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Top 5 most impactful VALORANT updates of 2022

Top 5 most impactful VALORANT updates of 2022

Naim "EnKay" Rosinski

12/23/2022

2022 has been a phenomenal year for VALORANT. This is certainly without a sliver of a doubt. If you’re an esports fanatic, 2022 saw a ton of events become accessible to the public in-person, with VCT VALORANT Champions and Game Changers Finals both being played out on LAN with an audience. On the other hand, if esports aren’t your thing but you find yourself grinding ranked and spending hard-earned money on VALORANT skins, 2022 brought a lot to the table in that regard as well.

We’ve decided to settle on the top 5 most impactful updates to the game in 2022. After meticulously examining each update to the game, we’ve narrowed it down to nine. However, we’ve settled on 5 that introduced substantial changes (be it negative or positive) to how the game was played—both by casual gamers, and in the esports world.

#5: Patch 4.0 – Neon, weapon adjustments, and map changes

Kicking us off with the first patch of 2022, the Filipino Neon came in blazing to kick-start the year as the game’s next Duelist. While Neon did not become a staple Duelist pick like Jett or Raze, she has successfully found her niche on maps like Fracture. Meanwhile, the community had a blast using her new slide mechanic to outplay opponents that were simply caught off guard. Let’s just say Neon players took advantage of enemies needing to adjust their crosshairs when they see a sliding Neon pop up on their screens.

Naturally, Neon took the front and center of the stage with update 4.0. However, the patch also contained many positive (and questionable) changes to weapons and maps.

When it came to weaponry. The Bulldog and Guardian both saw slight buffs that enticed players to pick them up on force/save buys. Meanwhile, the Spectre suffered from a nerf. And yet, none of those took the cake. The Ares buff saw players pick up the Light Machine Gun over Vandals for the next week due to a removed spin up and an increase in fire rate. Luckily, the Riot Games dev team responded quickly and patched the overpowered Ares with patch 4.01.

When it came to maps, Bind and Breeze received fantastic changes that made the battleground slightly more even. Those changes are still present almost a year later as the maps continue being a map of the map pool.

#4: Patch 5.0 – Ascendant rank and the removal of Split

Moving on to spot number 4, we’ve got update 5.0. This patch released in June, mid-way into the year, and brought big changes to both, the esports landscape and the online Unrated/Rated experience.

First off, the team felt like there needed to be a new rank in VALORANT to disperse the players a little more. Ascendant slotted itself right in between the Diamond and Immortal ranks and served as a new bridge between somewhat skilled and very skilled at the game. On a side note, this also meant that Sage’s tier 8 Agent contract unlock, which was a title named “Ascendant” was changed to “Dauntless.”

However, what hit the community most with Patch 5.0 was the removal of Split from the Unrated and Rated modes. This meant that the map could only be played on Custom as well as secondary game modes such as Escalation or Spike Rush. With such major decisions, the community was split (no pun intended) on their feelings regarding this change. Some rejoiced, others ask for the return of the map to this day (myself included).

Almost forgot another detail. Pearl also went live with the patch and was one of the main reasons as to why Split was removed. The sheer fact that I almost forgot to include that last detail showed how much the removal of Split overshadowed the addition of Pearl.

#3: Patch 4.04 – Yoru overhaul, Controller changes, and Icebox site updates

Riot Games developers hit the nail on the head with patch 4.04. This enormous update came out to be one of the most important as it gave Yoru a second chance and set the tone for the remainder of 2022 when it comes to Controller Agents. Additionally, Icebox received much needed changes that made the defenders stand a chance against attackers on a map that was generally very much attack-sided.

Yoru’s introduction into VALORANT in 2021 was met with both awe for his creative abilities and style, and disappointment after people realized his site-entry potential was deeply flawed. Instead, Yoru relied on the creativity of the wielder and was seen more of as a secondary Duelist. Over time, Yoru’s pick rate plummeted and Riot realized it was time to take action. And so, his Fakeout was changed to a walking silhouette instead of fake steps. He received an additional Gatecrash with which he received the ability to fake the teleport. And the icing on the cake. His Dimensional Drift Ultimate received a massive boost as Yoru was then able to cast any ability whilst in his Ultimate. On top of that, he was totally invisible, with enemies only receiving audio cues when he was nearby. This led to Yoru still being a niche pick, but we’ve seen phenomenal uses for Yoru over the course of 2022. Most recently, G2 Gozen’s Julia “juliano” Kiran pulled off the ultimate site fake with this Yoru outplay.

Moving on from Yoru, VALORANT Controllers received phenomenal balance changes to even the ground in that agent category. Most importantly, Astra finally received a much-needed nerf as she has become the go-to Controller pick on almost all maps before patch 4.04. Omen and Brimstone received great buffs that saw both agents find their own ground in certain comps for the remainder of 2022. Lastly, Viper joined Astra in the nerf department as Riot devs saw her Controller/Sentinel hybrid to be a bit too much. Viper primarily received nerfs to her Toxic Screen and Poison Cloud to even the ground moving forward.

