How do the best teams in the game compose their agent lineups?
VALORANT’s earliest tournaments have finally begun to kick-off. Even the first few organizations are sticking their necks out here and signing themselves teams to establish themselves early. Most recently Sentinels and Gen.G have recently announced their first venture into uncharted territory. With that said, a core of four heroes has arrived with a stranglehold on the developing metagame.
VALORANT esports meta polarizer - Breach
Breach has a ridiculously high skill ceiling. The amount of map geometry you can ignore with Fault Line and Flashpoint gives you a ridiculous amount of proactive options. There is rarely a position that Breach is going to not be able to use his utility. Let alone having a fairly slow area denial tool in Aftershock, Breach’s kit is always useful.
Then we come to his ultimate, Rolling Thunder, which can crack open a site and lead to advantages early in rounds. It is no surprise that an agent that can support his team from such a distance in both direct and indirect methods is finding so much success and with such high frequency. Now, with that said, is Breach the next agent you pick up for your ranked climb? Probably not. Breach is an agent that scales with coordination and communication and both are needed to really see the pick excel.
VALORANT esports meta staple - Cypher
If information is the name of the game, then it should be no surprise that Cypher has seen such a high pick rate across the board in both invitational and open tournaments. While his kit is the most expensive in the game, at the end of the day; you get what you pay for. Tripwires give you both direct and indirect information. If the enemy triggers the trap, then obviously you know where they are because the game reveals them, but if you place them correctly you can also assume they are not holding certain angles as well.
While you can currently place his Spycam out of bounds, it doesn’t take away how powerful the ability is. It is essentially a free extra pair of eyes. Don’t have someone on C-Short? Check and see if you spot anything on the Spycam. Don’t want to face check the next corner? Hit the Spycam and see what happens. Not to mention his Cyber Cage’s that both act as vision denial and movement denial with its minor slow, Cypher is a no-brainer when it comes to the early VALORANT metagame.
VALORANT Esports Meta divider - Brimstone
Super straightforward and incredibly useful, there really isn’t a bad position for Brimstone at the moment. The ability to call in smokes to cloud the enemy’s vision from around corners and through walls is impressive in itself, but it’s really the number of times he can do that which makes him an early staple in VALORANT’s formative metagames. If you’ve tried your hand at ranked or even dabbled with unrated, you probably understand why Brimstone is used. He’s versatile, his Incendiary round is a useful area denial tool, and even his Stim Becon’s have shown to be useful in certain areas.
However, one development that I’ve spotted is how exactly you should use his ultimate, Orbital Strike, which calls in a massive death ray to decimate a very large area on the map. On its face it seems like a giant noob trap, that will decrease in value as new players spend more time with the game. On the contrary, when we strip this down, Orbital Strike becomes a giant stop sign in the way of enemy attackers or a way for the offensive team to shove the defenders off a given side of the point. The former does well especially when teams call in Breach’s ultimate to push into any given site. Using Orbital Strike on response can either shift their push into a more favourable area or just flat out deny it in general.
VALORANT esports meta must-have? - Sage
Now Sage is an agent that is a bit polarizing, weirdly enough, in my assumption, will be the first agent to slip out of the big four. Having her Slow Orbs nerfed so they no longer give an audio cue is a bit of a downgrade and with how much is being said about her Barrier Orb, I can also see that being changed as well. Depending on how that goes, it’s going to make finding safe Ressurection targets much harder which should start to push her out. Now that doesn’t mean her ability to heal isn’t useful and when you can find a good Ressurection it doesn’t swing the tide, but her utility is being targeted and that’s where I draw concern.
She is an amazing agent to add your pool for your VALORANT ranked ladder grind and can be optimized to add in some cheeky wall boosts on maps like Split and Bind.
When it comes to equipment, surprising no one, both the Phantom and the Vandal are the fundamental weapons of choice with certain teams boasting a few players proficient with the Operator. We have seen some movement with the Shorty, which I doubt will last, but in terms of weapons, nothing really steps out of line for being strange.
However, there is a 5th agent slot open that many teams are currently debating on. Lovingly dubbed the “wildcard slot” due to how vastly different this 5th position tends to be, teams can interchange this position dependant on the map and, perhaps more in the future, on the enemy team.
Some teams still opt for the control and lethality of someone like Raze, others aim to control the map with added smokes and vision denial with Omen, and (surprisingly enough) other teams have recently have begun to run Sova for the extra information his Recon Bolt can give. And with the advent of the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Invitational, Phoenix should be added to that wildcard slot as well as he saw a big increase in playtime at that event alone.
Images via Riot Games