In the world of gaming, meta is used in two ways. Meta can be used as an acronym for “most effective tactics available,” and calling something “meta” means that it's an effective way to achieve the goal of the game, whether it's to beat other players or beat the game itself.
It doesn't matter if you're Iron or Radiant, if you know what's happening in your game and how the game should be played then you're already on your way to improving. At the highest level (except for a few cases) everyone's mechanical skill is roughly the same. The only thing that separates players is their understanding of the game or read on certain situations.
Meta is generally referenced as the "game within the game". There's map meta, agent meta, gun meta, and more. You need to understand all of it. Meta is interesting as well because it is ever-evolving in a game like VALORANT because of new agent releases, map releases, and changes to weapons and skills. What is considered meta right now might not be in 2022. An example of this is at the start of VALORANT beta, Sage was considered meta. I don't think you would play very many games in early VALORANT and not have a Sage on your team and the attacking team. As she got nerfed, the meta changed.
If you want the highest probability of winning, you need to be familiar with the meta. It may change from region to region but after watching the VCT Masters, there were definite similarities across the board.
Let's take a look at classes first. It's no coincidence that every team ran at least 1 Duelist, 1 Controller, and 1 Initiator in every match played. These professional players and teams have spent countless hours determining the meta and figuring out how to utilize these agents to the best of their abilities.
Meta can be used as an acronym for “most effective tactics available,”
The top teams in the world from every region (North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Korea, Latin America, etc.) found that the most effective way to win an Icebox match was to include Jett & Sova in their agent composition. That's why these 2 agents had a 100% pick rate on Icebox during the VALORANT Champions Tour Masters tournament in Reykjavik. I have to strongly agree and here are some of the reasons why.
There are many elevation changes throughout Icebox which makes it a playground for Jett (Updraft).
When executing on any site Jett can take risky peeks and dash away back to safety (Examples are peeking danger at B site or peeking into screens on A site).
There are a lot of long-range gun battles which make this a real good Operator map. The Operator is best in Jett's hands because of her mobility.
These tight corridors (Long B) are great for Sova's Owl Drone because of the information and space-taking ability.
Sova's recon bolt is powerful for early-round information on both attack and defense.
Sova's recon bolt is also powerful for mid-round information and re-take scenarios.
Since Icebox is quite large, Sova's Hunter's Fury can be used to delay the spike plant and buy time for the defense to rotate.
So why does all this matter? As a player, it's best to take the learnings from professionals and implement them into your own gameplay. You don't need to go out of your way to learn how to play the game from scratch, you can copy what the professionals are doing and then turn it into something that fits your style when you get more comfortable. Think about it like directions on a map that show you the fastest way to drive from point A to B. As you drive this route frequently you might figure out shortcuts. Or you take a slightly different route through back roads depending on the time of day, but you started with the "meta" directions, and as you got more familiar you turned it into your own route.
In most cases, when I play a ranked game I can look at the agent composition and have an idea of what I am up against. Let's say I'm playing Ascent and I'm starting attack. I see the enemy team with Phoenix, Killjoy, Omen, Jett, and Sova. Before I even load into the game I can already assume that:
Sova will be anchoring B site
Killjoy will anchor A site
The Jett will move around the map and try to get picks where possible with an Operator
The Phoenix will do something similar to Jett but may get aggressive and try to flash through smokes
Omen will be closer to A site/Tree on most rounds
Knowing all of these things makes my job easier on the attack. If I want to go B, I know that I may have to wait and shoot the recon bolt because Sova will shoot one at the start of the round, and if it's a full buy round, he might have an Odin to spray through the wall.
If I want to go A main, I know that there will be a Killjoy set up with her utility. I'll have to watch out for her Turret taking contact for information. Or Nano Swarms on the floor near the switch or default plant spot.
I should smoke middle if I want to walk up cat-walk to take space because a Jett might be peeking middle with an Operator.
All of this information helps me and my team make better decisions in-game. The point of this guide is, the more you know, the better you will be. Take the time to look at how others are playing and it will help you play better.
The next series will be part of the Premium Guides Collection. I'll be taking a look at the meta on every map and teach you common agent compositions, attack defaults, post-plant setups, defensive setups, retakes, and much more that you can implement into your gameplay.
The Premium Guides are only available to monthly subscribers. The Tier 1 subscription is $5 CAD, which comes out to under $4 USD. There are also Tier 2 and 3 subscriptions with more perks if you are serious about getting better. All the perks are all listed on the Subscriptions page.