Finally, patch 4.04 introduced big changes to Icebox, mostly focused around the A and B sites. Less cover for oncoming attackers and concentrated spots for defenders allowed the defending side to feel more confident and safe whilst contesting for sites. This made Icebox much less attack-sided and I believe was also a great change for the map.

#2: Patch 5.12 – THE Chamber nerf, Swiftplay, and agent changes

Taking the runner-up spot, is the most recent update to VALORANT at the time of writing this piece. The title says it all. Patch 5.12 may be the update that potentially kills Chamber’s outrageous pick-rate on the professional scene. At the same time, the update may deter casual players for picking the alleged Sentinel. In addition, the update included a slew of minor changes to almost all VALORANT agents, and introduced the condensed Unrated mode named Swiftplay.

Chamber has been the dominant force in 2022. There’s absolutely no contesting that sentence. The French Sentinel sports an arsenal of weaponry masked as skills that are a better take on the Operator and Sheriff. But what made the suave agent overpowered was his relentless escape ability that could be used numerous times throughout a round (Rendezvous). This encouraged repeated aggressive peeking. And, well, Chamber is supposed to be a Sentinel and not a Duelist. You can read all about how Chamber shaped the VCT meta in 2022 in an article by our talented writer Seasonal.

Chamber already received a nerf in patch 5.03. It, among others, effectively increased cooldowns on his abilities and reduced Redezvous’ diameter. This, however, had very little effect on his pick rate. It was then inevitable that he is destined to receive the axe. Instead of explaining the changes, here is a snippet of all the agent changes in patch 5.12 sorted by agent. These are all the changes (mostly nerfs) that Chamber was hit with:

That is a hefty list. But let’s perhaps highlight his most drastic nerf. Chamber now wields only one Rendezvous anchor to which he may teleport when he is in its’ area of effect. As a buff, however, the anchor may be placed in elevated areas now, adding verticality to Chamber’s playbook. Still, that change alone combined with the slew of nerfs specified in the image above goes to show how powerful Chamber really was in 2022.

Moving on from agent changes with update 5.12, Swiftplay saw its debut. The shortened Unrated/Spike Rush hybrid hit the servers. With the economy of Spike Rush but devoid of boosters and instead relying on regular play, players can casually hop in for a shortened game mode if time is the enemy. A nice additional game mode that provides even more options for players.

#1: Patch 4.08 – Jett’s Tailwind nerf, the Fade nightmare begins, and Sova nerfs

Finally, we’ve decided that it was patch 4.08 that was the most impactful update to VALORANT in 2022. It was a toss-up between patch 4.08 or 5.12, but since we are currently not fully sure the extent of the Chamber nerfs on the agent at the time of writing, we decided update 4.08 takes the crown.

Let’s start with Jett. The Korean Duelist has been running amok dashing out of danger and opening sites from the beginning of the game. Her overpowered nature was not so obvious from the beginning. But as time went on, she became a staple Duelist. Players that were not afraid to pick fights would take up the reins of Jett and fearlessly crack sites wide open. Patch 4.08 did not take that away, but it made it slightly more complicated. Jett wielders would now have to pre-activate the ability and could only use Tailwind in a 12-second window. Getting two kills regained the ability, but that small change forced Jett aficionados to be very careful with timing the ability. A seemingly small change that had another effect. It made Chamber that much more attractive. His escapability was just so much better and easier. All done with a snap of his fingers.

Patch 4.08 also brought to life this year’s most attractive “revealer” Initiator. Straight from Turkey, Fade made her appearance. Once more, it took a while for the community to realize her strength. Yet, it didn’t take too long before she started to cut into Sova’s pick rate on numerous maps. Her Prowlers were lethal, as was her ultimate (Nightfall) that really did strike fear into players on the receiving end of it. But perhaps her Haunt ability (equivalent of Sova’s Recon Bolt) was the star of the show as it revealed players instantly, rather than being avoidable like Sova’s arrow. You can read more about why Fade is so powerful in another piece by Seasonal.

Patch 4.08 brought another nightmare to life. This time, nightmare incarnate. Image credit: Riot Games.

Fade’s power also emerged as a result of a range of Sova nerfs. For the longest time, Sova remained as the premiere “revealer” agent. Nobody could match his information gathering ability. The combination of Fade’s release and Sova’s nerfs in patch 4.08 resulted in a gradual decrease in his pick rate, despite still being a steady pick on some maps. How Shock Dart damage and Owl Drone duration and health reduction made Fade a more lucrative option, especially before a range of nerfs, especially to her Prowlers.

There you have it. These are our picks for the most impactful VALORANT updates of 2022. Make sure to follow rib.gg for more pieces like this and the latest news in the world of VALORANT!