New 'Valorant' players will need to grind before they can play competitive games

The change could reduce smurfing.

Riot Games

A new playable character with an aggressive mobility-based kit isn’t the only potentially game-changing tweak coming to Valorant with the shooter’s Episode Four update on January 11th. Once the patch is live, new players will need to reach account level 20 before they can queue for competitive games. Previously, you only had to win 10 unranked matches before you could take part in competitive matchmaking.

Many other multiplayer games, including Overwatch and Riot’s own League of Legends, employ similar restrictions. They help ensure new players have had at least some time to learn the game before they jump into a high-pressure match. They also deter a practice known as smurfing. That’s when more experienced players create new accounts to avoid long queues and play against less skilled opponents.

“We believe everyone should take time to learn the ins and outs of core gameplay, and have ample exposure to all the maps and agents Valorant will throw at you before competing in our ranked experience,” Riot said of the change. The tweak will only affect new accounts made from this point forward. So if you recently started playing Valorant and have at least one competitive match on your account, you won’t lose access.