As Valorant’s first anniversary draws nearer, we have seen a surge of interest in the game. Notably, the ranking system. A spike in interest in the Valorant ranking system should come as no surprise considering the recent uptake in high-level Valorant eSports events.
But let us not get ahead of ourselves, for the uninitiated, let me first explain what Valorant is. Valorant is a free-to-play first-person shooter PC game known previously as “Project A”. The game has been under development by a team of expert, former Counter-Strike professionals.
That fact shows in the gameplay. The five versus five nature of the gameplay and the strategies and playstyles involved are deeply reminiscent of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO).
Of course, let’s not forget the central gameplay element of teams taking turns attempting to defuse and plant a bomb (referred to as a “Spike” in Valorant).
Where the game differs from Counter-Strike has much to do with its age. Announced in 2019, at the end of League of Legends’ 9th season, the first display of Valorant was as part of a celebratory video for the game’s upcoming 10th season.
The recency of Valorant has given it a relatively fresh feeling in terms of graphics. Boasting a far more modern look than CS: GO and deriving more in art style from recently popular games such as Overwatch and Fortnite.
An added benefit of the divergence from Counter Strike’s rather bleak, Call of Duty-like visuals has been an increased approachability for fans of a broader age range. However, it may still be difficult for younger audiences to appreciate Valorant fully or at least partake in the valorant ranking system.
Valorant has a high barrier of entry in terms of difficulty in execution, and the skill ceiling is practically infinite. Valorant is not one of those games you can pick up casually and expect to be dominating after a couple of dozen hours of play (unless you are coming from a different tactical shooter, at least).
What is Ranked?
Now that you know what the game is, let us learn what exactly ranked or competitive mode is. That’s the first step in understanding the valorant ranking system.
Just as is the case with most other games featuring a competitive aspect, the ranked mode in Valorant is a separate matchmaking queue players can partake in, aiming to attain a rank to display.
The world can see your rank on your account and it is in many ways a sort of trophy with which you boast about your abilities to others, attested for by Riot’s ranking system.
For those who do not particularly care about their ranking or do not feel like more competitive, high stakes play, casual games in non-competitive queues exist. However, if you want to put your skills up to the test, the competitive mode is for you.
Even for the competitive ones among us, the casual queue should still be used optimally as a tool to warm up at the start of your play sessions to get the rust out without compromising on your rank in the process. But more on climbing the leaderboard to the top later.
Importantly, do be aware of outdated information you may find elsewhere, for the valorant ranking system is constantly evolving. As of episode 2, for example, the matchmaking has been redefined to allow for a whole party of five players to queue together as a squad in a competition. Be warned, though, the team cannot go all the way to the top together. At Diamond 3 and upwards, you can only play competitive Solo or Duo.
Other changes include giving players a lot more information regarding how much Ranked Rating (elo) they need to advance in rank to the subsequent division, but more on Ranked Rating later.
What Ranks Are There?
Your ranking is not just a number. There is a ranking bracket associated with each range. These brackets are similar to other games with competitive modes such as Dota 2, Overwatch, and Apex Legends. If you’ve played games such as those before, all of this should be intuitive to you.
Ranking brackets in Valorant are referred to as “ranks”. All ranks, except for the highest two, “Immortal” and “Radiant”, have three levels or tiers.
Without further ado, the complete list of ranks currently in the valorant ranking system is as follows:
- 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
In total, you can climb (or drop) 20 levels as you push through competitive Valorant. All ranked levels have a unique icon that presents a clear visualization of what level someone has achieved.
The highest rank of all, Radiant, is only awarded to the top 500 players in each region. The second-highest level, Immortal, is presented to roughly the top 1% of competitive players.
In other words, if your rank is high enough not to have a number in front of your rank, you can safely say that you are very far above average at the game.
A side note about the Radiant rank; if you are a returning player from the beta and are scratching your head at it. While the highest level used to be “Valorant”, Riot has since renamed it. The reasoning for the call was that it would prevent confusion with spectators or people in general when talking about the rank, as it may get jumbled with the game’s name.
The ranks themselves have remained unchanged with episode 2. However, regional leaderboards have seen their introduction on the official Valorant website and in-client, where you can view your current leaderboard placement, ranked rating, title, player card, and Riot ID.
If you want your information to remain anonymous, the option of being a “Secret Agent” is there. Keep in mind, though, that being on the leaderboard is not a guarantee. Retaining your leaderboard placement requires you to play at least one competitive game a week.
How To Get Your Hidden Rank
Valorant does not present you with a ranking straight up. You will have to commit a fair bit of time even to get started on the ranking process. The reasoning for this being the case is to avoid flooding the valorant ranking system with completely green players who may struggle in a competitive environment.
First, Valorant assigns you a hidden rank. How do you achieve this hidden rank? By playing 20 unrated games. Until you have played 20, you cannot queue in ranked mode.
Throughout these 20 games, the valorant ranking system will collect all sorts of data about you before it can place you into competitive games.
Based on these games, the system understands what level you are at and places you into your first ranked game according to it. The system’s evaluation of your abilities is known as your initial or “hidden” rank. Named such because you are not ever presented with it, nor have you formally achieved this ranking.
The reason for assigning a hidden rank (and making you play 20 unrated games) is to match you when you do finally first play ranked significantly more accurately. Being placed with or against players at a similar level as you is crucial to protecting the ranking system’s effectiveness (avoiding lopsided, unfair games for the other players).
