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VALORANT Episode 4 Act 1 is finally upon us and with it come some serious adjustments to the competitive rank queue for future and existing players. These changes include qualifications for ranked and reduced 5-stack Rank Rating penalties.

“As the map and agent pool has increased, it’s become increasingly difficult for new players to effectively learn and play VALORANT,” Comms Strategist for VALORANT Jeff Landa said in the patch notes announcement. “However, we haven’t made any changes to when players are able to access our most competitive experience.”

Level 20 required for VALORANT ranked

The requirements to suit up for ranked have dramatically changed since the game’s release. What started out as a requirement for a number of games played turned into requirement for a number of games won. All of these changes were made to reduce the number of smurf accounts plaguing the competitive queue.

In Episode 4, VALORANT players will have to reach an account level of 20 to be able to play competitive. Riot Games’ other title, League of Legends, had a similar system put in place to stop players from high ranks terrorizing lower ones. For League of Legends, players must reach Level 30 to play competitively. With the requirements now adjusted to make it take longer to reach the competitive queue, new accounts will be seen less and less in competitive. But what does this mean for existing accounts?

VALORANT ranked for existing accounts below Level 20

If players have played ranked before Episode 4’s release and are still below Level 20 on their accounts, they will still be able to play competitively. This means the number of smurf accounts that have already been created will still be in the ecosystem. It does not hurt the casual player that plays one or two games a week and may be unable to reach Level 20. However, new accounts created, or those who have not played competitive before Episode 4, will now have to reach Level 20 in order to unlock the ability to play competitive.

Five-stack Rank Rating penalty

In Episode 4, to encourage ranking up with friends, Riot Games adjusted the penalty received to Rank Rating gains and losses while in a 5-stack. The previous 5-stack ranking was equivalent to if all players were ranking by themselves and not together. This meant that it was difficult to bring in a higher ranking player and potentially boost a low rank player.

According to the patch notes, “Diamond 2 and below players will see their RR penalty reduced by 25%, compared to the current balance. This means the new minimum penalty is 25% reduced gains/losses compared to the previous 50%.”

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