An in-depth guide to improving in Valorant.

Posted by Steve

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 12:23 AM

An in-depth guide to improving in Valorant.



Hey guys, before I jump into my analysis of training methods and optimal routines for competitive gaming, I'll introduce myself briefly. Just to be clear, I don't believe achievements / citations matter much in relation to the validity of my statements, if information is logically consistent and provides empirical data / evidence in support of it's claims, then it should be viewed as valid regardless of the source's authority. However, since I know a lot of people are interested in the individual achievements of people they choose to listen to, I'll go ahead and provide that information. I'm an (ex) semi-pro counter strike player with over 7k hours in CS:GO, my peak elo fluctuated around 3.4-3.6k in 2016 on Faceit (EU) and I've played at a multitude of local lans and faceit tournaments. When a ranking system was introduced in Overwatch I climbed up to #29 WR as McCree. I've hit top 500 in Apex Legends, as well as multiple top 100 scores in Kovaak's FPS Aim Trainer. I have always stood out as a player due to raw mechanical skill, more specifically my aim. People assume that my aim got where it is now solely due to the thousands of hours I have spent playing a plethora of FPS games, and while that is true to some extent, training routines have played a large role in the progression of my skill. Everyone has a friend with thousands of hours in a game that still plays like a beginner, that's not due to genetic predisposition acting as a set-back, it's due to the fact that while they have spent time playing the game, they haven't spent enough time putting themselves in the right scenarios. Due to my experience and understanding of effective training, and the fact that I don't have as much time to play games competitively anymore but also want to involve myself in the community, I started coaching players in CS:GO in 2019, and then moved to coaching players for Apex Legends in 2020. My coaching is very heavily based around identifying the subjective needs of each individual player, and creating an aim training / daily routine personalized to cater to their lackluster skill areas. Due to the nature of Valorant as a game (gunplay / core mechanics) being very similar to CS, I believe I have a very solid understanding of how the game plays out, and can identify optimal vs. sub-optimal scenarios within it. If rank means anything to you in closed beta, I am currently immortal 2 in Valorant, and my rank has fluctuated in the D3 - Immo 3 ranking range throughout CB. With full release of the game being a week away, this post is my attempt to provide a highly analytical informative guide in the context of competitive training.



Due to the lengthy nature of such an analytical post, I am providing a table of contents in order to make the post a bit easier to navigate.

  1. What makes a training routine effective?
  2. Finding the right mouse for YOU.
  3. Your setup matters.
  4. Low vs. High sensitivity, what should you use?
  5. How to effectively train your aim.
  6. Get rid of bad habits.
  7. The importance of sleep + nutrition.
  8. Coaching info + Link to my Discord server.

1) What makes a training routine effective?

Whether you're attempting to learn how to ride a bike, how to play better tennis, or trying to perfect your click timing in overwatch, there are always behavioral patterns you can follow which will increase your rate of improvement. While gaming isn't a sport in traditional context, there are still physical aspects to it which can largely impact your performance. While you won't be relying on full body motion during a game of Valorant for example, you're still going to be moving your Arm in response to the visual stimuli being displayed on your screen. Obviously playing more of a game will lead to inevitable mechanical improvement, but depending on the skill level you're trying to achieve, simply "playing more" might not be enough to get you there. The problem with just playing more of a game in relation to optimal improvement, is that you're not focusing on specific aspects and therefore, you're failing to identify individual problems in your gameplay.

In order to improve at optimal rates, you need to establish a training routine that you consistently abide to. I do offer individual coaching services which I will provide information for in the final section of this post, but I will not attempt to create a universal format for game training as it would be sub-optimal at best. In my experience training routines are most effective when personalized to the individual needs of the player, I could be coaching two people of similar rank on the same game and give them vastly different routines to follow, simply due to the fact that people are different, someone may be a top aimer and have 0 gamesense while someone else may have amazing gamesense and lackluster aim. The key to proper training is specificity and consistensy, in order to be effective in your training you must narrow down the aspects of your gameplay that need to be prioritized for improvement and then build a daily routine around that which you will habitualize as part of your weekly schedule. Something to note is that your daily training shouldn't surpass the time frame of 50-70 minutes as your brain will not retain information effectively past that amount of continuous activity. The best method to assess skill level in a game and spot issues in gamesense or anything game-specific is to go over unedited gameplay recordings and scrutinize the footage until what needs to be worked on is made clear; The best method to assess raw aim regardless of a specific game is to have someone play through a map selection on Kovaak's which includes both Click Timing and Tracking oriented challenges and assess their median score values.

