people in America rate Tenz as the best player in the world. It’s gonna be a good matchup! They’re both so individually talented and skilled—really hope we get this matchup because it’s gonna be unbelievable.
[Learn more about ScreaM’s insane revival in Valorant here.]
Talking about NA and their aggro side of things, taking duels, hero plays in general, do you feel that’s maintained or has that kind of changed up in the qualifier and with Version 1?
I guess yeah, with the other teams, Version 1, the individual skill was less notable—but more for the other teams. Sentinels still kind of kept it up. Maybe the other teams that relied more on individuals couldn’t handle the teamwork of the other teams but it felt like the 5 individuals of Sentinels could still do a lot of the stuff they were doing before.
Mirroring Nuturn, how do you feel about Tenz - er, not Tenz. No, I'm buying into the meme now! - How do you feel about Sentinels in this meta? Where there are rumblings that duelists aren’t that strong. For you is that a worry for them or not really?
So, not really. Again, like I’m saying they have 2-3 weeks to change everything and I would probably rate SicK as one of the best individuals at just flexing agents so if they really feel like an agent’s strong and they need it, they can just fall back on this guy and he’s gonna be one of the top guys on the agent like instantly.
I think they have the right pieces, they have a lot of time, so as long as they spend their time well (and I imagine they're gonna reinvent themselves a little bit for this tournament) I think they should be pretty strong.
Let’s talk a little about Europe, about our region. ScreaM’s gone on record saying Europe is as strong if not stronger than any other region. How do you feel EU stacks up heading into Masters? Do you feel the region is the favorite?
I think it’s either us or NA that are the favorites and I think you could make a good argument for both, I think you could throw the Brazilians in there as well. In terms of why I believe we might be the favorites, it’s more just because of how diverse our region was in the beginning and how many playstyles we played against.
Even the fact that we played the CIS and Turkey teams and they played a bit more aggressive like the Brazilians do. I feel like the fact that we have played so many different styles, so many different teams and have been able to adjust to the styles quite quickly, I think that really plays to our advantage.
In EU it seems like teams are a bit more willing to adapt their agent pools to the map being played. 1: Is that an accurate read? 2: Do you feel that’s a strength EU has coming into Reykjavik?
Yeah, I think it’s always a strength being able to change agents. I think it's pretty accurate, especially when you look at us and Fnatic. I think probably we’re the teams that change agents the most depending on maps.
Some maps are just really good for certain agents so it’s kind of like you have to be playing them. That’s why it’s good to flex for sure.
I think we may be a little bit ahead but I’m telling you, in this game it can all change within two weeks. So everyone could’ve caught for sure in the last two weeks and got really good on certain agents in certain maps.
I think the thing that I’m most impressed about is just how versatile this game is. There’s a lot of game styles or agent comps that work really well against other agent comps or game styles. I’m surprised at how well the game plays, tactically.
Moving to Fnatic. Is Fnatic the best team on Bind in the world?
Yeah these guys… [laughs in exasperation] We can’t. We’ve spent like a few hours even talking about how to counter them and we still can’t do it. Everything they do is so good and it’s the most simple thing that they do.
They literally hold for 30 seconds, sometimes it’s 50 seconds, they group, they burst, they hit the site, and they play the after-plant really well. It’s the most simple thing ever but they’re so good at punishing you pushing them within the first 50 seconds, they’re so good at bursting onto sites (they’re always gonna trade), and then they’re so good at the after-plants.
We’ve been trying to talk about how to play against it. It’s so hard, it is really so hard. They’ve really perfected Bind. We’ll see. I would say that potentially we didn’t have enough time to make our Bind as good as them so it should be a bit closer but yeah they’re really good on Bind. It’s a nightmare to play against them on Bind.
What do you feel about the addition of Derke and Magnum? What do you think that those two did for the team?
It’s just so much more firepower now. They’re both super young, talented individuals. They look really good. Derke looks great and then Magnum, he’s a really good sentinel player. There’s times where he’ll need to get two to keep his team in the round and normally he’ll get two or sometimes even three. He’s really skilled
In terms of scouting these two, whoever was behind it, I think Mini (their coach) did a lot of it, I think he did really well to find these guys.
If I remember… Magnum has the highest clutch percentage of any player in Europe over the last 30 or 60 days or something like that.
Yeah, that’s crazy.
Fnatic strikes me as more well-rounded than they were before. How do you feel about Fnatic’s overall strengths and weaknesses? Do you think they’re over-indexed in any way, or balanced?
No, I think you summed it up pretty well. They seem pretty balanced now, for sure. Even when I was playing against them it didn’t feel they were lacking firepower cause Doma was normally so dominant but it’s easier [to see] from when you’re inside. They definitely saw what they felt was missing.
They’re very well-rounded. They can do set strats, they can do puggy stuff. They can do really good utility takes or they can just rely on individuals to do stuff. Honestly they’re extremely well-rounded. I think that’s how Europe is at the moment. I would describe both of our teams as well-rounded—we can adapt well.
Let’s talk a little bit about Team Liquid. What do you feel sets Team Liquid, as a squad, apart from so many others?
We’re like all the other teams combined, right? We’re well-rounded. We can adapt well and I feel like we don’t have a set style and we can play to how we believe is gonna be good against the opponents. I guess versatility is the thing I’ve tried to get us really good for and I think that’s what sets us apart. But a lot of teams are getting good at that as well, so we’ll see.
Another thing I think is really unique is the approach to shotcalling and the fact that there isn’t this one dedicated IGL. Is that still how TL is operating and how do you think that impacts the team?
What’s really cool about this team is everyone really gets on. It’s like a proper friends team at the moment—it’s great. It’s such a good atmosphere, it’s really cool.
Probably Soulcas and ScreaM, if I was forced to say who’s IGLing it’s shared between those two. They’re probably the most vocal but it’s literally just everyone is calling. Everyone is putting in a lot of input. Jamppi’s our kind of motivator guy, for sure. He keeps everyone motivated and he comes up with a lot of plans himself. But when things get a bit more quiet it’s more just Soulcas and ScreaM.
But I’m telling you, it’d be cool for us to release a lot more comms stuff because if someone’s really in the zone and they’re feeling it, they’ll just take over calling. It’s definitely a weird dynamic that I’m not sure would work in CS but works in this game well.
Do you think this adds to the team’s versatility that you’re talking about - the fact that someone can just take it and run with it?
Yeah I think so. I think it helps. I think in theory it can also be a downfall but we haven’t seen that yet. One thing we’ve talked about a lot and one of the humps we had to get over when we were calling in the beginning is like it’s better to have a wrong plan than no plan.
If you have an idea and you’re scared of it being wrong, don’t worry about that. As long as everyone sticks to the plan, even a bad plan can work in this game a lot of the time. The thing we were focusing on in the beginning is just everyone having the confidence to call something and then if it goes wrong it’s fine. It’s absolutely fine because if no one had called anything it wouldn’t have worked anyways.
That’s kind of the first process we’re getting everyone to do: there is no wrong call in the moment, as long as everyone’s on the same page for it. So first call gets made and everyone’s just like, “Yep, cool let’s do it.”
(ScreaM: “Whatever we do, we trust guys, we trust what we do. Even if it’s a shit call, it’s okay.”)
How do you feel about the team’s chances to win it all?
I think we’re in a really good spot to win it all. Again it’s so hard to gauge what team’s gonna be really good cause no one’s played internationally. But in terms of where we are if I ignore every other team, I think we're the best we’ve ever been. I think we’re in a crazy good spot so yeah, I’m super excited.
Up Next: Bonus round