VALORANT’s assassin comes in hot, but will cool in time.

20:00, 22 Apr 2020

Yassou, Zed, even reaching to Vega in the beloved Street Fighter series. The quick and nimble assassin archetype has always been a fan favourite and Riot Games’ new tactical first-person shooter, VALORANT, has penned their newest entry into this stereotypical design with a character that could easily become the face of their franchise, Jett. With all of the flash and brilliance you’ve all come to love, how competitively viable is she really? Are all the glitz and dazzling displays of skill ideal as we approach VALORANT’s budding esports scene?

The keys to her success lie in her abilities.

Meet VALORANT's Jett

Jett’s Cloudburst smokes don’t really bring much effective use to the table. Don’t misread that Cpt. No context, having a smoke is useful, having three smokes triples the usefulness, being able to Angelina Jolie your smokes around corners is also very useful. However, when they only last a fraction of the time compared to the rest of the cast, Jett’s vision denial game isn’t her strong suit. What Cloudburst charges are great for is quick executes onto a site. There will be set plays where we see Jett curve some smokes around corners and she and her team will quickly storm a site. This also assumes that she actually finds her way into the early metagames of VALORANT’s first phase of tournaments which I personally have my doubts on. 

Her mobility tools like Updraft, Tailwind, and her passive ability to float after jumping are nice quality of life tools and will undoubtedly have their uses, but are you going to see Jett dash into duels and win at the professional level? It is unlikely. The dead frames she has immediately after using Tailwind makes it feel like a much more defensive-minded tool rather than this offensive, full-court press aggression that people want to use it for. The “landing lag” she suffers doesn’t matter when you take a shot, realize you’re outnumbered, and dash away to safety. 

That said, she is also good on Eco Rounds with her ultimate Blade Storm, which, for simplicity’s sake, acts as a highly accurate “free assault rifle”. For reference, the Vandal and the Phantom both do 39 damage to the body of a training dummy, 1 Blade Storm knife does 50 damage to the body. On the contrary, the assault rifles listed before deal 156 to the head, while Blade Storm does 150. 

The numbers are nearly identical, Blade Storm edges out most weapons to the body, but for the most part, the one thing that separates this ultimate from being rewritten as a “free gun” is the accuracy while moving which is interesting, especially when put in the hands of insanely talented players.

Jett Knife Damage

And what’s not to love about that? Who doesn’t want to emulate the Faker outplay clip we all know and love. Who doesn’t want to just mechanically dominate their opponents? 

She can dash around, she can jump incredibly high, and she can smoke around corners. Her ultimate allows her to pull throwing knives out of thin air and actively encourages you to seek and kill your foes to reset the number of knives you currently wield. It’s a ladder hero’s dream character.

My major concerns with Jett lie within her kit when compared to her cast members and how much her mobility will be effective once the first wave of professional players and teams enter the space. We’ve all seen what some ragtag bunch of Counter-Strike players can do. Now imagine them playing on a set and structured team and really beginning to grind this game down to the smallest details. 

Doesn’t look so good, does it, Doctor Strange?

I fear that Jett’s mobility tools and her ability to surprise opponents with off angles will not be something that people are going to be too terribly concerned with. Instead, they’ll devise ways to make agents that bring more to the table. Information gatherers like Cypher and Sova. Vision denial specialists like Brimstone and Omen. All of these agents tower over Jett with their utility and multiple different ways to play. With that said, I do think she will see play, especially early on as strong ladder participants make up the lion’s share of the professional players. She will be phased out as more and more agents are added to the pool.

She is like one of those characters in multiplayer games that is either so underwhelming that you don’t see her played or is bonkers busted after receiving some buffs. Jett won’t have a middle ground. There is no grey area with her. 

One pattern I’ve already begun to see is Jett being used more as a site anchor wielding sniper rifles rather than a swing player or something like an entry fragger. I expect her play rate to plummet but remain as a fan favourite, as VALORANT’s esports scene fleshes out and more and more players opt for agents that bring more to the table.

You don’t usually see Jett blitzing into a site to catch people off guard, and her smokes are seeing some use when executing quickly on rushes, but unlike games like Overwatch, you only get to pick your agent once. Her gimmick of “shock and awe” will only last for a set amount of time, barring some absurd bug or buff that makes her too good not to use.

For right now, Jett sits near the top. How quickly before the fires of insta-locking Jett mains extinguished? 

They probably won’t ever be, but they will minimize with time.


Images via Riot Games

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