Valorant Extremely Opinionated Guide to Climbing from Iron to Gold By: jjdanek


Are you in iron/bronze and think that getting ranked Gold is an absolute impossibility? I was there. My friends were ranked so much higher that I couldn’t play with them. And I decided to cast aside all the patterns and habits from decades of gaming and start from scratch to train and get into gold. It worked.

First let me preface: I understand that Gold is not a particularly great rank. If you scoffed at the idea of being proud of being Gold, then this post isn’t for you. That’s ok! Move along and have a great day. But if the title of this post piqued your curiosity, keep reading.

How did I do it? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you everything I learned to pull myself form Iron 3 to Gold 3 (currently Gold 1 after a week of tilted gaming). But I will only share this info with you under one condition:

You trust me. These tips are opinionated. I’m not trying to be your friend or get anything out of this other than share knowledge. Read all the tips because if you only cherry pick a few things from the list below, you’ll stay where you are. Some opinions here will hurt. Some advice will annoy you. But trust me. I truly think all Iron players will benefit from all of this information. Valorant is a tough game which requires a lot of focus and precision. If you want to rank out of Iron, consider incorporating the following advice. Let’s start.

  • Assume all of your instincts are wrong. You’re in Iron. I’m sorry, but this is the reality. Your assumptions about the game are not correct. Mine certainly weren’t. Face this reality and begin to change. I played with a teammate in Iron who wouldn’t allow me to buy a Vandal/Phantom for him because he “prefer[s] the Spectre.” We both had the money, but he decided that the Spectre is his favorite gun. I guarantee you he is still in Iron if he hasn’t wisened up yet. Ignore your preferences at this point, and learn what the most optimum decisions you are that you can make.

  • Lower your sensitivity. To what? My suggestion is .400 at 800dps (eDPI 320). Now, if your gut reaction is “Woah buddy. I’m actually really good at a bunch of other games and I just prefer a higher sensitivity.” Ok. Have fun in Iron forever. Trust me. This will feel super weird for the first day or so. It will feel like you’re dragging your mouse through toxic sludge. But after a day or two, you will thank me. I actually use a lower sensitivity (currently .33, so 264 eDPI). But I think .4 at 800 is a good starting point to get used to higher precision play.

  • Aim Trainers: use them. I used Kovaaks for a few months but currently I prefer AimLabs. Search around Reddit/Google for some user-created playlists for Valorant. Spend 30 minutes a few times per week on these. Make sure you set up your aim trainer for Valorant correctly and match your sensitivity. This is boring as shit; throw on a podcast or album and just get through it. It makes a huge difference. Extra tip: I found it more effective to do aim trainers in the morning, then warmup/play in the evening. I think going from training to warm up to ranked can be a bit tiring.

  • Stop autolocking Reyna. You gravitate towards Reyna because the healing ability is a crutch. Reyna is great for entry with her flashes, but you’re in Iron, so you don’t know how to entry correctly. This is less of a concern ever since her orb abilities got nerfed from 4 to 2. But it still happens a lot. Reyna (and also Jett and maybe Raze) do very little to help your team win. And to rank up, this should be your only concern- not kills or personal performance. You shouldn’t autolock in general.

  • Your KD doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t. I would rather play with someone who wins more often than not, than play with someone who gets 30 kills per match but they don’t even stick with their team and don’t win matches. If your teammate Skye is healing you and blinding the opponents, don’t yell at them for having 2 kills in a half.

  • Warm up. You have to warm up. If you don’t have time to warm up, you don’t have time to play.

  • How to warm up? First, go to the range and buy the Guardian. Select the 30 bots on Easy. Try to headshot all 30. If you do this regularly, you should be able to kill all 30 consistently. Then, bump the difficulty up to medium. I personally consider a Success at 28/30 bots killed. After I do this once or twice, I’ll switch to the Vandal for one or two more. But the single-shot quality of the Guardian ensures that you will focus on every shot and not rely upon spray.

  • Warm Up Pt 2: Once you warm up in the range, always play 1 or 2 death matches. Don’t have time to do the range + dm? Sorry pal, you don’t have enough time to play today. Come back tomorrow. While in a death match, focus on getting headshots. Use the Vandal, because its spray is more wild than the Phantom.

