How will KAY/O affect the VALORANT meta?

KAY/O can potentially become a required agent.

Image via Riot Games

The VALORANT meta constantly evolves as new agents, maps, and updates are added to the game. These changes cause the best players in the world to adjust their strategies to stay competitive, which keeps the gameplay exciting and fresh for fans.

KAY/O, the new robot initiator that should offer a playstyle that will be familiar to CS:GO players, has the potential to become a required pick on team compositions thanks to his power to negate abilities. His ability set allows teams to take sites with ease and he can fill team comps in multiple roles. 

Here are three ways in which KAY/O will impact the meta in VALORANT.

CS:GO players will thrive 

Dozens of CS:GO players from multiple regions have flocked to VALORANT for another chance to make it to the top in a fresh game. Sentinels, the North American juggernaut that’s established themselves as the best team in the world, features a roster of almost exclusively former CS:GO players. 

Almost every major organization built its VALORANT foundation on the backs of experienced CS:GO players since VALORANT features similar gunplay and mechanics. The main difference between the two is agent abilities, which adds a new element not featured in Counter-Strike

KAY/O’s ability set changes this, however. It seems like he was intentionally designed as a former CS:GO player’s dream. In CS:GO, each player can purchase utility like flash grenades, frag grenades, molotovs, and more. This allows each player to help their team enter sites, cover areas, or use utility to damage or slow enemies. 

In VALORANT, only certain agents with unique abilities can perform these actions in specific ways, like flashing through a wall with Breach or using Omen’s Dark Cover to cover teammates. 

But KAY/O is equipped with the FLASH/drive and FRAG/ment abilities, which are literally a flash and frag grenade. There’s no special gimmick behind these abilities and they should feel familiar to CS:GO or other FPS players. 

The new agent is an initiator, but his abilities allow him to fill a duelist role as needed since he can easily take on enemies in gunfights by flashing to clear spots. This is similar to how CS:GO roles are fluid based on the situation. KAY/O is effective at almost any point in a round. 

But the real meta changes will come from KAY/O’s ZERO/point and NULL/cmd abilities that take other abilities out of the equation and force players to rely on gunplay, just like in CS:GO.

Abilities are null and void

KAY/O’s ZERO/point ability allows him to throw a suppression blade that prevents players hit by the explosion from using their abilities. This is a significant change in VALORANT since players won’t be able to use their abilities to escape or defend themselves. The blade also deactivates traps and equipment, making it easier for players to push into a site. 

The suppression blade even lets KAY/O’s entire team know how many players were suppressed, making it an excellent tool to gather information before pushing a site. If used correctly, KAY/O’s ZERO/point ability can suppress enemies while his team pushes into the site with ease. 

KAY/O’s ultimate abillity pulses Radianite energy as he moves around, suppressing any enemies caught in the blast radius. This means KAY/O can walk into a site with his ult, suppress anyone in his way, and force the game into a battle of raw gun skill while his team has the advantage of abilities. Teammates can also revive KAY/O if he’s killed while his ultimate is activated, meaning he can push into a site, have a teammate trade his kill, and jump right back into the round. 

Rendering abilities useless in VALORANT drastically changes the gameplay and prevents teams from relying on their abilities to survive. Teams with setups for defending a site will need to adapt when KAY/O pushes and avoid his suppression blade if they don’t want to be exposed or suppressed early in rounds. 

KAY/O’s suppression abilities are also perfect for countering post-plant lineups. Players can rush enemies while their teammate defuses the bomb and prevent them from stalling or disrupting the defuse. This will require players to physically defuse the bomb instead of hiding somewhere on the map and waiting for their opponents to defuse. 

A solid replacement in comps

Compositions can make or break a team in VALORANT. A well-balanced roster ensures a squad can deal with any scenario or problem they face on offense or defense. KAY/O’s ability set allows him to fill multiple roles with ease, form synergies with other agents, and fit into compositions with little trouble. 

KAY/O is an initiator who can help his teammates engage enemies by flashing or gathering information before pushing. He can also cut off an area with his frag grenade, which is easy to avoid but can buy a few seconds for his team to execute a site. 

He can gather information like Sova or Skye, but his suppression blade can also prevent multiple enemies from using their abilities simultaneously. Most initiator players avoid head-on confrontations, but KAY/O can push into a site with his ultimate and help his team by entry-fragging or sacrificing himself for an easy trade. 

KAY/O can also fill a duelist role since he has flash and frag abilities that are perfect for blinding or damaging hiding enemies. This fluidity allows KAY/O to fill an initiator slot as needed and serve as a pseudo-duelist in the right hands. 

Eliminating enemy abilities will allow fast agents like Jett or Yoru to devastate vulnerable enemies, which means KAY/O could fit into compositions and help determine what other agents are the most effective in tandem with his kit. 

KAY/O is also granted a Combat Stim boost while using his ult, allowing him to dish out significant damage in gunfights. This means a talented player could force enemies into a gunfight without abilities, putting them at a direct disadvantage against a robot firing faster, reloading quicker, and with a better recoil recovery speed. 

On paper, there are few reasons for teams not to add KAY/O to their compositions. He’ll likely have more of an impact than Astra when she was introduced and is potentially overpowered and unbalanced. KAY/O reportedly won’t be available in early VALORANT Champions Tour Stage Three events, so fans will have a short wait before he makes his professional debut. 

KAY/O will be available in Episode Three on June 22. 

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