Our VALORANT deep dive article for this week focuses on the latest data on Agent pick rate in the ongoing VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT). The scope of this article is only for the Tier 1 regional tournaments (VCT Americas, VCT Pacific, and VCT EMEA)
Overview of the Tier 1 Regional Tournaments
After the successful 2022 VCT Champions Istanbul, Riot Games announced that it will introduce a partnership with 30 teams around the world, with ten teams from each region (Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific.) Many of the teams projected to be a partner were not selected including the second place team of Champions Istanbul, OpTic Gaming. The new tournament format was announced later in the year and was kicked off by the highly successful VCT 2023: LOCK//IN held last February. A few weeks after LOCK//IN concluded, the regional tournaments for Masters Tokyo started.
Agent Metas For This Season of VALORANT Champions Tour
According to the data presented during the VCT Pacific playoffs last May 22, a considerable amount of Agents have the highest pick rate among the Agent pool. Strikingly, Killjoy tops the list with a 68% pick rate, the highest among all roles and the Sentinel role. Jett comes close at 66%. The comparisons end here since all three regions pick Killjoy and Jett. What about the other three slots?
For VCT Americas and VCT EMEA, they choose a double Controller setup with Viper and Omen as their picks. Omen tops the pick rate in VCT EMEA at 63%, while VCT America has the teleporting Agent in last place at 35%. Meanwhile, Viper gets picked as the main controller in both regions, giving her an average pick rate of 52%. For VCT Pacific, Omen has a pick rate of 43% and is the only Controller Agent that tops the Agent pick rate.
The choice of Initiator is also different among the regions. VCT Pacific and VCT Americas prefer Skye over the other Initiators, with an average pick rate of 54%. While VCT EMEA prefers KAY/O over the other Initiators, with a pick rate of 34%.
Now that we have the five most picked Agents for VCT EMEA and VCT America, who is the fifth most-picked Agent in VCT Pacific? With a pick rate of 41%, Raze closes out the top Agent picks for VCT Pacific.
However, there are determining factors as to why these Agents are chosen. One of them, and very crucial, is the map picks and bans. The numbers are not readily available, but among the top map picks in all VCT regionals are Haven, Bind, Ascent, Pearl, and Fracture. In all map picks, the dual Controller setup of EMEA and America makes a lot of sense. This is due to the denial of sight lines that Viper can provide with her Toxic Screen while Omen covers crucial chokepoints and sniping vantage points with his Dark Cover. The exception is Fracture and Pearl, where Brimstone and Harbor are the Controllers of choice.
But What Does This All Mean?
From how teams are composed in the different regions of VCT, we can interpret the given data in the following ways. Notably,
- The Pacific meta is focused more on aggressive plays with executes that require a high degree of coordination (ex. DRX and PRX),
- VCT EMEA and VCT America prefer slower-paced plays with a high preference for manipulating sight lines due to the choice of Controllers,
- Map picks affect Agent choices.
Professional VALORANT teams have been at the forefront of playing team compositions corresponding to their unique styles. To compare, the Agent picks for this season sharply contrast the Agent picks the past two years or even during the start of the VCT.
For comparison, and for those who have been watching the VCT since 2020, you may remember Sova, Jett, Omen, Sage, and either a second Duelist (Raze) or a second Sentinel (Killjoy) as the most picked Agents. Then came Astra and Chamber, who dominated the pick rate in their respective Agent roles in 2021 and 2022. Then the Viper buffs happened in 2021, raising her pick rate while optimizing how she was used in certain maps like Breeze and Icebox.
The map pool back then determined the Agent choices. Breeze and Icebox have long sight lines that Viper can deny with her Toxic Screen. A second Controller like Astra provides cover for chokepoints longer than Omen’s. This dual Controller combo was the meta back in 2021 until the nerfs to Astra impacted her pick rate, and the introduction of Chamber paved the way for a single Sentinel team composition, with Viper acting as a hybrid Controller and secondary Sentinel.
For 2022, we have seen diversity and even some unorthodox team compositions, including a three Initiator team by DRX. But the meta was slowly being defined per region with KAY/O as the top Initiator, Viper as the Controller, Chamber as the Sentinel, and Jett as the Duelist with one wild card (usually Raze if on Bind). The last blow to this core was the nerfs to Chamber by the end of 2022. His pick rate increased the usage of Killjoy and Cypher as the main Sentinel Agents on all map picks. For instance, Cypher on Bind, Fracture, and Split, while Killjoy is the main Sentinel for the bigger maps like Pearl, Fracture, Icebox (before it was removed from the map rotation), Haven, and Ascent.
After the Chamber nerfs, we now arrive to where we are now. The post-Chamber meta coupled with the diverse map pool, has somewhat diversified the Agent picks in all regions.
We now see how most of the teams have defined a playbook that is unique per region. The coordinated plays of DRX, the aggressive “W” gaming of PRX, the calculated approaches of NAVI and LOUD… These are just examples of where VALORANT is now as determined by the Agent picks.
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