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Top 7 agent compositions of the VALORANT Champions Tour 2022

Top 7 agent compositions of the VALORANT Champions Tour 2022

Kim "vserov" Panagos

12/21/2022

2022 featured a huge amount of innovation in VALORANT’s metagame. Although Chamber was a mainstay, the fact that he provided 2-for-1 value (Operator agent plus passive info gathering) made him a catalyst for experimentation. And so, in order to commemorate a truly memorable year of VCT competition, let’s highlight a composition that either set (or disrupted) the meta on each of VALORANT’s seven maps in 2022.

Ascent: DRX’s triple-Initiator

Agents: Astra, Chamber, Fade, KAY/O, Sova

It did not take long after Fade’s release for the Turkish Bounty Hunter to become a mainstay across VALORANT’s map pool. So much that she even began to supplant Sova on one of his signature maps, Ascent. That was a testament to the power of having access to not one, but two pieces of “entry by proxy” (EBP) in an agent’s kit.

During their qualifying run for Masters Copenhagen, DRX decided that even two pieces of EBP was insufficient, and so opted to pair Fade and Sova together. KAY/O was also at the peak of his powers during this period. And so, by stacking the three Initiators in an info-centric midrange/control hybrid, the Korean allstars were making a bold declaration about which role they felt held the balance of power in VALORANT’s meta during the middle portion of 2022. After trampling over their domestic competition 4-0 with the comp, DRX’s international rivals were quick to take notice. OpTic Gaming promptly took the comp for a spin during their NA Challengers run. Leviatán also followed suit, and even beat DRX at their own game after the Koreans lost faith and moved back to a more traditional Jett/Killjoy lineup. Still, Kim “Stax” Gu-taek and co. got there first, and if there was one comp that underscored quite how badly VALORANT’s meta had become warped around the combination of Chamber plus info Initiators in 2022 it was this one.

Bind: FunPlus Phoenix’s KAY/O

Agents: Brimstone, Fade, KAY/O, Raze, Viper

FunPlus Phoenix were the mad scientists of 2022. Their compositional unorthodoxy and willingness to switch their comps up on a whim made them a nightmare to anti-strat. We mostly remember their year for that triumphant lower bracket run at Masters Copenhagen. An overlooked key to that success was their incredible transformation on Bind. The map had been their perma-ban during qualifiers, but with other portions of their pool (Icebox, Breeze) looking shaky coming into Copenhagen, Erik “d00mbr0sSandgren and Kirill “ANGE1Karasiow decided to take a risk on the Moroccan battleground. At that point, the rest of the Masters teams appeared to have settled on one of two comps: the FNATIC (Skye, Brim, Viper, Raze, Fade) or the OpTic (Chamber, Skye, Brim, Raze, Viper). But FPX had other ideas, placing their faith in KAY/O over the seemingly ubiquitous Skye. VALORANT’s favorite robot was hovering around a 5% pickrate on Patch 5.0, and selecting him would mean keeping Ardis ardiisSvarenieks off of his beloved Chamber. However, FPX were undaunted. Their boldness paid off, with the EMEA squad rattling off crucial victories over FNATIC, PRX (albeit with Andrey “ShaoKiprsky on Sage rather than Fade), XERXIA, and Guild on their way to a memorable championship.

Breeze: LOUD’s Cypher

Agents: Cypher, Jett, KAY/O, Sova, Viper

The meta on Breeze was stale throughout 2022. With most teams looking at the map’s long range engagements and making the seemingly obvious decision to pair Chamber and Jett with the usual core of Sova, KAY/O (or occasionally Skye, who tended to outperform KAY/O despite having a lower pickrate) and Viper. But for all his popularity, Chamber’s numbers were never particularly impressive on the map, usually hovering just below a 50% winrate on most patches. Savvy teams picked up on this, with Brazilian teams in particular remaining loyal to Cypher. They had good reason to do this, as his winrates were excellent (often several percentage points above 50% on most patches). But in a year where Cypher almost entirely fell out of the meta, why was he still doing so well on Breeze? Here, we must recall that since neither Fade (consistently below 10% pickrate ), nor Skye (around 20% pickrate) were particularly popular on the map, and Raze nowhere to be seen, the most common threats to Cypher’s Trapwires were largely absent. And once LOUD figured out that you could simply have Viper and Cypher play on opposite sites from their setups in rounds where an opposing KAY/O had their NULL/cmd in play, sticking with the Moroccan information broker became a no-brainer. LOUD went 6-0 in 2022 when they ran Cypher on Breeze, including a crucial victory over OpTic during their winning run at Champions Istanbul

