VALORANT’s first international LAN event has come and gone, giving fans some insight into each region’s meta. And while some agent appearances were expected, a couple of unsung heroes rose through the ranks.
VCT Masters Two Reykjavík was exciting for the VALORANT pro scene, showcasing a glimpse of what the championship might look like later this year when these regions face off again. The defensive EU, for example, was a direct contrast to the more aggressive NA playstyle. Even though the competitive meta will certainly shift by then, each region clearly had its preferences when it came to agent comps.
Here’s an analysis of the most-picked agents at Masters Two.
Jett is queen
Despite each region sporting their own unique meta, one knife-wielding agent made the cut for every team throughout Masters Two.
Jett was the most-played agent at the event, boasting an astounding 80-percent pick rate, according to VLR.gg. While her presence on Bind dipped to 33 percent, she was a must-pick agent on nearly every other map—and it makes a lot of sense. Her ability to propel into the air is perfect for the verticality found on Icebox and Haven. As the premier agent for Operator users, Jett is also ideal for Ascent’s long sightlines. And her dash creates an incredible amount of space for the rest of her team, allowing her to push through Split’s tight entryways and make her way onto the site.
Though there was a smaller sample size, Jett was picked 100 percent of the time on Icebox and Split. It’s more interesting to consider who didn’t pick her on maps like Haven and Ascent. Team Liquid, who many considered favorites at the event, skipped Jett on Haven. Instead, they ran a no-duelist comp that featured two sentinels (Killjoy and Sage), two controllers (Viper and Brim), and Skye for their initiator. This isn’t the worst comp for a three-site map that benefits from locking down a point and forcing your opponents to push through or rotate. And while it didn’t work in their favor against Version1, Liquid beat the Brazilian Team Vikings on Haven.
But Jett clearly worked in Sentinels’ favor, who played the duelist in all of their matches except for on Bind. She’s powerful, versatile, and a menace in the hands of players like Tyson “TenZ” Ngo, Shahzeb “ShahZaM” Khan, and Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev. While some agents are on Riot’s radar, it doesn’t seem like Jett is getting nerfed anytime soon. So players can expect her popularity to continue throughout the rest of VCT.
Control sites, control the game
Agents like Jett and Sova are expected to make their way to the top of the play rate charts. But there were also some new faces this time around.
Killjoy and Viper, two of the best characters for locking down sites, were the third and fourth-most played agents at Masters Two. The sentinel meta has shifted in Killjoy’s favor recently, with Sage and Cypher seeing less playing time than before. Viper’s Patch 2.06 buffs have catapulted her into the pro scene and teams took full advantage of her new instant-decay mechanic. And a big part of why pro teams now favor these two agents is because of how well they synergize when played together.
On Haven and Icebox, teams like Version1, Liquid, KRU, X10 Esports, Fnatic, and Crazy Raccoon opted to run both site controllers at the same time. Haven has three sites, so using multiple agents that can hold down the fort is a common strategy. And Icebox is a hard map to control sites on, so why not throw a Killjoy Lockdown and a Viper’s Pit to secure the round?
While the agents provided strength together, they were also selected separately when the situation called for it. Killjoy wasn’t played at all on Bind, but Viper was picked up a lot. Teams used the toxic agent’s wall to cut off incoming pushes and line-ups to stall in post-plant situations. Ascent is an extremely popular Killjoy map because her turrets and traps are pivotal for holding off attackers, while her ultimate helps set up coordinated pushes. Due to the map’s wide-open spaces and long rotations, however, Viper was only picked 25 percent of the time.
Riot will continue to “monitor” Viper to see if she’s “too oppressive,” so it doesn’t seem like any more nerfs are coming soon. And Killjoy’s kit appears to be working as intended. But with big balance changes on the horizon following the conclusion of Masters Two, buffs to other agents might shift play rates again.
In NA, Astra is a contentious addition to the tac shooter. Many complain that she offers little counterplay and is “too versatile.” This view doesn’t appear to be shared by all regions, however.
Astra was a popular pick on Haven by nearly all regions but wasn’t even picked once on Icebox. Only Sentinels picked her on Bind, with EU, BR, and LATAM opting for the grizzly Brimstone instead. And even though her Ascent and Split pick rates varied, NA scooped her up on both those maps. It’s hard to attribute Sentinels’ win to their preference for Astra since they’re all mechanically gifted and could’ve likely achieved success with any other controller. But it’s completely possible that her pick rate might increase in regional matches going forward, unless Riot swings the nerf hammer in her direction.
Jett was clearly the duelist of choice, but Raze was the runner-up with a 31-percent pick rate. And the reason it’s even that high is because the explosive agent was picked on Bind 92 percent of the time. The Moroccan-inspired map has plenty of tight angles and chokepoints that make grenades and Boombots useful.
Speaking of duelists, the underwhelming Yoru made a special appearance when Team Vikings locked him in against Liquid. It didn’t go too well, but there were some shiny outplays. With the mind-gamer slated to get a balance update soon, according to character producer John Goscicki, he may finally see his pro presence increase.
VCT should continue next month for the third leg of the year-long circuit. And with Masters Three Berlin on the horizon, you can expect an even bigger international clash.