Valkyrie dominated the ALGS Championship, but why is she so popular in Pro Apex?
Valkyrie has dominated ALGS Year 2. From Challenger Circuit, to Pro League all the way through to LAN - Vallyrie has been a top pick for almost every team.
Simply put, Valkyrie is as close to a perfect legend for competitive as Apex might ever release, and her dominance will continue throughout Year 3 unless something significant changes.
Pro players are worried that the dominance Valkyrie has over the competitive meta is unhealthy for the game, although some would say she has allowed much better variety in some respects than we've ever seen before.
Valkyrie dominates ALGS Championship
At the ALGS Championship LAN, Valkyrie dominated across all stages of the tournament. Across the whole tournament she was picked 95.9% of the time. The second highest legend was Gibraltar, picked at 77.3%, a significant way behind Valkyrie.
ALGS Championship top 5 legends - Valkyrie #1st by a mile
- Valkyrie - 95.9%
- Gibraltar - 77.3%
- Caustic - 51.4%
- Seer - 22.9%
- Wattson - 19.1%
In the finals, Valkyrie's pick rate rose even higher to 98.9% - meaning she was right on the cusp of being on every single team.
What is most notable is that this was an international event, so all the best teams across all regions rely on Valkyrie, this isn't simply confined to one region.
This has been a consistent factor throughout the whole of ALGS Year 2, in the Sweden playoffs Valkyrie was 95.6% across the event. In the North America Split 2 Pro League, Valkyrie was at 97.6%, in EMEA the pick rate was lower, but still high at 86% (and the most picked legend).
Now, Valkyrie is a popular legend with casual players. However, she is nowhere near as popular. She is picked about 10% of the time across the whole game. At the Predator and Master ranked level, this rises to 13.8% but this is still way way short of her competitive pick rate.
Valkyrie: Why is she so popular with the pros?
The Valkyrie pick stats show a huge difference between the casual and pro players. So what is it about Valkyrie that is so critical that almost every single pro team relies on her in their games?
The answer is simple, she has it all.
Historically in Apex, teams were based around a simple formula. A movement legend, a legend who can scan beacons, and a defensive legend that allows you to hold down a location.
The first legend meta of Wraith, Pathfinder and Wattson is a great example of this. Wraith has her phase to scout and escape, Pathfinder used to be the only legend that could scan beacons, and Wattson is a great defensive legend.
This meta then evolved. Later down the line with Octane, Bloodhound and Gibraltar.
Well rounded kit makes Valk a jack of all trades for ALGS
Now, this formula has been challenged in recent months and Valkyrie is one of the reasons why. As Apex has evolved, people have realised that Valkyrie really is a jack of all trades. She has good movement abilities thanks to her jet packs. Her tactical can be used either aggressively or defensively, and it's especially good at blowing up doors without wasting grenades.
Valkyrie can scan beacons as she is a recon legend, providing crucial information. Finally, her Ultimate is almost perfect for competitive Apex.
When there are prize pools of up to $2 million dollars on the line, naturally people play defensively. Pro players want strong positions in zone. Therefore legends that help you stay alive for longer naturally are popular.
Some teams like Furia instead play for kills, and patrol the edge of the zones trying to take fights. Sometimes, you can end up in sticky situations by playing a more risky aggressive style.
Valkyrie suits all teams perfectly
For both of these styles, Valkyrie has a lot of value. For teams that really prioritise getting to zone and finding a strong position her ultimate makes rotating very easy. You can fly over hills and mountains, move at a much faster speed and you get scans on where opposition teams are.
When other teams have a Valkyrie you won't be able to beat them to strong spots if you don't also choose her.
Valkyrie's ultimate also provides a good way to rotate across the map safely with some of the fattest legends, like Caustic and Gibraltar. Both of those legends are weak when caught in the open - so rotating via flight rather than on foot is a lot safer.
Teams that play aggressively on the edge also really benefit from her ultimate. They can use it to fly into zone as late as possible having taken fights, even scanning people and seeing where isolated fights could be. Before Valkyrie, edge teams struggled to get into zone because you were often gatekept, Valkyrie fixes this issue.
But her strongest value for edge teams is her ultimate also provides an escape. If fighting draws too many teams in, and you are getting pinched - a Valkyrie ultimate allows you to escape. The nerf to her ability to spin during the initial flight up has made this more risky, but it is still a really powerful tool.
Will Valkyrie dominate forever?
Legends have reached Valkyrie's levels of dominance before. Wraith was in the high 90's for some time, Wattson, Pathfinder also were very dominant. Bloodhound had their time as a very high pick too. More recently, Gibraltar was a very high pick too, reaching 100% at one stage.
Now, these legends usually drop away for one of three reasons. They either get nerfed, a replacement legend does what teams use them for better or differently, or a legend counters what they do making them less effective.
Wattson dropped out the meta thanks to Crypto countering her, Wraith was slowly replaced by Octane, then Ash and most recently the rise in Seer teams has meant Gibraltar is less effective.
Could a nerf be the answer to Valkyrie's pick rate?
The question is, what could help the Valkyrie pick rate come down?
It would be hard to provide a better all around kit for competitive gameplay, or even a better ultimate. Her flight is just too good and too strong. It would also be hard to nerf her kit without affecting the wider playerbase too much, or to simply render her useless. Respawn could do that, but it is unlikely they'd make such a big change on the whole game just because of competitive.
A counter to Valkyrie would also be hard - the counter to her Ultimate is simply to shoot her on the way up or as she flies in the air. It's an effective counter and teams do die as a result of overly risky plays. How can you make this easier to do?
Finally, a legend designed to counter Valkyrie is difficult. Seer is a counter in some ways, as he can interrupt her abilities. But, even with a lot of Seer in Raleigh, Valk was still popular and effective.
One often suggested nerf is to remove her ability to scan beacons. This would make more of a trade off for picking her, but it could simply just harm other legends who get picked alongside her.
Will pro teams get bored of Valkyrie in Apex?
The only other way is that teams simply want to try new things, and move away from her. Now, the aim in competitive is to win and teams seek any advantage. That is why Caustic is well used, even though he is an unpopular legend to play. Simply, if a legend gives you an advantage you'd be silly not to use them.
But what is also true is that if teams did move away from Valk, teams would be less reliant on her - if teams went back to legends that rotate on foot then she'd be less necessary. Though teams that stuck with her would have an even greater advantage.
"Unhealthy for the [ALGS] scene"
That's the situation that pro players are in. Many say that Valkyrie is unhealthy for the ALGS scene, rotating is certainly easier and less skillful. They have been saying this for almost a year, but nothing has changed.
They also say the current Valkyrie (and Gibby) meta in Apex is boring. Valk, Gibby Caustic was the most picked combination at LAN. But, why would pro players give up such a powerful legend? Meanwhile Respawn have to consider the game as a whole, not just the top 0.01% of Pro players. With all this considered, Valk could be here to stay throughout Year 3 as a dominant choice.