Interview with Sentinels Zachary “Zekken” Patrone
Yoann: Hello everyone! Today I'm with Zekken, Valorant player for Sentinels! When and how did you get into esports?
Zekken: When I was maybe eight or nine, I saw a video on YouTube about a Super Smash Bros tournament, and that was the first time that I really ever saw esports, or people playing in a tournament in front of a crowd. And ever since then, I watched a lot of CSGO tournaments.
Yoann: All right! You joined Sentinels last October, how is it going so far?
Zekken: So far it's going really well. Sentinels have been very welcoming, and playing with the new team has been a lot of fun. We have played one tournament so far, and we've been practicing a lot, so I've enjoyed it!
Yoann: What role will you be playing this year?
Zekken: This year I'll be playing the same role as I did with XSET. It'll be Flex. So basically, whatever the team needs me to play, I can shift over and play.
Yoann: How would you describe the playstyle of Sentinels?
Zekken: I would say we have a pretty controlled playstyle. We like to slow the game down and just kind of see what our opponents are doing and then adapt. But I also think we have the capability to go very fast and be very aggressive. So I would say it's a mix of those two playstyles.
Yoann: That’s great! Has anything changed for you as a player since you joined Sentinels?
Zekken: I would say so, yeah. Just because of bringing in Sacy and Pancada from Brazil, there are a lot of different ideas that they brought in that I haven't seen before. So my perspective on how the game should be played has definitely changed a lot in the past few months.
Yoann: And how do you feel about the staff behind you?
Zekken: They've all been really, really great. I met all of them when I went to the office a few months ago and it was really nice. They were all super good at their job and welcoming, so I'm happy to have them behind us.
Yoann: That’s super important. How was your time with XSET? What did you learn from this experience?
Zekken: It was really good. Just the opportunity to go to two international tournaments and to boot camp with the team for the first time. I got to do a lot of things in esports that I never did before, so I'm very thankful for my time with XSET and I definitely learned a lot as a player, I think I got a lot better with them.
Yoann: What's your preparation routine one hour before an official match?
Zekken: We usually play a warm-up scrim, you play another team to warm up right before the match. And then my personal warm-up is like, stretches for my hands and my wrist, then I'll do a few deathmatches and go in the range for a little bit.
Yoann: How do you feel about the current Valorant meta?
Zekken: I like the meta a lot right now. Apart from the Stinger, which is going to get nerfed soon, I think the game's in a really good spot. I'm just happy because without Chamber being in the middle, it seems a lot more fun. You can’t just go around the corner and assume that you're going to die.
I think once the Stinger gets touched a little bit, the game will be at its best. So I'm excited about that!
Yoann: That’s right, the patch notes got released today, with the Stinger nerf. Will it be affecting the tournament in Brazil?
Zekken: I think that it will affect Brazil. In North America when we've been practicing, people will buy the Stinger every time because it’s so good. But I think that with the changes it'll be a bit more balanced, teams won't buy it every round. It will still be pretty good on some eco rounds, but it's not broken like it used to be.
Yoann: For sure! Are you happy about the brand new map rotation with Bind and Breeze leaving the pool?
Zekken: I don't mind Bind and Breeze leaving. I liked those two maps but when you're playing with a team, Bind can get really boring. I like the new map Lotus, and I missed Split a lot. I'm very happy to have it back.
Yoann: Yeah, and it always gives great matches in pro play too! What are your first impressions of Lotus?
Zekken: My first impression of all of this is that it worked out very similar to Haven because obviously, both maps have three sites, but the fundamentals are the same where you want to mess with the rotates, because you have to go very far between A and C.
So it's pretty similar to Haven, but also the doors. It was very interesting to work around them the first week because I didn't know what was going on. But now that I have a better idea of how they work, it's a lot more fun.
Yoann: Will you be banning it or playing it?
Zekken: I don't think I can say that haha.
Yoann: Yeah I get it haha! Do you feel like your team could try to bring Harbor into a composition?
Zekken: We've definitely tested Harbor a bit just to see, because he was new, just to see if he's good or not. I can't say for certain if we will use him or not. I just know that we have some practice with him, so maybe, maybe.
Yoann: How do you feel ahead of your match against Fnatic in two weeks' time?
Zekken: I'm excited! I think we've improved a lot with our practice from a month ago to now. So I'm excited to show you how much we've improved, and what we're capable of. I think it'll be a fun match!
Yoann: How do you feel about the format of the competition?
Zekken: I don't really like the format. I don't like that it’s single elimination. But I know that they have to fit a lot of teams, and so I guess that was the best decision for them.
Yoann: Yeah, one loss and it could already be over, it's very brutal.
What makes Sentinel a championship contender for this year?
Zekken: I would say the amount of championship experience we have on the team is what makes us a good contender. Sacy and Pancada won Champions last year and they've been to so many international events already, TenZ won Reykjavik, he also has a ton of international experience, and me and Rory (Dephh) are just coming off of two international appearances, even though we didn't win, we still got a lot of valuable experience from those tournaments.
So I think just all the experience that we have, playing in front of the crowd or playing when the pressure is high is what makes us a good contender!
Yoann: Perfect! Thank you so much for this interview and best of luck in Brazil!
Zekken: Thank you!