At the venue, though, players on both teams played down any suggestions of genuine bad blood between them.
“Personally I don’t care,” said Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan, the in-game leader of the Sentinels. “Whoever we play, I’m just going to prepare the same and I’m just as motivated to win.”
“[Sentinels player] Tyson ['TenZ’ Ngo] is my ex-teammate and I like him a lot,” said Oscar “Mixwell” Cañellas, a player on G2, at a news conference preceding the event. “If I tweet something that is mean, don’t take it too personal.”
“I think [the rivalry is] more so between the orgs,” said Khan, sitting a few seats away from Cañellas at the news conference. “We have like no investment in that. I respect [G2] as a team.”
Still, Khan said he understood why the organizations were keeping kayfabe.
“I can see how it’s so much fun for the fans,” he told The Post. “I can appreciate the orgs building a storyline and rivalry. I think it makes it fun for the fans involved, as long as they’re respectful.”
If viewership numbers are any indication, the fans bought into the spectacle. The match, a relatively minor contest in the round-robin qualifier stage of the event, hit a peak of approximately 808,000 concurrent viewers according to Esports Charts, the highest of the three “Valorant” matchups that day. For comparison, the grand final of a comparable “Counter-Strike: Global-Offensive” event on the same day peaked at around 758,000 concurrent viewers.
If in the Twitter battle, G2 had the upper hand, a different narrative played out in the server. Sentinels won the first map of the best-of-three handily, lost the second in what was broadly viewed as an upset, then won the final map after a near-flawless first half.
As the game went on, G2′s social media stunts leaned into self-deprecation as things didn’t go the team’s way.
“Don’t worry guys, for map 2, we just need to work on communication, aim, map awareness, crosshair placement, eco management, pistol aim, op flicks, grenade spots, pop flashes, positioning, bomb plant positions, retake ability, spray control, skill use, and getting kills,” tweeted the main G2 Esports account after the first map went Sentinels’s way, riffing on a classic “copypasta,” or piece of text that has been repeated widely online, usually with humorous intent.
G2′s vocal and very online founder, Carlos “ocelote” Rodriguez, tweeted through it all in a style that oscillated between self-aware and mild cringe.
“G2 or Gold 2 is an European Amateur Valorant team who was given a ticket to Berlin Masters due a Make-A-Wish request from their only fan Carlos ‘ocelote’ Rodriguez,” wrote Rodriguez in one tweet.
At the very least, G2 notched the minor honor of being the first international team to take a map off Sentinels. At the first international “Valorant” event in Reykjavik, Iceland, Sentinels went undefeated, winning without losing a single map.
Even that one win prompted a G2 victory lap, predictably, on social media. “We now know they bleed,” tweeted the org. “Next time, we’ll beat them.”