The rise of Viper: Valorant’s once least-picked Agent is now an S-tier God

Viper has risen from the ashes in Valorant (Image via Riot Games)
Viper has risen from the ashes in Valorant (Image via Riot Games)

Valorant has a vast pool of agents who have seen their rise and fall on the agent tier list. However, the sudden rise of the toxic agent, Viper, from the ashes has made her shine in the competitive scene.

Viper is an American chemist with toxic abilities introduced during the early stages of the open beta in Valorant. However, comparatively, she wasn’t strong enough in-game, the reason behind Viper having one of the lowest pick rates in the competitive scene.

Pro players and the Valorant community had heavily criticized the agent for her lack of play-making abilities in the game.

The character allegedly known as Sabine has been through a lot of buffs. However, there was no increase in her pick rate until the 2.06 patch happened, where Riot Games took a heavy stance on the agent.

It has resulted in Viper being one of the top controller agents picked at tournaments.

Viper in Valorant’s early beta

For a long time, Viper remained at the bottom of the Valorant tier list in both competitive and unranked. She has been buffed in several patches since the closed beta, and it was in the 0.50 patch notes when Viper received her first buff. Her Snake Bite radius was increased from 350 to 450.

Again, in the 1.02 patch update, Viper was buffed to make herself effective in a solo queue. Toxic Screen was made to burn through the wall, to cut off the vision. Other than that, the Riot devs made her Snake Bite take damage and make enemies fragile.

Yet, Viper continued to have one of the lowest pick rates in Valorant. The developers decided to make significant changes to the agent in the 1.04 patch. “Sabine” received a massive buff for her ultimate ability, and her passive decay and the fuel gauge were also upgraded.

Even after a significant buff to her ultimate, in patch 1.04, she remained one of the most unpopular agents in Valorant. Hence, in the 1.07 patch, Viper’s pit was again buffed along with the Toxic Screen and decay.

Even after remaining the over-buffed agent in Valorant, her pick rate didn’t seem to improve. Several pros and the community reported how the agent required a fundamental change to improve her in-game.

Riot brought another major buff to the agent in the 1.09 patch notes to increase her flexibility. They tried to make her toolkit broken and overpowered as much as possible, but Viper remained unimproved in the game, with a pick rate below 2%.

Pros criticize the Viper in beta

Many professional Valorant players had criticized the toxic agent in Valorant’s beta. Players like Tyson “TenZ” Ngo and Spencer “Hiko” Martin pointed out Viper’s disadvantages.

A Valorant professional and streamer, TenZ was seen playing with Viper, and he heavily criticized and compared Viper to other Valorant agents. He mentioned that she was not valuable, especially when an agent like Sova was in the enemy team.

TenZ then placed Viper in the lowest tier in Valorant’s competitive agent tier list in August 2020. He said:

“Literally nobody touches her. When there is a Sova in an enemy team, Viper feels so useless. We are just going to put this [Viper] in a tier [Tier F] of its own. I used to be a Viper player. In terms of every other character, Viper requires a lot of preparation.”


Another pro, Hiko, in September 2020, pointed out the reason behind Viper’s failure in climbing the agent tier list. He stated that her ultimate was a liability to the team.

However, he felt that experimenting with her abilities might make her useful in Valorant. He noted:

“Starting with the D Tier, I think the obvious one, I have to put Viper in the D Tier. I personally don’t think Viper is terrible. They made her a little bit better, and teams are still not playing her. In theory, she’s good, but her ult is not good. Her ult is, most of the time, a liability. I feel like a lot of times, it’s actually like you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage instead of being helpful. And maybe that’s because most teams haven’t really experimented enough with her and haven’t got enough good things with her, but I do think that she’s good in theory.”

The new Viper meta in Valorant

Even after several buffs, Viper didn’t see any rise in the pick rate. Riot devs worked hard on the agent for a long time after notifying the Valorant community in the 2.0 patch notes.

Finally, the buffs in the 2.06 patch brought a massive change to Viper. Her Poison Cloud, Toxic Screen, and Snake Bite abilities caused a minimum of 50 health decay while crossing through. As a result, the controller could hold a site for a longer time than before. This buff made Viper effective and more robust than before.

Players are now able to hold the site for a longer time. “Sabine” is now strong in both defense and attack. She resists the enemies from rushing into the area and blocking their sight with her abilities.


There was a spike in the Viper’s pick rate after the 2.06 patch. It increased in the NA VCT Stage Two: Challengers Two Open Qualifier.

As per, players used Viper 19% of the time at the NA VCT Stage Two: Challengers Two Open Qualifier.

Viper’s pick rate in NA VCT Challengers 2 qualifier (Image via
Viper’s pick rate in NA VCT Challengers 2 qualifier (Image via

However, Viper’s pick rate varies, depending on the map. In Icebox, there is a 5.4% pick rate, followed by 4.7% on Bind and 4.6% on Split. She doesn’t seem much effective in Ascent and Haven, but the toxic agent has become one of the best picks in Icebox.

In the 2.07 patch, tweaks and bug fixes were again made, and this agent was enhanced. However, in the 2.09 patch update, Viper was nerfed for the first time. Her passive and Toxins were lowered a bit.

In the VCT Pre-Masters stage, popular esports outlet Upcomer found Viper, who was once the least picked agent, to be in Tier S. This means she has become one of the top controller picks in Valorant.

The agent has proved her efficiency in maps like Icebox and is helpful in that game for her site-taking ability. Hence, making her one of the most effective agents in Valorant in the competitive scene today

Edited by Ravi Iyer
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