Killjoy's First Steps in the Ignition Series
It has been a month since Killjoy is available, but this weekend saw the first two Ignition Series tournaments where it is allowed to take the stage. Indeed, Riot Games had banned her use in tournaments to ensure the stability of the character.
The arrival of Killjoy is significant, as this is the first time that a new character has been added to the official competitive circuit of Valorant. Unlike games like Counter-Strike which are quite fixed, Valorant will regularly welcome new characters. Professionals will need to be able to adapt to these additions and changes in game mechanics if they want to remain successful.
The more time passes, the more the European and American metas seem to stand out from each other. Let's see how each scene appropriated Killjoy's talents. Did the teams have trouble adjusting their play style?
Killjoy in Europe
For G2 Esports, it doesn't seem to be a problem. Killjoy has even become a pick of choice for the team, when playing on Ascent. This is the only map on which G2 Esports has selected the new Agent. Ascent is undoubtedly the home of G2 Esports (more on that shortly) and Killjoy may have strengthened their dominance on this map.
Other teams have of course tried to play her. She appears to have become the new main character of Hyp, who played her in every game. The latter was even the top fragger on Bind in the match against BIG and where Ninjas in Pyjamas won 13-0. On the other hand, other teams like bonk have absolutely not integrated her into their strategy. This didn't prevent them from reaching the final.
In the end, Killjoy was selected 23 times out of the 35 maps played, i.e. a 32,9% pickrate. A very good rate for a new Agent, but it will be necessary to watch whether this was a first try or a trend that will continue.
Killjoy's selection has a direct impact on Cypher's numbers. For several weeks now, Cypher had become the most coveted Agent in Valorant with a pickrate approaching 98%. In games where Killjoy is played, the majority of teams replace Cypher with Killjoy (with the exception of FunPlus Phoenix who sometimes play both Agents at the same time). In fact, Cypher's pickrate drops to 77% in Europe, the same pickrate as Sage's. Ultimately it's Omen who benefits the most from Killjoy's arrival. He is the Agent that can be found in almost every game, with 94% pickrate.
In terms of results, Killjoy is doing quite well in Europe. Her popularity at G2 Esports certainly has something to do with it, but she still has a 56,5% winrate (51,3% in Attack, 57% in Defense).
Killjoy in the United States
Killjoy has appeared much less in the United States than in Europe. She was selected 20 times on the 34 maps played. A shy pickrate of 25,6% that she owes almost entirely to one team.
What is interesting, however, is that she has absolutely not impacted Cypher's popularity across the Atlantic. Cypher was selected 77 times out of 34 games (98% pickrate). Ultimately, Sage is the most impacted by Killjoy's arrival. The American meta has been revolving around duelists for over a month now, with Cypher as support. Removing Sage in favour of a new Sentinel is therefore a tempting option. This is what Team Envy did during the tournament, selecting Sage or Killjoy depending on the maps.
Envy is the team that have used Killjoy the most, but two others have also taken the risk. There is first T1, whose results lately have not been very glorious, and who was eliminated in the first round of the tournament. Cloud9 has also made her a mandatory pick on Ascent and Split. She allowed them to win against Dignitas and to make an upset against Gen.G Esports.
However, Killjoy's results are quite variable across the Atlantic. Her winrate per map is exactly 50% (with 46,2% in Attack and 52% in Defense). The winners, Sentinels, have not selected her once. However, the only time Envy lost a map, it was against Cloud9 and mitch was MVP with Killjoy.
It's still too early to get a real idea of the viability of Killjoy in competition. However, her impact on the meta is already undeniable. It's very interesting that she changed the meta in two different ways depending on the region. The fact that she hasn't changed the overall balance of power shows the flexibility of the players and the balance of the Agent.
This time, the different teams had plenty of time to test and practice the Agent before she was available in competitions. It will be necessary to watch, at the arrival of the next Agents, if the new faces will remain just as popular.