A few weeks ago, Valorant debuted its hot new agent: KAY/O, an explosive, grenade-loving robot with a lot of tricks up his sleeve and a deep hatred for Radiants. Once he joined the agent roster, his pick rate soared and superseded even fairly popular agents like Brimstone.
This is somewhat surprising because despite having exciting trailers, previous new agents have often fallen flat post-release. So, what’s different about KAY/O?
The History of New Agent Releases
Since the game’s release, Valorant has added 6 new agents to its line-up. The first two (Reyna and Killjoy) were major hits that skyrocketed up the pick rate and win rate charts, becoming two of the most beloved agents available. However, after them, the next 3 additions (Skye, Yoru, Astra) struggled to reach similar popularity. Skye and Yoru, for a long while, made themselves at home at the bottom of the agent rankings. Meanwhile, since release Astra has had a historically abysmal 5% (or lower) pick rate, meaning even her exciting debut couldn’t convince people to play her.
The most recent patches and the addition of Breeze have given the newer agents (and particularly Controllers) space to breathe. New meta expectations have increased their popularity and viability because these situations encourage team-heavy playstyles. However, Astra and Yoru are still struggling at the bottom, even if situations have improved.
Given the precedent the last 3 agents set, it looked like KAY/O might’ve been doomed to follow the same path. Instead, he has a decent 21% pick rate. But does that mean KAY/O is a great agent or is something else happening?
The Fan Hype
Something that is likely aiding KAY/O’s successful pick rate is the excitement surrounding his release.
While Valorant has made all of their new agents look good in their trailers, KAY/O’s was particularly successful. They perfected this mix of exciting gameplay, ability hyping, and lore intrigue all in one. Not only did fans get to see KAY/O have flashbacks to fighting Radiants, but also watch the robot use his grenades and tech in action.
And, not to mention, in a world of super-powered humans, they now have a robot joining the team. In abilities and design, KAY/O really shakes up the current style that Valorant has going for it. It’s no surprise that so many people are eager to check him out in-game.
KAY/O’s pick rate (22%) is his most astounding statistic post-release, as few new agents have seen such success in their first few weeks. However, how is he faring otherwise?
Other than his pick rate, KAY/O also has a very solid first blood rate, (14.7%) meaning that he’s a great agent for getting into the fight and knocking an enemy down. That’s actually the best first blood percentage in all competitive play, beating out the duelist powerhouse that is Jett.
Not all his current stats are great, though. On the flip side, his KDA is a tragic .90 and his win rate is 42.7%. That puts him at the bottom of the board; the worst win rate out of all the agents in the game.
The only comfort is that the most picked agent, Sage, only has a slightly better KDA, so KDA isn’t everything when it comes to being vital to your team. Unfortunately, the same could be said about his first blood rate. After all, Yoru has a great first-blood rate and he’s been a chronically terrible agent since he was released.
But ultimately, KAY/O's pick rate should be everyone’s greatest concern, because it could mean that the situation’s a lot worse for this robot than some awkward stats.
Even though KAY/O’s initial pick rate is a positive sign, his win rate is something that fans should be worried about over the next couple weeks.
Is this terrible win rate because of his newness and people not understanding his full potential just yet? Or are people picking him just because he looks shiny and new, but he’s actually just as flawed as some of the other recent releases?
Having a worse win rate than Yoru isn’t exactly a positive thing and if it doesn’t improve, it could mean KAY/O doesn’t have much more to him than a fun trailer and a cool tagline.
KAY/O is fresh, fun, and is getting fans excited for what the devs have in store for Valorant. For that reason alone he’s a fabulous addition to the agent line-up and gamers should try him out and enjoy playing Valorant’s killer robot. In theory, he perfectly balances flash and substance and can hopefully be a solid addition to the game.
However, it is important to note that if his win rate doesn’t improve in a few weeks, his flashy design might be just that: a heartbreaking case of fun, flashy style over any substance.