You’ve seen all that VALORANT has to offer. You know the Agents, you know the maps, and you know the basic strategies. The lack of comms and random playstyles of teammates in Unrated has grown stale. So where do you go from there?
It’s time to train your talents for Competitive and see where you stack up!
If the beta taught us anything, it’s that competitive is a crucible, burning away the chaff to leave only the best. The margins for error are lower. Mistakes must be quashed before they become habits. You will learn, you will grow — and you will rise to meet the challenge. If you play your cards right, that is.
Are you ready to commit to the climb? Let’s talk about what it takes to become VALORANT in VALORANT.
Where Do You Stack Up?
Mirroring the mechanics found in League of Legends, Overwatch, and numerous other competitive games on the market today, VALORANT offers a series of ranks split into distinct tiers. For VALORANT, these tiers are Iron, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Immortal, and VALORANT.
Within each rank are three subranks — except for VALORANT, which is reserved only for the elite of the elite. After completing your placement matches, you’ll be assigned a rank and subrank (e.g., Silver 2). Then after every game, you’ll see a handy indicator beside your rank, which indicates if you gained or lost standing.
No matter where you start, the process will be the same for all. Learn from your mistakes, practice in the Shooting Range, watch gameplay videos and streams from high-level players. There are many ways to improve.
That said, there won’t be any shortcuts on the path to victorious glory, so don’t expect results overnight. Your rank may stagnate even as you improve your mechanical skill. As long as you show up every day ready to leave it all on the server, you will see yourself improve. Simple as that.
Make Ready for War
I’ve spent a good deal of time in VALORANT and its brethren games like Counter-Strike and Overwatch. There are a few core principles that are common to all games in the genre. Principles like peripheral setup, crosshair placement, team roles, and the metagame. Let’s talk about how you can apply them to become a better VALORANT player today!
A competitor is only as good as their equipment. Prepare for success with good peripherals and settings — then grow into them with practice. You’ll want them to be so familiar as to become extensions of your immaterial will.
Your in-game settings should become an extension of your will, as well. Find a good sensitivity in the Shooting Range, then keep it. If you have to make a change, keep it small (<0.5, ideally 0.1 or 0.25 at a time). Some converters online allow you to port over sensitivities from other games; use them if you’ve built muscle memory with your mouse in one of them.
For instance, I’m using a Logitech G502 mouse, which I purchased in 2013. I don’t open the firmware settings anymore. I found the DPI setting that works best for me, and I haven’t changed it in more than half a decade.
Inconsistency is one of the first obstacles to overcome. Changing your settings every day or every match isn’t going to help that. Gaming keyboards are another area where you’ll want consistency. The feel of a keyboard largely lies in the switch. Find a switch type that you like, then stick with it across all makes and models as you upgrade.
Searching for a particular piece of gear? We’ve got you covered with guides on every peripheral under the VALORANT sun.
When gun battles are the core conflict resolution mechanic, it’s not surprising that aim is critical to your performance. Here’s my take on the best approach to crosshair placement:
1. First, identify the likely angle of engagement and keep your crosshair there.
I frequently see players approach corners and expose themselves to angles with their crosshair still pointed at the wall or the floor — anywhere but where the threat is likely to be. Don’t do this. Your crosshair should always be where the enemy is, or where you think they may appear.
If there are multiple angles you’re exposed to, use your head. Where have they played rounds past? Do you know they have a sharp sniper likely to be lurking in A Tower?
2. Account for reaction time.
You want to move your mouse as little as possible. Time spent aiming is precious milliseconds lost. If you’re approaching a corner, anticipate an enemy running around it — where would your crosshair need to be in the amount of time it takes for you to react to the movement? This is often a short distance away from the corner itself, and will change depending on your position.
3. Keep your crosshair at head level.
This mainly comes with practice. As you learn the maps and the different routes around them, you learn where a head is likely to be if they (or you) turn a corner. Keep your crosshair at about that height, occasionally at neck level, depending on your weapon’s spray pattern and distance to the target.
4. Learn the rifle spray patterns
The first half-dozen or so bullets you fire with a rifle follow a predictable spray pattern. Learn it. Spend time in the Shooting Range, keeping your first few shots in a tight group. This will inform your crosshair placement as you engage with a threat.
Learn the roles that each Agent is best suited to. Always be thinking:
“How can I use my abilities to provide the most impact in this round?”
For some Agents, that means staying away from the front lines, watching the flanks, and surviving. Sage should never be the first to charge into hostile territory. Phoenix is most valuable charging in with flashes and walls. Pick the Agent that suits your playstyle (when available), but learn to adapt on the fly to maximize your impact.
- Pick the Agent that suits your playstyle, when you can.
- Be prepared to pick the Agent that fills a role your team needs.
- Play your part, and play to win. This may mean forgoing frags in favor of having the most impact on rounds.
- Practice with all the Agents in Unrated to improve your flexibility.
The metagame is so much more than which Agents are strongest this patch. It’s the summation of your hands-on knowledge and developed intuition over hundreds of matches. It’s that gut feeling that tells you the enemy team is faking a site take. Or the experience that tells you exactly how to pull a rotation away from the site you intend to take.
Remember, you’re playing against a team of human people with the same abilities and awareness that you have. Use that to your advantage. Like any good magic trick, the skilled magician knows how to manipulate where the audience is looking.
This can only be improved with lots and lots of gameplay. Either your own, or watching skilled players work their magic on unsuspecting opponents. Review your games whenever possible, ask yourself what hints you may have seen that revealed your opponents’ true intentions, and always watch for those subtle tells. It’s all moves and counter-moves — one big, violent game of chess. Learning to read your opponents is key to success, and honing that skill all comes down to practice.
Tips to Be Your Best
Time to sum up. What are the key takeaways?
- Set yourself up for success with suitable peripherals. Dial in the settings, then leave them alone.
- Think about where your crosshair is and where it might be most useful. Keep it at head level near likely angles, and remember to account for your reaction time.
- Play your role. It may not be the role you prefer, but it may be the role your team needs right now. This means worrying less about your individual score and more about winning matches, which is the only surefire way to increase your rank.
- Learn the game behind the game. Remember that you’re playing other humans — manipulate their situational awareness to your advantage whenever possible. Identify common moves and counter-moves, then apply them to your own gameplay.
- You play like you practice. Practice well and practice often.