How to Fix Common Mistakes that New Valorant Players Make
Valorant has a considerable learning curve, especially for players that haven’t played a tactical shooter before.
Between all the agents, guns, maps, and abilities, there are a lot of fundamentals to learn at the same time.
But don’t worry, we all start somewhere! By the end of this guide, you’ll have the know-how to avoid a lot of mistakes that new Valorant players make.
1. Positioning in the same spot repeatedly
Since Valorant is a slower-paced FPS game that doesn’t rely on quick movements like dashing and jumping, choosing your positioning wisely is particularly important.
Something that we often see newer players do, especially on defense, is default to going to the same spot every round.
Since the attackers will usually have the initiative and will be able to force engagements that give them a numbers advantage, defenders need to rely on being mixing up their positioning to be unpredictable.
If your opponents already know where you’ll be, they can swing out together or pre-aim where you’ll be.
As an example, let’s take a look at hookah, on the Bind map.
A common position is to stand here since the attackers would have their back to you.
Let’s say this works and you’re able to take out two enemies before dying.
You can adapt to this by moving repositioning to somewhere like on top of the box.
This position will have their backs to you again if they check the corner and will protect you from any abilities that they use to clear it, making them waste their utility.
Let’s say they try to hit hookah again for a third time, this time directing their abilities to where you were on the box.
You could mix up your positioning once again by setting up on the box outside the window that leads to B site.
By this point, you should get the idea! It doesn’t have to be completely different every time and you can rotate between different locations, the most important thing is to adapt.
Lastly, remember to also apply similar concepts based on your agent.
For example, if you’re Cypher, be sure to reposition your Trapwires and Spycams to keep your enemies guessing.
2. Mismanaging credits from round to round
Do you ever have matches where it feels like you’re only able to buy Spectres, Judges, and Bulldogs for many rounds in a row?
Odds are, you’re mismanaging your economy.
Since a Valorant match is comprised of many rounds, it’s important to understand how to balance short term vs long term economy.
At first, you might think it makes sense to always buy the best gun, armor, and as many abilities as you can.
In reality, you should be buying according to the state of the game.
There’s a lot of complexity to this topic, so we’ll try to simplify as much as possible by focusing on the first few rounds.
During the pistol round (either Round 1 or the first round after swapping sides), you only have 800 credits.
You could spend all your money on a Sheriff, the best sidearm, but you should know that this is a high-risk choice.
This is because you won’t be able to afford anything else so you won’t have armor and you won’t have any abilities besides your free E.
If you’re a beginner, odds are you won’t be able to really dominate with a Sheriff enough to make it worth it.
Even the pros don’t opt for the Sheriff and usually choose either Ghost (500 credits) + abilities or Classic + light shields (400 credits) + abilities.
Let’s take a look at a match by 100T vs Faze.
Here’s what they buy during Round 1:
100T, the defending side, chooses to go with Classic/light shields/abilities for Raze and Cypher to give them more utility for delaying pushes.
Faze, the attacking side, opts for more killing power with four Ghosts.
Faze ends up winning the round – how do you think the two teams will buy for Round 2?
Since Faze won the round, they buy up to try to snowball their lead and secure another win.
100T instead opts to only keep their Classic guns, why?
They do have enough money to by light armor + Stinger/Bucky + some abilities, but they don’t.
This strategy is called “saving”. Basically, if 100T spent all their money to buy what they could, they would still be outmatched by the guns that Faze have.
It’s possible that they could outplay Faze with lesser guns, but odds are, they would lose and dig themselves an even deeper hole.
By saving their credits, they naturally lose Round 2 but are able to be on more even footing with Faze on Round 3.
So how do you apply these concepts to your own match?
The first step is to understand how many credits you’ll have between each round.
During the buy phase, you can see how many credits you have and the minimum amount of credits you’ll have next round (you can get more by getting kills).
The next part will come down to preference but you’ll want to aim to have enough credits to buy your bread-and-butter weapon along with heavy shields.
This is usually a Phantom or Vandal but can sometimes be an Operator. Based on your gun, calculate the credits you’ll need, such as 2900 for a Phantom + 1000 for heavy shields for a total of 3900.
If you don’t have enough, you’ll probably want to save.
You may be wondering, when should you buy all the other guns in between?
There may be rounds where it would be a good idea to buy the best guns you can.
One example is if your teammates are able to pick up good guns from the enemy team – instead of saving, you can buy up to something like a Spectre or Ares to try to make the most of the guns they grabbed instead of using sidearms.
Another example is if it’s the last round before you switch sides or the last round before you lose. At these points, you might as well all-in with the credits you have left.
Regardless of the situation, be sure to always communicate with your team by using the “Let’s Buy” or “Let’s Save” buttons in the shop, or through your voice comms.
Lastly, there’s a lot of terms involved related to economy management like “eco round” and “force buy” so be sure to check out our article on Terms That Every Valorant Player Should Know.
3. Not keeping crosshairs at head level
Proper crosshair placement is one of the core fundamentals for any first-person shooting game, but it’s especially important in tactical shooters like Valorant.
