Within weeks of its release, Valorant became one of the most popular games of 2020. We spoke to THESPIKE.GG to get the lowdown on everything you need to know to get started in Riot's first-person hero shooter
What is VALORANT?
We got the first glimpse of VALORANT during the League of Legends 10-year anniversary video back in October 2019. Dubbed Project A, the game was a hero-based tactical shooter with competitive gameplay intended to disrupt Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's grip over the genre.
On April 7th, 2020, VALORANT kicked off its closed beta period, open to players in the United States of America, Brazil, Canada, Russia, Turkey, Korea, and Europe. The catch? Those who wanted to join had to link their Riot Games account to their Twitch accounts, and watch any of their favorite streamers with the "Drops Enabled" tag. The more you watched, the better your chances of getting a coveted VALORANT beta access code.
Shortly after, Riot Games allowed any streamer who played VALORANT to have the "Drops Enabled" tag. During this period, VALORANT managed to reach over 1.7 million viewers on Twitch, the second all-time record peak. The statistics released thereafter proved the immense popularity of the closed beta, with over 3 million people playing every day.
Riot Games surprised fans by revealing VALORANT would release officially on June 2nd, 2020, only a few weeks into the closed beta. The game launched with ten agents and three maps. The agents were Breach, Brimstone, Cypher, Jett, Omen, Phoenix, Raze, Sage, Sova, and Viper, and the maps were Haven, Bind, and Split. It didn't take long for updates to roll in and add a new agent—Reyna—and a new map—Ascent.
The studio doesn't plan on stopping there. The latest development update from Executive Producer Anna "SuperCakes" Donlon promised a new agent introduced every two months while a new map or major feature will come to VALORANT every six months. This will coincide with the start of new acts and episodes, respectively. Of course, these plans aren't set in stone. Riot Games' team will prioritize balancing the existing agents and maps before adding any to the existing pool.
Valorant's Battle Pass system is broken up into Episodes, Acts, and Chapters. Each Episode contains multiple Acts, each lasting around 2 months. In short, one Act = one Battle Pass, each with 50 tiers in both a free and Premium path. You progress through the tiers with the XP gained from completing missions and playing matches regularly. Each Act contains 10 Chapters, and each Chapter features 5 Premium tiers and a free Chapter completion reward.
If you manage to grind it out and unlock all 50 tiers without purchasing the VALORANT Battlepass, you will only unlock the free items. However, you can decide to buy Premium at any time during the Chapter and retroactively earn the Premium items you unlocked throughout your journey. Remember, though, once an Act finishes, you won't be able to go back and claim the rewards. The new Act will replace the existing one and bring new rewards for players to earn.
There is something for everyone, as the VALORANT Battle Pass offers Weapon skins, Player Cards, Gun Buddies, Sprays, and Titles. The plethora of cosmetics to customize and personalize your VALORANT experience is definitely nice to have. However, with the community complaining about the effort and commitment needed to unlock everything, we will have to wait and see if Riot Games changes how VALORANT Battle Pass works in the future.
What makes VALORANT special?
Ever since Valve launched the title in November 2000, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has dominated the tactical shooter genre. The game's unique economic system, the rounds, and gameplay managed to propel the title into esports stardom. Riot Games set out to disrupt this dominance with VALORANT, but with their own unique formula.
VALORANT mixes everything Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is known for with a bit of Overwatch-inspired character-based gameplay. Every agent is uniquely designed and features four distinctive abilities, including an ultimate. This is similar to Overwatch's character design, and even Riot Games' own MOBA, League of Legends.
VALORANT Agent Classes
There are four distinctive classes in VALORANT: Duelist, Initiator, Sentinel, and Controllers. Each one of them has a role to fulfill in leading the team to victory. The Duelist role is equipped with more attack-oriented ability kits for the fearless who want to continuously engage with the enemy team. As for the Initiators, think of them as scouts who scan the area and facilitate their team's entrance to a site. Their teammates rely on them to provide information, which gives the team an advantage.
The Sentinel roles are support members in simpler terms. They are the backbone of any VALORANT team, protecting the squad through heals, enemy traps, and by staying on the lookout for potential flanks. Sage's abilities, for example, are geared towards keeping your teammates alive long enough to win the round. Last but not least, the Controller role is for players who know how to hold a site. Their abilities are designed to protect a site, whether you are defending your own or looking to take it from the enemy team.
This impressive diversity in the roles and abilities allow for never-ending combinations and ability interactions. The unique art style, map design, and Riot Games' commitment to building upon VALORANT's lore combine to create a world in which players can get invested. Each character's dialogue and abilities add to their personality, enhancing the gameplay, and making you fall in love with them.
Riot Games are known for their ability to produce likable characters. The years spent building the 148 champions in League of Legends taught them a thing or two for sure. Like in Overwatch, where the characters come from different backgrounds, VALORANT's agents come from a variety of cultures and countries. You can feel the love of Brazilian music and dance flow through Raze, while Phoenix is known for his British accent and his fiery persona. These are just two examples from an exciting and diverse cast of agents.
The newly added Reyna is an excellent example of how much work the development team spends crafting VALORANT agents beyond just gameplay and abilities.
