The meta matters in every competitive game and VALORANT is no exception. The power of agents and weapons shift with every change introduced to the game, whether it’s patches or simply evolving trends in the community.
If you hesitate on which agents to pick or just want to have a better idea of the current meta, here are our rankings for the most powerful agents in VALORANT’s Episode Three, Act I.
This tier list is determined by several factors, such as the agents’ popularity in both competitive and unrated play, their synergy with top-tier picks, and Riot Games’ latest balance changes. But keep in mind that Riot is trying to strike a balance between the power of gunplay and abilities. If you’re committed to becoming a main of a certain agent due to your personal taste, you’ll be able to win rounds and even turn the tide of a game with sufficient skills. It’s just more difficult to do so while playing some agents over others.
It should come as no surprise to see VALORANT’s newest agent KAY/O at the top of this list. He’s single-handedly shifting the meta of this new episode with the suppression mechanic offered by his signature ability, ZERO/POINT.
KAY/O has many advantages to offer in a game. He can give utility to his teammates with his suppression and his flash grenades, FLASH/DRIVE, but also sacrifice himself for the greater good thanks to his ultimate, NULL/CMD. This can also allow him to be played as an entry-fragger thanks to the attack boost granted by it and the damage-dealing ability FRAG/MENT. He can basically do everything and there’s no doubt Riot will nerf him in the future.
But since he’s a new agent, KAY/O is also stronger due to the fact the opponents don’t know exactly how to counter him yet. He remains disabled in official tournaments for now.
Since the release of VALORANT, Jett has established herself as a staple pick in the meta, whether it’s in competitive setups or solo queue. She has all the tools required to be a strong duelist, as well as the agent with the highest mobility in the game.
She’s the ideal pick for players who like to make clutch moves rather than stay back and help the team. Her abilities allow her to reach unique locations on the maps and play with verticality, which is a core element of the latest map, Icebox. She also offers some utility with her smokes. Her passive, which allows her to hover after a jump, is another way to create clutch plays. Jett is incredibly fun to play but also hard to use to her full potential. Jett is most powerful in risky positions, even though she can get killed due to the slightest mistake.
Her popularity has yet to fall since her release and it won’t start now, even though she received small nerfs to the costs of Updraft, Cloudburst, and her ultimate.
First, the cost of the Operator was reduced. She’s the ideal agent to use it to control large areas of the map. She also has good synergy with KAY/O since she can rush opponents who are suppressed by his ZERO/POINT ability and take them down. The balance changes are certainly beneficial for her power.
Sova is a versatile agent, which makes him a valuable asset both in competitive play and unrated matches. He can be picked in almost every situation and can fit several playstyles. His Recon Bolt reveals every enemy in the radius of his sonar and can discover when the enemies are attacking as soon as the round starts. In addition, the three charges of his ultimate can wipe a team when they’re trapped in a choke point by dealing significant damage at long range.
While Sova was outshined by Skye and Breach at the end of last year, he’s regained his title as the strongest initiator in the game since the start of this year. Although Sova received nerfs in Patch 3.0, they’ll force players to use his abilities more carefully but likely won’t discourage them from picking Sova. The price of his Shock Dart, Recon Bolt, Owl Drone, and ultimate were all increased following Riot’s goal of favoring gunplay over spamming abilities.
Contrary to Sage being tirelessly nerfed since VALORANT’s release, Viper has received countless buffs over the last year. And now, she has found her place in the meta. Although she’s still more powerful on some maps than others, she can be picked in every situation due to her strength in post-plant situations and tools to control areas.
Like almost every other agent in VALORANT, Viper saw her ability costs increase with patch 3.0. Her molly, Snake Bite, now costs 200 credits instead of 100 and has a duration of 6.5 instead of eight seconds. It’s unclear if KAY/O will establish himself as her counter, however. Her place in the meta might evolve over the next month.
