It's hard to stay on top, and sometimes it's not your fault.
The massive nerfs to Chamber’s entire ability kit from VALORANT patch 5.12 pushed the sniper sentinel’s pro play pick rate off a cliff, following a 2022 VCT year where he was the focal point of almost every composition and top team. But he’s not the only agent to see their pro pick rate take a dip.
While the VCT 2023 season is still yet to start, Challengers leagues across the world have kicked off, and the most used initiator from last year’s VCT Masters Copenhagen and Champions tournaments has taken a sharp to mild usage decline across the various leagues.
Fade averaged just over a 50 percent pick rate across both international events and multiple Last Chance Qualifiers by the end of the year. With the exception of Breeze, where her abilities proved to be less useful due to the larger sites, she was a common choice across all maps in the pool.Pick rate from Brazil Challengers League 2023 Split One | Image via VLR.gg
But that has changed early into the 2023 season. According to data from VLR.gg, her pick rate across various Challengers Leagues has dropped. In regions like North America, Japan, and Europe, she’s barely averaging a 25 percent pick rate overall, and in Brazil, she’s fallen all the way down to 15 percent. On maps like Haven and Ascent, where she once boasted a pick rate over 60 percent, she’s become a much more niche and uncommon pick, and Sova has reclaimed his spot as the go-to initiator.
There’s a reasonable explanation for this though, and it has to do with the huge nerfs to Chamber as well as recent buffs to Killjoy. With Chamber being nerfed, many teams are back to using Jett as the primary Operator carrier, and with teams not often running both Raze and Jett, there’s less reason to run Fade without Raze’s Paint Shell grenades to combine with the tether of Fade’s Seize. Additionally, Fade’s Prowlers were an effective tool for chasing Chamber out of his aggressive spots.
On top of that, the nerfs to Chamber also have resulted in teams running more Killjoy as the primary sentinel. In the 5.12 update, Killjoy received a health buff to her utility, including her Lockdown ultimate. With healthier tools and more teams running Killjoy, Sova is needed more than Fade to use his Shock Darts and Hunter’s Fury to negate it.
This could change in the near future when the pro players deal with the new map pool; Bind and Breeze will be taken out while Split and Lotus are coming in. Sova was an unpopular choice on Split before the map was removed and that likely isn’t going to change, and Fade could be considered more viable on both Split and Lotus. Still, though, while she’s not as dead as Chamber, the effects of Chamber’s nerfs have drastically reduced the need for Fade.