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Valorant tier list: Our best agent recommendations and how to unlock agents explained

Every agent graded - plus our picks for Sentinels, Controllers, Initiators and Duelists.

Looking up a Valorant tier list will be helpful to those players just starting out in Riot's competitive shooter - or looking to master an Agent according to their preferred role in a team.

As Valorant is a blend of Counter-Strike pinpoint gunplay with Overwatch's hero characters, there's a roster of characters to pick from when you start each match - and the choice can be overwhelming.

We've put together a Valorant tier list for the game's best Agents, which should give you some indication on which characters you should try to learn first.

On this page:

Looking for more advice? We have recommendations for the Valorant best guns and damage stats plus a list of Valorant tips and tricks.

Valorant Agents explained: How do Agents differ from one another?

At launch, there are 11 agents in Valorant, and at the start of a round, each player must lock in a character to play as for the entire match.

Every agent has a unique set of abilities, assigned to four keys, and have different uses:

  • The first two abilities - assigned to C and Q by default - are purchased in between rounds and cost in-game cash.
  • The E key ability is available for free at the start of every round, often with a cooldown attached.
  • Your X key ability is your ultimate, and each agent has a different number of points to accumulate before they can use their ultimate. You gain ultimate points by killing enemies, dying, planting or defusing the spike or capturing black orbs scattered around the map which will afford you one ultimate point each.

The agents in Valorant are malleable - every single one complements the team in special ways - so figuring out these combinations between agents to dominate the opposition and explode upon and capture a bomb site is part of the fun!

How to unlock agents in Valorant

When you load into Valorant, you should notice in the top left corner of the screen on the main menu, there are two circles. There's one tied to the Ignition Battle Pass, but the other one, when you start playing, will be a tiered levelling system that lets you unlock agents for free at levels five and 10.

The game should automatically prompt you to unlock a new agent when you hit these tiers, but if not, head to the Collection tab, and then Agents to pick the agent you want.

You can rise up the tiers very easily by simply playing games to earn XP, and you should unlock the first two free agents after a day or two of play.

But what if you've unlocked both of your free agents? Well, there's a way to unlock more agents, but it's not very well explained in-game:

  • Navigate to the Agents sub-menu under the Collection tag, and you should see a prompt to 'Activate Contract' under the agents that are still locked.
  • You have to activate the contract of the third agent you want and then play games to earn XP and level up that contract to level five.
  • Once that is completed, you will unlock your next agent.
  • You can also spend money to unlock them immediately if you can't wait for them.

Valorant Agent tier list: Our recommendations for the best Agents

Before we delve into our tier list recommendation, there are several things to bear in mind. One is that this list is subjective, and is based on a variety of factors; own experience over the course of the closed beta, the esports consensus, patch notes and the thoughts of the community.

Another is at launch - and especially if you're playing casually - every Agent is viable. As well as the below tier list ranking, we delve into where Agent comes in use in the sections at the end of the article.

Our Valorant Tier List. (Image credit: TierMaker for the template)

Finally, know that recommendations shift as the meta solidifies and the skill cap starts to climb - so don't be put off if your favourite hero is at the bottom, as things can (and certainly will) change over time.

Valorant Tier List (Agents ranked by Tier)

Tier ListAgent
S tierSage, Cypher
A tierBrimstone, Breach, Sova
B tierRaze, Phoenix, Omen, Reyna
C tierViper, Jett

Valorant Tier List (Agents ranked alphabetically)

Valorant AgentTier Ranking

Now we've established our tier list, we're going to explain our choices by going through each class of Agent in Valorant and where they are useful.

Again, things can change as patches and the meta adjusts - but as of the launch of Valorant, here's where things stand in our view.

The best Sentinel Agents in Valorant: Sage, Cypher

There's a reason that the Sentinels rank so highly on our tier list - Sage and Cypher should be instant picks in any Valorant game. You will feel like you're missing an arm if you play a match without these defensive experts!

With Sage, this is due to her incredible utility as a medic and a map controller. She can heal other players and herself, summon walls that can stop site rushes and revive players from the dead.

The wall can be put under another teammate to give them the high ground in an unpredictable location for an easy kill, or it can be used to stop a dangerous flank in its tracks. The wall can be shot through, but it takes so long that it usually does the trick regardless.

Sage's self-healing also makes her an extremely sustainable player at the end of a round - she's the reigning queen of clutch. As for her ultimate, just make sure you revive someone in a location that is safe - the animation takes so long that they could easily die during the revival if they're exposed.

Information is everything in Valorant, and Cypher is the king of omniscience. His Spycam can be placed in clandestine locations to watch the enemy team and tag enemies with a dart that reveals them to the entire map.

In fact, you can hold entire bomb sites just with his abilities, using tripwires and slowing cages to reveal enemies to the rest of the team, signing their death warrant even if Cypher has fled to cover another area.

