VALORANT First Strike: Europe - Five Key Agents that Defined the Tournament
Last weekend, Team Heretics thoroughly impressed a region by winning VALORANT First Strike: Europe. Against all odds, they fought tooth and nail against some of the most famous esports organisations in Europe and came out as the victors. First Strike was a small taste of what professional VALORANT will look like in the future, but it gave us a good look at strategies and agents that the pros use in order to take the trophy.
Currently, there are thirteen available agents in VALORANT. During First Strike: Europe, twelve of those were actually played. Of course, some agents proved more popular than others – players might prefer to use one agent on a particular map more, or they are simply better accustomed to them because they have been playing the agent for longer.
Let’s take a closer look at what the most popular agents of First Strike: Europe’s Main Event were, and how they were used across the different available maps.
Omen was the most-picked agent during First Strike: Europe, chosen across 30 matches throughout the Main Event. His main strength is his extreme versatility. He is good on offence and even better in defensive situations with his ability to roam and his recharging smokes.
Paranoia is one of the better non-ultimate fight starters in the game. The quick charge time and projectile speed make it difficult for even the best players to dodge. Once the opponents are blinded, Omen can sweep in for a quick entry, before dipping out with a teleport – or as G2's Patryk "paTiTek" Fabrowski does in this clip, teleport into the smoke for a sneaky kill against Team Heretics’ Auni "AvovA" Chahade.
With his ultimate, From the Shadows, he can break open key angles or pop out of an unexpected angle. With smokes, blinds, and teleports on his side, there will never be a moment where Omen is a bad pick, which is why he had a pick rate of 78.9 percent, and a win rate of 50 percent.
Sage brings extremely valuable utility to a team composition. Her Resurrection ultimate can be one of the most powerful abilities in the game if it’s used at the right moments. Bringing back an ally in a 1v1 retake situation can double the chances of winning a round.
Team Heretics’ Christian "loWel" Garcia Antoran shows the potential of the agent by placing key walls and orbs during defence, but also walling off enemies during offensive pushes – and the team’s captain didn’t waver from the agent throughout the Main Event. These well-practised Sage strategies were one of the key components of Team Heretics’ victory at First Strike: Europe. The quick setup time of her utility, combined with her ultimate, makes Sage one of the top support picks in professional VALORANT, which is why we saw her across 16 different maps throughout the event.
Information is everything in VALORANT. Knowing where your opponents are and where they are aiming can make or break a defence or a push. On top of that, professional VALORANT players know the ins-and-outs of every map. They know the timings of rushes, slow pushes, and even the time it takes players to walk from spawn to a specific key place on the map.
Sova’s sonar can sniff out a push with a well-placed Recon Bolt before it even starts, which proved particularly useful on both Ascent and Bind, where Sova was played the most (four maps and 14 maps respectively, with a 100 percent pick rate on both). This is largely because they are both very open, and it’s easy for a sonar arrow to go unnoticed and spot an enemy.
Recon Bolt isn't just for open spaces, however. In the clip below on Bind in the final round between Heretics and SUMN FC, we see SUMN's Muhammad "Moe40" Hariff bounce a bolt into a corridor to sniff out Heretics' AvovA, allowing Kostas "tsack" Theodoropoulos to sweep in and take him down for the win.
In professional VALORANT, Cypher’s Spycam is used as a sixth man on the field. Popping down a Spycam in a key chokepoint can provide information for an entire round, right up until the moment that it gets destroyed. Professional teams will continuously be sharing what’s happening on their screens, and Cypher adds an additional screen filled with information.
You can see how this information helps in the clip below on Haven – watch the minimap closely and you'll see FunPlus Phoenix's Johan "Meddo" Renbjörk Lundborg deploy a Spycam just below C Site, using it to determine that SUMN FC isn't coming around that corner and allowing him to rotate to A Site to assist in the eventual fight.
Just like Sova, Cypher is key to gaining valuable information on where to push and where to hold. We know that professional players value these agents, because on multiple occasions they picked them both – Cypher holds a 60.5 percent pick rate throughout the Main Event, popping up to deliver info across 23 maps. VALORANT is the game where information holds absolute power in setting up plays, and the more you can get, the higher the chance that the play you want to execute will work out in your favour.
Not every agent is about gathering information or providing utility for the team. Some just want to shoot people and deal as much damage as possible. Raze is the perfect example of that kind of agent. While your team provides the walls, the smokes and the vision – you’re the one that is going to go in and get those entry frags.The pros agreed throughout the Main Event, as Raze was the second-most picked Agent throughout, appearing in 28 matches.
Using a combination of her Showstopper ultimate and Blast Packs, professional VALORANT players are able to zoom across the map to get a perfect pick off. G2’s Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas Colocho is an example of a player who’s extraordinarily good at finding creative entry frags, which allows him to create highlight-worthy moments every match, as in the clip below on Bind vs Team Heretics.
For now, these agents define the meta in VALORANT professional play. Take a good first look, because we all know that this list is going to change over the next few years as new agents get released, nerfed, and buffed. Did your favourite agent make the list? Who do you think we should have included? Let us know on Twitter.