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Valorant is a free to play PC game and has now been available to play worldwide for almost a year. Often referred to as a hybrid between Valve’s CS:GO and Blizzard Entertainment's Overwatch, Riot Games’ Valorant is an exciting five versus five first-person shooter game that has taken the tactical shooter genre by storm ever since its debut in June 2020.
The game had already been announced previously to this in 2019, at the end of the calendar year for League of Legends’ 9th season. As part of a promotional and celebratory video for the game’s 10th year and season, Valorant was teased and pre-alpha footage was displayed to fans along with a bunch of other exciting announcements, such as Wild Rift and the animated TV series, Arcane Comet.
Previously known as Project A, Valorant had been in development for some time by a team of experts made up of ex Counter Strike professionals. Hence, the gameplay and strategic styles present in Valorant are very similar to that of CS:GO, as teams must take turns attempting to plant and defuse the bomb, dubbed the “spike” in Valorant.
But Valorant has been adapted to suit a more modern look that its older counterpart. Whilst CS:GO and its gameplay may be similar to Call of Duty’s visually, Valorant is more like the gameplay that may be observed in Fortnite or Overwatch. It is still of course fairly different, but visually, the colours are bright and vibrant, which gives it an inviting look that attracts a wide age range.
The game maintains a hard difficulty level to play and even higher skill ceiling. As a player, you should not expect to stroll into a Valorant game and expect to dominate, unless you have some prior experience in a different tactical shooter game. And you may certainly not expect to start crushing in ranked or competitive queues, as it is labelled in Valorant.
What is ranked/competitive mode?
As with other games that offer a competitive element, the ranked queue involves playing games in order to achieve or display a rank on your account, tested against the ranking system that has been put in place by Riot.
The game also offers the chance to play casual games in non-competitive queues, but for those of you who would like to put your skills to test against the rest, the competitive mode is the way forward. It is highly recommended to still make use of the casual game modes before queueing up for your ranked games each day in order to warm up.
The system has been recently redefined for Episode 2 of Valorant and players are thankful for these changes as there are now more indications and information given to players on how far or close they are to the next rank.
You may queue up with a whole squad of five party members in competitive queue up to Diamond 3, where you may only queue as a Solo/Duo at this rank. This is a recent change that has been implemented by the developers to reduce the chance of coming up against a full 5-stack in the game’s highest ranks.
As well as this, as mentioned earlier, the system now tells the player exactly how much elo or Ranked Rating (RR) they need in order to be placed into the next division, but we will explain this greater depth further down the article.
What are the ranks?
If you have played any game that offers a competitive mode before, such as League of Legends, Apex Legends or Overwatch, then you should already be familiar with the type of ranks that are typically used.
Here are all of the current ranks there are in Valorant:
(Image Credit: Riot Games)
- Iron 1
- Iron 2
- Iron 3
- Bronze 1
- Bronze 2
- Bronze 3
- Silver 1
- Silver 2
- Silver 3
- Gold 1
- Gold 2
- Gold 3
- Platinum 1
- Platinum 2
- Platinum 3
- Diamond 1
- Diamond 2
- Diamond 3
There are eight (8) ranks in Valorant Competitive. Each rank has three levels with the exception of Immortal and Radiant (the highest ranks).
This means you can push or drop 20 levels in total for your competitive experience. Each ranked level has an icon associated with it to give you and your teammates a visualization of what your current rank is.
The top 500 players in each region will be awarded the Radiant rank and approximately the top 1% of players will be ranked Immortal. Put simply, if you are anywhere near these ranks or are lucky enough to be placed in these ranks, then you are well above the average and should consider yourself an insane player.
For those of us who played Valorant during the beta, you will have noticed that Radiant has been renamed and the highest rank in Valorant used to be called “Valorant”. Riot made this decision to prevent confusion when spectators or anyone of that matter would speak or make comments about the game.
Episode 2 introduced regional leaderboards which you can view in-client on on the official Valorant website. Here you may view your current leaderboard rank and Ranked Rating (RR), along with your Riot ID, Title and player card. If you would like to remain anonymous, you may also select the option to remain as a “Secret Agent”.
You need to have played at least 50 ranked games to place on the leaderboard in your region, and you’ll have to play at least one Competitive game a week to keep your place. Banned players will not be displayed on the leaderboard.
How to get your initial (hidden) rank
To attain your first rank in Valorant, you will need to commit some time and complete the initial requirements. If you would like to be eligible to participate in competitive queues, you must first play a total of 20 unrated games in order to unlock the opportunity to start playing ranked.
If you were playing in the beta, then previous games will count towards these 20 games. The reason why you must do this before playing ranked is because the system needs to gather some initial information and data before you queue up for competitive games.
The system works out what kind of player you are based off of the 20 games you have played and then places you in the first ranked game at a level where it thinks it has placed you. This is to prevent you from being matched up with or against players who are either well below or higher than yours. The system wants to try and match you as best as it can and so the initial games are vital in order to do so.