  • Play Best Out of Threes. On a given night, I generally play a Best of 3. If I win two games back to back, I’m typically done. If I lose two, I also quit for the night. Win one and lose one? Play one more. If you are dedicating the full evening or something, maybe play a Best of 5. But it’s easy to get burned out on this game- it requires a lot of focus and attention.

  • Did you just perform terribly in a game? End with a 4-16 KD? Go outside for a few minutes. Take a walk. Get some fresh air. Go pee. Get some water. Don’t just launch into the next game.

  • Do not run and fire at the same time. Drill this into your head. If you’re firing, you should not be pressing the W, A, S, or D keys. There are a few exceptions to this, but in Iron, they are unimportant. If you start taking this one tip, you will rank up into Bronze soon.

  • Don’t concern yourself about the meta. You are playing an entirely different game from the pros. Just because some coach on YouTube says an agent is trash now doesn’t mean that agent is trash in your rank. Are you comfortable with Yoru and you want to main him? Great, get comfortable with him and learn his abilities. Who cares if the pros aren’t playing him, that truly does not affect you.

  • With that said, there are certain agents who help your teammates more than others. At these low ranks, helping your team is very important. Agents who REALLY help their teammates: Sage, Skye, Smokes (Omen, Brim). If you haven’t decided who to main yet, please consider one of these. Sova, KJ, and some others definitely help their teammates but require a bit more knowledge and skill than the ones listed.

  • Mute and report toxic teammates. You will not miss out on valuable information from someone berating you. Just mute them. It’s better to not sit through the abuse and get angry.

  • Do not be toxic. Duh, obviously right? Well the reasons for this are threefold. First: it’s just morally wrong to be toxic. You shouldn’t want to be this type of person. It’s not funny or cute or fun. I hate you and hope you choke. Do you want that energy in the world? Second: there is a direct correlation between winning and friendliness. I’ve seen it. You will win more the less toxic you/your team is. Third: if you really want to be toxic, this is probably a sign of deeper issues. Seek help, whether it’s a therapist or confiding in someone close to you about whatever inspires you to be toxic.

  • Straight Men: never, in the history of humanity, has anyone gotten laid from what they’ve said to a woman in an online game. So don’t even try. Stop being disrespectful and creepy. Report people who behave like this. I do every time.

  • Is the opposing team absolutely rocking you with the same strategy each time? Remember their tactics, and try it later (in the other half, or on a future game). Maybe an enemy Sage used a wall in a clever way. Or Brim used a smoke to fake you out. Try to understand why their strategies are crushing you, and incorporate these into your play.

  • USE YOUR ULTS: do not save them for the perfect opportunity. Because by doing so, you are actually wasting ults. You should (ideally) be able to pull off 3 ults per half. Try to use them as soon as possible, as long as they’re not a total waste.

  • Alcohol: don’t play drunk. This game requires so much precision, that the beer pong adage of “I play better when I’m drunk” just doesn’t apply. Trust me, I tried to make this argument in my Iron days. Similarly, if you’re hungover, just take the day off. Read a book, watch a movie, play a console game. Come back tomorrow refreshed and ready to go.

  • Similarly, get good sleep and eat well. It makes a difference. Sometimes, for whatever reason, I’ll feel a little shaky. A banana and some OJ helps a great deal.

  • The Phantom is slightly easier to use than the vandal, due to its tighter spray pattern. Try to use the Vandal more often, but if you’re missing and missing all day, switch to the phantom. But these are the default guns you should be trying to use most rounds.

  • Really focus on mastering the following guns: Classic, Ghost, Spectre, Vandal/Phantom, Operator. All of the other guns have their place (though the Odin/Ares are questionable) but these form the backbone of what you’ll regularly need to win.

  • Stop asking your teammates for skins and to pick up an Op. It’s more annoying than it is beneficial.

  • Plug in to your router instead of using wifi. Run a 100ft ethernet cable through your house if you have to, but minimizing ping can only help you.

  • Watch some youtube tutorials, for map-specific and agent-specific guidance. But at this level, you do not need to know sova’s dart lineups or viper’s perfect walls. You don’t even need those in Gold. I think they start to become necessary in Plat.

  • Aim for heads. It can feel extremely counterproductive but it’s better to miss twice aiming for a head then connect on the third shot, than it is to hit feet 3 times. Drill this fact into your own head.

