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The best weapon for ranking up in Valorant

By Carver FisherJuly 22, 2021
The best weapon for ranking up in Valorant
Phantom vs. Vandal has been a long-running battle for most Valorant players. Both weapons have always been close, but a few key differences marked whether or not players preferred one or the other. However, after patch 3.0’s moving accuracy changes, the Phantom has emerged as the clear winner in most situations. It’s not only more versatile than the Vandal, but it also doesn’t penalize the player as heavily for moving while firing. That said, if we look at the most-bought weapons in competitive since patch 3.0, the Vandal is still heavily favored.
There are a few reasons for the Vandal’s supremacy. No damage falloff means a 1-shot headshot at any range, whereas the Phantom loses 1-shot potential past 15 meters. However, the accuracy and fire rate the Phantom gets in exchange for that range loss can make you feel like a god at close to mid range gunfights.
This clip of TenZ holding his W key and running through 100 Thieves makes a good case for the Phantom as a valuable purchase, especially when TenZ quoted this tweet himself and said, “Never could do anything remotely close with the Vandal”. Is that true, though? How much more accurate is the Phantom?

A steady hand

The Phantom has always had better accuracy than the Vandal when it comes to spraying. Players have gotten used to tapfiring the Vandal at midrange, but there’s strength in the ability to hold left click and get more rounds downrange.
Vandal at left. Phantom at right.
Vandal at left. Phantom at right.
At 15 meters, the Phantom has a significantly better spread. The Vandal’s main issue when firing continuously seems to be horizontal accuracy. Even while trying to control recoil, it’s impossible to iron out those random horizontal deviations. Meanwhile, the Phantom is much more consistent. At 15 meters, the Phantom’s tighter spread could be the difference between landing that extra shot to the chest and losing a gunfight.
Vandal at left. Phantom at right.
Vandal at left. Phantom at right.
The Phantom gets another big win when walking at 10 meters. Moving with the Phantom doesn’t give the significant accuracy penalty the Vandal gets hit with. Notice how tight the Phantom’s grouping is at the center. Random deviation aside, the Phantom just gets more shots on target in tense situations due to how much easier it is to control. That said, don’t try to hit anything past 5 meters running with either of these weapons. You won’t hit the broad side of a barn. Seriously.
If we look back to the TenZ clip from the start, it’s important to notice two things. 1.) that he was barrel stuffing the opponent, and 2.) TenZ is disciplined enough to slow down for a moment before firing. I’m not sure if he hit shift or let go of the W key altogether, but he surely has a method for slowing himself down. Stopping briefly to line up accurate shots is the way to go.

Keeping your distance

The Phantom has its uses, and it’s much more user-friendly than the Vandal. However, there are situations where the Vandal has a considerable edge. The biggest one is the Phantom’s map-dependency. The original 4 maps Valorant shipped with (Split, Ascent, Bind, and Haven) are pretty Phantom-friendly. There aren’t too many long sightlines, and these maps have enough options to play in a way that you can get into that 15 meter threshold. However, Breeze and Icebox are more open than the 4 maps that preceded them, and the Vandal can be a much better option if you plan on fighting at ranges longer than 15 meters.
The other deciding factor here is team-dependent. Ideally, most team compositions would be well-rounded. In reality, a lot of low-tier comp games land you on a team with 4 duelists and no smokes. This isn’t a fun situation no matter how you slice it, but it may be better to take the Vandal for potential long-range engagements. All that said, taking the Phantom over the Vandal doesn’t put you at a huge disadvantage in most situations. This is especially true in lower ranks where you’re at much less risk of getting 1-tapped by a Vandal.

Climbing the ladder

If you’re still getting a feel for Valorant’s weapons, the Phantom is much easier to learn with than the Vandal. Its forgiving spread, high fire rate, and 30-round mag make this weapon a fantastic all-rounder. While there are some cases where the Vandal is a better option, just know that the Phantom is viable all the way up to Valorant’s highest level of play. Preferring the Phantom over the Vandal won’t get you flamed by your teammates, and it’s much less of a crutch than sitting in a corner with the Judge or spamming with the Ares.
The point is, learning how to use the Phantom will actually make you a better Valorant player. There’s no cheap trick here. Rather, the Phantom is just a bit easier to use due to what it gains in exchange for the damage falloff. Make no mistake, the learning curve is still there. However, mastering the Phantom is a great way to fast-track your improvement as a player, and this gun can enable you to clutch rounds like Valorant’s best. If you find yourself frustrated with the Vandal, consider giving the Phantom a try.
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