Different games require different types of mechanical skill, while Apex might be tracking oriented like AFPS titles, CS and Valorant rely mostly on holding 90 degree horizontal angles and click timing. In order to retain information / knowledge proper nutrition and a substantial amount of sleep are both extremely important factors and I will be going more in-depth on the reasoning later on in section 8. In conclusion, if you want to train effectively: 1) Analyze your gameplay (preferably with someone experienced) and spot the main issues 2) Create a routine that lasts ~60 minutes and addresses your key issues 3) stay consistent with your routine (don't skip days, train on the same time every day) 4) eat & sleep properly... This should go without saying but you'd be surprised at the amount of people who fail to do either of those things.

2) Finding the right mouse.

When it comes to FPS games, having a mouse which can accurately translate your arm movements into mouse movements in your game is of extreme importance, and as I mentioned in my previous guide, is constantly undervalued by the casual gaming community. There is a common gaming myth that I am certain everyone regardless of the genre of games they play has heard which is that if your mouse works without blatant issues then it does it's job. Such misconceptions are usually passed on by casual gamers that don't support spending $60+ for a quality gaming mouse, but unfortunately such statements are false, which is why you will never see any streamer or competitive player using a 10$ laptop mouse. It would be pretty useless and unfair for me to tell you to go out and spend $60+ on a mouse without providing a logical explanation as to why you should, so let's go over the reasons you need a quality mouse, as well as what makes a good gaming mouse good, and how to find the mouse that suits you best.

First things first, why do you need a good gaming mouse? It's pretty simple, when playing PC games, but FPS games in particular, you want your mouse movements to be fast and accurate, and in order to achieve that you need to have a quality mouse, if you try a 180 degree flick on an outdated laptop mouse you will quickly realise the mouse loses track through the movement and is therefore inaccurate and even if it didn't lose track, the built in acceleration would make the movement of the mouse inaccurate relative to the movement of your arm. If you tried something similar as the previous example with tracking a target you will quickly realise the movement isn't perfectly smooth, along with the fact that such mice have delay, which means your reaction time will be slower as a result. Gaming mice offer precision sensors which will track your movement accurately with no delay or acceleration, this is very important as it will maximise your in-game precision by properly mirroring your arm movements as opposed to a generic mouse, not only that, but training with a mouse that is inconsistent in movement will hinder your ability to train your aim as it will mess with your muscle (procedural) memory. Gaming mice also tend to offer much more comfortable ergonomic shapes which will give you a better grip, fit your hand better, and also allow you to go on extended gaming sessions without your hand feeling cramped / tired. It is important that you choose a mouse that has a flawless optical sensor (laser sensors are inaccurate), most modern gaming mice offer flawless sensors, but be sure to check before you buy your gaming mouse; Any 33XX sensor will work flawlessly, with the best sensors in the category being the 3360 and the 3366 along with the Logitech HERO sensor which is a low-power version of the 3360. Now, while precise sensors may be important what is even more important is finding a mouse that fits your hand well, this will depend on two things, one being your hand size, and the other being your grip style. I have created a guide (guide within a guide, nice) to help you measure your hand correctly, as well as understand grip styles.

Hand measurement guide:

In order to measure your hands for the purpose of finding a mouse you will want to measure two things, one is the length of your hand, like so:

The other is the width of your hand, like so:

not my hand btw!

Once you have figured out the dimensions of your hand, the format in which mice are presented is L x W. I personally have large hands at 21.5x11 cm, I've been using the Zowie EC2-B Divina for the past year and I am very pleased with it as the shape and texture is ideal for me, being an improved DA shape with a 3360 sensor. The most important aspect of the dimensions in terms of determining which mouse is ideal is the length of your hand.

After you have determined your hand size, you need to find out what grip style you use. There are three types of mouse grips, first we have the palm grip, then the claw grip, and finally the fingertip grip. Here is an image showing each grip.

