Valorant has taken the entire world by storm and with the game being finally out now after an extended time in closed beta, it looks like the only way is up from here. The tactical first-person shooter by Riot Games has repeatedly been described as the next big thing in the eSports community with pro teams already forming up around it.
The way that Riot marketed the closed beta for Valorant has also had a major part to play in its current popularity. Since the beta wasn’t open to the public, you could only gain access to the game by watching a Valorant live stream on Twitch with drops enabled.
However, there’s always a catch with things like these. While it was true that you could get a drop for the game by just watching, you also needed a minimum of 2 hours of watch-time to be eligible and the more you watched, the higher your chances were of getting into the closed beta. It was all about being lucky with the RNG.
Owing to this rule, many people were compelled to watch hours and hours of Valorant content on Twitch resulting in inflated viewership numbers. In fact, Valorant actually managed to break the Twitch viewership records that had previously been set by Fortnite and the game is still going strong on the streaming platform, retaining its top spot.
What’s up with the Valorant hype though? Why exactly is it so hyped? Well, firstly, it is one of the very few competitive shooters that try to tackle the fortress that Valve has created around Counter-Strike.
In addition to that, the fact that it is being developed by the League of Legends developer Riot Games from the ground up for the Esports market also propels its status into something that is here to stay.
The hype that Valorant has accumulated thus far isn’t only because of how it is marketed though. Valorant takes two tried and tested formulae of CS Go and a hero shooter like Overwatch and fuses them together. It is not a mere case of mashing two things together though as the marriage between two genres legitimately results in something that just makes sense from the get-go.
The agents in Valorant are distinguishable and fun, with their own sets of abilities and quirks. Don’t let the cartoonish art style fool you either as the gunplay in Valorant is top notch and is extremely similar to a Counter-Strike game, requiring skill and precision. So, the game is not as accessible to new players as Fortnite or Call of Duty are.
However, if you’ve ever played CS Go and have a good idea of how the movement and aim work in that game, you’ll be set to play Valorant too. If you’re not familiar with it though, no need to fret since we’re here to guide you through all the dos and don’ts of Valorant.
And, if you’re looking to go beyond just being ok at the game and want to actually rank up in competitive Valorant, we’ve got you covered in that department as well.
Understanding the Ranking System in Valorant
Valorant, despite being in infancy has already got ranked competitive matchmaking with the best players in the world already vying for the top rankings. The ranking system for Valorant is a little different from what we’re used to in other competitive shooters. One of the biggest caveats of the ranking system in CS GO is the fact that it decays over time if you stop playing. However, that is not the case with Valorant.
Valorant’s ranking system is pretty simple. You start off without access to the Competitive ranked mode and have to complete 20 unranked matches before unlocking it. This gives you ample time to get adjusted to the game’s mechanics and different agents so that when you do step into the competitive world of Valorant, you’re fully prepared for what awaits you ahead.
There are 8 main ranks in Valorant, with each rank having 3 tiers within itself. The ranks also have pretty standard and understandable names, unlike CS Go. Iron is the lowest rank and from there, it goes up to Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Immortal, and Valorant progressively. However, the top rank Valorant does not have 3 tiers and is the ultimate rank that any player can hope to achieve.
Additionally, queuing up for ranked matches has also been improved so that you are only matched against similarly skilled opponents. Valorant places a 2 rank (6 tiers) range for people you can queue up with so even if you try to party up with someone whose rank is way higher or lower than yours, the game simply won’t let you.
Furthermore, while the rank does not decay over time, it does stop being displayed after 14 days. Recovering it is just a matter of jumping back into the game though and doesn’t require extra grinding.
What makes you rank up in Valorant?
Ranking up in Valorant looks very similar to other competitive games on paper but there’s tons of depth underneath that separates it from the rest. Firstly, while it is true that you absolutely do need to win games in order to rank up in Valorant, there’s a bit of nuisance to the whole win to level up thing. Winning games is important but you will not be penalized as heavily for losing games as you do in other shooters.
In Valorant, as long as you’re performing well in matches, you’ll be able to at least somewhat retain your ranking and won’t go down nearly as fast as your other teammates that haven’t been playing well. In addition to that, consistency is key here and as you move up the ladder, that notion will get even more important.
At Bronze, losing a couple of matches probably won’t impact your rank significantly. However, at Valorant or Immortal, prepare to lose your rank even after a couple of losses as the stakes are just that much higher.