Killjoy has given Riot’s developers a hard time with game-breaking bugs on her ultimate and turrets. But now, that seems to be history. Her bots offer powerful tools that make Killjoy one of the strongest defenders in the game, controlling areas and countering flanks.
Flashes were among her strongest counters, so she’s going to be even more popular in Episode Three’s meta where basically every flash in the game had its cost increased. She received a nerf too with cooldown increases, but that won’t drastically impact her playstyle.
As a duellist, Reyna is played in many rated matches and at every level. She’s always a good fit for the meta in solo situations since she has everything to survive and make plays by herself. Her kit helps her get kills after impairing the enemy’s vision and then, she becomes stronger by using the orbs created by her prey’s corpses. Reyna’s kit favors snowballing, which fits the most aggressive players who aren’t afraid to take risks.
The duelist hasn’t gotten much attention from the developer in Episode Three. Like most other flashes, Leer’s cost was increased by 50 credits.
As an initiator, Skye has a powerful flash to engage enemies or save herself from a bad trade, as well as a strong AoE heal. The only downside is that it doesn’t heal herself. While her scouting animal can be hard to use because she has to control it, similar to Sova’s drone, her ultimate sends out seekers that will find the opponents by themselves.
Most vision impairments have become more expensive and Trailblazer was no exception, now costing an additional 50 credits. But its radius was increased from 1,750 to 2,250.
Guiding Light, on the other hand, didn’t escape the flash treatment, now costing 150 credits more per charge and reduced to two charges instead of three since Patch 3.0. Like Sova’s nerf, it won’t have a devastating impact on her power but will force players to use her abilities more carefully instead.
Breach has earthquake-themed abilities that help his team get control of the map and offers very strong utility to his teammates. His abilities are most effective at close range, however, and the Breach player has to know exactly where his enemies are without putting himself at risk to use them at their best potential. In high-level play, he becomes a huge threat because he excels with efficient communication and good knowledge of the maps.
He’s popular in competitive matches and high-level ranked games, especially on Split where his pick rate skyrockets as opposed to Sova’s due to the numerous corners and small hallways the map features.
Riot introduced balance changes to offer him “more reliable outputs.” The Flashpoint projectile was slowed down, but Fault Line, After Shock, and Rolling Thunder all received a buff, so he should stay strong in Episode Three’s meta.
Cypher has been the most consistent agent in the meta since the game’s release. He was at the top of everyone’s list and in almost every competitive match since his launch. But his last nerfs made him more situational, especially after Skye was released and Killjoy saw a rise in popularity. Both agents have more powerful or versatile tools and feature more dynamic playstyles.
Still, Cypher has the tools to defend an area by himself, with his traps, cage, and camera. His ultimate is strong when he’s able to use it at crucial times. He’s also the sole agent who only received a buff in Patch 3.0. His ultimate now costs one point less to use, from seven to six.
Riot has done it: Sage isn’t a must-pick anymore. She dominated every single game in VALORANT since she was released, and Riot hit her with countless nerfs to put her out of the spotlight. But while her popularity has lowered over the past few months, Sage does have unique strengths that make her strong in many situations.
Her resurrection now costs eight points to use instead of seven since the start of Episode Three and her Slow orb and Barrier orb costs were increased, but her ultimate remains powerful because it can turn the tide of a game. Moreover, her wall is a great tool to lock down areas, although she won’t be able to use her abilities as much as before.
Omen was everywhere last year, but 2021 led the way for other aggressive agents to shine. Since he received several nerfs, it likely won’t change in Episode Three. Paranoia and Shrouded Step saw their costs increase, hurting his utility potential a bit.
Still, he’s versatile with the ability to carry a round alone with a well-timed ultimate, help his teammates with his powerful smoke, and rotate quickly around the map with a teleport. Omen isn’t easy to play because his ultimate is a double-edged sword that both can cause an instant death or an ace of the enemy team. The players have to get creative to maximize his potential, but that’s also what makes him always strong in the right hands.