This is because unlike other FPS games where you may have rechargeable shields, you can die very easily and quickly – it often happens in the blink of an eye.
Because of this, it’s important to be as efficient as possible by keeping your mouse at head level as you move around the map to reduce the distance your mouse has to travel to reach its target.
When new players first start off, they’ll usually be aiming too high and too low.
If the crosshairs are too high, they’ll whiff their shots. When it’s low, they hit body shots and will lose to opponents that out aim them for headshots.
It’s a skill that definitely takes time and experience, but it definitely pays off.
Take a look at how T1 Brax consistently maintains his crosshair placement in the video below:
Notice how he compensates for agent heights for higher and lower ground.
To improve this skill yourself, consciously remind yourself to check your crosshair placement at the beginning of every round.
Another good tip is to record your matches and see how often your crosshairs lined up to where your enemies were at.
Over time, you’ll keep your crosshairs at head level by second nature and will net more kills over time because of it.
4. Making noise unnecessarily
Playing around sound is crucial in Valorant, it’s almost like its own resource.
Since tactical positioning and maneuvering are core gameplay elements, you want to conceal where you are until you need to reveal yourself.
Something you’ll commonly see (and hear) are new players running around willy nilly, especially if they’re coming from faster FPS games.
Want to know how far your opponents can hear you if you aren’t walking? Check out the circle below.
This large circle around your character appears on your map when you are running and reveals how far enemies will be able to hear you.
The closer you are to them, the louder your noises will be to each other – it goes without saying that you should be playing with headphones on, especially if you’re playing ranked.
Running, gunfire, abilities, falling down from high ground, and even reloading all make noise, so there’s a lot to listen out for.
In comparison, walking will keep you completely silent.
If you’re uncomfortable with holding Shift often, consider changing your bindings so you walk by default and pressing Shift allows you to run.
Lastly, understand that there are definitely instances where running is appropriate, such as when you’re rushing a site on the attacking side or when you’re running away from a spike that’s about to explode.
Just make sure that if you are going to make noise, you’re doing so for a clear purpose and not on accident or carelessly.
5. Getting caught while switching between weapons and abilities
If you’re coming from an ability-based shooter like Overwatch, you may be used to spamming your abilities on cooldown and in the middle of combat.
This can get a lot of new players in trouble in Valorant because switching in between your weapons and abilities requires a gap of vulnerability between when you can act again (usually around a second or so).
Notice in the clip below how long it takes for Brimstone to equip his Incendiary and then re-equip his gun after firing.
It might seem fast while you’re watching but those few seconds can be an eternity if you’re in the middle of a gunfight.
A good rule of thumb is to equip your ability from behind cover, quickly peek or jump to fire it, and then move back to the cover to pull your gun back out safely.
Here’s an example for Brimstone on the Ascent map.
Notice how he fires it from behind cover and doesn’t come back out until he has his pistol ready.
This small habit will help save you from many deaths in the long run.
6. Auto-pilot reloading after getting a kill
Beginners, don’t feel too bad about this one because it can happen from time to time for players at most skill levels.
A common reflex is to auto-pilot and reload as soon as you get a kill when you still have quite a few rounds left, such as if you have 24 out of 30 with a Phantom.
Since players will often move with their teammates, this can often be fatal.
Instead, wait to see if other enemies show up or until you’re behind cover to reload.
Another reason to hold off on reloading if you still have a decent amount of ammo is to avoid giving up your position through sound.
Check out this Ace by T1 Brax where he kills a whole squad with one Phantom clip.
If he had stopped to reload at any point after killing Cypher, he would have likely been surrounded and killed – instead, he makes every bullet count.
In rare situations where you’re very low on ammo and don’t think you have time to find cover and reload, switch to your sidearm instead (of course this doesn’t apply during pistol rounds).
7. Moving while shooting
Unlike other shooting games, moving while shooting in Valorant is very punishing (although shotguns are a little more forgiving).
Speed is definitely important but it’s more about how fast you can aim rather than dashing, sliding, or jumping.
This is primarily because if you move while shooting, your spray pattern will be incredibly inaccurate and unwieldy compared to when you’re standing still.
You’re very likely to lose against an enemy that is simply standing still since their aim will be precise.
That being said, movement is definitely important and you can still use it to your advantage as long as stop moving before you start shooting.
For example, you can swing out from behind cover at full speed and then stop to fire to catch an enemy off guard.
There is a more advanced movement technique that you can eventually work towards learning called counter-strafing but you shouldn’t worry about that until you have the fundamentals down.
For now, just focus on not moving while shooting and learn how to swing into firing.
8. Not warming up before a match
When it comes down to it, the most important skill in Valorant is aiming.
Even if you position properly and find an angle where your enemy doesn’t see you, you can miss or hit bodyshots, giving a player with better aim the opportunity to turn around and kill you first with a headshot.
Much of improving your aim comes down to muscle memory and repetition. Simply warming up a few minutes before your match can go a long way, and a surprising amount of new players don’t do this.
Ron Rambo Kim has a great routine that you can quickly do before a ranked session or during downtime, such as when you’re waiting for friends.
