It turns out we should have been looking up all along.
With year two of the Apex Legends Global Series weeks away and ALGS Preseason Qualifiers already in full swing, a substantial shift in the pro meta stands to make the beginning of this autumn’s Pro League even more interesting. Teams around the world are opting to run Valkyrie in their compositions. The pilot legend has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity, largely thanks to the rotation possibilities offered by her ultimate, Skyward Dive, and buoyed along by TSM adopting a Valkyrie composition in their victory at NBA player Grayson Allen’s Apex Invitational.
TSM aren’t the first team to run the Valk comp. Most notably, SCARZ won the EU edition of the Year One ALGS Championship using Valkyrie, while Kungarna took the NA title with the exact same Valkyrie-Gibraltar-Caustic composition TSM have used. Those teams were certainly in the minority at the time, however, as many players shied away from a… let’s just say an “unreliable” ultimate.
Whether TSM’s use of Valkyrie is trend-setting or simply riding a wave that was already coming doesn’t matter much when you look at the evidence, though: The pros are turning to Valkyrie. In yesterday’s BFC Weekly Series, over half the teams in the lobby were running some form of a Valkyrie composition, with four of the top five teams, including TSM, using Valk. The legend has been even more popular in the ALGS Preseason Qualifiers, with teams ditching legends like Octane for Valkyrie.
Apex, like most battle royales, places a distinct emphasis on rotations: getting from the place you are on the map to the place your team needs to be, whether that’s into the next circle, getting into (or out of) a teamfight, and, above all else, trying to outlast your opponents. These needs gave rise to the immense popularity of Wraith since her ultimate ability allowed teams to teleport safely from place to place, and then eventually to Octane, whose jump pad let teams travel even further and faster than Wraith’s portal.
Valkyrie fundamentally changes the way teams can execute their rotations. Instead of looking to move a few meters at a time, a good Valk ult can transport you halfway across the map. Add to that her ability to scan recon beacons like Bloodhound and, suddenly, teams no longer need to run both a “rotation” legend and a recon legend.
Valkyrie combines the best of both worlds and teams can instead run characters like Gibraltar and Caustic alongside her. Caustic, in particular, thrives in Apex’s endgames, where the circle shrinks and it’s impossible to avoid the damaging Caustic gas that ignores armor. For a long time, the problem has simply been getting Caustic to that endgame since his kit in the early and mid-game is much weaker than Gibraltar’s Dome of Protection and Defensive Bombardment, and pro players’ preference for recon characters to scan beacons took precedence over the possibility of using Caustic in the endgame. Valkyrie opens the door for Caustic to easily slot into a team comp without losing the sheer strength of Gibraltar or all the information that a Bloodhound, Crypto, or Pathfinder can give a team.
Of course, this meta shift also causes headaches for plenty of players since sometimes late-rotating Valkyrie teams end up landing right on top of other squads, resulting in massive teamfights and huge third and fourth-party opportunities. There’s even the issue of Valk teams landing in out-of-bounds areas and shooting at teams below or using Caustic and Gibraltar ultimates, then dropping onto teams before the timer runs out. This was at least partially addressed by the recent change to the out-of-bounds timer, which now only allows players to be out of bounds for 15 seconds as opposed to 30.
Still, landing out of bounds is going to continue to be an issue for the ALGS and the line between pro players “using” and “abusing” the out of bounds timer is thin. Landing on top of skyscrapers or mountains, like in the Preseason Qualifier clip above, provides teams with an unassailable vantage point from which they can easily drop onto enemy teams.
Even if the ALGS organizers try to stamp out Valk teams playing in out-of-bounds areas, it doesn’t seem like the Valkyrie meta will go away quietly without a nerf to the legend herself or the introduction of another legend that can perform a similar role. Her kit is simply too versatile to ignore: an ultimate that makes previously impossible rotations possible, the recon class passive ability that lets her scan beacons, and a damage-focused tactical ability that stuns opponents. What she lacks in any one area, she makes up for in being able to do a little bit of everything else. And that’s not even mentioning her VTOL Jets or the passive scan she receives on enemies when in Skyward Dive or using a jump tower.
It’s unclear if this is truly a “Valk meta” or just a fad that will pass quickly with the Pro League and Challenger Circuit only a couple of weeks away. You can watch this meta unfold during the last two Preseason Qualifiers on Oct. 2 and Oct. 9 or tune into the inaugural ALGS Pro League split on Oct. 16. In the meantime, we suggest you watch the skies.