How to VALORANT: Duelist characters and roles explained

·Yahoo Esports & Gaming SEA team
·14-min read

The "How to" series is aimed at players who enjoy competitive gaming and are looking to improve their experience, whether through gameplay tips or advice. The information is provided at the time of publishing, and does not account for changes to the game or meta over a longer period of time.

In VALORANT, agents are classified into 4 types of roles; the Duelist, the Controller, the Initiator and the Sentinel, with each role allowing the player to adopt different kinds of playstyles to play the game. Today, we're going to talk about the Duelists and what makes them tick.

Riot’s definition of a Duelist can be seen in game in the descriptions of all Duelist agents;

“Duelists are self-sufficient fraggers who their team expects, through abilities and skills, to get high frags and seek out engagements first.”

While this is the official description of the role, each of the Duelist in game performs very differently from each other. 

One may even argue that not all Duelists in this category should be played as a highly offensive character by themselves. But VALORANT, is, after all, a team game, so with roles like the Initiator being able to back the Duelist up with information or cover fire, most of the Duelists here will generally be able to get into enemy territory to secure kills.

Let’s take a look at each individual Duelist.

(Screenshot: Riot Games)
(Screenshot: Riot Games)

Jett

  • Abilities: Cloudburst, Updraft, Tailwind

  • Ultimate: Blade Storm

Jett is the master of mobility and precision. She has the capability to dash in and out of duels with her Tailwind ability, and she's able to reposition in the skies with her Updrafts, giving herself temporary cover with her Cloudbursts. Her ultimate, the Blade Storm, is a 5-blade, one tap headshot from any part of the map, and does not have any kind of fall-off damage nor bullet inaccuracies from moving or being in the air. What’s more, she is also able to burst fire all of her blades at one go for a “shotgun effect”, which is generally very effective in close range duels. Not to mention, when Jett is able to land a killing blow on and enemy, her Blade Storm refills back to 5 blades.

Her utility kit allows Jett to take risky peeks beyond corners because she is able to get out of harm’s way very quickly and efficiently thanks to her Tailwind dash. Her dash also allows her to rush in into enemy territory to distract while your team pushes in, and to take positions that are usually hard to reach by simply walking in (especially when you have the enemy looking at you). 

Coupled with the fact that Jett is able to obstruct the enemies from seeing where her teammates are by deploying a couple of well-placed smokes, she is easily one of the best “entry-fraggers” in the game. Her Updraft also proves extremely useful in a game like VALORANT where players are so used to aiming horizontally and not vertically. Having a character (out of two characters) that can move herself upwards may catch people off-guard and distract them, allowing your team to capitalise on that split second to kill any distracted enemies.

Her ultimate also rewards players with immaculate aim, as you are able to then utilise all of Jett’s toolkit to secure your kills. As her ultimate kills anybody with a single headshot, you are able to Updraft and headshot enemies while being in the air. Like what we said earlier, since not many people are used to aiming vertically in this game, Jett players have an advantage in the air. And considering that her ultimate does not have any kind of bullet inaccuracies either, you are able to run and move at full speed while still maintaining your aim, which is extremely useful when it comes to dodging enemy bullet fire while trying to secure your own kills.

All in all, Jett is a textbook Duelist as described by Riot. Dash in, distract enemies, get kills. Or scout for information, get a kill, dash out, block sights. She definitely has all the tools to “get high frags and seek out engagements first”.

(Screenshot: Riot Games)
(Screenshot: Riot Games)

Raze

  • Abilities: Boom Bot, Paint Shells, Blast Pack

  • Ultimate: Showstopper

Raze is another Duelist in the same vein as Jett that has high mobility if you know how to use her Blast Packs properly. Raze also deals extremely high damage with her Paint Shells and Boom Bot when they hit, making her one of the most damaging Duelists in the game, without the use of a gun.

Raze’s Blast Packs, besides also being able to deal damage to the enemies, is able to propel her in a specific direction. If the Blast Pack explodes behind Raze, it is able to propel her forward. If the pack explodes in front of her, it is able to propel her backwards. If Raze is above her Blast Pack, it is able to propel her upwards. 

With a well-placed and well-timed Blast Pack, Raze is able to propel herself upward and forward at the same time. Since she has 2 Blast packs, she is able to extend her jump distance as well. Just like with Jett’s Updraft and Tailwind, this may also distract enemies when Raze propels herself into enemy territory. With this tactic, Raze is also able to fire her ultimate, the Showstopper rocket launcher, from the skies. Like Jett, this also gives an advantage to Raze as she is in the air, where not a lot of players are trained to look.

