Why the operator is still broken post-nerf
Hey guys, this is Twix, the most unecessarily analytical Valorant coach on reddit, back with another guide. I am a previously competitive CS player and top 1% aim trainer grinder with numerous achievements across multiple FPS games, that focuses mainly on the mechanical components of coaching in FPS games ( previously CS & Apex, currently Valorant). I have covered pretty much every fundamental aspect of the game, both mechanics-wise and gamesense-wise in my previous posts ( which are pinned on my profile so feel free to check them out :D), and I was conflicted in terms of what topic to cover next. Due to numerous people in my discord server requesting for this topic to be covered and the amount of people I hear / see complain about it daily, I chose to discuss the current state of the OP meta. If you enjoy my content and want to see more of it, or you're interested in private coaching, make sure to join my discord server https://discord.gg/6ZYVZ6x
where you'll find a friendly and helpful community oriented towards improving in FPS games and in-depth pricing details / reviews of the services I offer. Feel free to follow my twitter account twitter.com/Twix_v2
also linked at the end of this post, if you want to receive aim-training / valorant related updates from me. Hope you enjoy reading ( or not ) through this post!
- OP balancing issues / How these issues can be addressed
- How to play around the "OP meta" in Matchmaking
- Discord Server / Twitter links
The OP meta is a very clear problem in the game currently, especially in maps such as Ascent, as it allows for very little counterplay and holds a very low skill / risk requirement to pull the setup off effectively. This is especially evident in circumstances where a team is douple OP'ing, which can be extremely frustrating, especially against lower ELO players that don't know how to efficiently counter the strat. However, a lot of the people saying the OP should be nerfed fail to comprehend how complicated individually balancing the Operator in this game would be, as the issue stems from a lot of far more fundamental "faults" that the game suffers from. This post's main goal is to elaborate upon the real
reasons that the Operator is currently such a strong / problematic weapon in matchmaking, and offer a few ways that this could be solved through updates, as well as how players can individually counter the weapon to make their matchmaking experience more pleasant.
Think about it this way, the "Operator" is the equivalent of the "AWP" in CS:GO both in terms of pricing and the role the weapon fills in a team's setup, yet in CS the AWP isn't a "game breaking" weapon by any means, and requires more mechanical skill to use efficiently. However, if you compare the AWP's weapon stats to the Operator's, you will very quickly come to realize that the AWP is better in every
aspect. Literally. It has a higher fire-rate, more ammo per clip, better / faster innacuracy reset, you can crouch + move, etc. People need to realize that the reason the Operator is overpowered in the current meta isn't it's weapon stats, unfortunately.
The operator is currently overpowered due to three main reasons ( and an agent... ):
The map design in Valorant differs quite vastly to that of CS, the amount of angles ( especially deep angles / 90 deg angles ) that you need to clear on each sector of a map, is far larger to that of CS, therefore holding angles with a one-shot weapon is inherently easier to do. There are also less objects that you can use in your direct environment to peek in a way that shields the majority of your body ( think of the angles you can hold on somethig like "A site" on Dust in CS:GO.
Example of player model exposure in an angle being held in CS
As opposed to counter-strike where there are many of these angles ( as seen above ) that you can hold while only a fraction of your player model is exposed, In Valorant, you need to full-body peek ( peek with the entirety of your player model exposed ) the majority of the angles you challenge / hold, which makes it far easier for an OP player to land shots on you. The fact that you need to full-body peek these angles also means that missing shots or being double peeked while using the Operator is much more punishing as well, however, this can be completely overlooked as a downside when the weapon is paired with Jett, something I'll elaborate upon further later down the post.
