Who are the best VALORANT agents to play in ranked?

16:29, 10 Jul 2020

Now in patch 1.03, VALORANT’s meta, especially at the professional level, has started to become much more map-dependent, even though a lot of creativity and personal styles can still be found from team to team. Some of the balance changes have either failed to hit or have not been explored in full, leaving VALORANT agents like Viper in the lowest tier. 

Having absorbed some of the lessons from the play of top players on ladder and the teams in the IGNITION Series, we set out to rank the best VALORANT agents in a convenient tier list for you to answer one simple question: “Who should I pick right now to have the highest chance of winning in my ranked games?” 

Agents are slotted into tiers but the order in which they are mentioned does not indicate an inner-tier-ranking. On top of our own evaluation, we've teamed up with the statistical analysis tool CypherCam.org, though admittedly the amount of data available for patch 1.03 is limited at this point.
 

VALORANT Agent S Tier

Top of the line agents likely in need of balance adjustments, great in almost all situations

Sage

The throne of the queen of VALORANT meta is on shaky legs. Additional nerfs to her signature ability and Barrier Orb have brought her more in line with the power level of other heroes. Sage is still incredibly powerful in holding a site by herself until teammates can rotate but as more agents with healing abilities become available, they become less dependent on Sage picking them back up. Furthermore, Ascent is a very open map, with especially the middle putting opponents into duels at long range, through which the Operator may start to shine more. If that is the case, healing abilities would indirectly lose value as the weapon one-shots at waist height and up, making it less likely that Sage will even find a target to heal. That said, Sage still feels home at B-Site, allowing her to close the entrance single-handedly while also being able to go for cheeky boosts through the windows on attack. Thin corridors allow her Slow Orbs to essentially become barriers through which opponents will not push through. As such, Ascent isn’t a terrible map for Sage and her abilities still remain functional.

Some pro teams have experimented in leaving her out of the starting line-up but have all failed to get value out of her replacement. They’ve continued nerfing Sage in 1.01, reducing her Barrier Orb cast range which hurt her on offence. Despite all of these nerfs Sage has remained a must-pick. 

Cypher

Cypher remains a staple in the meta especially in solo queue, given his ability to control a site and delay pushes much like Sage. These two agents on one bombsite when defending shut down or at least delay a rock-solid number of pushes until their teammates can rotate. We’re still playing in an information age of VALORANT and Cypher is still incredibly good at gathering it. Even on offence, Cypher keeps your team’s back clear with well-placed Trip Wires which can not be bypassed without any obvious tell. Much like Sage, Cypher was almost always picked in tournaments. Interestingly, the spy’s reputation is slowly crumbling as more and more analysts come forth with visions of a meta that sees Cypher replaced soon as his utility is potent but also easy to shut down when played against in an aggressive manner. Perhaps we’ll have to downgrade him soon on the VALORANT tier list.

With the ultimate economy moving more towards using ults as often as possible, Cypher has gained further value for having the strongest ultimate in the game and often shuts down rounds without much room for surprise for his opponents.

Best VALORANT agent tier list

Raze

You thought the nerfs were going to keep her down especially with a lot of duelists getting a buff last patch? Nope, she's back and back for good. We noticed that Raze had a much higher pick rate on the Korean ladder and tournaments and she's finally also been given more attention in the West. Raze is likely a must pick on Split because of the map's narrow architecture which helps the value of her utility immensely. Using her to hold Heaven so she can both control Middle and the confined B-Site is bound to get plenty of uncontested ability damage. Double kills happen approximately twice per half on average for her and raining down Paint Shells on her opponents is free value. If you're playing with a teammate, pairing her with Sage will allow her to play as aggressively as she wants. On other maps, she's also proven to be useful and is probably on par with other duelists on them, putting her once again in S-Tier of the VALORANT agent tier list.

Of course, Raze is also an incredibly fun and rewarding VALORANT agent to style on people with. Her ability to carry games singlehandedly is only rivalled by Reyna.

 

VALORANT Agent A Tier

Agents which are never a bad choice to pick.

Sova

If there’s a champion that encapsulates the idea of “knowledge is power”, it’s Sova. He functions as a scout and is, therefore, a great provider of information. However he needs a large amount of practice and learning to work. If you’re the kind of player that loves to prepare heavily before they go into ranked, Sova is the VALORANT agent for you. All of his abilities massively gain from game knowledge, starting from line-ups for Recon Bolt to more and more popular double Shock Dart combos.

As speculated upon in the last update of the VALORANT Agent Tier List, Hunter’s Fury also gained a lot of value and will force out enemies out of high-value positions such as several high grounds and 50/50 corners before your team ever has to engage. Not only that, but there are now well-known angles which allow you to clear multiple top tier spots at once. 

As a result of this, his play rate in pro play has gone up considerably, stealing playtime mostly from duelists. How much in the power of entry capability do you need if you have a really good idea of  where the opponent must be?

Omen

In the shadows, Omen has somehow crept up on his opposition and has become a defensive specialist whose round win rate in tournament play currently exceeds Sage's and Cypher’s on defence.