Getting Your First Rank
After completing all 20 of your unrated games, you are now eligible for competitive/ranked matchmaking. Instead of displaying your hidden rank, you will still be unranked but will be presented with a ? for a ranked crest.
Underneath this question mark, the game will tell you how many more ranked games you still have to play to be assigned your first rank. In total, you will have to play just 5. These matches are your placement games.
Your placement games are crucial to determining your awarded rank. The valorant ranking system will keep an eye on your performance against/compared to the highest and lowest-rated players in the game.
The system will then use this information to position your ranking according to a level it asses you to be possessing. After the game has presented you with your first rank, you can now begin your journey grinding out competitive matches and rising to the peak of the leaderboards.
Keep in mind that you can bring your friends along for most of the ride. However, you cannot queue together with someone more than six levels lower or higher ranked than you. Riot has instituted this policy to prevent massive gaps in skill between players in a match. As this could make things unfair for the lower-ranked players.
How Exactly Does The Ranking System Work?
There’s a simple answer to how the valorant ranking system works. It is like most other games with ranking systems. A relatively simple algorithm. Having more wins/a higher percentage of wins than losses, will result in you gaining an increased amount of Ranked Rating per win, thus a more elevated rank quicker.
There is a lot more to Valorant’s ranking than that though, after all. One cannot just look at wins and losses, as this is not a one versus one exercise like chess. There are five players per side, ten in total. The game takes into account your performance relative to that of the other players in the match.
Accordingly, aside from whether you win or lose. The quality and impact of your performance in the match will impact the gain/loss of ranked rating. Considering personal performance enables Valorant to understand better your strengths, weaknesses, and overall skill level.
Do keep in mind that as you climb up the ladder, personal performance begins to matter less and less. Increasingly it will play second fiddle to the match’s outcome.
The change peaks in Immortal and Radiant, where the match’s outcome most heavily influences your rating. But while wins and losses do become very important, the specific nature of those outcomes also significantly impacts.
Losing a game 13-3 will negatively impact your ranked rating far more than losing just barely 13-10. Vice-versa applies. Dominant wins will award you more than small victories.
Another thing to note, Riot has gone on record saying that starting from Episode 2, “exceptional” match performance will be rewarded differently from average performance up until diamond rank.
In other words, do not despair if you feel that your team is full of newbies or you are being “dragged down”, as many disgruntled players like to put it. If your performance is exceptional, then the game will reward you.
Every Episode will have 3 “Acts.” At the end of an act, all ranks are reset, and everyone has to play their placement games again. There is no cause to worry about losing your former ranking, though, as your MMR(matchmaking rating) stays the same, streamlining the process towards getting back your former rank.
Climbing back to where you were will not be as difficult as getting there initially, as this reset is in many ways a “soft” reset. Your ranking has not truly disappeared.
Does Valorant Have Ranking Decay?
It is common among competitive multiplayer games to have some mechanic by which ranking “decays” or decreases over time unless it is maintained. Valorant, however, does not have any such mechanic.
Not having a rank decay mechanic is something for which many players will be thankful. Some time away from the game due to work/family/exams will not leave you worried about the status of your hard-earned crest.
While this is not necessarily a decay mechanic, taking too long a break from the game will indeed require you to play a placement game to reinstate your former ranking. The valorant ranking system does this so that it can be sure that you still compete at your rank’s skill level after your long absence.
Tracking Your Ranked Progression
I have mentioned before that with the additional information provided in Episode 2. It is now far more accessible for players to track their progress up the ladder. Thank the introduction of the current system of Ranked Rating for this.
The Ranked Rating system involves gaining or losing a certain amount of Ranked Rating after every competitive match. This rating displays in the form of a progress bar which fills from 0-100. Once you reach one hundred, your rank increases and the completion of your bar drops back down.
Accordingly, your Ranked Rating is the number to increase to climb to the top. It comes mainly from the outcome of a match, as discussed earlier. Regardless of individual performance, you will always gain some Ranked Rating if you win and lose some for a loss. Though, at lower ranks, your performance will play a core part in how much you gain or lose.
You will gain up to 20 Ranked Rating for a draw and 10-50 for a win when it comes to the numbers. While your rank is between Iron and Diamond, individual performance will contribute to this number.
After being promoted to a new rank, you will start with a Ranked Rating of 10, and after being demoted, you’ll have at least 80.
With that, you now know everything you need to know about the Valorant ranking system, the different ranks, and competitive queues to get started on your journey to the top. I hope that having read this article, any questions or confusions you had have been sorted out.
Before you go, I do have some wisdom to share regarding playing Valorant competitively. Valorant is a team game; there will undoubtedly be moments where you feel frustration towards your teammates. However, as a player, you should try your absolute best to stay level-headed in these moments.
This is a team game. Morale and team spirit are critical parts of winning, gaining rank, and, most importantly, having fun.
Communication is critical in Valorant. Being an active team member communicating and coordinating all five players together will change the game for you.
Even if you prefer not to use your voice, make ample use of the pings Valorant provides. Make sure to be selecting computer-generated responses from the communicate menu panel for strategic callouts. Proper communication with your team is a requirement if you want to reach Diamond and above.
Always try your best to avoid toxicity from spilling out. Particularly so if you are someone who uses their microphone to communicate with teammates. If you feel that the frustration is piling up, you are better off muting all through the settings and continuing that way rather than resorting to oral toxicity.
Keeping calm, communicating, and maintaining a focused mindset will give you the best results you can get and bring you the closest to your potential in competitive Valorant matchmaking. It is okay to have bad games. We all do; what is essential is to keep having fun.