VALORANT esports scene
It didn't take long for the VALORANT competitive scene to kick off, even when the game was still in closed beta. Esports teams and tournament organizers jumped on board to give those interested in pursuing a professional career in VALORANT to start off early. Twitch held a Twitch Rivals: VALORANT Showcase and a Twitch Rivals: VALORANT Showdown for Europe and North America. The tournament teams were assembled from the platform's popular streamers and content creators.
It wasn't long before we saw significant esports organizations hold their own invitational tournaments, with the likes of 100 Thieves, T1, G2 Esports, FNATIC, and more. In these competitions, we got a glimpse of what high-skilled play looks like in addition to gauging the viewership potential of VALORANT as an esport.
We witnessed a number of powerhouse teams assembled from former professionals of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Fortnite, Apex Legends, and other first-person shooters. Naturally, CS:GO pros had a competitive advantage in VALORANT thanks to the similar economy and gameplay mechanics. At the same time, Overwatch players were accustomed to playing with special abilities and understood the importance of team composition with VALORANT's different classes.
Two of the earliest tournaments were the 100 Thieves and T1 Invitationals. In the 100T Invitational, we got to see popular streamer (and former Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro) Shroud play alongside Brax and AZK, who were signed to T1's VALORANT roster before the game even had any tournaments. T1's VALORANT roster was completed with the addition of Skadoodle as well as the current 100 Thieves VALORANT roster captain, Hiko. These five players impressed everyone and allowed us to witness how VALORANT can be played in a competitive environment when exceptional players are at the helm.
The scene continues to grow
Fast forward a few weeks, and G2 Esports held the first iteration of the G2 Esports European Brawl with a €10,000 prize pool. Yet more popular players joined the VALORANT competitive scene, including William "draken" Sundin, Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi, Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas Colocho, and the one-tap Belgian specialist Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom. The tournament was a great success, and it fed the VALORANT esports hype train. People were curious to see these players' transition onto VALORANT, fueling the tournaments' viewership potential.
There were countless other closed-beta tournaments. Shortly after the official launch on June 2nd, Riot Games revealed their Ignition Series partnership program. It is geared towards building and amplifying the VALORANT competitive scene's exposure. Partnered organizations will get their tournaments featured on the studio's media and streaming channels, a dedicated page with an updated schedule, and direct feedback from those responsible for VALORANT's esports in Riot Games throughout the event.
The two first official Ignition Series tournaments were Europe's G2 Esports VALORANT Invitational and Japan's RAGE VALORANT Invitational. The latter gave us a sneak peek at the talent in regions outside of Europe and North America, and they were a treat to watch. Absolute JUPITER went home with the title, and their player Takemori "takej" Shogo took the MVP as well. He managed to record an impressive 14 First Blood kills during the tournament, giving Absolute JUPITER the upper hand in a number of rounds.
The G2 Esports VALORANT Invitational followed more of an entertainment format. The eight team-captains were assigned but were not told who their teammates were until two days before the event. Around a week after the Ignition Series program was announced, Riot Games came back with three more. This time they were for the LATAM, MENA, and the Southeast Asian regions; GGTech VALORANT Invitational, Empire Play North Africa VALORANT Invitational, and Cyber Games Arena VALORANT Pacific Open respectively. The support Riot Games gives to international and different regions with their Ignition Series program is crucial in this stage of the VALORANT esports scene. So far, the most competitive tournament was the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown. It marked the first-ever official VALORANT Ignition Series tournament for North America and came with an impressive $50,000 prize pool. The T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown featured high-profile competitive teams and newly formed VALORANT rosters from major organizations, including TSM, T1, Immortals, FaZe Clan, 100 Thieves, Sentinels, Cloud9, and more.
There were several nail-bitingly intense games, especially FaZe Clan vs. 100 Thieves, which featured an overtime round on Bind and a 13-11 score on Haven. With the biggest prize pool to date and new rosters trying to prove themselves, the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown proved the immense potential of VALORANT's competitive scene. It seems likely that it could grow to rival League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive esports. The T1 x Nerd Street Gamers Showdown viewership peaked at 58,138. It averaged 30,921 viewers throughout the tournament, accumulating a total of 742,101 hours watched.
Riot Games already revealed their 2020 competitive calendar for the Latin American Northern and Southern regions. So far, it consists of two tournaments for each. The first tournament is scheduled for July 11th and ends on August 14th, 2020. The second tournament will take place between September 15th and 25th, 2020. The top four teams from each of these tournaments get an invitation to the second phase: VALORANT Versus Closed. The tactical shooter's community hopes to see a similar esports roadmap for the remaining regions since it helps teams prepare and know when they need to increase their focus and training intensity.
There are certainly plenty of interested teams as more and more organizations are joining the scene. The latest announcements have included a mix of full VALORANT roster reveals and individual players completing pre-formed squads. A few esports teams are building VALORANT esports powerhouses that will definitely compete for international titles and domestic dominance, namely T1, TSM, Cloud9, and G2 Esports. The latter's squad now features Patryk "Patitek" Fabrowski, Oscar "Mixwell" Cañellas Coloch, Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi, and Ardis "ardiis" Svarenieks. We are currently waiting on them to reveal the fifth and final piece of the roster.
