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Using smokes, and using a smoke character in a team composition, is a core tenant of VALORANT. Just like other tactical shooters, mainly Counter-Strike, obscuring vision and denying an opponent visual information is a key way to attack and defend in a round. There are three types of smokes in VALORANT: holding, entering and one-way smokes. All three serve different yet similar functions, but are not the only types of smoke out there for advanced players.

There are also specific guides that feature smokes for certain Agents, along with common areas to smoke on all of VALORANT’s maps. This guide however, will cover the basics of smokes in VALORANT and why they are so useful, as well as how to properly execute them. These tips will also improve a player’s game sense for when smokes should be used, and why.

As with most guides on how to use smokes, this will cover Agents in the Controller class that are designed to support their team with utility. Their class name is an appropriate description for a character designed to use smokes, as they break the map up into controllable areas.

Here’s how to use all types smokes in VALORANT.

Holding smokes

The first thing players should know for holding smokes, is how to properly execute their placement. Holding smokes should cover whatever choke point or entrance a player is hoping to obscure, but not give the enemy space to move out of the circular ability.

According to Jakub “Lothar” Szygulski, a G2 streamer and European VALORANT commentator, these smokes should create an environment where, if enemies push through, they will expose themselves to the player holding the area.

“Basically fog the entrance so they have to peek at maximum disadvantage,” Lothar said in his ‘HOW TO USE SMOKE IN VALORANT’ video.

VALORANT screenshot
The correct smoke to force the enemy to expose themselves. | Provided by Riot Games

But, players should also take care with how the enemy could use that smoke to their advantage. While pushing, or casually walking, through a smoke puts enemies at a disadvantage – since players can see the pusher’s gun and model before they see the them – using flashes through smokes is a way for attackers to counter a well-placed smoke.

“I never like to smoke on the entrances of the site because an enemy Phoenix can utilize that to his advantage and use that as a means of flashing out into the space and then taking over my team,” Kevin “Lelicious” Le, former head coach of Shopify Rebellion and community coach for Master Class VALORANT, said.

A deeper smoke to prevent a pop flash and block enemy advancement. | Provided by Riot Games

Lelicious recommends smoking deeper into the choke point to hold back characters with flashes from rushing through smokes. But with most concepts in a tactical shooter, players should try to mix up how and where they place their smokes, in order to throw off their opponents and not become predictable.

Entering smokes

Players can also place smokes for their team that extend past the entrance they want to start the attack from. This way, according to Lothar, players can walk on to the site while still inside the smoke, to leave the cover in alternate directions.

Riot Games screenshot
A smoke used to enter a bomb site. | Provided by Riot Games

“So this way when you attack on site, you can clear more angles,” Lothar said. “And the opponents will never know.”

As for the philosophy behind these smokes, players should use them to cut off choke points or obscure vision to deny information to the enemy. Players should use Controllers to smoke off a part of the map and then attempt to control the area between them and the smoke. When specifically attacking a bomb site, players should use smokes to cover common angles and entrances enemies may play from, or hide their own team’s attack.

As with many concepts in VALORANT, communication with teammates will make this process much easier.

Defensive VALORANT smokes

Defensive smokes in VALORANT are similar to attacking, but in reverse. Smokes should be placed to wall off the vision of the attackers at chokepoints and entrances, in the same way a player suspects a site hit is incoming. Just as with holding smokes, placing the smoke in a way that leaves only one option for the attacker to peek through, is the optimal play.

“So when you pop the smoke, people have to fully expose themselves to all angles when trying to attack the site,” Lothar said.

But when rounds begin, Lelicious said players on Agents with recyclable smokes, like Astra and Omen, shouldn’t be afraid to throw one out at the start of a round.

“You definitely want to start the round off with some sort of smoke, because your team wants some early form of control,” he said.

A common defensive smoke on Bind. | Provided by Riot Games

The smokes are essentially a wall the attackers must wait behind, or force their way through. Defender smokes can also be used to cut down on the amount of angles players have to cover for a site hit. For example, if a player on Omen sits on C heaven and is holding down the bomb site, he may want to smoke one of the two entrances to the site, to lower the risk of watching the wrong entrance. Then as the round continues, players should throw out smokes to give their team more map control and deny enemy information. As they recharge, or are saved, players can use them to retake bomb sites and help their team.

“The idea is that you want to deny info as much as you can while also enabling your team to get info as well,” Lelicious said.

One-way smokes

One-way smokes can be used for attackers and defenders. One-ways are used to provide a perspective advantage to the person who threw it. All Controllers, and Jett, can create one-way smokes. The effect is created by placing smokes on boxes or other map terrain that keep the smoke elevated.

A one-way smoke on Bind. | Provided by Riot Games

To use them effectively, players should find an angle where they can see their opponent before they see them. This is usually achieved through placement, and changing elevation.

“When you do a one way, you’d rather have an elevation advantage over your opponent,” Lothar said. “Because if you are on a lower ground, you are going to see their feet faster than they will see you.”

They also function as a wall that defenders, or attackers, will have to wait behind in some scenarios. But, one-ways can be nullified with other utility in VALORANT, like a recon dart or a Skye flash that can be sent over the smoke.

Another key to one-way smokes is communication, because if not discussed properly, players could trap their allies with unintentional one-ways for the enemy team.

For many players looking to climb in ranked, choosing a Controller may be a decent avenue to rank up. The smoke role lets players focus on what map control to fight over, and covers aggressive team plays. It also ensures that teams smokes are placed correctly, and for the right reason.