Another really big issue ( IMO ) In terms of how the map design in Valorant allows for one-shot weapons like the operator to be abused in matchmaking, is the fact that before the round even starts, you can set up in an angle where your sightline is directly looking into an area across the entire map where the enemy spawn barrier is located, meaning you can hold an angle as soon as the round starts where an enemy will be within the first 0.5 seconds into the round. Using CS:GO maps as comparison, the only angle you can hold in a similar manner would be mid doors in D2, but then again, hitting someone crossing through that narrow angle is not nearly as easy. Here is an example of what I mean in Valorant:
Green line = Spawn barrier location / Red line = OP LOS
As you can see in the image above, the defender playing bottom mid on Ascent can adjust in around 0.5 seconds as soon as the round starts, to get a guaranteed hold on anyone who pushes top mid post-spawn, what I mean by this is that the defender will be the first to hold the angle, and the attacker will have to actively peek the defender. This can be countered in plenty of ways, e.g. a Cypher cam top mid to scan mid, or a smoke to cut off the LOS ( Line of Sight ), however, it's an issue when the only way to counter an individual weapon is to fully rely on your team's utility usage. If you're a scrim / comp player this probably isn't an issue, but 99% of people play MM, and the majority of them solo / duo queue, meaning that relying on your team-synergy with strangers to counter an individual angle is completely inconsistent, especially
in lower ELO games. For this specific issue, I think one way to fix it would be to re-adjust the spawn barrier locations in certain maps ( as done previously with split ) to even out the defender / attacker advantages.
In terms of fixing issues that are directly related to the game's map structure / design, the necessary "patches" are much more difficult to implement. Maps take a lot of time & resources to design, and it would therefore be unrealistic to expect the dev team to fully rework the existing maps. However, the excessively problematic map sections can
be reworked to result in a more balanced competitive structure. Similar to how the mid-section of split was reworked post-beta, the dev team should focus on doing the same with other maps, as we haven't seen any relevant changes since then.
If you're confused as to how the map structure is "problematic" in Valorant, here is a video by a map designer, analyzing the fundamental flaws in Valorant's general map design: Valorant Map Design - Explained from a Map Creator's POV
I believe the main issue with Valorant's current map pool is a lack of community input / playtesting. Volcano is a great map creator, and gave us what is arguably one of the best CS maps of all time ( Cache ) and I'm definitely disappointed in the current state of the Valorant map pool. If there was a community workshop, or at least selective playtesting prior to the full release of these maps, I'm sure that a lot of the main aspects that people complain about could have been fully avoided.
Another adjustment that needs to be made on certain maps is the placement of the aforementioned spawn barriers / spawn protection. Calculating the exact timing from each barrier to x position is crucial to the decision making in terms of determining where exactly to place each barrier in order to avoid issues such as being able to hold OP angles as soon as the round starts without having to move more than a couple of steps.
Lack of universal utility: The Problem
This is a pretty commonly overlooked issue, it's not a complicated concept to get behind but peoples' understanding of this is pretty misconstrued so I'd like to touch upon the subject briefly. As mentioned above, one of the biggest issues in solo queue MM is that yes, you can
counter operator angles in theory, but that means that either you're forcing yourself to pick a smoker ( which may not be your role ) or you're forced to rely on your teammate's ability to properly use their utility to counter operator angles / LOS. I'm sure some will say "oh, but that's how the game is meant to be played", Yeah, in theory that's true, but in practice, the mass majority of people will not play off of eachother properly and a lot of the time such communication is extremely difficult if you're solo-queuing, even in higher ELO games.
When I make a negative statement in relation to the extremely large amount of deep angles that you need to clear in each section of a map in Valorant, or the ridiculously open, cross-map LOS that can be held with an operator, with my main point of reference being CS, a lot of players say it isn't a problem because you have "so much utility" in Valorant which is why they're different in structure to CS maps. I think the root of the misconception here is the fact that there's so many unique abilities, which creates the illusion that there's a much larger variety of utility than there really is, since the majority of abilities function in a way that overlaps with one another, e.g. Phoenix's curveball is very different ( both visually and mechanically ) than Breach's flashes, or Reyna / Omen's blinds, but they all have the same function, they blind / nearsight the enemy. Jett / Brimstone / Omen all have very "different" smoke abilities, but again, they all hold the same function.
In CS:GO, every single person on the team has the ability to carry a flash, a molly, a smoke, and / or an HE nade, even in combination, meaning you can have something like 10 flashes, 5 smokes, and 5 mollies in a single round on your team, but most importantly, every
player has the utility necessary to counter one-shot weapons / people holding x angle, you don't need to rely on others to flash / smoke / molly areas for you.