Once you have the 'L x W' dimensions of your hand and have figured out what grip style you use, click on this link and you will be presented with a range of options for mice depending on your hand size and grip style. The recommendations have been put together by RocketJumpNinja himself, for those of you unfamiliar with who he is, he is a Quake player and marginally the best competitive mouse reviewer out there and I would trust him blindly for anything mouse related. Once you have found 1-2 mice you are interested in you can check his mouse reviews on YT for more detailed information on each mouse. Having tested a multitude of mice myself, I would say my favourites have been the Deathadder Elite, Zowie EC2-A and EC2-B series due to their ergonomic designs, and the G305 and GPW due to their flawless wireless capabilities.

3) Your setup matters.

It would be great for everyone to have an even playing field, and for me to be able to genuinely tell you that your setup doesn't matter in the context of your gaming performance, unfortunately I would simply be lying to you. Yes, it is true that your raw skill is more important than the setup you have, but if you have a setup that limits you from exceeding your current skillcap then it is acting as a handicap and needs to change. Since having a good setup is something that is purely based on buying better equipment / hardware, I will keep this section short. To me the most important parts of any setup are the mouse, the monitor, and the mousepad, in that order. If you don't have a mouse that fits well in your hand, and suits your grip style ( claw grip, fingertip grip, palm grip ) then you won't be able to reach the peak of your potential raw aim. Once again, do NOT copy the pros here, they do not have the same hand size as you, and them being able to land 10 headshots in a row using the logitech G Pro doesn't mean that you will too.

Some recommendations I have for mice are: Zowie EC series ( I personally use an EC2-B Divina ) Zowie Divina S series ( If you preffer ambidextrous mice ) Deathadder Elite ( gets a lot of hate but the shape is great / quality not the best ) Logitech G Pro ( hands down the best wireless mouse out there if you have medium / small hands ) After mice comes your monitor, this is pretty simple, you want a monitor that is 144hz + as you will only be able to see as much FPS on screen as your monitor's HZ value. This is crucial to avoid choppy gameplay and improve your tracking and reaction time, in games like CS or Valorant where reacting quickly to an enemy peeking you is the difference between winning or losing a round, this is especially important. 144hz monitors are not too expensive anymore, being able to get a decent BenQ monitor for around 200 euros (XL2411P). Finally, you want to have a large enough mousepad to accomodate your mouse movements, large enough that you don't stumble across the problem of having to lift your mouse to readjust or reach the end of the pad too often.

4) Low vs. High sensitivity, what should you use?

I won't go too in-depth on this part of the post, as sensitivity is mostly subjective, although I highly recommend playing on sensitivities in the range of 35-55 cm/360 @ 400 DPI for games like CS or Valorant. In general, the range of effective sensitivities varies depending on the aspect of aim.sensitivities in the range of 22-32 cm/360 are what's mostly used by pros for highly aim reliant (and mostly tracking reliant) games such as Quake or Diabotical, while for click timing oriented games that don't require large mouse movements such as CSGO or Valorant, sensitivities that pros use are usually 35+ cm/360. The most popular sensitivity used by professional players in CSGO is 51 cm/360, or 2 in-game sens @ 400 DPI, and I would suggest that people stick to a sensitivity near that for Valorant, the a 51 cm/360 sens in valorant would be 0.63 in-game @ 400 DPI. Since DPI fluctuates between players, a good way to compare sensitivities is by using e-dpi values, which is your in-game sensitivity multiplied by your DPI, 51 cm/360 or 0.63 in Valorant @ 400 DPI, gives us a value of 252.

I highly recommend that for a game like Valorant, people stick to the range of 200-300 e-dpi, as such 5v5 comp fps games aren't as "aim reliant" but mostly rely on your ability to maintain good crosshair placement and hold angles, which are both benefited by lower sensitivities. Now, you may ask why 70-80% of active pros in CSGO still use 400 DPI when 800 DPI is technically "better", the answer to that is quite simple. 400 DPI is less accurate in tracking fine movements while 800 DPI is more accurate in that matter, in theory picking up on fine movement may seem like a good thing, but realistically nobody has a perfectly steady hand and in a game like Valorant where you need to maintain consistent head-level crosshair placement at all times, you want to minimize involuntary movements / jitter, as much as possible. One thing to take note of, is that if you're playing above 1080p as a resolution (you shouldn't be due to input lag / lower FPS anyway) 400 DPI may result in pixel skipping and you might need to move up to 800 DPI.

5) How to effectively train your aim.

