VALORANT’s new Agent, Gekko, has been on the Agent roster for a month, and the impressions of his impact in the meta have been met with positive reception. However, with the VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) Kick-Off event, LOCK//IN recently concluded, and the regional tournaments have started, Gekko’s reaction to professional tournaments has been lukewarm. The discrepancy between the reception in normal ranked and unranked matches and professional matches gives us a point of analysis here in Codashop blog. On one hand, I argue that VALORANT Gekko is overpowered; on the other, he is still underutilized, affecting his impact on matches. We will explore both instances and come up with our conclusion.
We must note that Patch 6.06 has been released as of this writing. Some changes to Gekko’s utility were affected, such as Mosh’s Pit now deals damage to items like Killjoy’s Lockdown consistently as other Agents with the same property (KAY/O FRAG/MENT or Breach Aftershock, for example), and Wingman now dies when Gekko is eliminated as the last player standing. How these will impact future plays will be determined soon.
Also, please refer to the link for the terms and jargon used in this article: VALORANT Terms You Need to Know
Gekko’s Abilities: Are They Overpowered?
When the trailer for Gekko was released, it was hinted that his kit is a mix of the best properties of other Agents such as Viper, Brimstone, Skye, and Killjoy. True enough, his Thrash ultimate is one of the most overpowered abilities in VALORANT since Chamber’s Tour de Force. Thrash combines Skye’s Trailblazer with Killjoy’s Lockdown, detaining opponents caught in it. I have been on the receiving end of Thrash, and as much as I hate to admit it, its value is very high when teammates know when to capitalize on it.
His other utilities are above-average, at best. Mosh’s Pit does huge damage (150 at the center; 100 outside the center of the pit) and is great at clearing spaces, similar to Viper’s Snake Bite or Brimstone’s Incendiary. It was, at one point, a utility that negates Killjoy’s Lockdown until it was patched (6.06)
Meanwhile, Dizzy is a great situational utility, if not for making entries with the team. In one-versus-one situations, Dizzy can scan the location of the enemy and blind them when confirmed. A big part of Dizzy’s usefulness comes from the player’s game sense. Initiators require a lot of game sense to plan and execute on the spot. While Gekko does not have the same reconnaissance abilities as Sova or Fade, being more similar to Skye in many aspects, he still greatly impacts team play.
Lastly, Wingman provides much-needed support, especially when used not only to plant or defuse the Spike. This game-changing utility has been a part of the most creative plays ever seen in VALORANT.
[Author’s note: Read more about Gekko’s abilities in this first impression article, “Gekko First Look and Agent Guide”]
However, are Gekko’s abilities overpowered?
There is a hint of truth here, even with the recent patch. Being both on the receiving and giving end of Gekko’s utilities, I can see why many analysts say Gekko is pretty “broken.” We can compare this to how Astra immediately impacted tournaments in the weeks after her release in 2021, being one of the top Controller Agents picked in all skill levels and professional tournaments. This also contrasts the last Agent released before Gekko, Harbor, who performed underwhelmingly and is very situational upon release.
To answer this question, we will look at the flip side of the argument I already mentioned above: Gekko is still underutilized. Before I delve into that, we will look at some numbers.
Gekko’s Statistical Data
While Gekko has yet to see a significant rise in pick rate during the VALORANT Champions Tour regional tournaments, there is some data to interpret. According to The Spike and Valor trackers, Gekko has seen at least 1000 rounds of play with an Average Combat Score of 180 (above average) across all tournaments from inter-collegiate to professional levels. What can be compared, though, is the concentration of picks. According to The Spike, there are at most six professional players in Tier 1 partnered teams who picked Gekko in their professional matches: Shao (NAVI), saadhak (LOUD), AAAAY (FPX), C0M (EG), qRaxs (FUT), and foxz (Talon).
We can contrast this to Astra, who has seen a rise in pick rate during the VALORANT Champions Tour 2021 season. Using the same source (The Spike), Astra’s pick rate in Masters Reykjavik is comparable to that of Omen and Viper (at the time, two of the most powerful Controller Agents) and has seen a dual Controller team composition in most maps. How much was Astra picked during that particular stage of VCT? She was the second highest Controller Agent to be picked at 41% (Viper tops the pick rate at 49%, being chosen on all maps.)
Gekko, meanwhile, has to compete with Fade, KAY/O, Sova, and Breach. To compare, when KAY/O was released back in 2021, he also had to compete with Sova (Fade was not released yet, so Skye was the last resort Initiator; Breach was not impactful back then) In the ever-changing meta of VALORANT, we have seen unconventional team compositions including a three Initiator team with Sova, KAY/O, and Fade. Where will Gekko fit in? Given his utilities are very powerful, how will he see a rise in pick rate in the current meta?