How to get your first rank
Once you have completed all 20 of your unrated games, you will now be eligible to queue up for competitive mode. You will not have a rank just yet and will instead have a “?” icon where your rank crest should be.
Below the “?”, there will be an indication of how many ranked games you will have left to play in order to unlock your first rank. You will need to play a total of 5 games in order to achieve this rank. These matches are known as your “placement games”.
During these placement games, the competitive system will take into account how you are doing against the upper and lower ranked players in your game to determine if you will gain rating or lose rating.
After being placed in a rank, you will be able to queue up for competitive matches and begin your ascend to the top of the ladder! If you are queuing up with friends, you will not be able to queue with those who are 6 levels higher or lower than your own rank. This is to prevent big gaps in skill level between players in ranked games.
How does the ranking system work?
As with other ranked systems for other games, there is a fairly simple algorithm that states that more wins and a higher percentage of wins compared to losses will contribute to you gaining more RR, thus a higher rank in a shorter amount of time.
When it comes to the earlier ranked games you play and in particular your placement matches, Valorant’s system takes your personal performance into account in order to identify your skill level, strengths and weaknesses.
However, as you begin to climb the ranks, personal performance starts to lose its efficacy until you reach Immortal and Radiant, where your rating will be heavily influenced by the outcome of your matches. Wins and losses will be more impactful than personal performance, and the nature of these wins and losses will also have their role to play.
If you win a game 13-1 for example, this will increase your RR more than a 13-11 win, and vice-versa; heavy losses where your team gets crushed will have a harsher negative impact on your RR than games which you lost, but were closer.
For Episode 2, Riot have also stated that exceptional match performance should be rewarded differently than average performance. This is for ranks Iron through to Diamond.
At present, the system has an idea of how well you should perform whenever it puts you in a match. When you go above that expectation (above your average), extra RR is your reward and vice-versa.
Additionally, Riot have made it clear that there will be no decaying of ranks in Valorant and instead, if you are inactive for 14 days, your rank will be temporarily hidden until you play your first ranked game again.
Each Episode will have 3 Acts, based off of the current Episodes, and your rank will reset after each Act. Your MMR (matchmaking rating) will be influential when it comes to you being placed in a rank again after the start of a new Act, so do not worry about you losing your rank,
It will be a lot easier for you to climb back to your previous level after the start of a new Act as the rank reset is only a soft reset. But you should expect to be placed in a rank that was lower than your previous one, so you should be shocked when this happens. Once again, this is another aspect to the system and helps it to restabilize itself and skill levels of players in the game.
How to track ranked progression
As mentioned before, Episode 2 of Valorant has made it much easier for players to track their progress in competitive queues, thanks to the introduction of RR. if you have played League of Legends before, then you should be familiar with this system and how it works (must be a Riot Games thing it seems).
Instead of LP or League points, in Valorant, players may earn or lose a certain amount of Ranked Rating or RR. The arrow indicators from Episode 1 have now been transformed into a progress bar which displays your current number of RR from a scale of 0-100. Once you exceed 100 at your current rank, you will move up a tier.
You can earn Rank Rating by playing matches, the majority of which comes from winning or losing. You will always gain Rank Rating in a win, and always lose Rank Rating in a loss. However, at lower ranks your individual performance can help you progress quicker.
You will gain between 10-50 Rank Rating for a win, and a max of 20 for a draw. Between Iron and Diamond ranks, individual performance will be taken into account when calculating your Rank Rating.
You will always start at 10 Rank Rating after being promoted to a new rank, and a minimum of 80 after a demotion. You can find each Episode’s rank rewards on the rank info page.
And there you have it! That concludes essentially everything you will need to know about ranks, the ranking system and competitive queues in Valorant. Hopefully this article has clarified any questions or things you may not have previously been aware of.
One final thing to note about the competitive mode in Valorant is what you may contribute to your team. As a player, it is your duty to try your best and try to remain calm in situations where you may begin to feel frustrated or angry towards your teammates.
Remember, despite how high you may consider yourself to be in terms of skill level, Valorant is a team game and so, morale and team spirit is integral to winning games and success. Moreover, communication is key for a 5v5 tactical shooter and so it is always beneficial to be an active team member who is consistently communicating with your team.
Even if you are a player who refrains from using their microphone in team chat, Valorant has made it very easy for you to communicate with pings as well as the communicative menu panel, which allows you to select from a list of computer generated responses from your Agent. These may include basic, combat and strategic calls to name a few.
You should always try your best to prevent yourself from being toxic especially if you are someone who uses their microphone to communicate with your team. If you are unable to do so, then we recommend that you mute all in settings, and continue with your game.
A focused mindset will always help you to deliver the best results possible and aid you to hit your potential in your matches, more often than not. It is ok to have bad games as we are all human!
Nevertheless, good luck in your ranked games and most importantly, go out there and have fun!
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