VALORANT has arrived. After a two-month closed beta, the game has officially been released around the world, with players from Melbourne to Los Angeles beginning their journey in the five-on-five tactical shooter from Riot Games.
Before the game officially released, ESPN Esports reached out to over 50 VALORANT pros and high-level players, getting their thoughts on the game heading into launch. On Monday we released their confidential, where the top players in VALORANT's beta weighed in on issues such as the ranked system, which character they'd delete from the game and what maps they enjoy (and don't enjoy) playing.
For the day of the launch, we have another edition of our pros giving their anonymous thoughts on the game, this time dialing in on their agent tier lists as the game goes live across the globe.
The tier list is average from over the 50 responses we received from the players and voted upon from the mindset of playing in professional high-level matches.
The only agent to be an S-tier, we had to put Sage right at the top for how many pros believed she was essential to any sort of VALORANT composition. 93% of our voters put her in S tier with the other 7% putting her one rung lower in A-tier. No one even thought about ranking her lower. Sage is a walking ambulance with her heals, slowing field, ice wall and resurrection ultimate. In a game where a heal from the Chinese monk can be the difference between a won or lost round, she's the only agent in the game that can't be left on the table during the selection phase.
Almost as if the VALORANT developers were reading our pros' minds, Sage was nerfed going into the official release, with her healing duration and wall durability both being weakened. Still, even with her setbacks, it's hard to see a world where Sage still isn't 100% picked until her healing's effectiveness is lowered.
The Morrocan king of intel himself, Cypher finds himself sliding into the A-tier where agents are considered staples in a majority of compositions played on the competitive stage. There isn't any other agent in the game that can lock down a site like Cypher can with his wide array of booby traps and no one beats him when it comes to shutting down a well-timed flank. 54% of the pros voted Cypher an S-tier agent while a surprising 4% thought he wasn't as necessary or important by putting him C-tier. Overall, though, as we've seen in almost every major tournament during VALORANT's beta, Cypher is a key cog to any winning side.
Brimstone is a similar state to Cypher where although he isn't an instant loss if a top team doesn't pick him, he's an integral piece to many of the teams that won tournaments during the beta period. From his smokes to his airstrike ultimate, Brimstone is an annoyance for anyone to play against, shrouding his team when needed and even clearing a site with his artillery when prompted.
Breach is loud, aggressive and possibly the best attacking agent in the entire game, his flashbang and disrupting abilities giving him the confidence to run into any unchecked room or corridor. The Swedish cyborg was given the S-tier tag by 37%, A-tier by 42% and B-tier by 19%. One pro gave him a ranking of C-tier, so we can presume this is a Breach main just wanting his agent to not be nerfed in the coming patches.
Right next to Cypher in the intel and reconnaissance category, we have Russia's greatest hunter. His recon bolt ability, like Cypher's tripwires, can stop a planned attack before the enemy team can leave its spawn point. While Sova was used on and off early in the beta during high-level tournaments, his usage expanded as the closed beta went along, with teams learning the perfect spots for his recon bolts and turning the archer into a one-man defense quad. He had the most votes of any agent when it came to the A-tier, with 61% believing Sova belongs in the upper-echelon of agents in VALORANT.
In limbo between agents sparingly used in competition and the popular kids who always get picked almost no matter what, we have the Brazilian explosions expert, separating herself from the rest of the duelists as a viable pick in competition. During the early parts of the beta, players focused primarily on the overwhelming amount of damage she could throw out in quick bursts, but as she was nerfed in the middle of the two-month experimental period, players began learning to take more advantage of her quick mobility with satchels.
Raze was one of two agents to get at least one vote in every category, showing off her polarizing nature with some believing she's only unstoppable in unorganized online matches against randoms while others think that she is a must-need for tournaments with the best teams in the world.
Britain's cockiest agent had a mighty fall from grace during the closed beta. After the alpha of the game, we did a similar survey and he was rated as the best agent in the entire game, with players falling in love with him over the three-day event. That love affair continued into the early parts of the beta where we saw a lot of Phoenix in high-level tournaments before his usage declined as the beta went along. Eventually, Raze overtook him as the most used duelist by the time the beta ended and Phoenix was left wondering where it all went wrong. 40% of the pros still believe Phoenix in his closed beta state was a B-tier agent, but 49% thought differently, ranking him C-tier or below.
Luckily for Phoenix fans, he has gotten a significant boost going into the official launch, with his flashbang duration extended and other abilities buffed, including having his weapons reloaded once his ultimate times out. While it remains to be seen if these changes will catapult Phoenix back B-tier and above, the outlook is good for the smack-talking operative.
Viper and Phoenix had similar voting results, where 37% think the queen of toxicity is a B-tier agent while 56% think she is C-tier or below. For Viper, it all comes down to the situation, where she's often used on Split in high-level tournaments but never seen when it comes to maps like Bind and Haven. And while she wasn't the worst-rated agent in our pro survey, she's also the only one in the C-tier that didn't get a buff going into launch, leaving Viper wondering what she did wrong to anger the developers.
If you thought Raze was polarizing, meet Jett.
Here are her full results:
While some pros like Tyson "TenZ" Ngo won trophies during the beta primarily playing Jett as his main agent, we also saw many more try her in high-level matches and fall on their faces. The South Korean assassin is an agent that looks beautiful and stylish when piloted correctly and a dumpster fire when things go wrong, so it should be no surprise her results were all over the board.
On a positive note, Jett did get a buff as VALORANT drew open its curtains for showtime, with her smokes now lasting for four seconds longer, finally giving her utility that can mesh well alongside her teammates.
At the end of the alpha, Omen was the lowest-rated agent, and at the end of the beta, Omen is ... the lowest-rated agent. VALORANT's resident shadow monster from parts unknown, Omen's kit is centered around surprising the enemy and using mind games to find opportunities to defeat the opposing side. In theory, this works, with the strongest players pulling off nifty Omen tricks in high-level tournaments, but there are generally more lows than highs when it comes to Omen play.
Don't be too down, though, Omen mains: Help is on the way. The developers changed a lot about the agent during the time between closed beta ending and the official launch, attempting to keep his identity and playstyle the same while also making sure he can be viable for casual and pro players alike. His biggest change is that he can now channel his teleport ultimate and cancel it while still in its shadowy, loading form if things don't feel right. Before, Omen could try his ultimate, see a party of enemies waiting for him on the other and just wait for his end to come. Now, even if his ultimate fails and Omen catches himself teleporting into a danger zone, he can zip right back to reality without giving up a free kill to the opposing team. He still loses all the orbs he collected if he cancels his ultimate, but hey, that's better than your entire team flaming you for handing the enemy yourself on a silver platter.
I hope the next time we do one of these anonymous surveys Omen isn't in last place again.
We have no results for Reyna because she wasn't available during the beta! The Vampire Empress, this agent hails from Mexico and is expected to provide a nasty bite for anyone who can utilize her to her full potential. As described by the developers, she is a true "feast or famine" agent in a similar mold as Jett, where she has an extremely high ceiling but an equally low floor. Her kit revolves around her getting eliminations to even use most of her abilities, meaning that if you're a player that aims at the ground most of the time or flinches if a Jett dashes at you, this is probably not the agent for you.
That isn't going to stop those players from insta-locking her the second they download the game, is it?