Riot announced the most oppressive ability in VALORANT, Jett’s Tailwind (Dash), will be receiving a nerf in upcoming patch 4.08.
According to Riot's Lead Agent Designer Jay Watford, the changes to Jett have been a long time coming. As the most picked agent in both lower and higher ranked MMR's, as well as heavily in professional play. Jett left an overwhelming imprint on the metagame, but now her signature ability Tailwind will be receiving a nerf.
Riot hopes to make counter-play viable with nerf
Jett's ability to instantly dash with Tailwind changed almost every element of attack and defense. In nearly every micro situation, Jett has more viable options than a majority of the cast. Couple the instant dash out with her two cloudburst smokes, and there's virtually no agents who can keep up with her mobility. The Tailwind dash was powerful enough to fundamentally change the core concepts of the game.
"Overall, we want Jett to have her power moments and to be able to dash, but we also want viable counterplay and for Jett players to be more thoughtful when using their abilities."
The Tailwind Changes
- When activating the ability, after a second delay, Jett opens a 12-second window where she has the option to immediately dash on the next button press.
- Tailwind (dash) charge is lost whether she dashes or the window expires, but hasn't lost the ability to regain the ability with two kills
As Riot alludes in the post, it's less about buffing other agents to create counter-play, but increasing the opportunity cost of activating to limit its effectiveness. The introduction of a brief delay when activating the makes the commitment much more costly. It alerts opponents to potential aggression, but takes away her most valuable property: her unique ability to escape.
"The dash had no prerequisite, so she always had access to her escape power with no intentional decision making. This freedom gave Jett the unintended capacity to continually take space or hold unusual ground without having to commit her ability. This play pattern is something that no other Agent could match, and allows Jett to exert an extreme amount of pressure on a match"
Nerfing Jett on Operator
For example, Jett's dash is incredibly fast on start-up and covers 10cm of distance. It allowed players to take extremely risky angles and be completely safe without much worry of being countered by utility. This made Jett the obvious and essentially only choice for an Operator main before the release of Chamber.
Again, the nerf makes the commitment to the dash much more costly. Jett's holding an Operator will now have to find timings, rather than be able to play mindlessly aggressive.
The new 12-second duration when activating Tailwind eliminates her defensive side capabilities. On attack side, It also helps knowing Jett can no longer hold certain angles. The Jett nerf will open up more map control on attack. It's the single biggest change to Jett's kit and will undoubtedly shift the meta.
For instance, agents who have trouble taking space won't feel the oppressive nature of Jett's mobility any longer. Furthermore, site anchors on defense get more warning on when the Jett dash is coming. Less mobile agents will be able to readily counter the space.
"Jett's strength as both a dash-in executor on attack and holding angles with an Op—with unrestricted access to escape—provided her broad power with little downside. We want her to retain as much aggressive power on offense as possible, but reduce her defensive Op power."
The Meta Implications of Jett's Tailwind
In nerfing Jett, Chamber receives an unintended buff and will force teams with heavy emphasis on Operator setups to pick up the agent. It could also be the start of a new wave or Duelist agents being picked more often. We've already seen the potential of Yoru at VCT Masters Reykjavík with Paper Rex Jason "f0rsakeN" Susanto , and OpTic have been adamant about playing Victor Wong on the Neon.
Regardless, the meta is going to change. For the first time since the game's release, Jett might not be the best Duelist. There's a chance the best Jett's find work arounds for the timing.
But, for the large majority of Jett players, the Jett nerf will force them to change drastically. The changes are severe enough to force them to switch their playstyle or pick another agent.
Considering this, Jett is still picked near 70% of the time in ranked play. The pros at Masters Reykjavík are sitting down towards 65% on the Jett pick. It's clear that if she's not the entry, teams find a Jett-like agent to fill that void (Yoru, Neon). It will be fascinating to see where all the Jett one-tricks turn to in a time of desperation.