Picture this. It’s the middle of August, and you tune into a Valorant competitive stream. You see Sage mains running around left, right and center – basically every team had one. Her healing prowess made her extremely useful in Valorant competitive scene, especially in the offensive department. Being the only healer in Valorant also gave her an advantage in terms of the uniqueness of her ability. For Sage mains everything seemed to be going well, learning how to use her abilities more efficiently each day.
A huge nerf hit Sage
The other players were slightly bothered by its abilities, but Riot did not take any big steps towards nerfing Sage. Well, not until the 1st of September, when a huge nerf hit Sage drastically reducing the efficacy of her abilities. Sage mains were devastated. Her abilities could no longer come in “clutch”, and Sage mains turned to other Agents. While the change wasn’t instantaneous, Sage’s pick rate depleted substantially, so much so that her inclusion in Valorant competitive teams is considered elusive. Although Sage was once the best agent, her abilities aren’t strong enough to risk playing her.
With the medic’s most reduced pick rate since launch being 89.7% with a 54% win rate overall positions, the numbers represent themselves.
How to bring Valorant Sage back to the competitive scene?
While this is an extremely broad question with everyone’s opinion being subjective, I will cite certain variables that can pave the way for Sage’s return while still maintaining the Valorant competitive balance with other Agents. Returning to the previous state wouldn’t be optimal as the community has explicitly expressed their views on that state.
Riot nerfing Sage was a step in the right direction..
However, they seem to have gone a bit overboard and over-tipping the scales of balance against Sage. Let’s cycle through each of her abilities and suggest what changes should be made to bring Sage back to the Valorant competitive scene:
This particular ability fell victim to the strongest nerf with the healing being reduce from 100 over 5 seconds, to now 60 over 5 seconds. Her self-heal was also reduced to 60, and the time is increased to ten seconds instead of 5. This was to incentivize Sage to self-heal less.
This ability is extremely useful in the battlefield, considering the fact that Sage is the only medic currently in Valorant.
Instead of directly decreasing the heal to 60 they should’ve pursued the middle ground. The healing could’ve been 80 over 5 seconds, or they could slightly push the time if they wanted to balance her. Given that she doesn’t push with the offence and stays as a backup, the time wouldn’t be extremely crucial especially is the difference is of a second or two the difference would be ruled negligible. With the healing being up to 80 instead of 60, it gives players on her team extra breathing room while peaking, or risking a play.
Slow Orbs size was reduced by 30%. Riot highlighted that the reason for this nerf was to reduce the power of Slow Orb and increase intentionality. Since slow orb unintentionally covered a lot more ground than it should be if aimed properly.
While this change wasn’t extremely game-changing, it did affect nevertheless.
If players intentionally wanted a bigger splash radius to trap more players in the slow orb, having it reduce by 30% is fairly large. If opponent teammates are further apart and a Valorant Sage main wants to slow them down at the same time, they will be restricted due to its newly reduced size. Riot should slightly increase the size so a player who used its larger size strategically can have the upper hand.
An alternate could be giving sage 4 slow orbs (instead of 2), but make them last for 6 seconds instead of 7. This gives her much more slowing power but requires her to use them strategically, keeping in mind the time duration of each.
Sage’s well-known barrier also encountered a setback. Even though the credits required decreased to 300, its formation health will be 400, ramping up to 800 after 3 seconds. Utilizing Barrier Orb responsively, subsequently after hearing adversary strides, doesn’t work close anymore. Adversaries will have the option to blow past it effectively and overwhelm Sage.
Also, setting a wall before reviving a partner is too hazardous now since adversaries can shoot through the wall easily. The health was reduced from 1000 to 800, losing the slight edge it had. Either they should’ve increased the starting health to 600, and ramping up to 800. Or they should’ve decreased the ramp up time. Since reacting to enemy footstep require quick reflexes for deploying at the current angle the ramp-up time makes it all the more difficult.
Her wall could have an aura that gives combat stim to team-mates close to the wall.
This will allow people to take it down faster and it will make Sage more useful in Valorant competitive scene. And also allow for Sage, and her teammates to get a slight boost while fighting the opponents bursting through the wall.
While her Ultimate was protected from the Nerf, there is still room for improvement. One of the issues with Sage’s kit is the fact she is used to staying at the back preventing her from getting high frags and ultimately more ultimate credits which results in her being unable to get the ultimate. Riot should reduce her ultimate to 6 points instead of 7. Sage is already a hard character to farm ultimate points due to her being a support. This will allow her to get ultimate more.
Similarly, Allies resurrected by her ultimate should return to the game with full armor.
So that they do not instantly die. Resurrecting with 100 HP only ends up the player being vulnerable. And with Sage not having an offensive kit won’t be able to do much in the situation either.
While the introduction of a new ability is a far stretch. We can’t eliminate any possibility. Games similar to Valorant which revolve around Characters and Abilities have seen entire ability revamps such as Lifeline from Respawn’s Battle Royale Apex Legends.
New Ability will not only give Sage a fresh start, but certain players looking to main Sage again will have a renewed hope.
Sage was unquestionably one of the better Agents in Valorant and required a few changes. However, her pack is currently gutted, possibly making Sage one of the most noticeably worst Agents in Valorant. While all of these are mere suggestions if Sage’s pick rate drops further it is highly likely that Valorant will introduce a buff to bring her back.
But at least for now, players will have to continue with their legends only hoping that Riot restores balance and that the Valorant competitive scene can once again accept her.
By Aashir Ahmed