VALORANT: How to play KAY/O in 2022

September 14 2022

VALORANT: How to play KAY/O in 2022
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The 17th Agent added to VALORANT’s roster, KAY/O arrived with Patch 3.0 in June of 2021. He is arguably the game’s most unique Agent from a pure design standpoint. Being a robot, KAY/O is the only Agent that isn’t a human or radiant. He also hails from an alternate future where humans and radiants were at war with one another. Although he was built to destroy radiants, he now fights along both sides as a member of the VALORANT Protocol.

KAY/O has been viewed as a mid-tier Agent for most of his life-span. He has seen some favor in high-level competitive play, but was rarely chosen in casual matches. This is because playing KAY/O came with a high learning curve. However, the difficulty has been recently addressed in Patch 5.01 with huge changes to his toolkit.

It’s incredibly rare for a game to alter a character in order to be more accessible to players. It’s even less common for developers to make those changes with a full intention of impacting the meta. Thanks to his new found buffs, KAY/O has vaulted to the top of tier lists and has seen his pick rate improve tenfold. Furthermore, the quality of life enhancements have made him a more viable pick for players of all skill levels.  

To help you dominate with the new and improved KAY/O, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about playing the cybernetic soldier in 2022. Before you start reading, don’t forget to check out our VALORANT tracker and how it can help you improve your skills while you play and earn rewards. 

What is KAY/O Role?

KAY/O is one of five Initiators in VALORANT. These Agents excel at clearing entryways, flushing out enemies, and setting up angles of attack. They are often at the front of formations leading the charge for their team. 

Initiators are some of the most well-rounded Agents in VALORANT, and KAY/O might just be the most versatile of them all. He has two grenade-like abilities for dishing out damage (FRAG/ment) or to blind enemies (FLASH/drive). He also has one of the game’s best Signatue Abilities that suppresses enemies and gains intel for his team. 

With a balanced set of abilities that cover multiple options, KAY/O is one of the most straightforward Agents in VALORANT. The latest changes made him even more accessible to all players and streamline his gameplan even more. In a sense, KAY/O could be viewed as “traditional” since his kit is filled with most of the standard tools found in other FPS games.  

VALORANT Agents

What are KAY/O abilities?

Basic Abilities

FRAG/ment: A throwable explosive that functions similar to a sticky grenade. After a short windup it will detonate up to four times, dealing damage in a spherical radius. 

  • Cost: 200 Creds

  • Command key: C

  • Function: Deterrent

  • Charges: 1

  • Duration: 4 seconds

FLASH/drive: A throwable projectile that is practically identical to a flash grenade, blinding anyone in the surroundings. The windup time depends on the distance thrown; tossing it further will lengthen the windup and vice versa. 

  • Cost: 250 Creds

  • Command key: Q

  • Function: Blind

  • Charges: 2

  • Flash Duration: 2 seconds

Signature Ability

ZERO/point: A throwable blade that sticks to any surface. It explodes after a short windup and suppresses enemies caught in the blast. Their Agent identities are also revealed to KAY/O and his teammates. 

  • Cost: Free

  • Command key: E

  • Function: Intel, Suppressant

  • Cooldown: 40 seconds

  • Suppression Duration: 8 seconds

Ultimate Ability

NULL/cmd: Similar to self-destructing, KAY/O becomes empowered while sending out a series of suppressing waves. If KAY/O is killed while using his Ult, a teammate can revive him. 

  • Cost: 7 Ult points

  • Command key: X

  • Function: Empowerment, Suppressant

  • Suppression Duration: 4 seconds per pulse

Strategies, tips and tricks for playing KAY/O

Hardcore FPS veterans and fans alike will likely be drawn to KAY/O’s simple, yet effective kit. Many of his abilities incorporate basic FPS fundamentals like flash grenades and concussive blasts. You should be able to take several strategies from other shooters and apply them to KAY/O’s gameplan. On the other hand, VALORANT is still a wholly unique FPS title, so the same old tricks won’t work every time. 

KAY/O’s Signature Ability, ZERO/point, looks like a blade and takes a similar trajectory when thrown. It sticks to the first surface it touches and explodes after a 1-second windup. ZERO/point has a wide range of utility as both a suppressant and intel tool. However, the blade can be destroyed by any amount of damage during the windup. 