In my opinion Valorant training shouldn't be aim oriented as it's not a game which requires aim in the sense that an AFPS like quake would require aim, training should be more oriented towards learning how to adapt to in-game situations optimally but aim is also an important factor in any FPS, and something highly transferable from game to game. For Valorant gunplay practice I would recommend playing CSDM in CSGO community servers, all you have to do is find a free-for-all community server to play on, preferably a headshot only server. The reason I'm recommending CSDM as a part of your Valorant training routine is because the gunplay is highly similar between the two games, and it will teach you proper crosshair placement and effective angle peeking which are two of the most important aspects when it comes to gunplay / aim in both Valorant and CS. If you want to train your aim in a more complete manner that will transfer to any game you play regardless of FPS sub-genre then a daily routine on Kovaak's FPS aim trainer is the way to go. If you're choosing to go with the Kovaak route, it's important that you find a balance of Click Timing vs. Tracking oriented scenarios in the aim trainer. An example of a pretty basic 60 minute routine that contains both CT and Tracking scenarios could be:



> Tile Frenzy 180 tracking 300prct - 10 minutes / Thin aiming long invincible - 10 minutes

> Close Fast Strafes Easy - 10 minutes

> PatTarget Switch - 10 minutes

Click Timing


> pistol strafe gallery - 10 minutes

> bounce 180 - 10 minutes

> 1wall 6targets TE - 10 minutes

6) Get rid of bad habits.

As a final note to this in-depth guide, I want to mention mistakes many people habitually make. There are two types of these bad habits, one being physical habits, and one being ingame habits. The physical bad habits you need to be aware of are: Posture, Chair to desk height, and Monitor position. Bad posture can cause neck / back strain and improper blood flow which will not only affect your gameplay negatively, but also your health, so for god's sake, don't sit on your chair leaning 90 degrees forward like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I mentioned Chair to desk height because many people play with their chair too high relative to their desks, or too low relative to their desks. Ideally, you want your forearm to be able to comfortably rest flat upon your desk while holding your mouse, without the elbow hovering into oblivion or dropping below desk height. The final point on physical bad habits is monitor position, I won't explain this one in depth as it is pretty straight forward, you want your monitor at the right height and distance so that you can see the entirety of the screen without the image being distorted due to the tilt / angle.

In terms of ingame bad habits there are TONS so I'll just stick to the ones specific to Valorant for this post. The first point being poor crosshair placement. For those of you with no experience in games like CS or maybe even games like R6, crosshair placement won't be something you have perfected, most games aren't low TTK (time to kill) enough for crosshair placement to be as important as it is in the aforementioned games, therefore people don't need to worry too much about the position of their crosshair while moving around the map. In Valorant, good crosshair placement is the most important aspect of aiming, and the deciding factor in how a gunfight goes while peeking or getting peeked. Due to the fact that this game is very similar to CSGO in TTK, you will want to make a habit of constantly keeping your crosshair at head level, it doesn't matter if you're expecting someone to peek at the given moment, make a habit of always keeping your crosshair at a position where an enemy player model's head would be in the hypothetical scenario that they peeked that angle.

Another bad habit is shooting while moving, it may seem straightforward to most people, but I see people do this all the time. DON'T shoot while moving unless you're counter-strafing and single firing (counter strafing is the act of shooting mid-directional change to reset the inaccuracy factor). In CSGO you can spray while crouch-walking and maintain accuracy, in this game however, even while holding down the control key your bullets will go all over the place, so don't move while spraying unless close enough to the target that you can sacrifice some spread accuracy. Another bad habit that I see quite often in VODs I review, is people being too predictable. Stop pushing the same exact angle every round, or playing the same exact spot on defense every round, or using your abilities in the same exact way every round. This doesn't mean that if you're a B player on defense you should rotate to A next round, it just means you should try to mix it up between rounds so that the enemy team can't just prefire or ability spam the location you played last round for a free kill. Something similar to this is peeking the same angle multiple times, if you try to go for a kill while peeking and miss your shots, don't peek the same exact angle a second later as you'll simply get one-tapped by any half-decent player.

