A Draft Phase in VALORANT?

A Draft Phase in VALORANT?
Written by: BigTime

With the consistent introduction of new agents to the game, we see an increasingly diverse set of heroes (or villains) with a wide range of abilities, strengths and weaknesses. As the cast of characters grows, we see an increasing discussion around the introduction of a pick and ban phase, where teams would take turns to choose the agents they want to play as well as stopping the opponents from playing certain agents. Coming from a DOTA 2 background where a pick and ban phase is a fundamental part of the game, as well as being a current VALORANT analyst, I’m here to give my thoughts on it.


The two parts are very separate and should be treated as such. Firstly I’ll look at purely a pick phase. For the record, I am massively in favour of this and would like to see it introduced ASAP. The main reason for this is because it increases the skill ceiling of the game at the pro level instantly. It would become important for teams to have a player or coach who was in charge of drafting particularly as the agent roster grows and the interactions become more complex.


Sequential picking allows you to build a team comp whilst the opponents are building theirs and you each have perfect information of each other. If the system stays how it is now, the idea of counter picking is near an impossibility. Of course, you can research a team before a match to understand what and how they’ll play but there is always a chance you’ll load in and see an entirely different composition. Opening up the pick phase allows you to counter pick in real-time and gives you the ability to change if you’re opponents change.


A pick phase also rewards player flexibility. Because of this ability to counter pick your opponents agents, players who provide more options to do this will be better. For example, you might have found your opponent’s entry player prefers to play Raze on Bind, whilst your sentinel player normally goes Killjoy. However, during the pick phase, your opponent instead goes for Jett. The more flexible sentinel players here will be rewarded by being able to swap to Cypher to help counter the Jett. This raises the skill ceiling for individuals and teams as a whole as they would have to practice with more varied compositions and understand more interactions and combos, than if they stayed with the same 5 agents every time.


It also allows Riot to introduce more direct agent counters. We could see more niche agents which could excel in certain situations or if no counter is present. This allows for more interesting characters and adds depth to the game as the draft phase would become increasingly important and the concept of being “out drafted”, put in a disadvantage from the start of the game, would become present. I know some people wouldn’t like it and want the game to focus more heavily on gunplay, however personally I would love to see this be part of the esport to reward the teams that understand the game at the highest level.


A ban phase, on the other hand, is a different story. For me this is something I’d like to see introduced further down the line but not quite yet. The agent pool isn’t anywhere near deep enough. I hate playing against Jett as much as everyone else but the esport really isn’t in a place where this change would be healthy. Over time I think that being a one-trick really shouldn’t be viable at the top level but right now, it’s too common to get rid of. Teams and players have thousands of hours on agents and the strategies that come with them. A pick phase would encourage change but a ban phase would enforce it and for now, that’s not a smart move.


Eventually, I’d like to see a huge range of agents come to valorant. I know other games have struggled in the past with balancing issues and power creep but I trust Riot more than most to do a good job and listen to the community if something is not right. If they manage to pull it off, a pick and ban phase will increase the skill ceiling for players and teams and ultimately create more of a spectacle for the viewer.

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