  • Usually, being on attack side is harder than defending. Don’t just charge into a site as fast as you can every round. Look up entry strategies for your character, and coordinate with your team. Rush sometimes, play quiet and slow other times. You don’t have to all go to the same point every time, but a majority of the team should stick together.

  • Gear (unfortunately) matters. Having a proper gaming mouse, mechanical keyboard, powerful computer, and decent monitor won’t automatically boost you to Gold. But it will remove unnecessary obstacles in your way. I understand not everyone can buy top of the line stuff, but prioritize your setup and save up for what you can swap out next.

  • No one is cheating. Stop blaming your losses on cheating. The anti-cheat is quite good. I’ve been playing this game since launch week and I’ve honestly never seen a cheater. It’s not impossible, but it’s so rare that you should not worry about it in low-level ranked.

  • Smurfs and throwers are real, but they shouldn’t concern you too much. Why? The other team has 5 slots for players. Most will be normal players, but some could be smurfs or throwers. Your team only has 4, because you are not throwing. And if you’re improving, you’re basically a slight smurf. Over time, trust me when I say smurfs are not the reason you are not ranking up.

  • Your current rank is accurate. Despite all the criticism about ranked, it is actually pretty effective at ranking you against other players especially in these low ranks. You would not be doing dramatically better if you were suddenly a Diamond. Accept your rank and try to ascend to the next higher one.

  • Shoot through walls/smokes. If you strongly suspect someone is on the other side of something, shoot at it. I can’t tell you how many kills I’ve gotten by just blindly shooting into a smoke after hearing footsteps on the other side. You will get accused of cheating because your opponents are idiots.

  • If your agent has a free refilling ability (Omen’s smokes, Sage’s heal), you should rarely be sitting with those abilities full. Omen must use his smokes every round, otherwise he isn’t doing his job. Sage should often play back so that she can heal someone if necessary. Proper ability use wins games.

  • Stop forcing. If you lose round 1, save your money for round 2. Make sure you have at least 3900 (2900 for Vandal/Phantom, 1000 for full armor). This is a general rule, but there are situations where you may need to purchase abilities depending on situation.

  • Avoid chit-chat. Ranked games aren’t for talking about skins, or politics, or other games. Keep that shit in unranked or Discord. Focus on the game. Some quips pre-match are fine, but don’t be a distraction.

  • Use a microphone. (If you have a disability that causes you to be unable to use a mic, you are exempt from this). But if you can talk, you must. Pings and text chat are not NEARLY as good as a mic. And don’t be annoying on the mic. If you see one person coming up B Long on Bind, say “One B long”, not “B B B B THEY’RE COMING B, FUCK”. Clearly say all the information you know, then shut the hell up. You’re not funny or interesting, this isn’t a comedy show.

  • If you die the same way 3 times, ask to switch with one of your teammates. This happens more on defense, but if you’re defending, say, C on Haven and they just keep rocking you and planting, ask someone to switch.

  • Check every corner. If you die because you didn’t check a corner, it’s your fault. Don’t yell at your opponent for camping. Look up youtube videos about peeking (sometimes referred to as “slicing the pie”)

  • Stop reloading so much. If you have more than 10 bullets, you’re good. Practice forcing yourself to fight with less than a full capacity clip so you break the habit of reloading at inopportune times. If you can’t kill someone with 10 bullets, you probably won’t with 25.

  • If you can get away to safety after a kill, you should try to. Don’t just stay in the fray because you got one kill. Back up, regroup. Communicate with your team, and try to surprise the other opponents nearby. This is a major difference between Iron and Gold play. Rounds are usually longer because people focus more on winning the long match instead of making the insane play in the short term.

  • Skins. This is the most debatable one, but I think it’s worth it to buy some skins. They make no functional difference, but they look nicer, make you more excited to use them, and sometimes look/sound less annoying than the stock guns.

  • Always be practicing. The time before a round starts is a great place to practice keeping your crosshair on your teammates’ heads as they jump around. Did the round just end? Practice shooting at the wall and trying to keep your spray together.

There it is. Wow, that was a lot of typing and pasting from notes I made over the past 9 months. If something I said above angered you or made you think I’m an idiot, fine. Sit with that for a while, then reconsider. These aren’t objective facts, but subjective lessons I’ve learned playing this game a lot. I’m sure I’ll get some hate in the comments but I don’t really care. I acknowledge that these ARE debatable but I suggest you try to incorporate them into your efforts then tell me what doesn’t work.