Nade buy menu in CS:GO
The idea behind having character-bound abilities enforces team play, which isn't a bad concept in theory for a tactical shooter, however, when there's a weapon in the game which can be so heavily abused mainly due to the fact that necessary utility is player-bound. Here's a hypothetical scenario, you're playing ascent and everyone instalocks, you have no smokes, and the enemy team abuses mid with a double OP setup. The result? Not much room for counterplay. Again, people shouldn't be insta-locking duelists, but they will consistently do so, especially in lower ranks. You shouldn't have to be forced into situations where the outcome of your ability to hold a position is pre-determined by factors out of your control, e.g. people not picking smokers, or even worse, people picking smokers and not using their utility to block LOS.
The solution to this problem could be quite tricky, obviously having utility be character-bound isn't going to ( and shouldn't ) be changed, as it's one of the aspects of Valorant that makes the game unique as a tac shooter. What can
however be done to counter the issue that people come across often in terms of having horrible team comps that don't allow for the counter-play necessary to tackle the OP meta, especially in maps like Ascent, is to introduce a role cap. What I mean by this is e.g. introducing a sort of "filter" that doesn't allow for people to lock into more than say, 3 duelists. I don't believe there even needs to be a cap on any other role, as the issue of people not having smokes / CC on their team ( especially in lower elo ) stems from the fact that everyone
wants to play a duelist. I have played on smurf accounts in low diamond in order to play with friends in duo / trio queue, and 50% of the time people would just instalock Reyna / Phoenix / Jett as soon as we loaded into the lobby.
It would also be nice to introduce some sort of feature to prevent instalocking in general. A good way to do this IMO would be to allow for a sort of "team discussion" period, maybe 15-20 seconds after everyone loads into the lobby, where people can "declare" the agent they want to play, this would be great in terms of keeping people from just spam-picking duelists in every low MMR lobby ( high MMR too, just not as often ). It would also be nice to allow for people to "trade" picks similar to how you can trade champions in league even after you have locked in your picks, I don't see any reason as to why players shouldn't be able to do this if they come to a last-minute mutual agreement with a teammate that they want to swap roles.
Player models & Movement: The Problem
Finally, another aspect of the game which influences the extent to which the operator can be abused in the current meta, is the player model size ( hitbox ) and the restrictive movement. If you compare the hitbox in this game to that of any other tac fps, you'll quickly notice that the hitboxes in Valorant are quite larger than the rest of the games in the genre, what you'll also find, is that the movement in Valorant is much more restrictive.
Valorant / CS:GO Hitboxes
In Valorant, you accel / build momentum at a much slower pace than you would in any CS game, on top of that, bhopping doesn't allow you to gain momentum fluidly. All these factors, paired with the fact that you get significantly slowed after having been hit once, make it very difficult to engage in fluid movement sequences, in return making it very easy for players holding angles with an operator to land their shots on you. The mechanical cap is also much lower in terms of what you can do with your movement, in CS you can effectively "bait" sniper shots by jiggle peeking angles ( quickly counter-strafing an angle to get vision, only barely exposing your player model ), but in Valorant, due to the significantly slower momentum / accel it's impossible to do so efficiently.
There still are some neat tricks you can pull off with Valorant's movement system, e.g. the fact that you can bhop silently as long as you hit shift mid-air after your initial jump, and the surface you're moving on is inclined, which allows for some nice repositioning plays; The best example of this is probably silent bhopping on to the bike and then the wall in A lobby, peeking into A main on Ascent.
You can also circle / strafejump pretty effectively to gain vision or bait shots, although you need to know how to "air strafe" to do this properly. This isn't too difficult, it's just a combination of moving your mouse in sync with your player's directional movement, e.g. If I'm holding the "D" key, I'm simultaneously moving my mouse towards the right side of my screen. Here is a video of Dapr explaining it better than I ever could, as it's his signature move: Sentinels Dapr - Jump peeking tutorial
Clearly the game's movement system has been consciously designed to function this way, and similar to other mechanics in the game it allows for an even playing field between lower skill level and higher skill level players as the individual skillcap and therefore learning curve is far lower; Whether or not you enjoy this concept of a more "noob friendly" game or not is a matter of preference, I personally think lowering the skill ceiling like this just puts a hard cap on individual mechanics, which holds negative results in competitive play as the individual impact of players is "forced" to be closer to equal.