There is a catch to ZERO/point’s fragility: it can only be destroyed by gunfire or melee knife. Agent Abilities that deal damage will have no effect on the blade. Use this to your advantage and wait for the right time to throw the blade. Look for when one or more enemies are casting abilities and have their weapons holstered. This can limit the opposing team’s chances of destroying the blade before 1-second detonation window. Throwing the blade directly at enemies is predominately a defensive option. 

If used optimally, foes should never even see it before the windup completes. That’s because ZERO/point emits a suppressing pulse that passes through all terrain. You can throw the blade into an empty area and potentially catch enemies behind a wall, rock, or any other structure. If the blast suppresses any foes in it’s 15-meter radius, KAY/O and his teammates will be alerted to their exact Agent identities. This key piece of intel prepares you and your squad for specific weapons and Abilities that you might encounter in a follow-up approach. 

FLASH/drive functions the exact same as a typical flash grenade found in most FPS games. The grenade will blind any enemies caught in its line of sight for up to 2 seconds. It is best used before entering doorways and other choke points to flush out enemies lurking nearby.  

The flash grenade’s windup time depends on the distance it is thrown. Primary Fire throws FLASH/drive far while Alt Fire tosses it short. A grenade thrown closer will detonate after a full second, while the further option has a windup of 1.6 seconds. 

KAY/O

Recent Improvements

FRAG/ment is one of KAY/O’s tools that was buffed in Patch 5.01. It is a Deterrent projectile that works similar to a sticky grenade. It adheres to any horizontal surface and unlike ZERO/point, it can’t be destroyed. It also has a shorter windup time of 0.5 seconds. 

The grenade will explode up to four times after the windup. The spherical blast zones have both an inner (1m) and outer (4m) radius. Enemies caught in the inner radius will be hit with full damage every time. For the outer radius, the damage fades with each explosion. 

The total zone diameter of FRAG/ment was actually reduced from 10m to 8m in Patch 5.01. This is to offset the most substantial change to KAY/O’s kit. Before the update, FRAG/ment had to be in KAY/O’s line of sight in order to deal damage. This requirement is now entirely absent, making the biggest life enhancement to the robot Agent. Now FRAG/ment works more like a traditional frag grenade. KAY/O can use it to clear out areas, and weaken or kill enemies while behind the safety of cover.

KAY/O’s Ultimate Ability also received a buff in the most recent patch update. NULL/cmd is something of a last resort option when facing death. Unleashing the Ult will cause KAY/O to overload. During this state he sends out a large pulse every 3 seconds that suppresses any enemies in the 42.5m radius. His fire rate, recovery, and reload speed for his weapon also increase. The empowerment lasts up to 12 seconds. 

If KAY/O is killed while his Ult is active, he will be downed instead. He can’t use any weapons or abilities while immobilized, but he gains increased HP and will continue to emit suppressing pulses if there are any remaining. Teammates can revive KAY/O by restabilizing his core. However, if the countdown finishes before an ally can get to him, KAY/O will die. 

Once a teammate reaches KAY/O, it takes 3 seconds to restabilize his core and another 1.55 seconds to finish the revival. If successful, KAY/O will be brought back with a set percentage of the HP he had before being downed. 

The buff to NULL/cmd comes when teammates are restoring KAY/O. Before Patch 5.01, all Agents on both teams would hear an audio cue during the entire process. Now allies still hear the full audio cue, but enemies hear a much shorter sound that only plays at the start of the revival.  

Counters

The best way to neutralize KAY/O’s impact on a match is to gain intel on his whereabouts. The Initiator will likely be at the front of most formations, looking to clear the way for their team. Keeping tabs on KAY/O’s location is a good way to monitor the entire enemy squad’s positioning. Sova, Fade, and Cypher are among the best Agents for gathering intel. 

Blind and Nearsight abilities also work to great effect against KAY/O. Impairing the robot’s vision is a very effective way to hinder his accuracy when he is throwing FRAG/ment, FLASH/drive, or ZERO/point. Fade’s Prowler afflicts foes with nearsight and works in tandem with her intel abilities. This arguably makes her the single best counter for KAY/O in VALORANT. Skye has two separate abilities (Guiding Light and Seekers) that disrupt vision, making her a great choice as well. Other Agents with Blind abilities include Breach (Flashpoint), Omen (Paranoia), and the recently buffed Phoenix (Curveball).


Feeling like testing all this knowledge about KAY/O? Try our tracker, where you check your VALORANT stats and compete with G-Loot while you play and earn rewards!

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Author Zach Snoddy

Zach
Zach

Midwest Marauder. Wiz with words. Fighting game enthusiast and FPS newb. Not bad at video games but wishes he was better.