Opinion: Three reasons why KAY/O needs to be nerfed fast
KAY/O is VALORANT’s latest agent to enter the fight. The first robotic champion on the agent roster packs a punch, is fit, has an awesome intro video, and boasts an impressive kit. That’s all fine and dandy until we start to dissect his abilities. Before we do that, let’s once again look at the initiator’s abilities and how they work in VALORANT.
KAY/O’s signature ability is a suppression blade. Once thrown and stuck into a surface, the blade suppresses all enemies caught in a certain radius. Suppressed enemies cannot use their abilities for 8 seconds. The blade also cancels abilities such as Jett’s Ultimate (with some exceptions such as Phoenix’s Run it Back). However, that’s not quite it. Once suppressed, KAY/O will receive an exact notification which enemy agents have been suppressed.
KAY/O’s next standard ability is his frag grenade. The nade deals damage in a set radius with 4 pulses. Each pulse deals 60 damage to the enemy player. It’s good to know that FRAG/MENT has the same throwing animation (meaning distance, velocity etc.) as Killjoy. Therefore, if you know some lineups on KJ, you can easily use those with KAY/O.
KAY/O’s flash is Counter-Strike’s flashbang cousin. It can be bounced off-walls and floors. Unlike other flashes in VALORANT, FLASH/DRIVE barely flashes KAY/O when the grenade detonates behind him or to his side. On top of that, throwing the flash with left-click will send it further while having a 2 second cook-time. Alt-fire will cause the flash to cook for much shorter though the throwing distance is minimal. The latter makes it perfect for setting up pop-flashes.
KAY/O’s ultimate is essentially him on robotic steroids. The agent has an increased fire rate and reload (like Reyna’s ultimate) and emits suppression pulses in a large area from where he is standing (still catching enemies through terrain). On top of that, KAY/O has the ability to be revived by a teammate for 15 seconds as he enters a “downed” state when “killed”.
From the descriptions above, there are a few things that can make you question KAY/O’s ability design. His ultimate alone appears to be powerful, him having both a grenade that deals significant damage and a flashbang that is fantastic for flashing oneself into retakes and key positions, as well as flashing in teammates. The grenade especially will be shown down below why it needs nerfs. However, my biggest gripe with KAY/O’s kit is his suppression blade.
ZERO/POINT signature ability is by far the most powerful part of KAY/O’s kit. Not only does the blade suppress and detect enemies through walls and surfaces, it also gives the KAY/O player information on how many and which exact agents have been suppressed. That is probably the most powerful information gathering ability in VALORANT thus far.
If we compare this ability to Sova’s Recon Dart, it makes the Russian agent’s ability look rather inferior. Both can be destroyed, that’s true. But, the suppression blade reveals enemies through walls and that is the key difference that separates the two. Enemies may not be even fully aware where the blade has been lodged and still get caught in the rather large reveal radius. It is the perfect anti-rush tool.
Surely, some may disagree with this statement. Due to KAY/O’s grenade dealing damage in four bursts rather than constantly, his “molly” type ability does not seem to be a huge danger. You’d be wrong to think so. In fact, I did some testing on the range, trying to determine manually how long it takes each molly-type ability to reach 150 damage or an amount to kill a fully healthy enemy with full shield (times starts from the first tick of damage inflicted). Here are my results:
It takes 3 out of 4 ticks of the grenade to kill an enemy with full shields on dealing 180 damage. Despite FRAG/MENT not dishing out damage constantly in comparison to the other skills mentioned, it has the potential to kill any enemy faster than others. Only Brim’s Incendiary and Phoenix’ Hot Hands come close. Thankfully, KAY/O only has one purchasable grenade in his arsenal.
Ultimate abilities in VALORANT can give one team a huge advantage in a certain situation. Some create space, others can be used to lock down a site, while others have the ability to simply kill in an easier way. KAY/O’s ultimate is rather strange in that it is three bonuses in one. Not only does it constantly suppress enemies in a certain radius around KAY/O, it also grants him Reyna’s Ultimate without the ability to disappear and heal after a kill. On top of that, “killing” KAY/O while in NULL/CMD makes him enter a downed state where he can be revived by teammates for 15 seconds. Naturally, you can finish off a downed KAY/O, but he receives 850hp, meaning you need to shoot him in the head a few times before he really dies.
Increased fire rate, enemy suppression, and a possible revive. That’s all a little much if you ask me.
The only ability with which I do not have an issue is his flash. Some consider it to be rather weak, others think that barely being affected by it from the side or back upon explosion is really solid. Either way, I personally think it’s somewhere in the middle between being “good” and “bad”.
We are yet to witness KAY/O be selected in a real professional high-tier matchup. Due to Riot’s ruling, there is a certain period before an agent become available in the VCT circuit. Once KAY/O becomes selectable, that’s when we will truly see whether he’s an OP agent.
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Naim "EnKay" Rosinski
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