Riot wants “close to 30 Agents” before adding Valorant ban system

Valorant AgentsRiot Games

Valorant players have been debating the potential of an Agent pick-ban system since the game was released. Though we could still be years out as Riot Games now appears to be targeting roughly “30 Agents” before considering such a feature.

When Valorant first launched almost a year ago, 10 Agents were available for everyone to experiment with. Over the course of the first year, five new characters have been added into the mix. Despite this influx, a pick-ban system doesn’t appear to be in the cards anytime soon.

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“At what Agent do you think bans will be viable?” Valorant Game Designer Nicholas Wu Smith was asked during an April 6 Twitch stream. “Maybe close to 30,” he responded. At the current rate, this could give us another three to four years before Agent banning is even considered.

“It also really depends on if we get as much good competition out of banning stuff versus other games,” he added. “Other games ban, but is it actually better?”  

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Highlighting a specific example of how such a system might impact the game, Smith used Tyson ‘TenZ’ Ngo to make his point. “Is it better to see TenZ on Jett more often, or is it better that we never see that because it always gets banned against that team?”

The former Counter-Strike pro has made a name for himself as one of the most formidable Jett-mains in the game. With a 63% pick rate on the Agent, banning his go-to character could result in fewer highlight-worthy plays moving forward.

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TenZ playing ValorantTwitter: Cloud9
TenZ is closing in on 100 pro games as Jett, a feat that might not have been possible if Agent bans were already in Valorant.

While the more focused criteria of ‘30 Agents’ is new, many developers at Riot have shared this stance throughout Valorant’s first year on the market.   

“In the future we may think about it,” Valorant’s Game Director, Riot Ziegler commented in November. “It really depends on how much it adds to the game versus subtracts to the game.

Similarly, Senior Game Designer Trevor Romleski argued Agent bans could offset the competitive scene.

“We expect teams to have set plays and strategies that will require very specific Agents. Banning an Agent would invalidate that entire strategy, and we don’t want to discourage practice.”

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Valorant Agent artworkRiot Games
With 15 Agents now in Valorant, we’re only halfway to Riot even properly considering a pick-ban system, according to Smith.

Obviously, the notion of ‘30 Agents’ is just a loose figure off the cuff from one particular dev. “This was my personal opinion,” he later followed up on Twitter. “Not one that reflects how the team feels about this topic!”

After all, there’s always a chance it could be implemented much sooner if the community demand is there.

For the time being, however, picking and banning Agents doesn’t appear to be a focus whatsoever for Riot Games. 

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