If I were to change the movement system, I would initially greatly decrease the delay in building momentum / increase the accel, so that jiggle peeking and counter-strafing were made more viable in the game. I think both of those mechanics are heavily skill based and shouldn't be restricted as heavily as they are in the current live build. The amount a player is slowed after being hit is a bit too high as well in the game's current state, however, if the accel / momentum changes were implemented, it wouldn't need to be adjusted.
Jett's Point & Click Adventure! The Problem
This isn't going to be a lengthy topic, but I just wanted to address the blatant issue that is the Jett + Operator combo in MM. There is a very good reason why every lobby in higher ELO is dominated by Jett in terms of winrate & pickrate, it's not due to Jett's kit individually, it's due to Jett's potential when paired with an Operator, especially in maps like Ascent which allow you to hold long, open angles.
We briefly discussed earlier, how it's good in terms of OP counter-play, that the maps in this game force you to commit to full body peeks, and that getting hit while out in the open heavily punishes the player, well, you can ignore all of that just by picking Jett. People constantly talk about Jett saying "oh nerf her updraft, nerf her ult, nerf her smokes 7 seconds is too long!" but the glaringly blatant issue to me is her dash. Jett's dash allows for her to hold any
position with the Operator, without having to worry about getting traded post-kill, or even getting caught out if she misses her shot because all she has to do is press "E" after shooting ( plus she gets her E back after 2 kills ). Jett's ability to reposition so freely, paired with her ability to set up in off-angles using her updraft, is what makes her so powerful in combination with the operator. Sure, Reyna can use her E to reposition as well, but 1) It's an extended animation 2) You actually need to kill someone to use it 3) You need to have LOS with the orb 4) You need to have your orb up to begin with ( needs to be bought / gained post-round ).
The solution to this issue is pretty clear to me, Jett's "E" / Dash ability has to be nerfed, I don't exactly know how this would be best balanced, but I'm sure a team of full-time game developers that have loads of experience working on game balancing can come up with a reasonable adjustment; Regardless, I have a couple of ideas of my own.
My first "fix" would be to simply add a short delay, something like 0.25 / 0.5 seconds post-shooting where Jett can't use her dash before that. Even though a 1/4 of a second time-frame is extremely short, it's still enough for a decent player to punish Jett before she can freely deny the trade.
My second idea for a "fix" would be to limit Jett's dash usage to the direction she's facing. This would make it much more mechanically challenging to reposition after shooting, and is very similar to my first suggestion as this change also effectively adds a short delay pre-dash, as players will require a short amount of time to adjust their aim to the direction they want to dash towards.
ALSO RIOTGAMES FOR CHRIST'S SAKE, ADD A SCOPE / UNSCOPE / ZOOM SOUND EFFECT TO THE OPERATOR, THERE'S NO REASON WHATSOEVER THAT IT SHOULD BE 100% SILENT, WON'T EVEN GIVE THIS SUGGESTION THE TIME OF DAY IN TERMS OF DISCUSSING IT AS IT'S SOMETHING SO BLATANTLY EVIDENT THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIXED AGES AGO...
How to play around the "OP meta" in Matchmaking
1) Picking the right team comp / making sure roles are being filled
Before we get into the mechanical aspect of playing against operators, we have to go through the basics, I mentioned before how especially at lower elo people will instalock duelists and ignore picking agents that offer team utility, or how people will be forced into picking omen / brim and just never utilize their smokes to cut off crucial LOS. Unfortunately, in the current state of the game, the only consistent way to counter this as an issue is to learn to play agents like Omen / Brimstone yourself, and make sure to avoid insta-locking in lobbies and fill the required "smoker" role when necessary. If you get into a lobby where 4 people just insta-lock duelists, honestly, just dodge the game. You're going to get a 3 minute cooldown if you haven't done it repeatedly and you lose 0 elo / mmr. You're sacrificing 3 minutes over an almost guaranteed loss, I think that's a pretty decent trade.