His ultimate reveals the location of the enemy team if used on a fresh enemy corpse, too - an ability that can seal any round if used at the correct time. His powerful map presence and versatility makes him so important to Valorant team composition at present.

The best thing to do when you play as Cypher is to learn your pre-match setup, splitting your abilities across sites and making sure you're safe when you watch your cameras to support the team.

The best Cypher players communicate with the rest of the squad constantly, informing them where the enemies are and where they're going. Try and train your accuracy with your camera dart, and place tripwires where the enemy may plant, or just ahead of the usual peek spots to trick enemies into thinking they're safe.

Sage is the best entry point for beginners, but if you'd like a challenge and still want to play a top-tier character, pick up Cypher when you get your first unlock - you won't regret it, and your team will thank you for the essential information.

The best Controller Agents in Valorant: Viper, Brimstone, Omen

Controllers have a deep understanding of the geography of every map and use presence and zoning to their advantage. This is best illustrated by Brimstone, a Controller who specializes in airstrikes and smokescreens which rain into the map from the heavens.

The main tactic with Brimstone is to block enemy sightlines using his signature ability, Sky Smoke, to drop clouds on points where the defending enemy may be camping. This means the team doesn't have to worry about these angles and can rush the bombsite without getting picked off.

Controllers are complemented by Sentinels who can provide them information through cameras and recon about where to smoke and control. You can win a match if the bomb is planted by using Viper's ultimate to puff out poisonous clouds or Brimstone's ultimate to cover the bomb with an airstrike.

Omen is perhaps the most interesting controller - their ultimate is great for flanking, as they can teleport behind the enemy team and strike from behind to get an easy clutch.

These agents range in utility depending on their skill set, but Brimstone is the best beginner pick if you want to play as a Controller - all of his abilities feel essential to a strong site rush.

The best Initiator Agents in Valorant: Sova, Breach

Initiators in Valorant are best described as a hybrid class - they combine Sentinel and Controller sensibilities, and to that end, they're extremely important for team composition. You're always in with a better chance by having at least one Initiator on your team, hence why they rank so highly on the tier list.

Breach is a fantastic pick for your first unlockable Valorant agent if you want to be an unstoppable supporting force. His abilities go through walls, so if combined with a clever information hero, he can stop and daze enemies in their tracks, making it so the aggressive Duelist players can move in, secure momentum and steamroll the enemy team.

Combine his flash breach and explosive breach to wipe out camping enemies when playing as the attackers, and use Fault Line while you're rotating or pressing on to a bomb site to lower the accuracy of your enemies and wrest control from the opposition.

Initiators thrive when the team communicates - you need to be telling your Breach or Sova where to place their abilities for them to be useful. Sova is more beginner-friendly but similarly effective with his recon bolt, which you can learn trick shots for to really unravel the enemy's defensive setup.

His Owl Drone is simple to use and dangerous if you can tag someone, especially if you follow the information up with his ultimate, a devastating arrow that pierces walls and can wipe out an entire team if they're pushing one corridor.

Valorant is here! Our handy Valorant tips and tricks page is a great place to start. Otherwise check out the first season's Battle Pass skins and our Valorant agents tier list and best Valorant guns list to help you climb the ranks. If you're looking for technical advice, make sure you fit the required, minimum, recommended and high end specs and know how to solve any Valorant error codes.

The best Duelist Agents in Valorant: Phoenix, Jett, Reyna, Raze

Duelists are the "self-sufficient fraggers" in Valorant's roster who rely almost solely on momentum. This explains why they don't feature too highly in the tier list - if a Duelist is struggling to perform in a match, they aren't an asset to the team!

If you're playing a Duelist then aggression is necessary, you have to be a good shot and manage your abilities on top of your accuracy. Good Jett players have to press a series of buttons with excellent timing to rotate and manoeuvre around teams and then get headshots.

It's a tricky role to fill for beginners - we'd recommend Raze to start if you're dead set on a Duelist - she has easy to understand abilities that can net the team cheap frags by throwing bombs into tight spots and firing rockets that can kill the entire team if used properly.

Phoenix is also a great place to start for Duelists given his zoning wall of fire and ultimate Run it Back. This lets him attack a site with a second life - if his body double is shot, he will simply return to the spot where he activated it.

Both Phoenix and Reyna have abilities that blind other players when used which are very useful for aggressive pushes on a busy bomb site.

Looking for more advice? We have recommendations for the Valorant best guns and damage stats plus a list of Valorant tips and tricks.

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Jordan Oloman avatar

Jordan Oloman


Jordan is a freelance writer from Newcastle whose gaming palate was moulded by Jet Set Radio Future and Psychonauts as a boy. Now he's all grown up, he loves to write about the intersection of music and games, empathy, philosophy and the surreal.