G2 Esports isn't the only organization the community is waiting for; several major esports organizations are yet to pick up VALORANT competitive teams. The likes of Team Liquid, Rogue, FNATIC, Natus Vincere, and others are yet to reveal their response to Riot Games' latest title. Considering Riot's commitment to improving VALORANT with updates, new features, content, and global esports competitions, we're sure these prestigious organizations will join the VALORANT esports scene. You can be part of it too. Register on G-Loot to compete in VALORANT and complete challenges for real prize money.
How to prepare for your first VALORANT game?
Those coming over from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will already be accustomed to managing their economies. They'll also recognize other gameplay mechanics, and will probably pick up VALORANT reasonably quickly. Nonetheless, let us walk you through some quick essential tips to know before diving into your first game of VALORANT. As with any sport or video game, mastering the basics and fundamentals distinguishes the noobs from the pros.
How does the VALORANT economy work?
There are several actions in VALORANT that grant you or your team money to buy better weapons and prepare for the fight.
If you are watching a VALORANT tournament, you might wonder why players rush to plant the Spike even though they already won the round. This is because doing so grants the entire team additional money. You'll also see players continue to engage each other in combat once the round is over. This is because, if you take your opponent out, you prevent them from taking their weapon to the next round and gain 200 credits for yourself.
The following list summarizes how the VALORANT economy works, how much losing streaks give you, and so on.
- Starting money: 800
- Kill money: 200
- Spike plant: 300 (team wide credit)
- Spike defuse: 300 (for the player who does it)
- Round win: 3,000
- First-round loss bonus: 1900 credits
- Round loss (1 round): 1,900
- Round loss streak bonus (up to 3): +500 for each additional loss in a row
- Round loss maximum (3 rounds): 2,900
You should always monitor your enemy's economy. This will help you massively in identifying when to buy stronger weapons and armor, and when to prioritize saving credits for more crucial rounds.
Finally, remember that every kill and Spike defusion gets you one orb closer to your ultimate. Always communicate with your teammates to find out close they are to their ultimate and know your squad's key abilities. It might just change the tide of the VALORANT match in your favor.
How to manage recoil in VALORANT
Those used to first-person shooters like Call of Duty might find it challenging to maintain trigger discipline and understand recoil when transitioning to VALORANT. VALORANT depends more on the initial aim and controlling the weapons' recoil if you want to keep on spraying.
Every weapon in VALORANT has a unique recoil pattern. Still, they are very simple to memorize, and with time, they'll become part of your muscle memory. The simplest way to recognize and get used to each weapon's recoil is to go to the practice range.
You will notice all weapons tend to flick upwards. They also stray left or right, depending on the weapon, but most fights probably won't last long enough for you to reach that point. All you have to learn is to pull your mouse down a little to counter the weapon's upward movement and steady its spray. Bullet control is a valuable trait and gives you a real advantage over your opponent. This is especially true in lower ranks where fewer people invest time in mastering the weapons they use.
The Practice Range is your best friend
Never think you are too good to go to the practice range. There is no rank in VALORANT, not even Radiant, that puts you above practicing every day. On days where you can only launch the game for a few hours, it is still better to split your time equally between actual games and the practice range.
You can start slow and easy, then ramp up the difficulty as you start feeling more confident. The Shooting Range lets you tweak speed, streak, bot movement, bot armor, and ammo, to give you a more in-depth experience. There are three difficulties; easy, medium, and hard. The difference between them is how fast bots disappear after they spawn, changing the training from aim practice to a reflex-based challenge.
That's not all, the mode offers Spike Planting and Spike Defuse scenarios, again with varying difficulties. This is perfect for beginners who need time to learn how to clear corners, where to anticipate the enemies will be, and how long planting and defusing the Spike takes. It lets you recognize which agents are better at initiating fights, retaking sites, and maintaining control. All these tools are designed to continuously improve and hone in on what you are missing from your skillset.
Play VALORANT with GLL and G-Loot
Now that you know the basics about VALORANT and its esports scene, you're ready to join G-Loot. The G-Loot PC app gives you a new way to challenge yourself and earn real money rewards. It allows you to pick up free or premium entry challenges that reward you with prize money for completing them.
The harder the challenge, the more rewarding it is. In addition to that, G-Loot offers an outstanding leaderboard system, where players are ranked based on their completed challenges, and those at the top are eligible for daily and weekly bonuses.
That's not all. The G-Loot app also tracks your progress across some of the world's biggest games, including VALORANT. These detailed statistics will aid you in learning your strengths and how you can become a better player. So far, there are over 3 Million matches played by people using the platform in July 2020.
G-Loot comes from the creators of GLL, which gives you a platform to compete against players of all levels around the world. There are competitions to play in and win real-life prize money, and the better you play, the more you win.
All you have to do to be part of this and accelerate your skill improvement in VALORANT is to sign-up now on G-Loot, download the app, select the challenges you want to complete, and just play VALORANT to earn money while doing so. It is as simple as that.
Written in collaboration with THESPIKE.GG
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