Patch 1.07 is here for VALORANT, and with it, come yet more adjustments to Sage. Shes pretty much been nerfed across the board. The TL:DR?
- Heal: heavily reduced in amount and duration.
- Slow Orb: Radius reduced.
- Walls: Weak on spawn, tougher later.
Riot’s development team also took to Reddit to share wider balance thoughts on this update.
Greetings! What a patch, eh? I just wanted to take a break from my doom scrolling to shed a bit of light on some of the why’s on the Sage changes.
Bite-size Context: Statistically, the lowest Sage’s pick rate has been was 89.7% since we’ve shipped to Live hovering 54% win rate, across the roster, across all MMRs. Sage had the highest win rate on attacker and only recently has seen a drop but is still in the top 3 of attackers across the roster. She has been on our radar for a long time, now, and we have been very concerned about her game health.
Regarding the balancing of Sage, we were focused on 3 big areas with the most recent changes. This one was a hefty change and we’ve been sitting on this for a few patches, internally, now. We wanted to get these tested as much as we can but also wanted to see how Sage was trending. The two big goals of these changes are 1) to reduce Sage’s offensive efficacy and 2) analyze and adjust healing on our characters, where needed, to ensure that we weren’t setting an unhealthy standard for healing across the roster 3) Increase decision making as Sage
Sage’s Offensive Efficacy:
With a pick rate of 90% since we’ve gone Live, Sage has become an optimal choice across all MMRs, only recently seeing a dip in pro play. In the past, we have seen her reach the #1 spot of best attacker across the roster and she has securely sat in the top 3 of highest win rates on attacking rounds. As a sentinel, this was a bit odd, so we wanted to ensure that she still had value on attack, while keeping the efficacy of the abilities subpar to other characters in the roster with similar tools (Think Sage wall plant in front of truck on Bind or Split B main cross). The changes to the wall will require a bit more planning and strategy than previously to secure a fortified wall. Wall+Res, which has mainly been one of the key pieces of turning around an attacker round, is now riskier and requires more resources to execute.
I’m not going to dive too deep into this but healing needs to have some game health boundaries set up for the current roster and what it means in terms of restoration agents versus duelists. Sage healing for 100 up to 3 times a round felt like it was going to start to crowd out future restoration characters and even duelists as she could self heal for 100. Sage, as a restoration character, should want to be healing others, while duelists should feel unique in being able to heal themselves to get back into combat. To help make duelists feel a bit more specialized in self healing, we chose to disincentive Sage from healing herself by making it more costly. Where it currently stands, Sage’s heal is a comparable and more reliable self heal than Reyna and Phoenix, which should not be the case. Though there is a huge delta going from 100 to 60, most scenarios should keep you fairly safe due to how our armor system works and you will only really start to sweat if you are below 20 HP. Internally, it’s felt really good to be able to get health progress on an enemy with a headshot and even with a full Sage heal, feel that the damage was meaningful as anything below 20 kills them with 2 Vandal bullets instead of 3. Lit is lit.
We wanted to increase the decision making around Sage’s abilities and hoped that we could widen the gap between low vs high skill Sage play. All of Sage’s abilities have felt very reliable in almost any context, even if placed sub optimally. Slow orbs cover multiple chokes too easily and healing an ally at any health amount felt like a binary decision. Hopefully we start to see a bit more texture to how rounds play out, creating more dynamic experiences for Sage and her teammates. Even with these changes Sage should still feel like one of the more forgiving characters, mechanically, compared to others on the roster.
Though this is where we have landed with all of our testing, there’s a chance we have hit Sage a bit hard so we will be keeping an eye on Sage for the next few patches. We will be tuning into all these channels so keep us honest with these changes. If we hit Sage too hard, trust that we will be working hard to ensure she finds the right tunings and finds the right balance on the roster.