VALORANT has been around for nearly three years. Its ranked queue is probably the most difficult in terms of the discrepancy between skills, the possibility of smurfs in low ranks (the phenomenon of players from higher skill levels playing in lower skill levels), and many factors. Sometimes, players will form a 5-stack team with their friends and rank up together. But, for the most part, the ranked experience will still be an individual effort. In this article, I will guide you through the solo queue experience in ranked with tips that may help you rank up, including the less obvious ones.
Tips to Rank Up as a Solo Queue Player
If the VALORANT ranked queue is hard as it is, the difficulty scales when in solo queue. In the account I use mainly for ranked games, I reached the peak rank of Silver 3 on purely solo queue engagements. To reach there from Iron 2 took a while, not only because of my age but also because the skill ceiling has become too high for veteran players like me to catch up. It is not just about understanding the basics of the game anymore but also being imaginative with the tools available.
However, some ways are beyond the game itself that you can use to rank up in solo queue. These are things I’ve learned during the years I’ve played online.
- Keep your mindset on playing ranked. One thing that discourages players from playing ranked is that the competition gets tighter the more they move up the ranked ladder. Iron to Bronze has little to no difference in skill, while Bronze to Silver has a huge gap. Silver players, whether smurfs or not, have better aim and have at least applied the fundamental mechanics needed to rank up. Keeping a one-tracked mindset in playing ranked matches should prepare you for the worst.
- You might want to have an account for the sole purpose of ranked games. For most VALORANT players, their main account is the one they should use to climb the ranks. However, I argue that having a separate account for ranked games may also help keep your mindset and focus on one thing.
- Know your limits and learn from your mistakes. This is probably the most common tip that players in higher ranks tell those in lower ranks. What I can add to this tip, coming from my experience in LAN tournaments, is to adapt to situations and quickly learn which things work and which do not, which means knowing your limits and surpassing them. The more you adapt, the faster you evolve. The faster you evolve, the more you can rank up faster.
- Learn match-ups and how to counter them. Players who want to step up their game will learn more than just the fundamentals (movement, aiming, ability usage, etc.). They will learn match-ups and the optimal way to use their chosen Agents against any situation they might encounter. So, to relate this to the previous tip, this requires more adjustments and adaptation.
- You may want to play during “off-hours.” Part of my ranked games as a solo queue player is knowing when the “off-hours” are. This means that few stronger players queue up, and you will be able to notice most of the mistakes you’ve made because you’re focused on your own game. At least, in my experience, playing during “off-hours” also means I can experiment with certain Agents with minimal repercussions on my rank rating. Whatever your motivation to play in ranked matches, knowing the “off-hours” may help you analyze parts of your game.
- Do not play when you’re not in the mood. This is a general tip. Not having the mindset for it will affect your game, whether you’re playing ranked or unranked matches. You may want to practice The Range or have a little game of Spike Rush. But do not queue up for the longer matches. This leads us to the final tip…
- Enjoy and have fun. Part of the process of ranking up is enjoying the game. Enjoying the game entails your disposition and mood. Do you want to learn from your mistakes? Do you want just to shoot around? Some of these questions affect how you enjoy your solo queue ranked matches. Remember just to enjoy and have fun. Losing is as normal as winning. Some of the pros came from lower ranks and climbed up to their current rank because they enjoyed the process (and applied the things I listed here). Just look at Sentinel’s zekken who came from Silver rank (considered one of the lowest ranks); now he’s a professional player for one of the biggest teams in the world. He trusted the process that ranking up would be a tough mountain to climb. If there’s anything to learn from his experience, it’s that he faced them head-on and knew where his limits lay.
- Play with a purpose. If you’re playing a non-Duelist role, go for plays that benefit the team. Throw recon abilities if you’re playing Initiators, cover angles with smokes using Controllers, and set up for flanks if you’re a Sentinel. Even if you’re not getting frags, the team gets value from your abilities. This is the most rewarding feeling in solo queue that you can carry when you have a solid 5-stack team.
- Learn 1 or 2 Agents in each role. I started as a one-trick Viper main but eventually learned to play Omen and Astra. Then, I learned Cypher as my main Sentinel before I used Chamber and Killjoy. Then, I learned Sova as my main Initiator before using KAY/O and Fade. If the Agent you’ve mastered gets picked, who is your plan B? Since dodging queues will penalize you, it is important to learn more about Agents. And, of course, you get to learn the match-ups along the way.
- Don’t force yourself to communicate with all your teammates. This comes with a caveat, though. You can ping the angle you’re watching or signal caution to your teammates. But, for the most part, you get to focus on your game when you do not have to think about your teammates all the time. Also, feel how your teammates communicate both in voice and text chats. If they seem friendly even after a streak of losing rounds, you can give suggestions to them on how to play a specific round. Solo queuing will be difficult to communicate ideas because there might be a probable language barrier, or some players are stubborn (or feeding). So, an idea of how each player feels might help you communicate with them. But, again, you do not have to force yourself to do this.
The solo queue experience in VALORANT may be unforgiving and challenging. But these tips may help you keep your eyes on the prize. Just remember to focus, enjoy, and have fun. Oh, and hydrate every two full matches.
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