With VALORANT’s Act 4, Episode 3 coming to a close, Wednesday June 23rd marks the official release date of the tactical shooter’s latest major update. Along with the transition to patch 5.0 are a variety of quality of life changes, bug fixes, a new map, and even a new rank. As with every major update, the ranked MMR (matchmaking rating) has been reset and player ranks have also been reset to accommodate that.
Pearl, Split, and the Seven Map Pool
After it was announced last week that Split would be removed from the competitive and unrated playlists with the arrival of patch 5.0, the subsequent player reactions were mixed. Some people felt that Split, despite being relatively basic, was an integral part of the core map pool. Others, who were not quite as disappointed, praised its removal altogether.
While the decision has not been reversed, the developers provided some clarification in a separate “Map Pool Changes” post. Citing an algorithm that analyzed multiple factors, including player reception, as their reasoning for the removal of Split specifically, the VALORANT maps team stated that the reason for its removal was to stabilize the competitive ecosystem. With the addition of the map before Pearl, the game reached a map pool of seven.
Professional VALORANT teams, players, and the eSports development team, were in agreement that the seven map pool provided the best stability for the best-of-five tournament format the VCT (Valorant Champions Tour; the game’s official international tournament). This format, which allowed two map bans, facilitated a system where every map would be either played or banned in a complete best-of-five series.
With the arrival of Pearl, the latest addition to the map pool, in Act 5, the removal of Split was the only way to maintain the seven map equilibrium. This underwater villa, made habitable by a radianite-powered dome obstructing the inward flow of water, features two sites. Despite every new map to the game boasting a unique feature (Fracture’s zip lines and Icebox’s verticality, to name a few), it appears Pearl has “no mechanics” according to the VALORANT website. Referred to as “geo-driven,” it appears that Pearl contains a large and complex intersection between both sites, making for an interesting route for site rotation.
Ascendant, the New High ELO Rank
With the latest ranked distributions showing the heaviest presences in Bronze and Silver, the game’s developers felt that the lower ranks were too heavily populated. However, it was also stated that mass migration to the upper ranks would “overpopulate Platinum and Diamond,” putting the current ranked system in a difficult position.
After careful consideration of multiple ideas, the competitive development team determined that the best approach would be to add a new high elo rank. Citing targeting better distribution, maintaining the prestige of high ranks, and “helping better define the skill level of each rank,” as support for their change, Act 5 also includes the addition of a new rank titled “Ascendant.” Now appearing between Diamond and Immortal, Ascendant makes it so that the lower ranks are much more widely distributed with the caveat that the higher ranks are much more competitive.
Alongside the addition of Ascendant are adjustments to the current ranking system. In the old eight rank system, the highest rank any player could place after placement matches was Diamond 1. In the nine rank system, players can now place as high as Ascendant 1. While still technically the same place (one whole rank before Immortal), it will be much more difficult to place there. Additionally RR (the ranked elo rating “currency”) penalties will now apply at higher ranks, with Immortal 1 as the new threshold (formerly Diamond 1 or 3).
Pearl, Ascendant, and the various changes associated with them are now live! For more information and the full patch notes, visit VALORANT’s website here.