Valorant also has a hidden MMR system that pits you against players of similar skills. Furthermore, if you’ve been playing ranked on the closed beta and haven’t started out on the main game yet, you have another chance for a fresh start as all the previous ranks from the beta are not carrying over to the full release.
You can also expect some specialized perks for achieving certain ranks within a given season in the form of cosmetics, similar to what Rocket League and many other games do.
Does Agent selection matter for ranking up in Valorant?
Valorant, unlike CS Go, has an extra dimension in the form of agents that completely changes the way it is played. While it is true that sheer shooting and tactical skills will help you immensely in the competitive mode for Valorant, you also need to have ample knowledge about the agents within the game.
With each agent having his own set of special abilities and gadgets, you need to be accustomed to the way they operate. The balancing of agents in Valorant can still be somewhat hit or miss with more players preferring certain agents as compared to others.
For instance, Brimstone is a very straightforward agent with fairly simple abilities like the triple smoke and Molotov. If you’re new to the game and aren’t exactly very confident, Brimstone would be a good start for you. In addition to that, he also has a very handy Orbital Strike to secure some clutch wins and easy kills during matches.
On the other side of the spectrum, Sova is an incredibly powerful agent that thrives off accuracy and precision. If you’re the kind of player who’s accustomed to throwing accurate flashbangs and doing some experimental stuff with your character, Sova is the one for you.
With the ability to fire a scouting arrow, Sova can quickly spot enemies on the other parts of the map and then use the map-traversing arrows to get some instant kills.
Other notable mentions include the likes of Cypher, Sage, and Breach, all carrying some extremely useful abilities. However, most people would tell you to stay off other agents like Raze or Jett. Having said that, the game is still very new and it all ultimately comes down to personal preference. Be sure to experiment with every single agent and see which suits you the best.
If you find yourself playing better with an agent that other people generally do not recommend, there’s absolutely no need to alter your playing style for something that just isn’t meant for you. In addition to that, try to get comfortable with more than one agent so that you can remain malleable and can adapt to different teams and playing styles easily.
Train your aim
If you’re jumping into Valorant from something other than CS Go, adjusting your aim might be trickier than you realize. In a day and age when battle royale games are extremely common, most first-person shooter players have developed a certain playing style that involves picking up loot from the ground and then moving on to the next location.
A very unnoticed side effect of this movement pattern has resulted in players aiming at the ground more than usual when they’re traversing the landscape.
While this works fine in battle royale games like Call of Duty: Warzone, it actually hinders your ability to get kills in Valorant. Games like Valorant and CS Go are all about precision.
Having your aim ready before an enemy appears between your crosshair is key to gaining an early advantage in a gunfight. Since there is no loot to grab on the ground on Valorant, there is literally no reason for you to be aiming at the ground.
How high should your aim be though? Well, in normal circumstances, your aim should always linger around the head height while moving around the map so that when an enemy does peek from behind a wall, you don’t have to adjust your aim very much to pull off the shot.
In addition to that, since a headshot in Valorant is an instant kill, you can pretty much ensure victory if you’re the first one to tap. However, if you’re having trouble keeping the aim steady enough to pull off headshots, try lowering it a bit to chest height and gradually move upwards as you improve.
The verticality of the aim is not the only important thing though as the horizontal placement matters a lot. While moving in Valorant, you should always try to keep your aim hugged to the location where an enemy might emerge from.
For instance, if you’re walking through a corridor that turns towards the left, your aim should be right next to where the wall to your left ends, at head height. This way, if an enemy does come out from the left, you don’t have to move the aim and can just get the kill with a single tap.
Another thing that you’ll want to focus on is learning the recoil patterns of your guns. In Valorant, the Vandal and Phantom are the two most used guns, and starting from learning the way they recoil would be wise.
When you pay attention to the recoil of the guns, you’ll notice that all of them have a very unique recoil movement that always requires a similar mouse adjustment to compensate. And, if you get used to it, you can pull off some impressive spray kills as well.
Valorant, much like its older cousin CS Go, also has walls that you can shoot through. So, if you have a hunch that there’s an enemy behind a wall or if an enemy runs behind a wall during a fight, feel free to try and wall bang your enemy. Who knows, you might actually get a lucky kill.
The quick way to tell if you can shoot through a wall is to see if the wall has bullet holes as that would mean that your bullets are indeed going through.
Essentially though, what it all boils down to is predicting the possible locations for your enemy and then trying to optimize your aim to stay within those positions at all times. Obviously, this is easier said than done and requires a lot of experience to get used to.
