VALORANT‘s cast is about to get a little help from the Land Down Under.
Australian beast tamer Skye debuts on Oct. 27, offering a flash, concussion, heal, and the scouting chops to rival Sova. Dot Esports was invited to test the agent out at an Act III capture event, previewing her abilities on the snowy tundra of Icebox. And while Skye's kit might make her VALORANT's Swiss Army knife, is it enough to cement her place in the meta?
Hawks and tigers and seekers, oh my
At first glance, Skye does it all. And in most cases, that's true. Don't know where the enemies are? Send your tiger out. Want to support your team as they storm a point? Sling your hawk in the air. Need to give your allies a health boost? Gather around for an AoE heal.
But Riot put in place a clear counter to make Skye's kit easier to swallow—shoot the abilities. Enemies that see a hawk in the air, a tiger closing in, or a seeker coming their way can simply put bullets into the projectile and nullify them. And while Skye is casting her abilities, she's left vulnerable to enemy fire if she's not positioned correctly.
Because of this mechanic, it seems like Skye's biggest strength is her scouting potential. Her Trailblazer ability lets her quickly scout around corners in search of prey with the chance of concussing enemies, though the tiger's vision is fairly nearsighted. The hawk from her Guiding Light ability lets out a cry if it successfully blinds someone, providing further intel. And Skye gets up to three of them per round.
The projectiles from her ultimate, Seekers, move fairly slow and are easy to shoot. But players will at least know what direction their assailants are coming from.
Skye is similarly susceptible to enemy fire when using her heal. Allies have to be in range and in line of sight to benefit from the healing aura, but it's easily the most useful heal in the game. Even though Skye can't heal herself, she can potentially top off four teammates with a max of 100 total health per round. But players need to avoid sacrificing their positioning to heal their allies.
Where does Skye fit in?
Unlike Phoenix or Reyna, Riot asserts that Skye isn't self-sufficient and is primarily a team-oriented agent. She can't stall or create long-term pressure, according to Riot, but instead is useful for quick moments of power. This makes her better when attacking since she can set things up for her teammates to capitalize on.
Because Skye relies too much on a coordinated effort, her use in ranked mode might be risky. In a setting where you don't know your teammates and are forced to synchronize abilities and strategies within seconds, Skye's a tough sell. Her use in professional play seems far more natural since teams spend hours every day trying to create synergy and chemistry. But pros are obviously skilled enough to shoot Skye's projectiles quickly, potentially limiting her ceiling.
So where does Skye fit in? Well, there's one agent who's a mediocre solo queue pick but is played in nearly 100 percent of competitive matches—Cypher. The surveillance expert provides excellent intel and anti-flank potential, making him a must-pick for the most coordinated teams.
Skye might not be good enough to replace Cypher in professional team comps. But she may fall in a similar "OK in ranked, good in pro play" category. Since she plays like a fusion between Sova and Breach, Skye can easily be swapped in for one of them. She has three blinds, like Breach, and good scouting potential, like Sova.
And her AoE heal makes her far superior to Sage, who's been pushed out of the competitive meta after her kit was gutted in Patch 1.07. That ability alone is enough reason for every team to run her since it provides insane value for little cost.
Skye will likely be a map-by-map decision, excelling in tight corners and choke points. VALORANT's new map, Icebox, has plenty of close angles that can make the Australian beast tamer work well. But she might be harder to pull off in Ascent due to its longer sightlines.
Skye is unlikely to shake the ranked meta too much. Her heal is definitely one-of-a-kind and can change the tides of a round easily. But as players get used to her other abilities, destroying her hawk, tiger, and seekers will become more prevalent. And she'll still require a coordinated team effort.
Riot may consider increasing the speed of her abilities' projectiles in a future patch, making her a more optimal solo queue pick. Devs may also feel her heal is too powerful and tune the numbers a bit, making her a worse professional pick.
But, overall, her kit warrants a lot of dependence on teammates. And if solo queue has taught us anything, that's one dangerous position to be in.