With the Valorant Champions League taking place on a weekly basis, fans get to see their favorite teams play every week. Seeing such high-level gameplay influences the agents which fans pick. For example, when teams such as Paper Rex and LOUD experiment with characters like Gekko on various maps, seeing these different line-ups results in questions about the new meta. Will it be a meta with multiple duelist characters or even just initiators?
Our previous article talked about how the current meta in picks is quite sentinel heavy. In the past, it was Chamber who rocked the meta. Since then, Killjoy has become a favorite; as can be seen by both her pick rate, and her constant nerfs in each patch. But Cypher is one of those agents who hasn’t been meta-defining in a long time.
Why is that? Let’s have a look at Cypher in the current state of the game and see what holds him back, and what could help him make an impact in the current meta.
Can Cypher hold down a Plant Site?
A Sentinel’s main role is to use their ability to shut down entry into a site, plus most of their abilities are used to gain map control and information too. Cypher is one of the few characters whose abilities don’t deal damage— focusing instead on getting an understanding of and information from the map. His abilities lean more toward getting the opponent’s exact location. (Making it important to communicate with your team as well.) Compare this to killjoy; her nano swarms deal damage and help to stop a rush on site. They can be used on the post plant as well.
But Cypher is one of the few characters who has no limit on his utility. So, going back to the initial question of Cypher holding down a site comes down to whether all his traps are on the same site he’s anchoring on or not.
Taking a look at a map like Ascent, if Cypher is suppressed with the Kay/O knife, his traps, and smokes are not active, resulting in the player focusing on aim duels. Ideally one puts trap wires at A main as well as A link to be able to understand where teams are attacking from. While on a map like Bind we can see the return of the usage of Cypher due to the amount of pressure he can put on Hookah.
While Cypher can have difficulty with map control across the entire site, this can be negated by focusing on crucial choke points on a given map while engaging his other utility on another site; for example, setting a trap wire on A showers with a one-way smoke on Bind— while having the camera set up at A Main and anchoring on U halls.
Players wanting to get better with Cypher need to focus a lot on unique placements. In the higher ranks it won’t be suitable to use the same set-ups on any given site. Ideally at this level, his Cypher cages should be used as a manner to detect enemy presence.
Mastering the usage of Neural Theft
Neural Theft is Cypher’s ultimate ability in Valorant. When equipped, it displays the location of all opponents alive on the map at that given moment, after 4 seconds, it gives another ping. While this ability seems, at its core, to be focused on information gathering, it has another key component — it requires just 6 ultimate orbs to be active. This is the lowest amount required, similar to the likes of Phoenix’s Run it Back. Likewise, in professional play on a map like Pearl, we’ve seen heavy usage of Phoenix’s ultimate as well.
This means having a Cypher on your team makes ult orb farming a focus. What this encompasses is gathering all the ultimate orbs one can. On a map like Lotus, a team can get two ultimate orbs in their control if they play right. Because Cypher requires just 6 to get his ultimate, within 3 to 4 rounds he could have his Neural Theft active, using it against the opponent either in the post-plant or even on the pre-plant after getting the first kill. As such it does require a heavy dependency for Cypher to play with his team and not from the flank.
Cypher is one of the oldest characters in the game currently, with a high pick rate on a map-like split in the EMEA league. Now that Bind is back in competitive play, only time will tell if we get to see the Moroccan information broker return to shine in the pro meta.
Feature Image Credit: Riot