Use this routine as a template but you should find what works best for you and your skillset.
Focus your practice on the guns that you anticipate using most and prepare yourself for different situations such as shooting on your left and then flicking to a target to your far right.
If you play a mechanically intensive agent like Sova, be sure to warm up with your abilities as well.
9. Using abilities inefficiently
Agent abilities allow you and your team to control the flow of battle and make round or even game-winning plays.
Because of this, you want to make sure that you get the most value out of them when possible and avoid letting them go to waste.
Outside of simply misfiring their abilities, beginners tend to use their abilities inefficiently. Let’s cover a few examples of different scenarios and teach you how to fix them.
Example #1: Using abilities immediately without information
This is something that can happen on offense but usually happens on defense – players will immediately start using their utility like at the beginning of the round without gaining information.
A classic example of this is a Sage player casting her Barrier Orb to block a chokepoint, such as B on Haven, right as the round starts.
Why is this a bad thing?
To start off, it’s a very expensive investment at 400 credits, and unlike Cypher’s Trapwire, it doesn’t stay on the map permanently.
This means that you waste precious seconds of its duration since you’re using it before the enemies can even see it.
Next, it’s incredibly easy for the enemy team to just wait for it to break on its own since they’ll have plenty of time left in the round.
Lastly, it’s possible that the enemy team went to A Site or C Site. Sure, your teammates could do well in holding them off to make them try to rotate back to B, but by the time they try that your wall will likely be gone.
To understand what you should do instead, consider Riot’s recommended strategic loop for Valorant.
Basically, the way that it works is that your team gathers intel, makes a plan around the intel, and then executes the plan as best as you can.
So instead of casting the Barrier immediately, the Sage should wait for her team to gather information.
For example, an allied Sova may fire a Recon Dart and reveal that there are multiple enemies pushing into the courtyard.
Based on the intel, the Sage player can plan to make the wall if she hears enemies coming closer to buy her team time.
The enemy team begins to smoke B-site so she places the wall, in time to delay the push and allow her team to come to help.
If the enemy team didn’t end up trying for B, the Sage still has her wall and can put it to use at another site or even save it for another round.
By using this strategic loop, she’s able to get much more value out of her ability instead of placing it immediately and hoping it works out.
Example #2: Using abilities for lesser purposes
In Valorant, many abilities have multiple uses. Because of this, you should be constantly weighing your options to save them for when they’ll get the most use.
Let’s take a look at Phoenix’s E, Hot Hands, which has three main purposes.
The first one is as a damaging AoE ability, for example you could throw it into a cubby to try to root out an enemy.
This can be useful but we often see players throw it without knowing for sure that an enemy is there.
Unless you know that the enemy doesn’t have an escape and you’ll be able to get a kill, this probably isn’t the option.
The next option is as a healing tool.
This can definitely come in clutch and will likely be your most common option to stay healthy between fights.
However, keep in mind that you can also heal yourself with your Blaze wall or with your ultimate, Run it Back.
The last option is to use it to play around the spike.
This can allow you to secure a win with one ability since you can deny a defuse before the spike explodes.
So overall, just keep your options in mind and consider how much value you’ll be getting versus what you could be doing with it for another purpose.
Also, don’t forget that certain abilities like Hot Hands reset after getting two kills, so if you’re really popping off, consider adapting that around your ability usage.
Example #3: Using abilities without communicating
Lastly, remember that abilities help to make life easier not only for you but for your whole team.
If you’re a Brimstone or Omen player, be sure to let your team know where you’re considering to smoke before you just drop them immediately.
Something as simple as, “I’m going to smoke heaven”, will help your team tremendously and will give your smoke even more value.
If you’re playing an initiator like Breach or Phoenix, be sure to count off before you cast your entry ability.
Compare and contrast the following statements:
“I flashed, go go!”
“I’m going to flash in 3…2…1…go!
The first will likely waste the crowd control effect and result in your team going in after the blind effect has subsided.
The second increases your chances of catching your enemies off guard since it allows your team to get into position or prepare abilities of their own.
This sort of logic can apply to basically every ability to be sure to adapt your communication to your agent’s unique skill set.
10. Not understanding how the spike works
Since the spike is the central force that the game revolves around, it’s important to understand the basics of how it works.
Most beginners won’t know how long it takes to plant, defuse, or explode, so they will often die in situations they should have survived or end up losing rounds they could have won since they thought they didn’t have time.
Here are the basic timings to keep in mind:
- 4 seconds to plant the spike
- 45 seconds for the spike to explode
- 7 seconds to fully defuse the spike
- 3.5 seconds to defuse it from the halfway mark
The spike actually gives specific visual and audio cues based on how much time it has left to detonate, so be sure to also familiarize yourself with those patterns.
We have a separate article dedicated to teaching you all about how the Valorant spike works, so be sure to check that out to become a spike expert!
Thanks for reading! We hope you learned something new. If you think we missed out on any crucial tips, let us know and we’ll add them to the list. Lastly, be sure to head to our Valorant site to learn about all agents, weapons, maps, and ability lineups.