This includes the knowledge of the map, peek points, guns, their recoils, and crosshair placement. A good way to learn your crosshair placement and recoil pattern would be to use the shooting range within the game.
Your movement is just as important as your aim
The movement in Valorant matters more than most people realize. Even if you disregard the entire section about taking great positions in order to capitalize and pounce on your opponent, there are tons of nuanced little things that you must learn about the movement in Valorant.
Firstly, every step you take is being heard from a mile across. Most people who play Valorant seriously have jumped ship from years of CS Go experience and are accustomed to listening for footsteps and determining an enemy’s exact location with ease. Valorant is very similar to CS Go in that regard as well and carefully listening to the footsteps of an enemy is a key part of the game.
So, try to not run around the map at all times and walk instead, especially near areas where you think an enemy is lurking. In addition to that, if you’re running up to an enemy and see them walking, start walking yourself too as they probably have information regarding an enemy nearby and you running around would only give your position away.
However, the importance of movement is not limited to stealth in Valorant as it also critically affects the accuracy of your aim. Basically, the more you move, the less accurate your aim is going to be. So, what you need to do is stop moving every single time you need to shoot at someone or else you’re going to miss your shot.
However, stopping here does not necessarily mean coming to a complete halt as there are techniques like strafing and counter strafing that can help you overcome the inaccuracy of movement while also not being a sitting duck.
In order to achieve that, you’re going to have to practice alternating between the left and right movements at high speeds without gaining any momentum.
This does sound complicated but it really is just a matter of pressing the A and D key rapidly without ever gaining enough speed to hinder your aim accuracy. Strafing also comes in very handy when you’re trying to peek and take down an enemy who is camping on the other side of the wall.
In addition to that, if you’re already running and see an enemy, pressing the directional key opposite to the direction that you were running in can actually bring you to a halt much faster. It’s essentially pressing the brakes on your character and is called counter strafing. Stopping faster means that you’re ready to shoot with accuracy much quicker as well, resulting in just better overall odds for you.
Another little thing that you may not know is that the weapon you’re holding in your hand actually slightly affects your movement speed as well. So, if you’re looking to rush an area, pulling out a knife would actually make you go faster.
Obviously, you’re not going to master all of these things in one day and that’s totally fine. Take your time, practice, and try to incorporate these things in your gameplay slowly and you’ll eventually get used to it.
Communication is key in Valorant
Valorant is a tactical first-person shooter which gives an incredible amount of importance to the strategic side of things. Every individual round of Valorant involves a ton of analysis that’s going on in every player’s head, including the position of the enemy, your teammates, and the whole situation of the round.
So, naturally, with a game that’s so deeply rooted in strategizing, information is extremely crucial. And what’s the best way of disseminating information? Communication.
In a tactical game like Valorant, you need to know exactly what your plan is as you probably won’t find any success without a proper strategy. Communicating with your team is key here and planning out your positions and where you’re going to go at the start of the round is incredibly important.
Once you’ve decided that, you need to be completely aware of your surroundings at all times and instantly call out any enemies you see to your teammates so that everyone can adapt and readjust their bearings after getting the information about the enemy.
Although it can seem a little jarring to talk to complete strangers if you’re not very confident, you must muster up the courage to at least relay basic information. This includes enemy locations, abilities, the spike, and future strategies.
And while it does require knowledge of the map callouts, you’ll get used to it in no time. For instance, if you see an enemy Sova near the area with the ropes, just call out Sova spotted ropes and your teammates will know what you mean.
In addition to that, this will not only boost your own confidence, it will also bring the team morale up as they know that they’re playing with someone serious that they can rely on for information.
Practice and learn the game design
In the end, getting better at any game comes down to practicing and learning through trial and error. There is no way that you can be instantly godlike at a game as there are tons of things to learn other than the basic aim and movement patterns.
One of the most important aspects of any tactical shooter like Valorant is the map itself. Learning all the crucial locations and strategies on a map can make all the difference in the world.
Moreover, the added dimension of agent abilities is also core to the game’s design and you just cannot succeed without being good at that aspect of the game. So, you also need to take your time trying out different agents and testing out their abilities.
Nevertheless, if you have a solid base and have the basics nailed down, it is only a matter of practice from there and with time, you’ll definitely improve and rank up.
Games like Valorant take some time to learn but once you get into the groove of things, progress tends to ramp up quite fast. So, just keep at it and you’ll be able to get a higher ranking in no time.
Valorant is a free-to-play tactical shooter from Riot Games on PC. You can download it right here.