Another bad habit I see too often even in higher ranks (diamond / immortal) is people over-rotating, this is a big one. Let's say you're playing B on split, you still have mid control, and your team just got a kill or two in A main but you don't have clear info on the rest of the team, do NOT leave B to go defend A, this is called over-rotating, and I have lost far too many rounds due to teammates doing this. Only rotate when you have enough information on the enemies' positions to be able to leave the site you're holding with 0% chance of the enemy team pushing it while you're off it. Finally, I want to mention economy mismanagement real quick. If you lost the first round, regardless of if you got the spike planted or not, you never want to force-buy second round, unless you have AFK teammate compensation, or somehow everyone got a kill each + the plant, you don't want to buy. Make sure you have at least 1600 credits remaining after buying up during the 2nd round's buy phase.

That's all, and oh, quick complaint, If your teammate has spent the past 20 seconds flanking around the enemy team, don't just stomp past him like an elephant and alert the entirety of the enemy team to his position. Dick move.

7) The importance of sleep + nutrition.

There are plenty of training routines out there which focus on gaming, but very few of them highlight the importance of proper nutrition and sleep. Before I jump into explaining why exactly nutrition and sleep (especially sleep) are so important in retaining information, let's talk a bit about exercise since I've seen it discussed in this sub the past few days. You don't need to be hitting the gym daily in order to see a positive influence on your in-game performance, nor will you notice one in general, but it is a fact that physical exercise can lead to a temporary boost in neuroplasticity, which is an active change in your brain physiology due to synaptic growth that plays a large role in learning new things. A decent amount of cardio pre-training will increase blood flow to your brain and release certain proteins which have been found to boost synaptic growth.

Here is an article which explains this in-depth:

The article contains a lot of scientific terminology, but it's still decently comprehendable for those of you with an advanced vocabulary in English.

I won't go too in-depth about nutrition, as it's a pretty straight forward concept. The human brain needs to be "fed" properly in order to function at an optimal state, this doesn't just mean eating enough, but also eating healthy. You need to maintain a balanced diet in order allow your brain to function at it's peak, protein intake is especially important, a poor / incomplete diet can very often lead to lack of focus, which is very evidently an important factor when it comes to processing / retaining information, meaning you should never be hungry while training. Other than base nutritional values, make sure you don't have any vitamin defficencies, and take care of them through supplement consumption in the case that you do.

Here is an article which discusses the impact proper nutrition has on learning.

Now for the most important aspect of all, sleep. Sleeping patterns have one of the biggest influences on learning in regards to the ability to retain information, and proper sleep is very often disregarded by people. Sleep deprivation can lead to a plethora of problems which will negatively impact both your learning process during training and your actual gameplay during the day. Sleep-deprivation, just like poor nutrition, can lead to an inability to focus, which will impact your training / gaming for obvious reasons. Sleep deprivation will also keep your brain from resting properly, meaning that your exhausted neural synapses will not be able to function properly, failing to coordinate information. This means that information being processed at the time being won't be absorbed properly (think of an old sponge that has lost its properties) AND your brain won't be able to access prior-knowledge, meaning you function at suboptimal levels mechanically as well. In a more psychological aspect, your mood may also be affected by lack of proper sleep (and nutrition) which can lead to a lack of motivation amongst other things which will negatively impact your game training. If you don't sleep long enough, your brain won't go into the REM stages necessary to retain knowledge, the main aspect affected by this is procedural memory, why is this important? For those of you that aren't aware, muscle memory is a type of procedural memory, and muscle memory is something directly linked to your mechanical performance in-game, so yes, improper sleeping patterns will actually lead to poor decision making, poor aim, a bad mood, and your training during that day will go to waste.

here is an article explaining some of my aforementioned points:

I understand that most of you won't want to read through a lengthy article, so here's one of the most important excerpts:

In conclusion, if you want your daily training to be absorbed properly, and your in-game decision making and mechanics to perform at an optimal level, eat and sleep properly. If you don't care about playing Valorant at a competitive level, still, eat and sleep properly. No really, It's important.

8) Coaching info + Link to my Discord server.

I won't say much here, as this is meant to be an informative post and not a shameless plug, but I am currently providing coaching for CSGO / Apex legends / Valorant. My coaching method works as follows: I go over unedited gameplay recordings live with the player, I analytically break down the flaws in their gameplay, whether mechanical or game-specific, then I create a daily routine catered to the player's individual needs in relation to improvements that need to be made. The routine always includes a daily Kovaak's routine that combined CT / Tracking scenarios and lasts on average ~60 minutes. If anyone is interested in my services, or simply wants to talk to me about anything game-related, feel free to join my discord server here:


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