Valorant’s Rated mode has been out for a while now, but if you’re transitioning from Unrated to the competitive mode for the first time, there’s a few things you’ll want to learn before diving into the deep end.
Valorant is a competitive shooter at its core. Rated mode – which rewards players for their grind against equally skilled opponents – is only a natural step forward for a title that is destined to flourish as an esport.
While both Unrated and Rated share the same Spike Defusal mode, Rated matches play entirely different to their more casual counterparts. So here’s everything you need to know to hit the ground running and soar through the ranks in competitive Valorant.
Moving from Unrated to Rated: What to expect
Providing you’ve played your 20 Unrated matches, you will have access to Rated matches. Valorant’s competitive mode is made up of eight ranks ranging from Iron to Radiant, each with three tiers of progression (aside from the highest rank).
You can queue with a party of up to five members, but each must be within two ranks of yourself. So if you want to play with a friend whose rank is considerably higher than yours, you’ll have to grind your way there.
Team composition is the biggest change that you’ll notice in your transition to Rated. A team stacked with Duelists might work in Unrated, but in Rated you will be punished for doing so.
While we’ll touch on this in a little more depth later, just know that for now, you’ll want a healthy balance of Agents — those Sentinels really come into their own in Rated!
Aside from that, you’ll notice that teams will be a lot more structured as you progress through the ranks. Proper utilization of abilities (at the right time) can often dictate the outcome of a round. Before we delve into how to get you one step closer to that coveted Radiant rank, let’s first take a look at the Matchmaking Ration (MMR) system.
Understanding the Rated MMR system
You will have to play five placement matches when dipping your toes into Rated for the first time. During those matches, Riot’s algorithm will take a number of variables into account to place you among equally skilled players.
While top fragging your way through every match is great, that will only get you so far in Future Earth. Valorant will reward winning over anything else… So that means you want to maximize your chances of clinching a victory.
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So if the biggest metric in the algorithm is winning, then the easiest way to securing your win is consistently playing with the same teammates. As it stands, there is no dedicated solo queue — meaning that you have a good chance of coming up against a premade squad, which will immediately put you on the back foot and lessen your chances of ranking up.
If you haven’t come across any teammates in-game yet, there’s plenty of forums where you can find like-minded players looking to rank-up, try the ‘Looking for Group’ channels in the official Valorant Discord for your specific region.
Which Agents to use in Rated
Now that you understand how Rated’s MMR system works, let’s take a deep look into team composition. As you’ll probably already know, Agents are split into four categories (highlighted above). If you haven’t yet found your groove with a specific Agent, our beginner’s guide and Agent guides will help you do just that.
While there is no specific formula for the perfect composition, having a healthy balance is the general rule of thumb. Duelists and Initiators will come into their own on Attack, whereas Controllers and Sentinels will prosper on Defense.
Within the current meta, Sage is a must-have Agent for any team. Her healing capabilities prove invaluable as the rounds progress on Attack, while her Barrier and Slow Orbs can single-handedly bring the most aggressive of enemy pushes to a halt.
Agent selection is also dependent on the map being played. Some maps favor Attack more, and you’ll therefore want to capitalize on that by leaning more towards Duelists and Initiators, who’ll aid your ability to win key duels and push a Reactor Site.
Map knowledge and economy
After playing a minimum of 20 Unrated matches, you’ll already have a pretty good grasp of each map and how they work. What really sets players apart from others, though, is their knack for understanding map dynamics.
Having the game sense of when and where to push comes with experience. For example, using your utility effectively (both in terms of placement and timing) to isolate areas of the map, plays a huge role in how well you can take control of the map.
Playing to the clock and using time relative to your map positioning is a great habit to pick up on, as it will improve your play tenfold in the long run. Be sure to brush up on our map guides to ensure you know callouts and important map features like the back of your hand.
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To complement map knowledge, you’ll want to really get to grips with how your economy works and how it can impact not only the imminent round, but also future rounds. Keeping tabs on both your team’s and opponent’s economy will better inform your buys when entering rounds.
If you want to get a better understanding of how Creds work in Valorant, deep-dive into our economy guide which covers everything from the basics right through to the intricacies of ability usage.