The instalock debate: Shopify Rebellion’s meL explains why VALORANT duelists should be more confident

Would you rather have a confident instalock duelist on your VALORANT team or someone who fills in the role but knows the ins and outs of it? Shopify Rebellion’s Melanie “meL” Capone believes being a duelist is more about confidence than technicality. 

“I think when you are looking for a great duelist player for your team, the first thing is confidence. You don’t want someone managing the technical aspects of the game but not confident enough to take that first fight. The knowledge kind of goes out the window if you can’t follow it through and execute it.”

"meL" of Shopify Rebellion reacts on stage at the 2023 VALORANT Game Changers Championship Knockouts at CBLOL Studio on December 01, 2023 in São Paulo, Brazil
Photo by Adela Sznajder/Riot Games

VALORANT players strongly disapprove of the instalock practice in ranked games because it interferes with strategizing and makes it harder to choose an ideal team composition. But if a player instalocks an agent, it usually means they’re confident. So, for duelists, it means they’re much more likely to engage in head-on fights and secure space for the team.

Based on her experience as the in-game leader of one of the best pro VALORANT teams, meL thinks a confident duelist’s experience in taking fights gives them a sense of which fights to take and which to avoid. “Sometimes, the duelist has to take an unfavorable fight [to] turn the tide back in the team’s favor,” she said.

The ability to enter sites, capitalize on your teammates’ support, and aim quickly is crucial when your job is to secure space and kill enemies—and it heavily depends on how fearless you are. Brownie points for having game sense, but confidence is still key. 

Talking about florescent—Shopify Rebellion’s star duelist prodigy—meL said they have an all-rounder. “She is confident, very technically skilled, very knowledgeable,” she beamed. Well, we all need a version of her on our VALORANT teams, don’t we?

While the duelist role encourages the instalock trend, not all are good at what they pick, and some players lock agents just to troll. Also, everyone should get a fair chance at picking an agent of their choice. So, how do we balance it? MeL thinks a cascade agent pick system like in Apex Legends should help balance the cons of instalocking and allow players to choose their favorite role. Riot Games seems to have been working on the feature, according to leaks, but we don’t know when it’s coming.

No discussion about VALORANT’s duelists in Episode Eight would be complete without the mention of Clove, the latest controller agent who’s meant to be played as a pseudo-duelist. MeL believes Clove’s kit isn’t valuable enough to make a mark in pro play—yet. “I think some of their ability timers are under-tuned,” she said, adding that her ultimate and overheal (Pick Me Up) need to be buffed before teams consider shaping their compositions around them. That said, she sees them becoming a popular agent in ranked. 

Besides being a game-changer for aggressive controller mains, Clove is also a torchbearer for marginalized genders in the community. While Riot’s efforts to bridge the inclusivity gap are applaudable, meL believes it should do more to protect marginalized groups from hate as well. “Visibility doesn’t mean anything unless they are protected,” she explained. “Sometimes, if you make people visible, it makes them like a target.”

She stresses that while Riot should continue celebrating Clove and their identity, it should also do so under due moderation. “Otherwise, it’s inviting a bunch of hate. So it’s really important to protect these marginalized groups as well when you are promoting or giving visibility to them.”

While athletes belonging to the marginalized section of the community break barriers and showcase their potential at the VCT Game Changers circuit every year, we are yet to see flourishing co-ed lineups in the VALORANT esports space. 

Considering how dedicated Riot is to representing every bit of its community, it’d be great to see co-ed tournaments promoted outside of VCT show matches. It’d encourage players, regardless of their gender, to compete at the same level and strengthen the community as a whole. MeL is hopeful that “it’s really only a matter of time.” 

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