Still Too Strong? More Sage Nerfs Announced by Riot



11 August 2020


Since the game has first been released, it has been clear Sage is probably the strongest agent in Valorant. Even though every Valorant agent has some abilities that can change the course of the match, she remained the most popular one ever since the beta version until today. Generally speaking, her ability kit is what makes her special and a must-pick for every team. However, she is obviously too strong. The developers even stated she is out of control. For the same reason, she has been the most nerfed agent in the game. Are more Sage nerfs really necessary and what exactly is Riot planning to do to? Let’s get into details. 

Sage: A Must Pick For Every Team

The Valorant community has a clear opinion about Sage – if you don’t have her in your team, you’re doing something wrong. The reason for that is not she is overpowered or that strong, but she is simply an irreplaceable part of every team composition. Her pick rate among players is as high as 20%, making her almost 100% present. 

Image via Riot Games

These are the abilities that make Sage so powerful:

  • Resurrection. Her ultimate ability allows her to resurrect her fallen ally back to full health. This is of crucial importance and can affect the matches’ outcome since there are no natural revives in the game.
  • Heal Orb. Providing her damaged allies with a heal over time ability, Sage restores their health level to almost a maximum. She can use this ability on herself as well. 
  • Barrier Orb. Sage raises an ice wall reducing the enemy’s sight, stalling pushes and restricting their mobility. Additionally, elevating the wall can provide her allies with new attack angles.
  • Slow Orb. She creates an ice field that slows down enemy movement, potentially exposing their location and making them an easy target.

What Makes Sage So Strong

Wondering what about Sage’s abilities makes her that stronger than others? Well, at the moment she is the only agent able to heal others, making her a must-pick when drafting a team. Some other agents do have self heals, but her heals are more effective.

Video via Riot Games

One of the key issues is the fact she is strong in attack even though she wasn’t intended to be. As a sentinel character, she was designed primarily for defense. The initial purpose of her Barrier and Slow Orb was to interrupt the opponent’s attacks by closing off possible routes and slowing them down. The problem is the wall turned out to be equally useful in attack missions as well, as it blocks defense and makes planting easier. 

For these reasons, Sage gets picked at all game levels – but for different reasons. In lower levels, she mostly gets picked for her healing and resurrection abilities, while higher-level players know how to use her abilities for more advanced strategies such as stalling and map segmentation. 

Sage Nerfs So Far

Sage has been receiving nerfs on a regular basis ever since the game was launched.

The first nerfs she got were aimed at strongest suits: healing and the wall. A cooldown on her healing orb and less health on her Barrier orb seemed like big nerfs at the time. The explanations for the nerfs indicated she uses her heal too often and the wall has too much impact. 

We like how much Sage is able to heal in a single heal, but felt she was able to use it too frequently during a round.

Previous changes to Sage’s Barrier Orb helped give it more counterplay options in pistol/early round but it’s still having too much impact in any given round. Our hope is that the wall stays a powerful stalling tool, but asks you to think more about when in the round you want to use it.

Seeing that wasn’t enough to keep her out of the meta, the last thing they nerfed was her Barrier Orb cast range.

What is Planned For Sage

Riot developers are very well aware they haven’t done a very good job balancing her. They have been announcing new nerfs for Sage for a while now, and yet she has been spared for the last few patches. It is probably due to the fact they want to be completely sure they did it right. 

Ryan “Morello” Scott, the lead designer at Riot that admitted she is “out of control”, explained: 

I think we’re going to have to get a little bit creative. There’s some point where you just neuter her to where she’s not fun to play at all, and she’s already a character that can risk being too flat.

By all means, the next Sage nerf is going to be extreme. The question that remains is how exactly are they going to do it. What we know it’s they are definitely going after her offense effectiveness. Nerfing her healing would be a risky choice. For this reason, we expect possible nerfs on her wall, orbs and even her ultimate. Some predictions on nerfs include her slow orb’s radius, amount and additional health nerf on her wall.

If you can only play Sage, it might be time to try and master another agent before it’s too late.

Final Thoughts on Sage Nerfs

What if Riot takes the announced nerfs too far? They can always use compensation buffs, but they have to be careful for all of it not to affect her overall identity as a healer. Another way to put an end to Sage’s dominance is by releasing new agents that will make powerful counters. Meanwhile, let’s see what happens with the following patches. These long-awaited Sage nerfs are likely coming with Valorant Patch 1.06 on August 20, and we are excited to see if Riot will finally manage to balance her.

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