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VALORANT — How Will Deadlock Affect the Collegiate Meta?

As players continue to figure out Deadlock, how will she affect the next NACE season?

After nearly two months since Deadlock’s arrival into VALORANT, her theme of a “scorpion” has been played around with for long enough that players have begun to figure her out.

But as the most recent Sentinel, is there any chance that Deadlock can dethrone Killjoy as the must-pick in her role? According to the stats from VALORANT Champions, Killjoy is still the most chosen agent with a 64% pick rate, around 10% higher than the four other meta agents.

Deadlock may not be able to dethrone the queen of area denial, but perhaps she can share the spotlight. She may be very good for execute-heavy teams, due to her ability to deny fast retakes and strongholds onto sites with her GravNet grenade.

While double Duelist still seems the dominant strategy for teams, usually as a sweet spot so one can entry and one can late entry/default, double Sentinel stands out on defense and can benefit a passive team rather than an aggressive one.

Sentinels can be characterized on a spectrum between passive info-gathering and stalling utility. On one end, Cypher’s global map presence allows him to reliably scout rotations, but his stalling potential is relatively weak.

Killjoy sits roughly in the middle with great local info gathering, and phenomenal stalling utility allowing her to lock down a single site. Sage meanwhile is almost entirely stalling utility, with the ability to completely block off a single area of the map.

Killjoy’s skill set involves fortifying locations against initiation, while Deadlock employs strategies focused on impeding the opponent’s momentum or dueling them directly for key wins.

Deadlock’s ability to maintain map control remains relatively weak, however, her utility like Sonic Sensors covers a huge area, are extremely difficult to clear, and instantly punishes “hitting” them. This means that a mobility duelist cannot simply disrespect or avoid them like Cypher’s.

An interesting idea for the character could be to not play purely as a Sentinel, but more like an Initiator. An agent that shares a similar approach would be Chamber, where he was once played like a duelist and teams could opt out of Jett.

Unless Killjoy is given nerfs, it is hard to see Deadlock dethroning her as the top Sentinel. Not to say she doesn’t have her own strengths that could be strong enough niches to make her a popular pick on maps like Bind and Fracture.

Bind's narrow spaces and tight angles create a sandbox for Deadlock and her utility. Her Barrier Mesh is a perfect replacement for the Sage Wall when default planting on Site B, and her GravNet is an exceptional tool for denial.

With Bind being a part of the NACE map pool, this may be the best place for Deadlock to shine. Though the pros have not brought out a strategy involving the new character yet, it’s possible they are saving it for the final matches of Champions.

Her diverse skill set, including slowing abilities and obstacle creation along the way, may lead to her surpassing Killjoy as the game progresses. But only time will tell how players can figure out Deadlock’s innovative introduction into the meta.

Written by Andy Haggard

This article was created as part of an internship collaboration with NACE