It's been a long time since Sentinels Sentinels North America Rank #1 TenZ Tyson Ngo Zellsis Jordan Montemurro zekken Zachary Patrone johnqt Mohamed Amine Ouarid Sacy Gustavo Rossi have graced the biggest stages in the world. Nearly three years after lifting the first international trophy in VCT history, they finally returned to lift a trophy once more.

In one of the best finals the VCT has yet seen, SEN and Gen.G Gen.G Korea Rank #2 Munchkin Byeon Sang-beom (변상범) t3xture Kim Na-ra (김나라) Meteor Kim Tae-O (김태오) Lakia Kim Jong-min (김종민) Karon Kim Won-tae (김원태) battled back and forth for five hours on five maps. Close fought affairs on Breeze, Bind, Split, and Ascent finally yielded to SEN's coronation on Icebox.

The last tournament in which Lakia and solo faced SEN and TenZ was back during that first international event when the Koreans were just one more victim of one of the most dominant VCT runs of all time. This time, they had already surpassed that precedent by defeating SEN in the upper finals to become the first Korean squad to make the grand finals of an international event.

Gen.G won the previous matchup in the playoffs off the back of six straight pistol wins and a dominant showing on both Split and Breeze. This time, it was a far more competitive affair as SEN battled tooth and nail for their revenge.

When these teams faced off on Breeze in the upper finals, Gen.G absolutely ran away with their defensive half. To avoid immediately fighting an uphill battle, SEN chose to start on defense themselves.

The grand finals started in dynamic fashion. SEN's IGL, johnqt , opened things up with a Tripwire kill, and both teams traded Shock Dart kills before Lakia won a clutch to give Gen.G their seventh straight pistol round against SEN.

Gen.G's double dive with Jett and Yoru punched holes in SEN's defense. If SEN didn't aggress around the map to win fights, Gen.G pounced on the sites to set up advantageous post-plants that SEN couldn't uproot.

Each time SEN tried to fight back into the half, Karon had an answer. He had multiple 3Ks that bailed out Gen.G from nearly unwinnable disadvantages.

He wasn't even playing when SEN won an international event.

The inexperienced controller player continued to make his case for rookie of the year, at least in the Pacific. His calm positioning tripped up SEN at every turn.

Incredibly, Gen.G looked in control in the first half despite just one first kill and 11 first deaths. SEN only converted five rounds in the half, and they quickly tied the map off the back of their first pistol round win in eight tries. Unfortunately, their attack looked as lifeless as before.

“In the second half we tried to be more defensive and less proactive,” Gen.G's coach, solo, said after the map.

It worked. SEN were completely unable to execute onto either site, and they quickly lost 13-8.

The kill distribution was relatively balanced across all 10 players, but Gen.G found all the kills that mattered. An 8-1 differential in 3Ks highlighted the massive gap in round winning plays.

Despite a 2-0 record on Bind throughout the year, Gen.G had been avoiding it in Madrid. With their Lotus ban, they allowed it through as SEN's first pick.

SEN looked much more comfortable on Bind to start the second map of the series. They got off to a fast start on their defense and kept Gen.G's economy on the ropes early on. However, once Gen.G's economy stabilized, their deliberately paced deathball attack started to run over SEN's sentinel-less composition.

It took a huge Showstopper gamble for SEN to even salvage a tied half.

What a read.

A long stretch of miserable individual performances from Lakia defined Gen.G's early struggles in the Pacific Kickoff event. His recovery was a major factor in their Madrid run. He stood tall once again in the second-half pistol round, covering his teammate's spike defusal for a 4K in the waning seconds.

Stepping up.

Gen.G looked like they were going to run away with the map after winning three rounds in a row, but a massive eco round from SEN turned the tides. The NA squad struggled with slow defaults as Munchkin called consistent defensive rotations to deny the attackers any space.

It took an up-tempo series of rounds for SEN to retake their lead. They sent zekken diving into the B site for entry kill after entry kill. They racked up five rounds in a row to take a 12-10 lead.

At the end of regulation, SEN tried to slow things down again, and that nearly cost them dearly. They walked into reinforced defensive setups, and Gen.G forced overtime.

SEN responded perfectly in the extra frame. A beautiful 3v5 clinched the game, outmaneuvering Gen.G's attempt to pinch the remaining players through the middle teleporter.

Gen.G's star duelist, t3xture , was held in check all map. His struggles became a major factor in SEN again dominating the opening kill numbers.

Ascent has long been a relatively static map with an extremely entrenched standard agent composition. Although teams like LOUD and PRX have been making major efforts to set new Ascent metas, this matchup represented a return to normalcy.

Somewhat surprisingly, Gen.G chose to go to Ascent third rather than Icebox, a map which SEN had struggled on. SEN's coach, kaplan , said they were quite happy with the way the map ordering turned out after they saw it.