Astra is one of the strongest agents when it comes to utility. But she’s also incredibly hard to master, which discourages many players from unlocking her and training to maximize her potential. For this reason, Astra hasn’t been the most popular controller in VALORANT, as opposed to Viper after her countless buffs.
Riot put her in an even more complicated spot in the meta by increasing the cooldown of her Gravity Wall and Nova Pulse from 12 to 25 seconds and granting her only one star instead of two at the start of a round with Patch 3.0’s balance changes. Although it didn’t increase the cost of her stars, this hurts her power on the defensive side and her potential in eco rounds.
As a duelist, similar to Jett, Phoenix has the kit of a typical solo player who seeks clutch plays. His power lies in the versatility of his skills since he can blind enemies, burn them while healing himself, as well as create a gigantic wall of flames. He can switch playstyles in a round by being useful to his teammates and then flanking enemies by using his ultimate, which allows him to go for a play without taking any risks.
He’s been popular in ranked since the release of VALORANT, but his popularity slowly decreased as more duelists were released, namely Raze and Reyna. But it’s KAY/O’s addition that will hurt him the most in Episode Three’s meta. KAY/O has basically everything Phoenix can offer and more.
Both agents can be revived with their ultimates, but KAY/O’s provides more utility with damage and suppression. Players might need to wait for Riot to give him a buff before playing him again in ranked or competitive games.
Despite having a useful kit with plenty of smokes and an AoE ultimate with heavy damage, the controller hasn’t seemed to find his place in the game, or only as a niche pick. His smokes can’t compete with those of Omen and his ultimate is too hard to use in games since opponents need to be packed in one small area for it to work. But in this area, Raze has more possibilities. Riot has tried to make him stronger by improving his Stim Beacon, but that didn’t cut it.
In addition, his abilities require good communication to work, which makes him weak in solo queue and ranked situations. He’s also practically non-existent in competitions, being picked only on Bind, resulting in a dramatically low pick rate. Moreover, one of his strengths lies in post-plant plays. But KAY/O is going to be the new king of this intense game phase, which won’t help Brimstone’s popularity.
Raze has made waves since her release in VALORANT. Her abilities heavily complement her weapons by offering good area control. She was too powerful when she was released a few months ago, but then Riot nerfed her. Over the last patches, she’s lost her prominent place in the meta and become more of a situational pick. With powerful area control abilities, she shines on maps with many corners and small pathways. That’s why she’s strong on Split and Bind in particular. Her pick rate dramatically drops on other maps, however.
She likely won’t rise in popularity, either. Raze received an additional nerf with Patch 3.0, with her ultimate now costing one more point and her Boom Bot costing 400 credits instead of 200. Since her Boom Bot was the only utility she could bring to the table outside her damage-dealing abilities, this was a hard blow to her.
She’s clearly overshadowed by all the other duelists in low-level and casual games. But she might remain a somewhat popular pick since she can punish the positioning mistakes of opponents with her abilities.
Riot is still struggling to change Yoru’s kit to make him fit somewhere in the meta. He does have some strengths, particularly his ultimate, but it’s just not enough to match all the other agents.
Blindside’s flash is one of the worst in the game and Yoru’s Fakeout ability can’t fool enemies who know his kit. In addition, his flash received a nerf with Patch 3.0 and Gatecrash’s cooldown was increased from 35 to 40 seconds.
There are some Yoru mains out there who want to prove he’s capable of turning the tide of a game, but it requires a great mastery of the agent. Most players should wait for a rework to play him again in competitive and ranked games.
VALORANT‘s Episode Three kicked off on June 22 and its first Act will last until Aug. 24. Some agents will certainly become more popular than others, which may affect their rank on this list, and KAY/O will likely receive more adjustments as the players figure out her strengths in the game.
This article will be updated with any changes or the addition of new agents in VALORANT.