Best VALORANT Tier List
Defending round win rates by CypherCam.org

Much of this is due to the rise of information value and his ability to mislead people into thinking that they have information when he has already teleported onto the high ground or distorts your vision to allow your teammates to reposition in a way that others VALORANT agents can not help with. His smoke, From the Shadows, is seemingly never on cooldown which is amazing for an ability this strong and free of charge. He’s a trickster who gives players with enough game sense the ability to outsmart opponents in a major way. Perhaps the best trick he has pulled is to make people think he’s an average VALORANT agent when statistically he is right up there.

Phoenix

Phoenix remains a solo queue trooper, being able to fight entire wars by himself. Self-heal, check. Flash to help yourself peek, check. Molly that helps clean out angles, check. Incredibly high value ultimate, check. You’re not doing much wrong by picking him on any map if you’re queueing by yourself. 

He’s the only duelist whose pick rate didn’t suffer due to Sova’s increased pickrate, but still is clearly behind Raze and only on par with Jett. He’s simply a well-balanced champion that’s arguably the gold standard in VALORANT. Maining him means your time will not be wasted due to massive balance changes shaking up his viability.

Brimstone

Brimstone needs a cold one and a break. For months, he has been a must-pick VALORANT agent in the pro meta but Omen has sent him on a nice vacation on at least Ascent and Split. That isn’t to say that Brimstone still isn’t a fine choice for solo queue, especially because he’s among the most reliable VALORANT agents. Even without molly line-ups, just the ease of use for his smokes helps teammates in ranked to find courage to open on a bombsite. Both you and they know that it’s really hard to screw up a Brimstone smoke given the ease of use from the interface.

Best VALORANT Tier List

His ultimate remains a solid “meh” and is probably the most useful to get those sweet shots of dopamine if you manage to catch out a pesky Phoenix who has been dry peeking you several rounds in a row in Garage on Haven. Statistics line up with this observation, as you only win 2.85% more rounds when you ult, which is mediocre at best.

Breach

He had it coming. Breach drops out of the S-Tier of the VALORANT Agent Tier List as more and more agents find solid line-ups for their abilities which do very similar things to Breach. Some teams in the pro scene like T1 still use him in practically every comp while others like TSM have largely shunned him. His orb contest in the first seconds of the round is still solid and allows you to gain steady ult advantages on Ascent and Showers on Bind.

It’s highly advised to at least play with one friend and at best two friends as Breach should never be the first into a site but rather in the second and third position. Pop a flash and a Fault Line into the default locations while your teammates safely push and gain an advantage on your opponents. Make sure that you cover the angles they are not taking, so you can always get the trade kill if enemies reveal themselves in unexpected locations. Adhering to this order of operations is extremely important, his abilities lose value otherwise. Putting him into a safer position each engagement also ensures that he builds his ultimate more consistently, which is key to getting an advantage over other agents. If you can’t make sure that these scenarios are a given, which they often will not be in solo queue, Breach drops dramatically in value, averaging out his usefulness in the low A-Tier on the VALORANT Agent Tier List. 

Best VALORANT Tier List

VALORANT Agent B Tier

Not a terrible pick, but there probably are better ones for what you're trying to accomplish.

Jett 

Jett has been promoted from an Operator only carrier to a really solid rifle duelist. That said, her pickrate in pro play that helped her into the VALORANT Agent A-Tier has dropped slightly, mostly because Sova has been soaring through the ranks, stealing play share percentage from a lot of duelists.

For solo queue, you’re still free to play aggressively to your heart's desire. She’s a solid choice if you aim to take over a game, though not the best. She performs decent vision control, but Omen and Brimstone have her beat here. She entries well, but Phoenix is the more self-sufficient VALORANT agent in this regard. While it’s not entirely accurate to say that Jett is a jack of all trades, master of none, it’s also not too far off. Even her ability to deny trades can be replicated by Reyna to some degree. However, she’s the last remaining agent with not only run and gun but also fly mechanics with her ultimate, though it feels rarely applicable. 

Reyna 

We’ve received our first post-beta VALORANT agent and she’s an interesting one. Reyna seems to either be feast or famine. No other agent allows you to take over the game in the way she can if you are clearly the best player on the server. On the other hand, her kit will not allow you to get back into the game if you are having an off day. Getting entry kills is crucial for her to get rolling in a round and while Leer is of great value in getting those, it’s also pretty easy to avoid. The opinions on Empress are also very divided and is once again heavily reliant on keeping the snowball going. It will be interesting to see if we will see Reyna during the first tournaments. Her winrate will tell us a lot about her power levels and where she will eventually rank in her current state on the Best VALORANT agent tier list. 

VALORANT Agent C Tier

Very situational heroes that are likely bad choices in most situations.

Viper

We had the right idea in the last update of the VALORANT Agent Tier List, predicting a soft rework for Viper given that she had not received any changes for a while before 1.02. She wasn’t completely redesigned but the buffs were still significantly more impactful than the normal balance tweak. The changes have helped to a degree but are still not enough to allow her to find playtime in pro play, which also doesn’t inspire ranked players to give her a try. Her kit appears to be among the least fun ones even among average players who are less likely to play VALORANT agents only because of their strength.

Viper is sluggish and slow in all of her abilities. She rotates poorly and deals even worse with momentum shifts in a round. Split remains virtually the only map where she’s worth entertaining for her attack side. Unless someone finds a paradigm-shifting playstyle for her, she will need additional help. Without beating around the bush, Viper is the worst hero on the VALORANT Agent Tier List. 

Images and statistics via CypherCam.org and Riot Games

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