Valorant’s meta is in a pretty good spot right now. Following a rebalance of its controllers, the arrival of a new initiator, and a nerf to Chamber that has been controversial but undeniably effective at reintroducing trap-heavy sentinels to the game, the meta supports a huge variety of different Agent compositions. Even Yoru is enjoying a renaissance these days!
But there’s one Agent who’s fallen so far from grace and been neglected for so long that he’s taken over the mantle as Valorant’s biggest meme: poor old Phoenix, the flash-heavy duelist with a kit of utility that isn’t just useless to his teammates but less effective than his own support Agents for fragging out.
Update 06/25/2022: Riot Games has confirmed it is trialing a number of buffs to Phoenix on Valorant’s Public Beta Environment server (PBE). These include a stronger and faster flash, reduced weapon re-equip time after using Blaze, and Run it Back ceasing to remove shields after use.
Update 07/12/2022: It appears as though the Phoenix buffs that were being trialed in the PBE server are now official and are live in Valorant as of Patch 5.01 (Credit ValorLeaks). These are as follows:
- Flash Max duration increased 1.1s -> 1.5s
- Flash Windup Time decreased .7s -> .5s
- Your weapon will equip earlier if you stop bending the wall while in use. > After using your ultimate, you will regain the amount of shield you had previously.
So, what do you think? Are they enough to bring him back into the meta. My initial take is still no, but we’ll have to wait and see how he plays before making judgement.
Original article continues below.
Phoenix is so bad that merely hovering his thumbnail at Agent select has teammates threatening to dodge, and if you’re brave enough to lock him in then you’re in for a torrent of abuse once the game begins. People don’t just dislike playing him personally, they’ve lost faith in anybody playing him at all. It’s simple: Phoenix is a troll pick; you’re a troll for playing him, and nine times out of ten you’ve lost the lobby long before a bullet has been fired if you think otherwise.
The funny thing is that, unlike Yoru, the Valorant player base’s dislike of Phoenix wasn’t immediate. Once upon a time, Phoenix was considered a meta choice of duelist on maps like Haven and Ascent, where his flashes made for effective entry and his five-orb ult could be easily farmed. Sentinels’ SicK and TSM’s drone were two popular esports players who used Phoenix very effectively at the highest of levels back in 2020 and early 2021.
Slowly but surely, though, as the popularity of Jett skyrocketed and new, self-sufficient initiators like Skye and Kayo were introduced to Valorant, Phoenix died a death and has yet to recover. He is without a doubt the most useless Agent in the game, and at nearly every elo suffers the worst pickrate in ranked play. Something needs to be done, and fast.
Why Phoenix Is Bad in Valorant
As I alluded to earlier, if you have played Phoenix recently and/or know the situation well, you’ll appreciate just how lacking his utility is. The issue is that his flashes are too easy to dodge, even if you spend a long time learning how to become creative with them. Their curve, which is admittedly a cool and unique mechanic, is ultimately a limiting factor, and even flashing out of smokes they just don’t work as well as Skye’s or KAY/0’s.
The rest of his kit is underwhelming too, with both the molly and firewall feeling cumbersome and slow to deploy. The ultimate, too, while cheap to charge and sometimes effective as an entry/retake tool, is too often immediately shut down and fails to find value. Sure, Phoenix can attack without fear of dying, but rushing enemy positions is only ever going to have a limited impact when enemies know you’re coming.
Does Phoenix Need a Buff or Rework?
The big question is whether the utility Phoenix has is something that can be buffed and salvaged or whether the Agent needs a full-scale, Yoru-like rework. On the one hand, I think Phoenix’s kit has potential with a few tweaks here and there, though I can’t also help but feel the player base is so down on him in general that he almost needs to win us all back with something new and exciting.
I can certainly see Phoenix becoming more useful if the speed with which his flashes were equipped and deployed was increased. Also, if you could, say, hold down mouse 1 to increase their range or change their shape in some way. His molly and firewall need to be speedier too, and maybe boosting Phoenix’s movement speed after ulting might make his entries more successful?
But again, this is an Agent so despised at this point that he needs a bit of hype surrounding any changes, and maybe the way to push him back in the meta is to get the player base excited about a new kit of utility.
At least Riot Games is on the case. Recent comments from character producer John Goscicki confirm that the developer is working on changes, though he did also say it was “too early” to talk about the details. The team is still taking “the time to explore everything between number tweaks to something more.”
Let’s hope it isn’t too long, because while shifting metas are designed to see Agents fall in and out of favor, there shouldn’t be a situation that leaves one as far behind as Phoenix. It’s a crying shame, in particular, because Phoenix has always been more or less the face of Valorant alongside OG Agents like Jett. Virtually every lore cinematic has featured Phoenix, and he’s absolutely got one of the most fun personalities on the roster. It’s time to get the London lad back in the game!
This article was originally published on 05/29/2022.
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