Fracture: FPX’s Omen

Agents: Chamber, Fade, Omen, Raze, Viper

Perhaps the most meta-breaking comp of 2022 was FPX’s brilliant take on Fracture, the nuances of which I’ve already detailed at length in our How FPX really plays Fracture piece. Though their agent picks seemed unusual amidst a sea of Brimstones, Neons, and Breaches, it turned out that d00mbr0s and ANGE1 had dreamed up a perfect gameplan to counteract the prevailing approaches to the map by dominating A-main with Omen’s one-ways and Paranoias. FPX took a while to find their feet on Fracture, with early experiments on a similar comp that featured Sage in place of Viper being roundly defeated by their domestic rivals, FNATIC. However, once they moved Dmitry “SUYGETSU” Ilyushin over to VALORANT’s most toxic agent, they dominated, racking up a 10-2 record on the map throughout the remainder of the year. 

Haven: Ghost Gaming’s midrange

Agents: Astra, Breach, Chamber, Fade, Raze

Most of the comps we’ve mentioned so far have been “meta-breakers,” but Ghost Gaming‘s approach to Haven was simultaneously so innovative and so obviously powerful that it immediately established the blueprint for agent selections on the map for the remainder of 2022. With Fade having just been released, Ghost were quick to opt into maximum synergy, pairing her with Raze, Astra, Breach, and Chamber for a dynamic midrange selection that would become utterly hegemonic by the year’s end (albeit with some teams opting for Omen in place of Astra). Ghost’s first outing on the map was a near flawless showcase of its distinctive capabilities: a 13-1 evisceration of The Guard, whose Chamber, Breach, Skye, Jett, Omen comp was made to look like an absolute anachronism. From the get-go, all the tech that we would expect from 2022’s archetypal Haven comp was on full display: Paintshell-Seize combos towards A Lobby, Chamber posting up on A Short, Breach playing around B and providing support from across the map, and Astra making life difficult with her Gravity Wells and global presence. Sometimes, the most obvious thing is just the best, so hats off to Ghost for finding it first.

Icebox: G2/FNATIC’s triple-Sentinel

Agents: Chamber, Killjoy, Sage, Sova, Viper

G2 were the originators, but FNATIC took the triple-Sentinel Icebox comp somewhere special (9-1 on the map once they switched to the comp during EMEA Challengers Stage 2). Killjoy has always been a dominant agent on Icebox (she consistently outperformed Reyna during 2021), and that never changed in 2022, despite teams frequently overlooking her in favor of other less impressive options. The key, as FNATIC demonstrated, was actually knowing what to do with her. On defense, Mid was completely locked down thanks to KJ’s Alarmbot (typically placed inside the opposing Viper’s Poison Cloud) and Turret, and options for plant denial (Nano Swarms, Shock Darts, Snake Bites) were plentiful. Freeing up Chamber’s Trademark from Kitchen duty was also a boon, as positioning it towards B Long provided FNATIC with an early-warning system that in turn enabled them to strongside the A site.

On attack, FNATIC used KJ’s Turret to take first contact on A Main, negating pushes, as well as the threat posed by opposing Chambers taking peeks over Pipes. Judicious use of her Nanoswarms helped for clearing defensive positions on the A site during executes, while also allowing Sova and Viper to hold on to their utility to close out rounds with postplant lineups. By the end of the year, there was no doubt that FNATIC were far and away the best in the world on Icebox, and with 2023 looking like a great time to be a KJ main, teams could do worse than look towards their VODs on the map for inspiration going forward.

Pearl: Zero Tenacity’s future-forward KJ aggro

Agents: Astra, Breach, Fade, Killjoy, Neon

Pearl’s early meta was incredibly fluid to say the least. But if there was one thing you could count on it was probably that there would be a Chamber posted up on B Long with an Operator. But by the end of the year, a few teams had begun to stray from this blueprint, to varying degrees of success. One of the first forward-looking experiments of this sort was a played by VALORANT: East S3 winners Zero Tenacity, who put together an aggro comp built around Neon and Breach that also took advantage of Killjoy’s kit to provide multiple lane coverage on defense and a post-plant option on attack. Though they may not have been the first team to run KJ, their setups stood out as some of the most well thought out. Where other teams would frequently place her Turret in a single lane B link coverage, Z10 would frequently make use of A site turrets that simultaneously covered the A Main and Art lanes. These setups allowed the Polish squad to strongside the B side of the map, while still maintaining sufficiently early info to give their A retakes a chance to succeed. With Chamber’s demise, and much of the counterplay to KJ’s Lockdown being nerfed in Patch 5.12, Z10 may well have found an early blueprint for success on Pearl going into 2023. 

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