Valorant has a diverse roster of Agents that players can use to engage in various modes of gameplay. Each of the 19 Agents that the game offers has abilities that can help players in specific areas of play.
Since the game's release in 2020, Riot Games has been instrumental in providing their playerbase with regular patch updates, bringing about a change in the game's atmosphere each time. In the process, some agents have occasionally been pushed away from the game's existing meta.
Phoenix, one of Valorant's first Duelists, is one such Agent. The British Agent was first introduced in the game's closed beta and was appreciated by its playerbase during its early days. However, as Valorant's Agent roster expanded, Phoenix's viability in a competitive environment diminished.
Phoenix had a 0% pick rate at Valorant Champions Tour 2022 Masters: Reykjavik, here's why
In the early days of Valorant, Phoenix was a viable option for players in the Duelist role, with several top-tier individuals making a mark with their performance on the Agent. However, taking into account the recent major Valorant tournaments, Phoenix is far from being the optimal choice for the game's Duelists.
The VCT 2022 Stage 1 Masters: Reykjavik, which concluded on April 24, was the second major Valorant tournament where we witnessed Phoenix emerge with a 0% pick rate. The Agent was unpicked throughout the Valorant Champions 2021 as well, which was held in December 2021.
5) Lack of effective utility
Phoenix has a utility kit capable of blindsighting, damaging and self-healing, among other uses. However, Valorant being a game with 19 different Agents and more along the way, Phoenix's abilities might have an outdated effect on the other Agents.
Every flash Agent following Phoenix's arrival has been equipped with a flash ability far superior to Phoenix's Curveball (Q). Similarly, his Hot Hands (E) also fails to replicate the effect several other Agents provide with their flashes.
Curveball needs improvements in its duration of effect whereas both abilities lack in their range of deployment. Fans will have to await Riot Games' dedicated rework for Phoenix to see him return to the game's competitive meta.
4) Valorant offers better Duelist options
Valorant's roster of Duelist Agents comprises of Phoenix, Jett, Raze, Reyna, Yoru and Neon. With four Agent roles being split between five members of the team, Duelists often occupy 1 or 2 slots. In such a scenario, Phoenix's fellow Duelist Agents are preferred ahead of him due to what they offer to the team.
Jett is an adept Operator user, whereas Reyna is a self-sufficient fragger. Yoru, Neon and Raze have an ability toolkit that can provide several map-specific advantages. Phoenix, however, is the only Agent from the category that falls short of a desirable utility kit for entry-fragging.
So far in VCT events, Jett has been a one-sided pick for the Duelist role. Her pick rate stood at 80% and 85% for the two international Masters events from VCT 2021, and at 82% for Champions 2021. Although Jett has been nerfed, Phoenix still has to compete with five other Agents to be a competent choice for entry-fragging.
3) Better alternatives available in other Agent roles
Although Valorant offers four different player roles, players are not forced to stick to conventional options when it comes to Agent selection. Over the last two years, teams have utilized a variety of Agent-compositions, ranging from comps that use two Duelists to comps that use none.
While it is common for teams to rely on more than a single Duelist, the game's recent meta dictates the use of Initiators like Skye or KAY/O or Sentinels like Chamber in place of a secondary Duelist. These Agents have a versatile utility kit that can facilitate teams in site-entry as well as in several other instances.
Phoenix already falls behind his Duelist counterparts in terms of team-compatibility. This will continue to dilute over time, as Riot plans to introduce more Agents to the game. ScreaM, Asuna and yay are a few renowned Duelists who can currently be observed playing Initiators or Sentinels in official matchups.
2) Valorant has an ever-changing meta
As mentioned earlier, Riot Games is consistent with their biweekly updates for Valorant, keeping the game as fresh as ever. While this creates a positive experience for the game's audience, it also leads to constant shifts in the meta.
Agents and their efficiency in competitive scenarios keep fluctuating. Every Agent in the game has gone through at least a single change since their arrival, with Yoru being subject to a major rework in Episode 4 to make him compatible with the game's competitive setup.
Considering Phoenix's abilities have been untouched for almost a year, it is to no one's surprise that the Agent was excluded from several popular Agent-comps. Players will have to wait for an exclusive Agent rework similar to Yoru's for Phoenix to thrive as a viable Duelist option.
1) Agent Reworks
Phoenix's upcoming Agent rework might be the best chance for his revival. The last update for the Agent was in June 2021 where the cost of his Curveball ability was increased. However, Riot has not taken a step towards improving the Agent since then.
In the last few months, Riot introduced several adjustments for all Controller Agents and popular picks like Jett and Sova as well, in an attempt to stabilize the game's meta.
As of Episode 4 Act 3, Riot Games have confirmed that they are working on a set of changes for Phoenix. However, fans are yet to be given a date for the arrival of the rework, as they await to see their favorite Agent back in action yet again.