Her Boom Bot can also be used as a scouting tool for corners and tight spaces. If an enemy shoots it, you will know that there is someone there. If they don’t, they risk the Boom Bot tracking them and also exploding in their face, which deals a lot of damage as well. Her Paint Shells grenade can be used to clear corners, as the explosion and the grenade clusters from it may also result in a kill if someone is caught in its blast radius.

Raze is also a good entry fragger because of her pseudo-mobility, being able to propel into enemy territory while also being able to clear corners effectively with her explosives.

(Screenshot: Riot Games)
(Screenshot: Riot Games)

Phoenix

  • Abilities: Blaze, Hot Hands, Curveball

  • Ultimate: Run It Back

Unlike Jett and Raze, Phoenix is a more traditional gunfighter. He doesn’t have any kind of mobility utility, but he makes up for it with his other skills.

Curveball is the traditional flash grenade that blinds enemies. He is able to throw it in a curve (it's in the name, after all) that makes it extremely easy to toss into an area before attacking. For example, Phoenix can hide behind a wall in front of a door and then throw a Curveball. This will blind enemies on the opposite side of the wall and Phoenix’s team can storm in.

If you run out of Curveballs, Phoenix is still able to cast Blaze, a wall of fire that damages enemies and also blocks sights. Phoenix is also able to curve this wall to a certain degree. 

What’s more, Phoenix is also able to dance around Blaze because it actually heals him while he is moving through the wall, so he can play peekaboo with the enemies if he chooses to do so. Using Blaze, Phoenix is also able push through to a site by blocking the enemies’ vision.

Phoenix’s Hot Hands is another good tool to flush enemies out of corners. When using Hot Hands, Phoenix flings a Molotov-like projectile to the ground which burns enemies in an area. Hot Hands can also be used like Blaze, as it also heals Phoenix. He is also able to stop a push through a chokepoint by throwing Hot Hands at it. Furthermore, Phoenix can choose to use his flashes and swing out as well if he knows that there are people waiting around the chokepoint to push in.

His ultimate, Run It Back, gives Phoenix a chance to respawn at the spot where he activated it at if he dies or if the ultimate timer runs down. This is exceptionally good for a Phoenix player to enter a gunfight with no worries to attack and gather information, as long as someone protects his respawn area, as there is a short downtime when he respawns. His ultimate also allows the you to take risks that you usually wouldn’t take because you may be afraid of being one man down for your team.

All his abilities make him a very vanilla but effective entry fragger, suited to push into areas with your team while you lead the frontal assault.

(Screenshot: Riot Games)
(Screenshot: Riot Games)

Reyna

  • Abilities: Leer, Dismiss, Devour

  • Ultimate: Empress

Reyna, perhaps, has the least utility to be an entry fragger out of all the Duelists. Leer is one of the slowest blinds in the game, and it can be shot down as well. Her other abilities rely on a player getting a kill before they are able to be put to good use. That being said, Reyna, in the right hands, can be an absolute monster of an agent.

Leer is able to short-sight any agent that looks at it. It has a long start up, so usually, if you are expecting a Reyna to throw it out, you would be able to shoot it down immediately. Even if it activates, you should still be able to shoot it down. However, once it activates, any enemy that has it in their sights will be short-sighted; meaning their vision will be limited with a little distortion in audio. This is good if you are pushing in with a team, as your team will be able to take down enemies that are short-sighted or running away from it.

That’s about it when it comes to her entry utility.

Reyna relies A LOT on gunplay to get her engine started. When a Reyna player kills an enemy, or if the damaged enemy dies within 3 seconds of being damaged by Reyna, the enemy will drop a “Soul Orb”. What you do with this orb is entirely up to you.

If you choose to activate Devour, you are able to heal up to 100 health in the span of 3 seconds. This is good if you sustain some damage in your gunfight with an enemy, as you are able to heal up. If you have full health but not shields, you are able to Overheal, which will act like a portion of a shield for 25 seconds. You are only able to Overheal till 50 (which is the same amount as a Heavy Shield).

