There’s been a slight shift in the meta in the VALORANT Champions playoff. Ahead of the Grand Finals, two agents are still yet to be picked.
The Grand Finals of VALORANT Champions will take place tomorrow and the best teams are adapting their compositions and play styles. In the Semi-Finals alone, we saw teams experimenting and not being so dependent on Jett’s aggressive dash entries. There’s been a slight shift in the meta showcased by the world’s best players. We take a look at that meta from the VALORANT Champions playoffs leading up to the finale.
Agent pick rates
Jett’s pick-rate in the group stage was 85% but the duelist was not the most popular pick in the VALORANT Champions playoff stage. That title went to Sova, who appeared in 73% of the quarter-final and semi-final games.
Interestingly Acend opted to not use Sova in their semi-final match against Team Liquid, despite playing on Bind. Instead Santeri “BONECOLD” Sassi played Brimstone, and gave a VALORANT Champions playoff debut to Omen.
Breaking down the stats even further, the semi-finalist teams only picked Jett 50% of the time. The duelist disbursement among the remaining teams was spread among Jett, Reyna and Raze equally. However, Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom, stayed off Jett for the entire Team Liquid playoff run, stating it was more of a comfort pick.
“I think it is personal. It is more of a comfortable pick for me,” said ScreaM on picking Reyna over Jett. “I think I’m one of the best Reyna in the world. Of course I played really bad as Jett at the start of this event. So, you know, I just needed some confidence back and it worked out. So I’m glad my teammates trust me on this as well and my coach as well.”
In exchange, what we got were dynamic, utility based play styles from the likes of Acend, Gambit, and KRÜ Esports. For example, the Bind meta has shifted to Brimstone and Raze, with Acend and KRÜ running these unorthodox agents and relying on executes. Gambit even threw out a composition with zero duelist on Ascent, flabbergasting us all in the process. Of course, they’d go on to lose the map.
The Viper/Sova Meta
The heavy Viper usage (70%) in the semi-finals is mainly due to the map picks. The tighter Bind and Split play has made Viper an essential control pick, and her round-stealing kit played a crucial component at Champions. The same can be said for Sova and his information gathering counter-strats. The recon dart, especially in the Viper meta, can be invaluable to counter the loss of vision due to her oppressive utility and teams are finding ways to approach her setups.
Igor “Redgar” Vlasov, in this clip, shows us the strength of Sova with a decisive re-take. It’s the decisive round for Gambit and an important win. Furthermore, Timofey “Chronicle” Khromov has shown peak performance on Sova for Gambit all tournament long. He’s even staking his claim in the MVP race if Gambit can pull off another win tomorrow.
Yoru and Phoenix unloved
In 27 matches and 66 total maps at Champions, Phoenix and Yoru have unfortunately gone unloved with not a single map between the two duelist. Until the new Yoru changes are implemented, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see either in competitive play for the foreseeable future. In terms of flash characters, we see Skye (37%), Reyna (37%) or Kay-O (30%) picked over Phoenix and Yoru.
Much like Omen, the agents get outclassed by superior abilities. Take Astra for instance, her global smokes and utility trump any of Omen’s setups. For Phoenix, it’s the limited angles on curveball. Unless his flashes get buffed, he’s likely always a less meta friendly pick than Skye.
Entering the Grand Final, the returning Master Berlin champs, Gambit, are slight betting favorites (-1.5, +155) despite a 1-2 record against Acend all-time. In their latest matchup at Red Bull Homeground, Acend ran over Gambit en route to a 2-0 victory. The match featured a 13-0 walloping of Gambit on Bind.
The Map Pool
Even with a majority of teams opting to ban Fracture early against Acend, leaving Bind open, the decision will come down to Gambit coach, Andrey “ENGH” Sholokhov, and whether they feel confident on a map like Fracture. Unlike Acend, Gambit does have a map played on Fracture and it was won rather convincingly (13-7 vs. X10). On the other hand, banning Bind against Acend would take away one of their biggest advantages. Ascend enter the matchup with Gambit with a 3-0 record and 74.2% attack win rate on Bind.
In terms of the wider map pool, Acend have shown little weak points during the Champions run. The only map loss came during the controversial Vivo Keyd match on Icebox, but the 88% map win percentage speaks for itself. Gambit have had a tougher road on the way to their second title appearance, going to map three in every game played at the event, and nearly being eliminated by KRU Esports.
For the finals, the maps to look for will be Split, Breeze, and if Bind gets banned by Gambit. Split and Breeze for the reason that these are the two best teams on these maps in the world. The fact that it’s a best-of-5 means bans will be less prominent, but it will still be a small factor with two equally skilled teams. The map draft could push one of these teams over the top.