Valorant esports had a breakout year in 2021, culminating in Valorant Champions, where Acend cemented their place as the best team in the world. But who were the most valuable players individually this year? These are the best Valorant players of 2021.
The Valorant Champions Tour has encouraged competitors from around the globe to put in the long hours of practice and dedication to Riot’s breakout FPS game, with the goal of being the best in the world.
The top teams rotated throughout the year, with Acend taking the final glory, but we’ve seen a number of players excel and be considered the most talented among their peers.
You can also check out our rankings for the best League of Legends players, and best Call of Duty players, with more to come in our Best of 2021 series. Here are the best Valorant players in the world this year.
Best Valorant players – 2021
5 — Nikita ‘Derke’ Sirmitev
There are probably few players more worthy of international success than Derke, one of Europe’s brightest stars in 2021. His hard work was not validated with a big trophy, but that was through no fault of his own as he was a consistent menace to opponents in every tournament that he played.
The Finnish-Russian duelist earned his first MVP of the year in February after leading CrowCrowd to one of the top spots in the VCT CIS Stage 1 Challengers 2. Less than two months later, he found himself playing for Fnatic, who had decided to hand him a permanent spot on the team after just two maps, and in the space of five weeks he was named the MVP of the VCT Stage 2 Challengers 2 and earned three MVP awards at the Stage 2 Masters in Reykjavík – the only player to be awarded more than once.
The rest of the year was a rollercoaster for Fnatic, who enjoyed some incredible highs but also some crushing lows. Despite that, Derke’s talent never failed to shine through, and he even ended Valorant Champions at the top of the tournament’s charts despite Fnatic being sent packing in 5th-8th place. As Fnatic prepare for 2022, one can hope that a new, improved version of the team will allow Derke to finally get some big titles under his belt.
4 — Timofey ‘Chronicle’ Khromov
Chronicle was more often than not the Robin to Ayaz ‘nAts’ Akhmetshin’s Batman, but he occasionally stepped out of his teammate’s shadow to help Gambit to an incredible run during the second half of the year.
A very dynamic player who can use a variety of agents, Chronicle had the highest KDA on Gambit at the VCT Stage 3 Masters at 1.96. He took over in the grand final against Envy, in which he was the team’s best performer on two of the three maps against the North Americans.
Unlike nAts, Chronicle came out firing on all cylinders at Valorant Champions, where he had a K/D of 1.28, the second-highest overall. He may not have been as flashy as nAts in 2021, but he was without a doubt a key cog in the Gambit machine throughout the year.
3 — Tyson ‘TenZ’ Ngo
TenZ began 2021 on Cloud9’s bench, getting his first taste of action almost three months into the year as he joined Sentinels to replace Jay ‘sinatraa’ Won. Just ten days later, he helped the team to victory in the VCT Stage 1 Masters – beginning an incredible run that culminated with the trophy at the Stage 2 Masters, this time in Reykjavík.
The Canadian was ice cold in the Icelandic capital, playing a pivotal role as Sentinels went undefeated en route to the title. TenZ topped the tournament’s charts for K/D (1.48) and ACS (289), also earning an MVP mention on the final day of the event for his stellar performance in the best-of-five grand final against Fnatic.
The North American team couldn’t reach the same heights in the rest of the year, but TenZ was still a key contributor, especially at the VCT Stage 3 Masters, where he was ranked third overall for K/D (1.37).
Sentinels ended the year on a disappointing note, crashing out of Valorant Champions in the group stage, but that shouldn’t take away from how dominant the team looked for several months – and TenZ was right at the center of it.
2 — Mehmet Yağız ‘cNed’ İpek
CNed quickly established himself as one of the most dominant players in the EMEA region, but his coronation would only come at the end of the year, with Acend’s victory at Valorant Champions.
Days after being picked up by Acend, the Turkish Jett star led the team to victory in the VCT Stage 1 Masters, putting in some impressive stats (1.43 K/D and 281 ACS) on his way to an MVP award. The team faltered in Stage 2 but bounced back in time for the Stage 3 Masters in Berlin, where cNed was once again at the heart of the action (1.35 K/D, 267 ACS) as Acend reached the quarter-finals.
CNed was not as dominant at Valorant Champions and shared the spotlight with Aleksander ‘zeek’ Zygmunt, but he still played an important role as Acend picked up the title of first Valorant world champions. Many players shone during the first year of international Valorant, but few did so as brightly or as consistently as the Turkish prodigy.
1 — Ayaz ‘nAts’ Akhmetshin
NAts flew under the radar during the first six months of the year, although his MVP from VCT CIS Stage 2 Challengers 2 was already a sign that big things were to be expected from him.
The Russian player, who had taken his first steps in the esports world in CS:GO, then took the world by storm as he powered Gambit to victory at the VCT Stage 3 Masters, where he was the team’s top performer in four of the six series that they played.
NAts had to adjust his style during Champions after teams had figured out how he played, and his numbers took a hit when compared to the Masters. However, everyone will remember that his imperious display decorated the best-of-five final against Acend, carrying the team to victory on Breeze and Fracture.
There’s no doubt that nAts was the best player of 2021, and the fact that he rose to the top as a sentinel in a world where Jett players often steal the show is a testament to his sheer talent.
- Adil ‘ScreaM’ Benrlitom: The ‘Headshot Machine’ was the star of a Liquid team that faltered in the big moments. Without a trophy or even a final appearance at any of the three international LANs, the Belgian lacked the achievements to make the final cut, despite being a model of consistency all year long.
- Jaccob ‘yay’ Whiteaker: ‘El Diablo’ took the Valorant scene by storm at the midway point of the year and was rewarded with a move to Envy. He led that team to the final at the VCT Stage 3 Masters with some incredible performances, but their early exit at Valorant Champions prevented him from making the top five.
Be sure to check out the rest of Dexerto’s Best of 2021 series, for the best players, influencers and games of the year.