SEN initially looked very comfortable on the favored side of the defensive bastion. They ran out to a dominant 5-2 lead. Unfortunately for them, Bind repeated itself as Gen.G fought back. It took back-to-back clutches from Lakia, but Gen.G tied the game.

Missing multiple opportunities to put away rounds continued to define SEN's finals run. TenZ won a 1v2 clutch, but that was barely enough to salvage another deadlocked half.

Another great moment from the hero of the first international stage.

Swapped onto the attack, SEN again faltered at the starting gun. Gen.G ran out with another second half sprint to gain a commanding 10-6 lead. A last rally from SEN proved to be far too little far too late, and Gen.G took a 2-1 series lead with ease.

On defense, Gen.G had a plethora of coordinated anchoring setups, and SEN rarely managed to bait out individual fights or mistakes before they dove into the meat grinder. Munchkin called a great game as well as leading his team with a 1.30 rating. In a game nearly devoid of big multikills, Gen.G's rapidly improving teamplay made the difference.

Down 2-1, SEN found themselves quickly running out of room for error. However, they still had a chance.

“My team has incredible hunger and grit. That's why we can get back up,” kaplan said.

SEN gained a reputation as the most feared team in the world on Split, but their playoff run saw that reputation melt into a puddle. Gen.G stunned them 13-5 in the upper finals by keeping TenZ and zekken stuck at the bottom of the scoreboard.

For the third straight map, SEN got an early lead. Their defense stonewalled Gen.G's double duelist dive in the opening rounds. An eco 3K from t3xture threatened to cause problems, but SEN dealt with it to help extend a 5-2 lead.

The biggest difference from the first time these teams battled on Split was zekken. He rebounded from his previous rough showings to absolutely dominate, notching 21 kills in the first half alone.

The hero this team needs.

Down 8-4 at the half, Gen.G battled back valiantly. Meteor arrived with a 3K with his Blade Storm in an eco round, and he followed it up with a 4K to close the score to 10-8.

SEN had a chance to reach map point, but Gen.G put together another eco round victory. The NA squad started to crack under the pressure as winnable rounds slipped away from them. zekken died to his own Paint Shells, and SEN gave up a 1v2 clutch to Lakia as Gen.G tried to mount the comeback.

He thrives in these moments.

Finally, SEN found their footing. TenZ won a clutch on an eco round, and they converted the map 13-10.

Despite Gen.G's duelists showing up, no one could match zekken's blazing path of destruction. He finished with nearly twice as many kills as Munchkin and Lakia combined even though he slowed down significantly in the second half.

“We just started to lose control as the small mistakes started to add up,” Munchkin said after the match.

One of the longest and closest grand finals in VCT history ended on Icebox, the land of previous legendary final maps. For the fifth map out of five, SEN started on defense, and Gen.G started on the attack.

Both teams brought their Gekko and KAY/O compositions, lacking any Sage or Harbor for spike control. The B site becomes incredibly difficult to plant on without any bullet sponge to provide cover. Gen.G did focus that side of the map in the opening rounds, but they only won a single full-buy round where they successfully got the spike planted without massive casualties beforehand.

Lakia hit a 4K spraydown, and Zellsis tried to answer with a 4K of his own in the next round, but he was denied the ace clutch.

Mowing them down.

SEN's defense looked strong at both denying sites and retaking them, but a blown anti-eco again let Gen.G back into the map. With a dwindling number of rounds deciding elimination or a trophy, the individuals rose to the occasion.

SEN won the critical final two rounds of the half to take a 7-5 lead, and a second half pistol win gave them a commanding advantage. As the anticipation in the building grew, SEN marched closer to the win.

Their attack looked immaculate. Round after round fell into their grasp as every rotation, every execute, and every fight went their way.

The raucous applause turned into roars that shook the stadium as SEN's coronation reached its peak. A 13-6 victory closed out a grand final, three years in the making.

They rise once more.

It was a brilliant overall showing from zekken who tied Demon1 for most kills in an international VCT series at 101. The still-teenaged superstar also finished with more than twice as many first kills as anyone else across the series.

Sentinels have become just the second organization to hoist multiple international trophies behind FNATIC. Sacy and TenZ also joined an exclusive club of players to have multiple VCT titles under their belt. As to what pushed them over the line?

“We wanted it more!” kaplan proclaimed.

A heroic effort from Gen.G fell just short of the Pacific's first VCT tournament victory. They still left a sizable mark on Valorant's history with their incredible run.

“A top-two finish was an amazing result and the players played extremely well,” solo said after the match.

The steps they made also may prepare them for when they return. “I believe that I learned how to not crumble under pressure,” Karon said. The rest of the players agreed that they will have improvements as they continue into the 2024 season.

SEN have a short turnaround before league play starts in two weeks.They will have plenty to celebrate as they rest and recuperate. No doubt, they will celebrate like kings.

“The party is going to start when we take a shot out of that trophy,” Zellsis laughed.