What I’m taking away from these numbers is the actual impact of Gekko in the highest stages of VALORANT matches. There might be many reasons why only six professional players picked Gekko in some maps (match-up advantage among them), but why did it not translate to a significant rise in pick rate across the board?
Gekko is Still Underutilized
A lot of players need help to play Gekko smartly. The fact that Wingman can be the sixth member of the team is abused by most players, risking the protection of the Spike. Game-changing as it is, Wingman still needs to be used better. Thrash is seen as Gekko’s true reconnaissance utility, but most players deal with it because they want a sure hit to have the greatest impact, taking away the fact that they can pick it up again to gather information if the first one fails. Professional players do not want to risk these mistakes because the stakes are higher, and how the maps are structured impacts Gekko’s pick rate. As of this writing, Gekko has seen picks in Ascent and Split, two maps with close corners that make his utilities useful. To understand why these two are great for Gekko, there are practical uses for his utilities besides figuring out Mosh’s Pit lineups (which I think is unnecessary because of its learning curve). We’ll focus on the advantageous strategy for Gekko’s two recoverable abilities: Thrash and Wingman.
In a nutshell, recoverable abilities should be used with caution. Thrash and Wingman have unique properties that have a huge impact when played smartly. So, for the most part, Thrash and Wingman should be picked up in a way that they are safely recovered. Take, for example, a situation where Gekko must clear out Ascent’s B Main using Thrash. A reckless player will let Thrash go until about outside B Main (where a Killjoy turret usually is), and a smart player will redirect Thrash back to B Main. The same strategy can be employed in Ascent’s A Main but with a tiny hallway leading up to A Main. Players have two options: let Thrash gather information in A Lobby or return to A Main. Both of which are smart choices.
This same principle applies to Split, given its aesthetically similar layout (B Lobby is more open than A Lobby. You can check it out.) The reason for this strategy is simple but overlooked: safely recovering these abilities means Gekko can still have an impact even if the first attempt fails.
As mentioned, players from different ranks have called Gekko “broken” or “overpowered” because of his abilities (especially Thrash and Wingman.) Acend’s content creator and analyst, Thinking Man’s Valorant have even provided excellent insight on the very first Tier 1 match where Gekko was used (NAVI vs. KOI, VCT EMEA Round Robin), where he mentions how Shao of NAVI used Thrash in such a way that he intends to clear a space of the map and recover Thrash by making its course return to Gekko. Professional players and other content streamers like Sentinels’ content creator, Tarik, have shown some favorable initial impressions of Gekko. Same with his Sentinels teammate TenZ, G2’s ShahZam, Team Liquid’s Average Jonas (a Sova/Initiator main), and Ethos. This is in sharp contrast to how the community initially received Harbor, where he was not as advertised.
Conversely, those who tend to pick Gekko on lower ELO ranks are impressed with his new mechanics (Wingman, especially) and consider his friends/utilities “cute.” And, to make this a comedic pop culture reference, some have even spotted similarities between Gekko and the famous American rapper Eminem.
In my games, both ranked and unranked, Gekko is usually picked as a second Initiator, replacing Skye in most cases in Lotus and Fracture. As a solo Initiator, Gekko needs some help getting information for the team, unlike KAY/O, Sova, or Fade. However, his ultimate really changes how matches are played, and the same can be said for Wingman.
Does this change how I view Gekko, though?
I presented two contrasting arguments about Gekko. One is he is overpowered, like how the community initially thought, but he is underutilized. Did Wingman and Thrash hinder the kind of gameplay and matchups he was initially received for? I contest the notion. Gekko’s inclusion into the Agent pool also introduced two ways of rehashing old content. After all, video games have an internal logic that goes within the parameters of what is available in the game. This is the reason why Gekko’s abilities are similar to Skye, Raze, Viper, Brimstone, and Killjoy. However, introducing a mechanic to Wingman normally done by the player (planting and defusing the Spike) makes an interesting case of breaking away from conventional thinking. This and how Thrash combines Skye’s Trailblazer and Killjoy’s Lockdown, which surprisingly works, makes Gekko overpowered. How will Riot and the VALORANT team design new Agents moving forward using the “innovations” they implemented with Gekko? Which abilities will they rehash and refresh?
Only time will tell. We will closely monitor Gekko’s development in the meta and professional tournaments until then.
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