Phantom or Vandal? Riot helps settle Valorant debate

Declan Mclaughlin
an image of all Vandal skin variants from ChronoVoid bundle

Riot Games has released an article under its Valorant Data Drop series about the infamous Vandal vs. Phantom debate.

Valorant players have had to deal with one decision in every buy round consistently since the Riot Games title came out: Do you buy the Phantom or Vandal? Both rifles have their strengths and weaknesses, and players have gone back and forth on which gun is better for quite some time now.

Every player has also had the internal debate of whether they should switch from one gun to the other after whiffing a shot with the Vandal or dealing 140 damage with a headshot from the Phantom. Riot has released an article using data from matches to try to see if they could determine which rifle is better.

The case for using the Vandal in Valorant

In the Riot article, the data shows that the Vandal is the most-chosen weapon in competitive play across ranked and professional matches. The gun has a 100% kill rate when Vandal users hit a headshot without penetrating a wall, due to the gun dealing 160 damage to the head, and has a better kill distribution than the Phantom at 20-25 meters away and longer.

“If you’re consistently clickin’ heads, the Vandal might be for you,” the article said.

The case for using the Phantom in Valorant

The Phantom may not be the most-chosen weapon across ranked and pro play, but the gun does beat the Vandal in close-ranged kills. In that same kill distribution graph, the Phantom consistently kills enemies at shorter ranges much better than the Vandal, with the Phantom netting way more kills at 10-15 meters.

The gun also has a better chance of getting multi-kills in close ranges, around 15 meters, through spraying, according to the article.

“If you’re a little more spray and pray, try the Phantom,” the article said.

Riot also touched on the scenario in which Phantom users hit enemies for only 140 damage after a headshot. According to their data, when a Phantom user hits a 140-damage headshot at 15-30 meters against a Vandal user, the player with the Phantom wins the gunfight 78% of the time.

The verdict

Riot did not give a decisive ruling on whether one gun is better than the other and instead said the answer is subjective and situational. If players are more comfortable holding long angles and taking aim battles, the Vandal is more optimal and will generally beat an enemy using a Phantom.

If a player is more used to holding close angels or spraying through smokes, then a Phantom is more optimal and has the fire rate to potentially net multiple kills.

“Both the Phantom and Vandal are viable in most situations. As long as you understand how to play to the different strengths of each rifle, you’ll be fine,” Carson Downhan, an Insight Team Researcher at Riot, said in the article.