Example: You're playing Ascent and this is your team comp: Scenario #1
Breach / Cypher / Omen / Jett / Sova = Solid team composition, high chance of winning if played correctly. Scenario #2
Reyna / Phoenix / Jett / Raze / Breach = No viable smokes, very little team utility, very low chance of winning against a decently structured team, even if played well ( mechanically ).
2) Using your utility effectively
If you've gotten past the point of selecting the right agents for a solid team composition, all you need to do in order to minimize the effect of people abusing the Jett + Operator combo in MM, is to use your abilities efficiently. What this means is that depending on your agent, you will need to use your abilities to play around the enemy's OP player. If you're playing an agent that utilizes flash abilities, this means that you'll need to time your flashes efficiently with your pushes / peeks in order to actually have a chance of taking out the OP. Quick note on this, if you're playing Phoenix you want to be peeking right "behind" your flashes as soon as they pop, as the duration is very short and you want to make the most out of it before allowing enemies to reposition behind cover. If you're playing Reyna you want to wait a split-second before peeking with your "leer" ability as it only activates once it reaches it's designated range, as an alternative to this you can toss your leer out in odd positions to throw off your opponent's crosshair placement, in this instance you could peek with
your blind. Keep in mind that while Breach and Phoenix can fully flash their opponents, Reyna and Omen's blinds instead cause a "near-sightedness" debuff, meaning affected players can still see you clearly when you're close enough
If you're playing a smoker your role in denying the enemy team of getting free Operator picks is even more directly important, especially if you're playing on maps like Ascent or Haven which have plenty of long and open angles to hold which are almost impossible to push without proper smoke placement. Here is an example of where Brimstone / Omen should be smoking on Ascent:
Green markings = Defender-side smokes / Red markings = Attacker-side smokes
The map above is marked according to the locations you should be using your Brimstone / Omen smokes in. Simply opening your clicking on the map and sending out those 2 smokes as soon as the round starts depending on the side you're playing, instantly lowers the chance of you dying to an Operator through mid immensely. Jett smokes aren't mentioned as they aren't meant to be / can't be used globally, and therefore are pretty useless for pre-round setups.
3) What to do if you aren't playing a smoker and your teammates aren't utilizing their abilities properly
If you're in the unfortunate scenario of having teammates filling the "smoker" role that aren't properly utilizing their abilities and the enemy team is abusing a double OP setup to maintain mid control every round, your only option is to play it safe. There's nothing wrong with holding angles and not peeking, in these scenarios the best you can do is play defensively, hold angles further back down mid ( or whichever position you're playing ) and simply not open yourself up to unecessary LOS. Don't forget that the Operator isn't strong due to it's stats, but due to the plethora of reasons we mentioned further up in the post. The reason I'm mentioning this is to say that you shouldn't be too scared of Operators pushing into you if you're holding a decent defensive angle, the operator isn't nearly as potent agressively, especially when having to clear close quarters angles. If you're still struggling to hold back OP players pushing through mid, make sure to set up a crossfire with your teammate that's nearest to you. What you don't
want to be doing is giving up mid control, especially in Ascent, as it can lead to flanks and split pushes which are very difficult to hold off.
When playing against an OP and you want to push the player holding the angle, the worst thing you can do is slow-peek the angle. The biggest recurring issue I see in lower ranks, is players hastily slow-peeking angles that they know are being held by an Operator. You shouldn't be slow-peeking angles that you know players are holding to begin with, but especially
not when the player holding the angle is using an OP. When peeking into an OP, make sure to use your utility ( flashes especially ) if available, and move into your peek / swing into the angle as fast as possible, otherwise you basically allow for a free kill. Another way to counter OPs is to simply buy an OP yourself, which can definitely be effective especially in lower ELO where you can't rely on your team's util usage, here you have to be weary of spawn barrier timing and who's able to get the first peek on to the other. e.g. You shouldn't be dry peeking top mid into bottom mid in Ascent when you and the enemy both have OPs, as they'll be holding the angle before you have time to peek them.
Discord Server + Twitter Link Discord Server =====> https://discord.gg/6ZYVZ6x Twitter =====> https://twitter.com/Twix_v2