Sage has been a balancing nightmare for the Valorant devs for a very long time now. Ever since she came out as a part of the original roster of Agents during the Valorant closed beta, there has hardly been a patch where her kit was not targetted.
And even with all the nerfs that she received to her Slow Orbs and Barrier Orbs, Sage remained one of the most picked Agents in the game, with the lowest pick rate of 89.7% during the Ignition Series tournaments.
When played right, with all her healing and CC, Sage can truly become incredibly oppressive in a game of Valorant, with next to zero counterplay. And this is exactly why in patch 1.07, Riot Games sought to completely gut Sage and reduce much of what she is capable of doing while inside the game.
The balance update kind of changed the meta and brought about a situation where Sage will not be a must-pick for any side.
However, changing the meta was not the only thing that the Valorant devs are planning to achieve out of the Sage nerfs.
Sage nerfs are paving the way for new Valorant support Agents
In a Reddit post made on the 2nd of September, Valorant’s Agent designer, who goes by the Reddit handle of ‘rycoux’, gave us an update on why Riot Games decided to nerf Sage.
According to him:
“Sage had the highest win rate on attacker [side] and only recently has seen a drop but is still in the top 3 of attackers across the roster. She has been on our radar for a long time, now, and we have been very concerned about her game health...Regarding the balancing of Sage, we were focused on 3 big areas with the most recent changes. This one was a hefty change and we've been sitting on this for a few patches, internally, now. We wanted to get these tested as much as we can but also wanted to see how Sage was trending. The two big goals of these changes are 1) to reduce Sage's offensive efficacy and 2) analyze and adjust healing on our characters, where needed, to ensure that we weren't setting an unhealthy standard for healing across the roster 3) Increase decision making as Sage.”
One of the major reasons behind the Sage nerf according to the Valorant dev is that they want to “widen the gap between low vs high skill Sage play.” By giving her a kit with a bit more room for skill expression, Sage will not remain a brain dead Agent that any bronze player can pick up.
Moreover, by toning down the “Jack of all trades” nature of her kit, Sage will now allow more room for future Valorant Agents who could be of the supportive Sentinels category. But more importantly, another team healer may not be what Riot is thinking of just at this moment.
Self-healing Agents like Phoenix and Reyna can be the next big addition to the line-up as Sage’s reduced healing capabilities will put more emphasis on Agents who can correctly use their abilities to bail themselves out of tricky situations.
When talking about Sage’s nerfs, Valorant dev ‘rycoux’ said that she is “one of the more [mechanically] forgiving characters” but added:
“There's a chance we have hit Sage a bit hard so we will be keeping an eye on Sage for the next few patches. If we hit Sage too hard, trust that we will be working hard to ensure she finds the right tunings and finds the right balance on the roster.”Published 03 Sep 2020, 12:39 IST