If you choose to activate Dismiss, you will be in an intangible state for 2 seconds (you cannot be shot at), allowing you to make your way out of a crossfire if things get too dicey. You are also able to use this to scout an enemy’s location or reposition to have a better angle or run away from fire. This has a short cooldown when you reappear from being intangible, so if you are chased down by an enemy, you probably would not survive.

Her ultimate, Empress, is the scariest part of her whole toolkit. Reyna enters a form where she gains a 15% increase in her bullet fire rate and reload speed. When she manages to kill someone, she automatically heals up and Overheals, without the need to consume a Soul Orb. When she does consume a Soul Orb for Dismiss, she becomes totally invisible and enemies will not be able to see where she is. What makes it even better is that you are able to consume as many Soul Orbs as you want, as this doesn’t count to the amount of Dismiss charges that you initially have.

Reyna’s whole toolkit relies on the player being already good with gunplay to make her viable. Once a Reyna player is able to get the momentum from killing enemies, Reyna’s toolkit will be able to sustain the player throughout the match. Usually when a Reyna activates her ultimate as well, she is able to pick enemies off one by one due to her ability of repositioning without the enemy seeing her. She may be bad as a sole entry fragger, but her kit allows her to continue on the killing spree after she is able to get her first kill.

(Screenshot: Riot Games)
(Screenshot: Riot Games)

Yoru

  • Abilities: Fakeout, Blindside, Gatecrash

  • Ultimate: Dimensional Drift

Yoru is an oddball as a Duelist. Although his utility kit allows him to be sneaky and possibly win one-on-one fights, it takes a lot of effort for him to be an entry fragger. But let’s explain his abilities first.

Fakeout allows Yoru to deploy “fake footsteps”. When he puts this down, it will emulate a character running in a certain direction. Yoru is also able to control when to activate these footsteps. When an enemy sees the footsteps, it will just show some red outlines walking in a direction.

Blindside is Yoru’s flash grenade. He is able to throw it across a range, and when it hits a hard surface, it will bounce in a curve that is akin to Phoenix’s flash.

Gatecrash is Yoru’s signature ability. He is able to send out a portal orb in the direction he is facing, or just place it where he is standing. The portal will be open for 30 seconds. At any point of time in those 30 seconds, he is able to teleport to where the orb is.

Dimensional Drift is Yoru’s ultimate, where he is able to travel on the map undetected for 9 seconds. He will only be revealed if he gets too close to an enemy, and his vision is also limited. Yoru is able to cancel out of his ultimate at any time, and is also able to take his Gatecrash portal to teleport into safety.

As we stated earlier, if we do follow Riot’s description for being a Duelist, especially the part where it says “seek out engagements first”, Yoru is the last guy in your mind out of the five Duelists that will be able to do that effectively. 

Sure, he may have a flash that is faster than Reyna’s, but he doesn’t have much utility to get out of a tight situation, unless you take your Gatecrash. One other method a Yoru player can use is to send the portal deep into enemy territory, throw a flash in that direction, and teleport over to your portal to catch anyone that is blinded by your flash. But since it is also so deep into the enemy territory, your team should be pushing hard with you to make sure you are safe, or at least capitalise on your efforts to get in. In this regard, a Raze and Jett may do a better job than Yoru at securing kills because of their mobility.

Yoru relies a lot on deception and mind games. His fake footsteps are generally made to confuse enemies into thinking that someone is nearby or walking beside them. In a one-on-one fight, this can also confuse enemies into looking elsewhere while you make the jump on them. 

Gatecrash also allows Yoru free reign across the map. Maybe you are planning on lurking around a bomb site that your teammates are not pushing on to. By showing some presence and confusing enemies on that site, they may need to stay on site to make sure you don’t get the jump on them by flanking your enemies. Unknown to them, you have already teleported back to your teammates to join them in the other site’s push, leaving the enemy team separated and weakened in numbers.

Yoru’s ultimate is also a good tool to scout the area that you are attacking to let your teammates know where the enemies are. Once all these positional advantages are revealed, your teammates may be able to flush these enemies out with their skills and gunplay. One other great thing about the Yoru ultimate as well is that if you are equipped with something like a Shorty, you may be able to get the jump on an unsuspecting prey by just cancelling your ultimate extremely close to them, blasting them with the Shorty and using your Gatecrash to get back to safety.

All in all, Yoru is a very different breed of Duelist. Some say he’s the worst character in the game, but with the right plays, he is actually one of the trickiest to counter if he gets inside your head.

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