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Shifting the meta for the sake of shifting the meta – Valorant Patch 4.0

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Valorant’s recent Patch 4.0 has been out for a week now, and is fairly controversial. The changes have massively impacting the game’s meta and not in a good way. The first patch of 2022 has seen the introduction of major changes, some welcomed like adjustments to the game’s most hated map (Breeze), while others have been unnecessary, like the buffs to Ares.

Is Riot shifting the Valorant meta cause the game needed a re-balance, or just for the sake for mixing things up?

neon valorant meta

She will take your heart and your rank

New Agent, New Season, New Act

Neon is Valorant’s 19th agent and is the game’s most aggressive agent yet. All her abilities are geared towards being able to solely entry a site. Her Relay Bolt is a powerful bouncy AOE concuss, that with the proper lineups and practice becomes one of the strongest entry abilities in the game. On top of a healthy stun, Neon can toggle E and move into High Gear, running ultra fast and can toggle up to two “Jett-like” slides while doing so. At this stage, her kit is already OP, but devs decided: Neh, she needs two Phoenix type walls on either side of her so she can move around unseen. When it comes to ult, why not give her a no-recoil laser that does as much DMG as a spectre with no trajectory shifts or recoil adjustments.

Overall, Neon is a showcase that Riot devs are reaching a power creep moment in design where each agent is substantially stronger then most of the Agents that came before it. At this stage, I expect the next Agent to have a no-clip and godmode activated as his two main spells and a tactical drone strike that kills the entire enemy team as an ultimate.

Bad Weapon Rebalance

Ares – The Ares has received a major buff. Previously, Ares had a wind-up time, resulting in the first couple of bullets being fired at a slower rate, before fully kicking in. However, in this patch, Riot has removed the wind-up time, allowing for its full fire rate from the get go. This has enabled the Ares to easily outpower enemies with assault rifles in duels who fail to land a headshot. The recoil was also tweaked alittle, and the price remained the same. At this stage Ares is the default buy in Round 2 regardless of winning the pistol round and can easily be played throughout bonus rounds making it the default weapon of choice for up to 5 rounds each match.

Spectre – The Spectre has faced nerfs due to its overperformance despite being one of the guns on the cheaper side. Firing error now kicks in earlier on, decreasing its strength in long range duels. Running and gunning on the Spectre has also taken a hit, with the bullet spread increased while moving. Overall the role the spectre had in Force rounds next to the Marshal has been completely negated and both roles are now filled by the Ares wielding spray punks.

Guardian – Despite not receiving any damage, fire rate or cost changes, the Guardian has received a significant buff. The Guardian will no longer have a firing rate penalty while scoped in and also has an extra shot before its large recoil curve, making the gun slightly more forgiving; After a week of play we have not seen an increase in Guardian purchases but those that were notorious with it before, just got even better.

Bulldog – Received an increased fire rate both in and out of scope, but once again these changes mean nothing as everyone opts out to play the Ares instead.

Good Map Changes

Bind received a change to the entry boxes at A short giving an advantage to attackers through an additional angle to peak defenders an easier view onto short on top of the tank. One way smokes and Sage walls are harder to place now, and most Sages now opt out to wall showers instead.

The addition of the bench will allow grant attackers an additional option when peaking. While not a major change, it will lower the prevalence of defenders scoring a one tap while holding an aggressive tight angle.

Breeze received an overhaul on both A and B sites, with additional boxes and walls to hide behind. The additional boxes and walls are a welcomed change for both sides. The changes make the site less open, which previously posed an issue for initial entry and post plant retakes. The new stone block in the middle of site makes it easier for attackers to plant. The wall back site, while it can be wall banged, provides additional cover for the defenders to play safe and wait for reinforcement for a retake. Both sites feel slightly easier for entry after the changes.

Overall thoughts

The changes to Breeze are certainly welcome, as the first iteration had a poor design for both attackers and defenders side. While not often, Riot’s map changes to date have so far led to a better player experience, as seen in Icebox in the past.

However, changes to the Ares were completely unnecessary given its low cost and high effectiveness already in lower ranks. Such changes has made the Ares overpowered, allowing it to contest assault rifles long range, and raised its effectiveness almost past the Odin (a gun that is almost double its cost). This poses the question if Riot is simply intending to make changes to the meta just for the sake of change. There will almost certainly be a change to the Ares in the coming patch, whether it be a revert to the recent buff, an increase in its cost or decreased damage per bullet.

At this stage, the game has a skewed economy curve and irrelevant economy benefits for winning rounds. The gun balance was quite good before this changes and Riot should definitely consider reverting some changes asap.

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Team Spirit, Virtus.pro and NaVi roster movements ahead of DPC 2023

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The CIS teams are on the move to reform a new powerhouse roster for the upcoming Dota Pro Circuit 2023 (DPC 2023). After the Eastern European teams’ poor showcase of results at the International 11 (TI11), it wasn’t surprising that even the TI10 Champs, Team Spirit themselves, are up for a roster shuffle.

Team Spirit parts ways with TORONTOTOKYO

Team Spirit announced the departure of their mid-player, Alexander “TORONTOTOKYO” Khertek. Renowned for his calm and wise demeanor during drafting discussions, the young prodigy is also infamously known for typing “ez game” at TI10.

Anyways, the departure from Team Spirit was by no means a good sendoff. Team Spirit had the worst run in their career-long TI participation, where BOOM Esports eliminated the defending champ at sixteenth place. While there were rumors about the internal conflict among Spirit players prior to TI11, which may have led to their poor performance. It’s difficult to envision Spirit crumbling so drastically after just winning the PGL Arlington Major 2022 beforehand.

