VALORANT‘s first international event is just around the corner. And with vast differences in each region’s meta, fans can expect a slew of agents to earn some playing time.
VCT Masters Reykjavík kicks off later this month, where 10 of the best teams in the world will compete for those coveted circuit points. While star players will definitely be difference makers, the agents they use will be just as important. As the different metas clash at the international event, it will quickly become apparent what works and what doesn’t.
Here are the agents to watch at Masters Reykjavík.
A number of NA pros have voiced their complaints on Astra, claiming she’s “bad for the game.” TSM’s James “hazed” Cobb sparked the conversation last month, saying the newest controller was “too versatile” with little counterplay. While this is definitely a common sentiment in North America, Astra’s play rate does vary by region.
Astra had a whopping 72-percent play rate at the NA Challengers Finals, according to VLR.gg. The galaxy-brain controller dethroned Omen as the go-to smoker and was the second most-picked agent behind Sova. SEA representative X10 Esports also opted to play her on every map but Icebox during their region’s Challengers Playoffs. But if you compare that to other regions’ recent matches, Astra’s presence is lacking.
Japanese teams picked her 26 percent of the time, for example. And Crazy Raccoon, the one Japanese team to qualify for Masters Reykjavík, didn’t even pick her once. In Korea, NUTURN picked Astra a couple of times on Ascent. But they opted for Omen on every other map they played. Europe picked her a respectable 34 percent of the time, but the region appears to be more open to other controllers, like Viper, Omen, and Brimstone.
So there are a couple of ways that the Astra storyline can play out. It’s completely possible that NA and SEA are onto something and Astra is an overpowered and flexible pick that belongs on almost every comp. And if that’s true, other teams will either pick her up too or get outmatched at the international competition. But there’s also a possibility that NA’s response to the controller is an overreaction and she isn’t as amazing as some players think.
The truth is, Astra’s Gravity Well is oppressive. When placed properly, it can zone out opponents from orbs and choke points, it can prevent enemies from defusing the Spike, and it makes those caught in it free targets. But who better to counter that than the world’s best VALORANT squads?
Speaking of controllers, VALORANT‘s most toxic agent has quickly elbowed her way into the meta.
Patch 2.06 was very friendly to Viper. While there were several buffs to her kit, none were more influential than her Toxin passive instantly inflicting 50 decay damage to enemies who pass through her Poison Cloud, Toxic Screen, or Viper’s Pit. Pushing through Viper’s abilities is now a fatal risk that needs to be carefully considered. Do you push through and hope there’s nobody waiting for you on the other side or do you wait for her screen to go down, wasting crucial time?
Riot clearly thought that was a bit overtuned and dropped that decay damage to 30 in Patch 2.09. There are a couple of interesting points that this nerf raises. First and foremost, it’s still unclear what patch Masters Reykjavík will be played on. If it’s on the recent Patch 2.09, then that means the Viper nerfs go through to the competitive level. The slight drop in decay definitely makes the agent worse, but is it enough to kick her out of the meta? That’s unlikely if she’s a niche pick on select maps.
Even though the agent is still pretty situational, she excels in specific scenarios. Her Challengers Finals play rate varied anywhere from 42 to 24 percent depending on the region, with EU picking her up the most. But with a healthy pick rate, fans will likely see her make a considerable difference at Masters.
Sova is unsurprisingly the most-picked agent across all regions—and that likely won’t change in Iceland.
When looking at each region’s Challengers Playoffs agent makeup, Sova had a 92-percent pick rate in Japan, 82 in LATAM, 80 in NA, 78 in SEA, and 69 in EMEA. Korea is the only exception in the group, with Jett being the most-picked agent in the playoffs. But Sova still came in a close second at 68 percent.
Sova simply offers way too much intel, a valuable asset in a tactical shooter. His Recon Bolt and Owl Drone can keep opposing teams at bay, forcing them to hide or shoot the abilities out. Either way, it strongly influences how enemies have to play against Sova, which gives him incredible game impact.
The initiator’s influence and recon aren’t really up for debate. The bigger storylines are where he’ll be played and who will play him. Sova universally gets picked zero percent of the time on Split, where teams may opt for Breach, Skye, or Viper instead. And his Icebox pick rate varies a bit due to the map’s tight choke points and long sightlines. But a lot of the teams competing at Masters Reykjavík ran Sova on the snowy tundra during Challengers Playoffs, like Sentinels, Version1, Liquid, Fnatic, and X10 Esports.
Masters Reykjavík will feature some of the best VALORANT players in the world and, in turn, some of the best Sovas in the world. The teams that best use the agent’s mobility will likely be the squads that come out on top. Sova will be every team’s key to success.
VCT Masters Reykjavík will run from May 24 to 30, where Sentinels, Version1, Team Liquid, Fnatic, Team Vikings, Sharks Esports, KRÜ Esports, NUTURN, Crazy Raccoon, and X10 Esports will battle it out for international glory. While the event’s precise format hasn’t been released yet, Riot will likely reveal more information as the tournament draws closer.