TORONTOTOKYO’s new team

Speaking of rumors, word has it that there is a CIS super-stack in the making, consisting of Ivan “Pure” Moskalenko, Danil “gpk” Skutin, Egor “Nightfall” Grigorenko, Vitalie “Save-” Melnic, and TORONTOTOKYO himself.

These are high-profile players, who have played for powerhouses, such as Virtus.pro and Entity. Traditionally, Pure, gpk and Nightfall are carry players, who are best known for their position 1-3 roles respectively. This begs the question of where TORONTOTOKYO fits into the roster.

Well, it seems like TORONTOTOKYO will be taking the backseat in the team by playing as hard support. He was spamming position-5 support role in pubs since TI11 concluded, so the rumors seem to fit into the puzzle.

Virtus.pro welcomes young blood

VP has had a decent DPC season, all things considered. They placed thirteenth, just shy of 0.5 points after Valve re-calibrated their DPC points calculation. Sure, it’s unfortunate, but VP certainly didn’t let that stop them from qualifying for TI11.

Fast forward to TI11 Last Chance Qualifier, Team Liquid and Secret hoarded the top seeds, ending VP’s TI11 dream. Regardless, VP is still a staple in DPC, which has consistently cultivated new line-ups. As such, they announced a new stack of young players for DPC 2023.

Recruiting players from five different teams, VP has their eyes set on creating the next generation of CIS powerhouse. Evgeniy “Noticed” Ignatenko from BetBoom might just be the only notable player, who has somewhat of a background after BetBoom played in TI11. Besides that, the rest of the team are from unknown origins, and go by the names, Koma`, squad1x, sayuw, and Dukalis.

Natus Vincere releases Solo and Noone

Navi shared a similar journey with VP at the TI11 Last Chance Qualifier, falling just short despite making it to Singapore. With that, the veterans, Volodymyr “Noone” Minenko and Alexey “Solo” Berezin left Navi. Although Navi never met the expectations of a well-established powerhouse, having Noone and Solo’s guidance gave Navi some relevancy.

Anyways, Nikita “Nicky`Cool” Ostakhov and Arman “Malady” Orazbayev take up the vacant roles left behind by their predecessors. Like many other new powerhouses, there seems to be a trend in picking up young blood. The two players are phenomenal in the pubs, so hopefully that transitions well into world-class performance for Navi.


The trio of CIS powerhouses have their eyes set on the new DPC season, whereas a rumored powerful stack is in the making. Considering how drastically the competitive scene has shifted in favor of South American and Western European teams. CIS needs to step up its games in order to stay relevant in DPC 2023.

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Brazilian CS:GO player slams quality of practice in North America

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Just days after winning the $20,000 CBCS Invitational 2022 in Brazil over 00 Nation, paiN Gaming have traveled back to North America to play their last matches before the player break. Rodrigo “biguzera” Bittencourt, paiN’s No. 1 star, is not happy at all to practice again with NA teams, though.

“How I missed practicing in NA,” biguzera ironically said today. “[Practicing in] Brazil is a thousand times better than here. Now I see why this region [NA] is so successful,” biguzera added, calling out how the NA players have been practicing.

Biguzera is not the first and likely won’t be the last player to complain about the quality of CS:GO practice in NA. This has historically been a concern in the region and the practice only got worse after the COVID-19 pandemic because several organizations stopped investing in the competition and almost all relevant tournaments shifted to Europe, which forces the only few good teams from NA like Team Liquid to spend most of their time practicing in Europe to have a chance of winning such big tournaments.

This is also the overall perception in Brazil as well. Most of the Brazilian teams move to NA to attend NA leagues and try to qualify for big tournaments, but with the practice being so bad nowadays, it’s unclear if that is the best approach for Brazilian teams. One of biguzera’s fans asked him if paiN could not move to Europe because they will “unlearn” how to play CS in NA.

The quality of practice in NA won’t likely change anytime soon unless organizations try to nurture talent in the region like Evil Geniuses is doing with its Blueprint project and tournament organizers invest in the grassroots scene.



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Uncrowned king steps down: Ame takes time off from Dota 2 as LGD begins huge rebuild

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Ame, one of the most respected position-one players in the Dota 2 world, revealed that he’ll be taking time off from competitive play today. The news came as a surprise for fans, as PSG.LGD has been one of the most consistent teams in the game’s history.

With even an Aegis in their collection, LGD has been placing top six at The International since 2017. Ame has been a core part of that success since he was recruited from CDEC Youth.

Ame has been a constant in multiple iterations of the LGD roster, which were all one step away from greatness. Ame fell one step short of lifting the Aegis twice in his career, running up in the event in 2021 and 2018 while securing the top four in the remaining ones except for TI11.

Though placing fifth in the most prestigious Dota 2 event of the year is an accomplishment of its own, TI11 marked the worst result for LGD in the event since 2017. Knocking on the door of success this many times only for the door to remain closed can take a toll on players’ mindset toward the game, and it looks like Ame is looking for a complete refresh with this break.

“We’re following the player’s wishes and respecting his personal development needs,” LGD said. “Ame’s status is inactive, temporarily away for rest.”

Ame’s future is currently unknown, but he seems to have the full support of LGD no matter what he decides. Considering Ame has been competing at the top of the Dota 2 mountain for six years now, this is a well-deserved break for the Uncrowned King who fans hope to finally crown when he returns from his break.

With a pillar removed from its roster, LGD only remains with two members in its active squad, NothingToSay and y’, opening the door for a major rebuild.

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